"One of the Super NES's all time best RPG's."

During my younger days of gaming one of the games that I absolutely had to have but just couldn't seem to get was Final Fantasy II for the Super NES. After renting this game once I was instantly hooked on it but unfortunately couldn't afford to buy it. My ill fortunes would not change until I finally got a copy to call my own back in 2000. Even now over ten years after it's release this game easily ranks as one of my all time favorite titles, few RPG's can compare to Final Fantasy II.

GAMEPLAY:

The game play is the traditional RPG style of walking around on the over world map and occasionally being challenged to random monster battles. The game plays pretty well, the battle commands are easy to use and moving on the over world screen is no problem. You will explore many different environments in the game but on a whole the game play is divided into two categories the over world, which consists of the main map, towns, caves, buildings, etc and the battle sub screen. Your party consists of up to five warriors who take turns exchanging attacks between themselves and the monsters that you fight. A character's attacks consist of standard attacks using weapons equipped such as swords, bow and arrows, cane, knife, etc and of special techniques unique to each character. Magic is the main special attack power in this game and it can be divided into two categories, white or healing magic and black or attack magic. The people in your party change throughout the course of the game as new fighters join or leave the group. Controls are not really an issue here since this is an RPG so you can rest assured that they work effectively. Some noticeable improvements were made in this game over the original Final Fantasy (in case you didn't know Final Fantasy II is actually Final Fantasy IV in Japan) such as a better-designed system for buying, selling, and carrying weapons and other items as well as improvements to the battle mechanics. For example in the first Final Fantasy game on the NES your character would always attack the enemy you assigned the command to even if that enemy was defeated before their turn, as a result the attack would miss causing lots of frustration, however this problem has been fixed in Final Fantasy II and your character will now default to another enemy in this situation. I can't really complain about the game play since everything seems to work smoothly, good job on Square's part.

AUDIO/VIDEO:

This game was originally planned as an NES release but was instead adapted to the Super NES at the last minute and as a result the game is noticeably lacking in a few areas particularly graphics. The graphics are pretty weak even for a first generation game and don't show a hint of the Super NES's true potential. The sound effects are also unimpressive for the most part, suffering from the same flaw. But the music on the other hand is a sharp contrast to this trend. The music is terrific, by far some of the best most memorable music on the Super NES and in the entire Final Fantasy series. These tunes are classic and even the long time interval between the last time that I rented the game and finally managed to get a used copy I vividly remembered all of the music. In fact I liked it so much that I burned the sound tracks onto a CD, it really is that good.

STORY:

Like most RPG's the story is very complex with lots of plot twists and other surprises. It would be foolish to try and summarize the entire story in this review so instead I will give a brief but informative summary of the opening story. The game starts out with Cecil (the main character) being told by the king of the country of Baron to take the life crystal from a small village where it is kept protected. Cecil is the commander of the mighty Red Wings air ship fleet and quickly defeats the townspeople and takes their crystal. When Cecil returns to Baron and meets the king he questions his orders to attack the town and as a result is stripped of his position as commander of the Red Wings. Cecil leaves the king's chambers and is confronted by his best friend Kain the Dragoon. The pair is given a new assignment to deliver a special package to a small town in the valley of mist where Callers reside (people who can summon monsters to assist them). Cecil meets up with Cid the air ship engineer who tells him that this girl friend Rosa has been waiting for him. Cecil and Rosa meet and Cecil tells her that he is upset about his position in the kingdom and as a Dark Knight by profession. The next day Cecil and Kain set out to the valley of mist in the northern mountains and so the story begins. The story is one of the best ones that I have seen despite a few noticeable translation quirks and the character development is excellent. But of course thats all I can say you will have to play through the game to enjoy the story.

CHALLENGE:

The game is not the most challenging game in the series but does manage to boast enough challenge to keep an experienced gamer happy. The game is not as focused on leveling up as many other RPG's (ex: Dragon Warrior, original Final Fantasy) from this time period so luckily this often-tedious aspect is not a problem. Enemies advance at a high enough rate of difficulty throughout the game to keep it interesting and most of the bosses particularly the latter ones will require a lot of skill to defeat.

FUN FACTOR:

Unless you dislike RPG's then I can guarantee that you will like this game and get lots of enjoyment out of it.

REPLAY ABILITY:

The game has replay value galore, with tons of secrets to uncover including side quests and hidden items. This adds a lot to the replay. I enjoyed the game so much that I replayed it several times to get a better feel for the story, to listen to the great music, and simply because the game is fun to play through again and again.

TO BUY OR TO RENT?:

I would say buy but whether or not you want to pick up the original or the recently re-released PlayStation version is the big question. On one hand the PlayStation version has the completely uncut uncensored Japanese version of the game and it is more readily available to the average gamer but on the other hand the game suffers from extremely annoying load times (or so I've heard, haven't actually played that version of the game) and the PlayStation hardware's own inability to create high quality 2D graphics. But whatever option you decide on I highly recommend that you pick up this classic game. Final Fantasy II is clearly one of Square's best Super NES creations and one of the best games of all time.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/22/02, Updated 01/22/02


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