Review by 12shadows
"My Favorite Game Of All Time"
I don't know how to start this review . . .
Do I begin with the "mandatory" comparisons to other titles, do I describe the reasons why I love this game so much, or what?
I'll try to address these issues (and more) here. Just try to remember that this is just an opinion and is not written in stone, or whatever. I'll provide an alternate final score to give you a clearer picture, but, right off the bat and personally, this game is 10 out of 10 for me.
I guess I'll just start with why it is I love this game so much.
The truth, plain and simple, is that I don't know. I guess all the elements (which I'll describe later) just added up perfectly to complete this great game. This is one of the few games that I keep coming back to, even after all this time, and a game that I'll take over any next-gen game any day.
FF II (I know it's actually IV and all the other hoopla, but I'll stick to II) was the first RPG I ever played. I was about 12 or 13 when I began to look for FF III, driven by the great reviews it had in some gaming magazine. Unfortunately (or perhaps I should say fortunately), FF III was a bit out of my prize range, so I listened to my older brother when he suggested that I try finding it in a pawn shop. I remember going into one and seeing that there was a FF game there, only it was not the one I was initially looking for, as it was FF II. I thought, "well, if III seems like a good game, I'll try II first and see what's up." At the time, I was totally unfamiliar with the FF series, so I couldn't know that the games were not about the same characters, or whatever. Anyways, I picked the game up (for $20, BTW), took it home, and put in on the SNES, completely unaware of the fact that my life would never be the same after that.
Anyways, on to the interesting part: the scores in all the areas of the game.
Graphics: 9 / 10
The graphics are well done. The characters' "normal" view is a bit messed up, but the battle sprites are great. The map is well drawn and detailed, as are the monsters and backgrounds in battles. The one thing I may have a problem with is the color palette, which is a bit too "happy," or bright, sometimes.
Now, I have to be objective and admit that the graphics, by today's standards, are poor. However, I don't think this takes anything away from the most important thing about the game itself, which was the fun I had when playing it. So, I am giving this score based on comparisons I made with games from around the same time period, 'cause it's the only fair way to do so, I think (I did this with every category). I really hate it when people, especially next-gen snobs, say "oh, that game has crap graphics and it's not 3D, so it must suck." When the kids 20 years from now laugh at the graphics of the XBox 360, I'll laugh at you with them. Anyways, realize that this game is about 15 years old, so cut it some slack.
Music: 10 / 10
Being a musician, I pay more attention to the music I hear anywhere than the average person. When I first played this game, though, my guitar-playing days were a bit in the distance, but I firmly believe that this game helped to plant the music seeds in my brain.
I have yet to hear any game soundtrack that surpasses this title's. Some people say that FF III and Chrono Trigger have better soundtracks than this, but I have to disagree with them. I have played both of these games as well, and I can hardly remember any of the melodies as vividly as I do the ones here.
All the songs in this game, save the Town theme (which is very "lazy"), are completely awesome. From the opening arpeggios of the Main theme, the Red Wings theme, the Baron theme, the world map music, the Boss Battle theme . . . I could go on forever. All the melodies help to establish or carry the mood in the story and come in at just the right time when they play in story events.
However, my personal favorite in this game, and in all of gaming history, is the Fiends Of Elements theme. The dramatic opening, the staccato orchestra hits, and the overall awesomeness of this great piece cannot be described in words simply because none of them would do it justice. The Atma Weapon theme in FF III, the Boss themes in Chrono Trigger, and any themes in any other game (even Castlevania games, which have awesome soundtracks) sound amateurish in comparison.
Story / Characters: 9 / 10
I'll be objective here too and admit that the story has cliches-a-plenty. However, I'm giving this score because this was one of the first RPGs in the SNES, so it kinda helped to establish all the cliches that we have now. Love triangles, plot twists, etc, in RPGs had some of their origins here.
The story, sloppy translations aside, is very good. I admit that it's not excellent, but it kept me glued to my controller, waiting for whatever would come next. Our main guy here is Cecil, who is the commander of the Red Wings of Baron and a Dark Knight. After realizing that he is not happy with the missions he has to complete, he is ratted on to the King by Baigan, who sensed Cecil's uneasiness. The King then relieves Cecil of his command and sends him on an errand to the Village of Mist, along with his friend Kain, who was trying to convince the King to reconsider. They are separated once they learn the true reason why they were sent to Mist by the King and after a tragic event, and this marks the beginning of Cecil's journey to save the world, during which he will meet new friends and fight many dangerous enemies.
The story has some dramatic plot twists, most of which involve Kain. I'm not gonna go too much into the characters, as that info can be found in many other places in this site, but I will say that most of them, except Edward, are very helpful to you and have unique abilities to use in battle, as opposed to other games.
Anyways, on a little side note here, Kain deserves to have his own game. Here, I'll even provide the title for such game, in true Dirge of Cerberus fashion: Final Fantasy II: The Path Of The Dragoon. He's the coolest character in the game, and arguably, the most powerful of the Fighter types when he uses the Jump command.
True, Kain is the stereotypical loner guy, but the way in which he deals with being torn between good and evil, the way in which he's forced to do things he doesn't want to do, and the way in which he takes the emotional damage from his hopeless love, make him much more than that.
Gameplay / Misc: 9 / 10
This is one of the aspects that piss off a lot of people.
It irritates me to see how people complain about the smallest things nowadays, like:
"I can't walk diagonally!" So what? you'll get to where you need to by walking in 4 directions.
"The enemy keeps attacking me before I choose my commands!" Sure, 'cause a mugger coming at you with a knife in a dark alley will patiently wait until you decide what to do about it before cutting you up.
"The characters don't have a proper turn order!" This actually makes battles a bit more difficult, as you are forced to adjust your strategy on the fly, yet a lot of people complain that the game is too easy. Whatever.
"I don't have a dash button!" Characters walk slow, deal with it.
These, and many other things, are issues that a lot of people and I had to deal with when playing the game. Gamers of today have been terribly spoiled, which is unfortunate. I can't imagine them playing the old school Ninja Gaiden titles on the NES without running to mommy crying that they can't beat it or throwing some heavy object at their TV in frustration.
Also, some people complain that the characters can't be exchanged and that they have fixed abilities, instead of a Job system, or whatever. I think that this adds a lot to the game because you are just forced to push on with what you have to get over a situation, kinda like in real life. You can't always choose your partners for the next group project in school or at the office, and I think that FF II mimics this to an extent.
Anyways, the control scheme is simple and user-friendly, and the menus are easy to understand, too. There are no major issues with it. Replay value is decent, with quite a few "very" rare items that take a long time to find.
Personal Final Score: 10 / 10
You may have seen that I gave this game mostly 9s, so how come I gave it a 10 out of 10? Well, because of the fun I had when playing the game, which is something you can't really put a price on. It did take me about 26 hrs the first time around, which to some people, is a very short time to complete an RPG in. In reality, it took a lot more than that because I was killed in some areas quite a few times without saving, which meant doing a lot of stuff over and over again, especially in the last area.
FF II turned me on to the RPG genre, and it remains the RPG by which I judge all the ones that I play. For some reason, I connected with this game more than with any other, and to this day, I keep playing it every now and then, if only for the nostalgia value.
Alternate Final Score: 7 / 10
This was calculated after taking into account all the things which may turn off some people, like poor graphics, the story, etc.
Anyways, if you're a fan of the FF series, or RPGs in general, do yourself a favor and try to find a copy of this so you can try it out. Perhaps there is one out there, forgotten in a pawn shop somewhere, gathering dust besides old movies and CDs until you pick it up.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/09/06
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