Final Fantasy II - Retroview

This One Can Stay In Japan...

By: Desh

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 2
   Music/Sound 4
   Originality 7
   Plot 5
   Localization N/A
   Replay Value 1
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

15-30 hours


Title Screen

   When Square released Final Fantasy as a last-ditch effort to save their company, they got a lot more than they expected; it was such a huge success that their still going strong with the release of Final Fantasy X. So, in order to get to ten, there had to be a two. Final Fantasy II was not released in America, and was still on the Nintendo (Famicon). Unfortunately, unlike some of the next eight games, this sequel just wasn't any fun.

   The battle system itself is almost identical to its predecessor, with a few convenient changes. For instance, just about any spell can be casted on all enemies or allies by going all the way to the group's far edge and moving the cursor one more time in that direction, as opposed to the few spells in the first that were stuck as a single- or multiple-effect spell. Unfortunately, the "ineffective" attack problem still exists (but is fixed in the next game).

   Unfortunately, the game's interface is where it falls flat on its face. First off, the menu - the characters' portraits are put next to their faces, a nice added touch, but the item screen is much too small to be manageable. Also, when equipping you're characters, there are two slots for items they can carry. A character can only use an item they are holding in order to use it in battle, which can very often be frustrating.

Yeah... what he said
Yeah... what he said 

   That aside, the biggest detraction this games has in its leveling system - there are no levels. Instead, you become better at something by using it a lot. So, if you use a certain type of weapon a lot, you will become much better at it. If you use a lot of black magic, your intelligence will increase. If you frequently use the cure spell, it will go up in level. The highest level a weapon or spell can get is 16. Each use of a weapon or magic raises it a point, and levels up at one hundred points.

   In addition to that, your HP and MP are raised when they are depleted. That's right. If you get hurt a lot in battle, or use up most of your MP, their max will go up. So, just hit yourself a lot, and cream enemies with magic and you'll be all set.

   If you can see just how annoying that can be, there's more - you can level DOWN. If one of your characters attacks a lot, their magic power goes down, and vice versa. So, just try and balance your characters.

   The quality of the actual sound in FFIIj is almost the same as that in FF. However, the music itself is far from the quality of its prequel (and sequel). It seems too, I don't know, wimpy, and while it sometimes sets the mood, it is often very annoying. There is one attractive addition, though - boss music. Unlike in FF, bosses have their own music, and provide a break in the weak battle music.

   Now, you ask, with all the bad things put into this game, as I seem to be saying, why would I give such a high score to originality? Well, it takes quite a bit of effort to create a system as annoying as they did, instead of staying with their previous system that worked. I can't really put the games designers at fault, but, as a friend of mine put it, while the new systems may have looked good on paper, so did Communism.

Opening to a... well... some kind of game
Opening to a... well... some kind of game 

   The plot deserves some mentioning... Four orphans escape from the Empire of Paramekia, but are taken down by some dark knights. Three of them find each other in Altea, and the fourth character is filled in by various people to progress the plot. There are a few good plot twists, and the characters actually have some personality, albeit a little. However, it seems to flow very slowly.

   This game can be very easy or very hard. The very hard way would be to just try to go through the game the traditional way, gaining "levels" along the way. This will get you killed in a hurry. You can raise your weapons' and spells' levels quickly with a little trick...

   The trick is this - get a fourth character right off. The first three are the ones you are going to keep anyway. Just select a command for the first three, then cancel. Do this a hundred times for each weapon and spell, and they all gain a level. Then cream the enemies. There, got that done? Now do it fifteen more times, as you can only gain one level per battle. Oh, and did you get a new spell? Go through those sixteen battles again, and have fun! Right.

   Overall, Final Fantasy II didn't look bad. It was a minor improvement over Final Fantasy, but even that game was great for its time. However, Maria and Guy look like they're in pajamas when not, how would you put it, "joined" with Frionel, the main character. Other than that, the graphics neither contributed toward nor worked against this game.

Gee, I wonder how long it took to get that powerful...
Gee, I wonder how long it took to get that powerful... 

   With that said, how could you want to replay this game? Either way you play, or even any middle-ground you travel, becomes torture. That, and you've gotta keep their power, magic power, HP and MP are kept up to snuff. Think you can handle it? Do you want to do that all again? I didn't think so.

   Considering all the "leveling" that must be done, this game can take a long time just to get powerful enough to destroy a party of ghosts. You CAN make the games faster by using the trick... just don't fall asleep while doing it. I know, I know, it seems useless, and, well... it is.

   Taking everything into consideration, the small storyline's pluses and the gameplay's minuses add up to a number well into the negatives. If you want to say, "I've played every Final Fantasy to date," then... have fun. Otherwise, I wouldn't recommend this game. If you want some fun, play Final Fantasy IIIj, which is much harder than this anyway, but a lot more satisfying. So, don't even bother trying to import this and have somebody translate it for you; wou will get incredibly frustrated, and the translator will get incredibly bored (ask me how I know).

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