Available on: NES, Virtual Console
The first Final Fantasy game's success was not planned or foreseen in any way by the game's creator and now Square's driving force Hironobu Sakaguchi. Therefore, no sequel was ever even perceived as a possibility. Sakaguchi and co-designer Akitoshi Kawazu worked together to create a whole new story totally unlinked to the previous game, and got Final Fantasy II on the shelves one day shy of a year since the first game's release... but only in Japan. By the time Final Fantasy II was ready for the North American and European markets, Final Fantasy IV had already been completed for the new Super Nintendo Entertainment System. That's where the confusion began to take shape; Final Fantasy IV was renamed Final Fantasy II in North America, and the real Final Fantasy II remained in Japan right up until 2002, when it was remade for the Sony PlayStation as a part of Final Fantasy Origins. A prototype of the North American version remained in circulation for years, and it's now available as a ROM on most sites focused on emulation. ...And guess what? It's a better game than the first one. It's far from perfect, but what's taking shape is visible in both story and gameplay.
The true start of a long road
After a failed attack resulting in the disappearance of their friend, three reckless teens grow desperate to prove their worth to a rebel princess to join her insurrection against the Dark Emperor.
Overall Final Fantasy II doesn't look much better than its predecessor, but certain graphical elements are taking shape which have remained in the series to this day, such as facial avatars and a generic, horizontal version of the menu. The sprites are a bit more refined and there's more variety to them. When it comes to composition, the music is awesome. The battle theme is downright legendary. However, in this 8-bit version its awesomeness is a bit lost in bad filtration. The most annoying sound effects are gone from the fray.
|Guess I'm in the right place, since I'm really|
agitated at the grammar right about now.
|My assigned white mage passed out... and I|
still have a lot of battles to go before I'll be
able to afford just one Revive.
A new element not used in a Final Fantasy game since is a key word system. Upon taking note of certain words during conversations with NPC's, you can use them to trigger additional dialogue or events with other NPC's. It doesn't have much use to you in terms of keeping personal notes, but the system's inclusion on this capacity is quite impressive, and all the key words are important to making progress. Yep, the game's a bit linear - but if you want the whole story behind the key word system's worst qualities, refer to the Dawn of Souls review.
What brings a little more challenge into the game in contrast of what I said earlier about the unintended self-buff system, is the fact that you still can't afford decent shit. You start off with 400 gil once again, and you need to carefully consider what you buy. You get a decent amount of money from battles, but nothing in this game turns any cheaper. Simple items like Ether or Revive cost thousands, and there's no way to replenish mana or resurrect a fallen party member without them. Not even trying to sleep off an untimely case of K.O. helps. Even curative items are scarce to come by, and buying multiple spells for each party member to use and build up is expensive fun. The chance to put your weakest link in defense to the newly established back row - which prevents melee attacks on that particular character - helps a bit, but not much as the battles get tougher and long range attacks or spells become the enemies' standard offensive methods.
|I've gots feelings weres nots in Kansas'|
As long as you can keep on fighting enemies every two steps you take on the world map - hey, at least there's something truly Japanese about it - and consequently play your cards on the item, equipment and spell market just right, Final Fantasy II shouldn't be much of a challenge to you, more of the playable story it was intended to be. It's relatively short, full of flaws and it's not nearly as fluid and comfortable to play as what the series would soon enough become, but it's definitely better than the first game. We had to wait for some years to get the true game on our hands instead of this lousy prototype on an emulator, but hey, better late than never, right? Once again, play the Game Boy Advance version for the true story.
Graphics : 6.8
Sound : 7.5
Playability : 7.0
Challenge : 7.3
Overall : 7.1
The game has been remade for the WonderSwan Color (2001), Sony PlayStation as part of Final Fantasy Origins (2002), Game Boy Advance as part of Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls (2004), and Sony PSP as part of Final Fantasy - 20th Anniversary in 2007.
The game debuted in North America and Europe in 2003, when Final Fantasy Origins saw international release.
The debut of two recurring Final Fantasy elements: the Chocobos, and a character named Cid.
Frioniel (localized Firion, and voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch) and the Emperor (voiced by Christopher Corey Smith) are rivals in Square Enix's all-star anniversary game Dissidia - Final Fantasy, released on the PSP in 2008.