Review by hecktic00

"Not much compared to the Japanese version, but still a decent game."

When doing a review, I like to take all angles and incorporate them into one solid viewpoint. While this is usually easy with some games, Squaresoft has had a reputation for releasing games in various upgrades, versions, and on various systems. Final Fantasy II(IV) has been released four times if I counted correctly, and with that it's kind of hard to review the game.

Never-the-less, it must be done and I'm reviewing this game in comparison to the other versions that were released all over the world. While I could review the game by its own regards... It wouldn't really do justice to what it originally was. And when reviewing, I believe it's in the best interest of readers to get the best copy available.

Gameplay:

This was the first RPG released with the Active Time Battle(ATB from now on) system. Basically, you enter battle and the order of attacks is based on actual speed of the players and not a "wait" system like most Turn-Based RPGs.

While this adds various new elements to strategy, the problem with FF2(and 4) is that there is no indication of who attacks when. While it might be that we're just spoiled by every other FF game that DOES have an ATB bar, it still leaves something to be desired with FF2(4). You're basically left to wait around until a command box pops up. You also can't change the stats of characters through items, armor, or weapons; so you're left to randomness when it comes to speed.

Now, the real reason why this game(or "version" I should say) loses points is because it's missing so much from the original Final Fantasy IV to be rated that high. See, FF2(US) is just called FF4 Easytype in Japan. It was originally a game for children, and newbies to the RPG genre, to play. What we got in America was the Easytype version. And now I'll fill you in on a few major changes that made the gameplay real bad.

Let's start by saying that several configuration options were removed from the transition of the Japan version and the American version. The American version is missing the ability to customize controls and even use multiplayer (Yes, FFIV originally had MULTIPLAYER(!) with capabilities for up to two gamepads!) It's also missing the true "Active Time Battle" setup. As in, when you're selecting items in battle, no one attacks. If you're looking for extra challenge, FFIV offers the real ATB where you get attacked, even when choosing items.

Other noteable changes in FF2(US): The enemies are toned down a lot, the characters are missing various "extra" skills to use in battle, and healing items are a lot easier to come by. Not to mention, status healing items are gone in FF2(US). Instead, they are all replaced by the easily gettable "Heal" item that heals ALL status abnormalities.

So, while the gameplay in FF2(US) is good, it's tons better in the real original version. This would leave me to believe that this version of the game requires some points to be taken off.

FF2(4) has various forms of transportation in the game. Throughout the game you'll come across a hovercraft, an airship, and even a giant whale(-_-). These will make your speed through the game much faster and much more enjoyable.

A thing I don't like about FF2(and 4) is that your characters don't offer much customization. All the spells you'll get and all the skills you'll get are predetermined and you're more or less force-fed everything. While this adds considerably to the character's details and the storyline, it doesn't really offer much in terms of variation. Along with that, you're also set using a certain collection of characters throughout the game. While it does change based on the storyline, it's very restricting.

Cosmetics:

The graphics in FF2(4) are pretty much a mixed bag. The character designs and sprites all look cool and they vary from character to character. But the overworld map graphics don't look that much better than a late NES game. That is to say, they are pretty bland.

The battle graphics are vastly superior though. The enemies are all well detailed and usually look like something you'd not want to come in contact with(a.k.a. scary). The character artwork is also exceptional, even though you only see the face. The spell effects are decent enough. They vary from an "eh" feeling to a "wow!" feeling. Chances are, you'll be impressed enough to enjoy them. I also liked the fact that the backgrounds in battle were always changing.

The music in the game is pretty well done. Here you can start to see the path of how Final Fantasy went with later games. It feels like a Final Fantasy and it sounds like a Final Fantasy.

Overall I decided not to deduct any points from this section.

Storyline:

You play the part of Cecil. He is a Dark Knight in the Kingdom of Baron and he's sent on a quest to retrieve a crystal from a village of mages. During the quest, he decides that what he is doing is wrong. He then goes back to Baron and tries to ask his King why he's doing what he is doing and is eventually outcasted and cited as "rebelling".

You are friends with a man named Kain and he'll try to help you out by leaving with you. Unfortunately, you both cause even more destruction when you try to accomplish your next quest and you(as Cecil) are left to go on alone throughout the world.

The plot is very fleshed out and the characters are all pretty well done. However, in the FF2(US) version, the translation is terrible. It's not just terrible, but the characters are missing some valuable lines and context. This makes them look extremely pathetic and leaves a lot to be desired.

Overall/Explanation/Recommendation:

A problem with reviewing this game is that everyone now has the chance to play better translated and upgraded copies via other means. While the original game was good, these upgrades made them better and for that FF2 doesn't really have a place in my heart anymore.

If the upgrades weren't around, I would probably have rated this game higher. But it just doesn't work that way anymore and the context in this version is seriously lacking. Basically... It looks pathetic compared to the other versions out there.

If I had to recommend something, I'd recommend the original FFIV Japanese version. Playing it by importing it or emulating it would probably be the best bet. However, I can still give some kind of recommendation for this game. A 6/10 isn't nearly a terrible score, and the game is still decent. I just wish they had made it as close to perfection as the original FFIV was. Oh well.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 05/21/06


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