21. Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy II NES Front Cover

Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Year: 1988
Platform: Famicom; Wii; GBA, Playstation, Playstation 3, PSP, Android, iPhone

Final Fantasy (and frankly, all RPGs) was hugely popular in Japan but the series didn’t reach the states until the 90’s. While the first game did become a hit over here, Nintendo held off on publishing anymore until the fourth installment. While I’ve heard good things about FF3, I don’t blame Nintendo for bypassing this game.

I played this game on the Game Boy Advance, which has some additional features to the original Famicom version (mostly making it easier) but is otherwise faithful. There are definitely some basic improvements from the original game in the series. The plot is a bit deeper. Your characters actually have lines of dialogue. The graphics are slightly improved. Despite all of this, I couldn’t finish this game.

For starters, I had a really hard time with the character-building system. There is now way to “level up.”  Rather, your characters get stronger in areas as they practice in them. For example, if you primarily attack with one character, his strength will improve, but his magic ability will not. While this makes sense intuitively, it’s not exactly exciting. Frustratingly, the only way to increase your hit points is to get injured a lot. Fighting enemies to gain strength becomes even more boring than in the game’s predecessor.

But what really got my goat is that it’s really easy to put your game in an unwinnable situation. I was probably a third of the way through the game when I decided to try and reach another town my character probably weren’t ready to go to yet. Well, I made it. I saved my game. And, lo and behold, I was unable to get back to where I should have been. I know, stupid me for not leaving an older saved game, but considering how bored I was by the plot, I had no desire to restart my game.

Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls Game Boy Advance Talking heads (FF2)

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One thought on “21. Final Fantasy II

  1. Yep, this is a great way to open this list. Unwinnable situations in RPGs are unacceptable, and the leveling system was really tiresome. III, indeed, is fairly good. It’s the first one that did the job system. It’s imperfect, but the NDS version improves upon the script and it’s interesting enough.

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