Review by XCommander
"Final Fantasy II is OLD-SCHOOL (but still good)"
The Final Fantasy series of RPG's is one of, if not the greatest of all time. Almost all the games in the series are legendary in their own rights and do not age a bit. The same is true with this one, Final Fantasy II. Final Fantasy II (also know as Final Fantasy IV in Japan) was the first FF on the Super NES. Now that the developers had access to the 16-bit power that could finally do the series justice.
This game is a classic 100%. If there was one game that represented the classic old-school RPG, I would say this game would be front-runner. The game sure looks dated when compared to modern RPG's like Xenosaga or Final Fantasy X, but that does not mean it is any worse. In fact, I would prefer this game to those two, any day. The story is fun to see, the characters are all likeable and none really get on your nerves. The story consists of the Dark Night Cecil returning from a mission which brought him to the magical village of Mysidia. There he took a crystal and now he must return it to the King of Baron Castle. Along the way, Cecil meets up with many interesting people including Kain, the dragoon; Rydia, the caller; Tellah, the sage; Edward, the (spoony) bard; and, who could forget the Mysidian Twins, Palom and Porom. Of course you will meet up with even more party members who will join you on your journey.
The graphics aren't really that great compared to other SNES games. Alright, their ugly. They are basically the same looking sprites as the NES FF games, just with added colors and resolution. The game does look quite colorful, and the character designs themselves in the menu look pretty good. In battle the characters are larger, and can show expression in their faces which is a neat effect. The animation isn't great, but its not terrible. The enemies look really good and are designed by the famous artist of the series, Yoshitaka Amano. Some flying enemies sway up and down a little, but not too much. As in all the early Final Fantasies, the enemy flashes before an attack, and doesn't move at all. The magic, I think, looks pretty corny. The screen flashes a little, or sways a bit, accompanied by a bright and colorful spell. Some people like these spells, but they are not for me. Overall the game is sub-par graphically, but who cares still plays SNES RPG's and cares about graphics?
Sonically, this has one of the greatest scores in a video game. Square definitely took advantage of the advanced sound card (from Sony, believe it or not) that the SNES had, and produced some great tunes. Nobuo Uematsu (sp?) conducted a great soundtrack that will never be forgotten, because these songs are timeless. When you first boot the game, you are greeted with a booming song as you see airships flying on the screen. It just goes perfectly. The Theme for Baron, the Airship theme, the overworld, plus who could forget the famous Final Fantasy Bridge Crossing song contained in this game. The Intro/Crystal Theme is also found here, and is unsurprisingly done brilliantly. In battle, the normal battle theme just passes with good; its not quite as great as some games like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy III, but its still passable. The normal boss theme is excellent, and is composed superbly, with its own intro and a great and thrilling middle that coincides nicely when you play some of the malignant bosses. There is also a ''legendary'' boss music, as in CT, that happens when you fight the dastardly four fiends. This theme is great, and though it happens few and far between, you'll love it when it plays. The game's music is so great you will want to purchase it in a store.
The sound effects are decent. They don't go great when compared with the excellent music. The sword slashes sound too... ''lame.'' Its not as great as the sound you hear in Final Fantasy III, the sound is too slow and sounds like ''swish, swish,'' that's it. The sound when you cast a spell is a quick ''flashy'' noise, that's it, not much you can say about that. Most of the other sounds aren't too bad, but the sound when you launch an arrow sounds like a million beeps. Overall the SFX could have been better.
If you are a true (tr00) old-school RPGer you would probably disregard the things I said above (well... everything except the music). You are interested in this game for it's excellent gameplay above everything else. Well, you can't deny it, this game has some great gameplay with the touch of that old-school charm. This was the first game to feature the now standard ''active-time battle system.'' This was when you select attacks as your enemy selected attacks, without a pause or anything. This got rid of the much worse turn-based system found in the NES games. Now battles could be faster, harder, and needed more strategy. Now you didn't have to actually wait until nine other enemies finished their turn, you can attack after the 3rd one or so. One thing I didn't like was that Square omitted a time bar so you could see when your attack was. You just had to kind of guess. Fortunately, in the next installment, they fixed this problem.
The menus are better organized than the NES counterparts, but they have a few flaws. One example is that you can't see if the weapon or armor could make you stronger or weaker. A nice arrow or equal sign would have been nice, but it doesn't really matter because the stronger weapon is always the most expensive (for the most part). In battle the menus are fine and hold up well enough to compete with the PSX counterparts. Under items, you can now sort them automatically so you don't have 40 potions spread out across your item menu. Now you can have the 40 for one choice.
Outside of battle, you control like a typical RPG. There is no turbo/sprint button, so you must walk that slow pace the whole time. It's not that bad, and you will definitely get used to it. You can talk to people and if you check something that looks strange, your item menu will pop up and you could choose a yellow item to use. Really, it's your typical stuff (sorry for that word, but ''things'' just didn't sound right).
Square Soft released this game quite early in the SNES life time, so you know you are getting an oldie when you play it. You always know though, that oldies are the goodies (Wow! That sounds like a real cliche). Newbies to the series, that started at about FFVII, will probably pass this game off as, ''OMG, This game is Teh Su><orsz!!!!11!1!,'' but vets with an open mind will say, ''Wow, the graphics are bland, but hey, the story, music, and gameplay are great, so who cares?'' Before you play this game, judge your first reaction. If you can't stick with it, then this is not the game for you. However, if you are willing to keep an open head, you can really enjoy and get the most out of this thrilling adventure.
-excellent old-school story
-great gameplay in battles
-too old-school for some
(but for those who are too ''new-school'' you can take most of those points away.)
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/29/03, Updated 04/29/03
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