Review by Zylo the wolf
"An underrated game in the series."
Considering how popular the Final Fantasy series is today it's strange that it took this game so long to finally get released outside of Asia. Many believes that's only because the rest of the world didn't like RPGs as much Japan and since this game was so bad that Square didn't want to take a risk and release it to the English speaking world, but it's actually the SNES that we should blame. The first Final Fantasy took 3 years to get released to America, and in the SNES released in 1991 so Square decided to translate Final Fantasy IV instead and call it Final Fantasy II in the English speaking world. But thanks to emulation, it's easy in the Internet age we are living in to get a fan made translation of the Japanese Final Fantasy II.
On the Nes, there was almost an unwritten rule that sequels had to be very different from the first game. Take a look at Super Mario Bros 2, Zelda II, Castlevania II and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles 2 just to name a few popular series. Final Fantasy II is not different from any of those series. Instead of creating four heroes in this game you get to name four young characters, 3 guys and 1 girl. I don't remember if it says something about their official names in the manual, but in the remakes these characters are called Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon.
The game starts with that our four heroes is attacked by a couple of soldiers. This battle is not possible to win, since all your characters haven't got much battle experience yet. Anyway after the battle, Firion suddenly wakes up in a castle he has never been in. He exists the room he's in and then he meets Maria and Guy. They tell him that the princess of the castle wants to have a word with them.
It turns out that our heroes hometown Fynn have been taken over by an evil empire and that the castle they are in now is the headquarters of a resistance organisation. After proving that Firion, Maria and Guy are worthy, they join the resistance group to defeat the evil empire, free their home town, and also find Maria's brother Leon.
What may seem very strange in this RPG is that the experience system is completely different from what I have seen in any other RPG. A character gets better at one thing by doing it as much as possible. For example, the characters gets more HP the more damage they take in a battle. Since it's possible to attack yourself, this means that it doesn't take much time until all your characters have a lot of HP, and since they also attacked so much, they also got really strong.
The same thing goes about everything. Magics get better the more you use them, the characters vitality gets better the more they get hurt, they get more MP the more they have used in a battle, they improve their skills with a weapon by fighting with it as much as possible e.t.c. This allows you to customize your characters much more than in the previous Final Fantasy game, which is something I personally really like, even if it's a strange way to get experience.
Obviously you understand that you have to spend a bit time with a character to make him or her useful. Of course you can do that in the beginning with the three characters and then just do a quick building up when you think that the enemies gets tough. But there are just 3 characters you have in the beginning, but most of the time you have 4 characters in your party.
The 4th character in your party changes during the whole game. Some of the characters are already well trained when you join them, but some are completely rookies when they join you. Since anyone can figure out who the last 4th character will be you might as well ignore that you have a fourth character and just focus on Firion, Maria and Guy. The reason why the 4th character keeps changing is because the storyline says so, which to be honest I think it's ok, but it still seems a little strange that some of the character aren't worth any of your time to build up when they are completely useless when they join you.
When it comes to the battles, this game isn't much different than the first Final Fantasy. You can still either fight or run when you meet the enemies. If you choose to fight then you can still either do it by brutal force or by using magic. One thing that has been added is that some weapons, like bows for example, are now long ranged weapons. This means that it's now possible for a character with a little lower vitality then the others to be one step behind the other characters when they are lined up in battle. If they have a long ranged weapon, then this won't affect their attack power, but it will make them being able to take more hits.
Another thing that might bug a few who didn't enjoy the first Final Fantasy is that your characters can still attack dead enemies, the random encounter rate is still a bit high and it takes much money to get the current best equipment. It's also a bit sad that it's so easy to abuse the experience system that the game can be a piece of cake except for a few challenging boss fights.
But there's one thing that I really liked about Final Fantasy II, and that was the thing that makes many play RPGs over any other genre. The story in this game is really great. Today many might say that they have seen it all before, a bunch of young humans who travels through the whole world and gets stronger, and finally defeat the evil empire and peace gets restored.
But there are so many interesting characters and events in Final Fantasy II that makes me want to return to this game someday. Final Fantasy II isn't the absolute masterpiece in the series, but it gets very much hate for the different experience system. If you just can accept the experience system, and obviously that this is an RPG on the Nes, then you still have a great RPG ahead of you.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/23/07
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