Hey, guess whose back, back again…I am back… Tell some nerds, I guess.
Today I’ve returned with the next installment in the series that is most likely responsible for my current career. If you’re here expecting me to talk about Final Fantasy II on the SNES, go away. You’re no longer welcome here, but be sure to return later on because that’s when we’ll be discussing the adventures of Cecil and Rosa. Today we’re going to be discussing the black sheep of the Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy II was originally released on the Famicom in 1988 and wouldn’t see an official English translation until 2003, crazy right? The only title in the series that took longer to be officially released stateside was Final Fantasy III which was released on the Nintendo DS in 2006. That’s not why we’re here though, so let’s get to it shall we?
As you may have guessed form yesterday’s post, these aren’t necessarily “reviews” but rather, a logging of my love and deep admiration for the series. While its true that I didn’t start playing Final Fantasy until the late 90’s I did eventually go back and play the originals.
Insanely Difficult For A Final Fantasy Title
The first time I played Final Fantasy II was again, on the Final Fantasy Origins disk. The game starts out by murdering you in a field. This was an insane concept to me and I immediately worried about what the rest of the game was going to be like. That is until I realized it was a fight that you were required to lose. Then everything was peaches and cream for a while. That is until it became apparent that this game was going to be radically different from other entries in the series. In fact, I would more closely relate this entry to any of those in the SaGa series.
Turns out I wasn’t that far off because the person that designed Final Fantasy II, Akitoshi Kawazu, was the man responsible for the SaGa series. If you think that bit of information isn’t that important, trust me, it will be in a few weeks, so remember it.
Something that stood out to me the most with this particular title is how unforgivingly difficult it is. I mean I expect a certain level of challenge from any RPG game but there were times when this game made me think that drowning in boiling water would have been easier. I don’t know if this was some kind of intentional design mechanic or what because difficulty of this nature only appeared one other time in the series that I know of. (Final Fantasy III)
I think the overall difficulty was actually toned down for the PSP and Game Boy Advance remakes but I really wouldn’t know since I didn’t play those ones, It’s only what I’ve heard from other people. Aside from the crushing difficulty, there’s one other thing that makes this game stand out for me. That’s the lack of a traditional leveling system, which I thought was amazing atr the time until I camer full circle and realized that this was probably the reason the game was so difficult.
Don’t get me wrong on that, I still think the way the game handled character growth is amazing, I just feel that there should have been a better way to handle the growth incline rather than. Rather than base it on individual actions, perhaps they could have contributed certain stats to certain weapon classes. Then again what do I know, I’m no game designer.
Benchmarks For The Series
A lot of elements present in this game are now staples in the Final Fantasy series. Like Chocobos and Cid, because what’s a Final Fantasy game without a character named Cid? I’ll tell you what it is; it’s Final Fantasy I and we don’t talk about it anymore.
The most important thing that Final Fantasy II contributed to the series and console RPG’s as a whole was the use of epic story telling. It typically takes around nine hours to finish Final Fantasy I. However, Final Fantasy II is a thirty hour game at best. That’s a huge difference and without unique characters and an expansive storyline it never would have been so.
Now I can’t say much for the games story because I personally don’t care for it. It’s almost as if Square were simply using this game as some sort of jumping off point for the series. What I mean by that is, it feels to me that they were simply testing the waters with storytelling on this one. There are many cliché story elements and far too much drama. It often seems that characters are reacting to each other rather than the world around them. While some people may enjoy that kind of introspective storytelling, I do not.
Where Final Fantasy I had a small bonus mini game that could be activated with a sequence of button presses, Final Fantasy II takes a different route. After you defeat the final Boss in the Game Boy Advance version, you will gain access to the Rebirth Dungeon and guess what? It’s hard as hell.
This requires an extra save file and allows you to use characters that died during the main game. That’s all I’m going to say about it because it’s really something that you need to experience on your own. So go find a copy of the game and finish, assuming you have the patience. If you don’t I, suppose you could just look it up on YouTube or something but where’s the fun in that?
That’s It For This Week
- Final Fantasy II is currently available on the following platforms.
- Wondweswan Color (Look it up)
- PlayStation 1
- Game Boy Advance
So you really don’t have a reason not to check it out, unless you just don’t want to pay for it but trust me it’s worth any price. Be sure to come back tomorrow for another article and in the meantime, I’m going to start working my way through Final Fantasy III. So, Assuming I don’t go insane with rage by then, you can look forward to me discussing that one.
Cover Image via Final Fantasy Wiki.