Review by NeuroSephiroth
Final Fantasy II: The Sequel to the Classic
With the success of Final Fantasy, it was clear; there had to be a sequel. But with the way Final Fantasy ended, there really was no way to continue the story, lest it be garbage. The solution? New story, new characters, new setting, new everything. This would become a thing with (most) Final Fantasy games later.
This Final Fantasy, unlike the first, was not released in the US until the early 2000's on the PlayStation, so us in America, Europe, and elsewhere missed out on this one. The only way to play it on the NES is to either play it in Japanese on a cartridge, find a translated cartridge (really really difficult, I would imagine), or play it in an Emulator, which is the much preferable method.
So is this game as good as the original Final Fantasy, or was it a colossal failure? Let's have a look.
-The Story. It's not about 4 Crystals this time. No, this time, it's about war. An evil Emperor wants to rule the world, and invades the town of Fynn (translated as Phin). There are 4 survivors who flee the town, and these 4 are integral in the effort to defeat the Palamecian Army (translated as Paramekian). It's a more interesting story, because you don't know what could happen next.
-The Graphics. Sure, some of them are recycled from the previous game, but you can tell they did more than simple palette swaps. The models actually look different. There's more of them, too! And they all look more detailed than the originals.
-The Player Strategies. No longer are you limited to 4 classes. Since every character can equip everything, there's a ton of customization to be done. Everyone has a different playstyle, and this game lets you make the choice of what you want to utilize in battle. It feels like you're playing a different Final Fantasy than the original, despite the fact it looks almost the same.
-The Battle Music. Yes, there's more than one song to be played in battles! Hooray! And you'll know when it's an intense battle because the second, way better song will be used.
-The Battle System. There is no leveling up, per se. Skills level up as they are used. If you take a lot of damage in a battle, your HP will increase. If you use magic, it'll level up. And so on. This means you could attack yourself and force your HP to level up. It's very realistic. I mean, if you punched yourself in the face, really hard, 3 times a day, every day, for a year, eventually it'll start to hurt less. There's a degree of realism, but is it the best idea for an RPG? Probably not.
-The AI. It's tougher to fake out the AI in this game. By this, I mean it's tougher to trick the AI into doing something stupid. It seems that after every turn, the AI decides it's next move, damage values for all characters, whether some spells will work or not, etc., whereas in the previous game, it was handled at the beginning of the turn, rather than at the end, if that makes sense. It's tougher to be smart, is basically what I'm saying.
-The Encounter Rate. It's normal for the final dungeon to have high encounter rates, but I mean, taking 8 steps and getting into a random battle, in a 10 floor dungeon? It gets annoying VERY quickly. This is something lots of people gripe about, and it's very easy to see why. It makes some dungeons very difficult, more than necessary.
-The Location Accessibility. Once you get the ship, you can go (nearly) anywhere in the world, and this means you can fight the strongest of monsters very early in the game, be completely destroyed, and have to do several hours of gameplay over. Simply put, it'd be a lot better if these places were sealed off by ships or landmasses or something.
So is Final Fantasy II as good as the first one? I don't think so. But is it the worst one of the series? I also don't think so. I mean sure, it's got its flaws and everything, and perhaps we'd all rather play the original than the sequel, but it's still worth playing through at least once, though you may not want to play it again after that. But if you think about it, the game had to be made this way. To prove that a traditional level up system is better than the realism level up system. To see how fans would respond to this. And as you can see, traditional leveling is better. But that doesn't mean this game isn't good. That just means it's unique. And the cosmetic changes alone are no reason to shun it away.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Final Fantasy II (JP, 12/17/88)
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