Final Fantasy II

This is where you can deliberate anything relating to videogames - past, present and future.
Post Reply
User avatar
ratsoalbion
Admin
Posts: 7504
Joined: August 28th, 2012, 9:41 am
Location: Brighton, England
Contact:

Final Fantasy II

Post by ratsoalbion »

Here is where you can leave your thoughts regarding Final Fantasy II for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

User avatar
Simonsloth
Member
Posts: 1450
Joined: November 22nd, 2017, 7:17 am
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Final Fantasy II

Post by Simonsloth »

I posted this late in the final fantasy 1 thread but applies to this game too.

Similar to some of the previous contributors to the ff1 podcast thread I set off on a personal quest many years ago to play all of the numbered final fantasy games.

Bizarrely this was in reaction to renting final fantasy 8 from blockbuster and enjoying it but finding out that when I went to buy it it was too expensive. A few years later final fantasy origins which bundled the first 2 entries was released on the PlayStation one for a very modest price. So my first complete final fantasy were the first two in the saga.

Admittedly I’ve never been very good at RPGs and often use brute force and luck to get through. I was never one to delve into the complex item and magic systems so this perhaps made things a bit tricky.

We this in mind I had my trusty sword and shield at my side which took the forms of a glossy prima paperback walkthrough guide and an action replay cheat device respectively. I would use these to complete every final fantasy game up until the 10th iteration. To be honest it probably sapped tension and excitement away but I enjoyed exploring the world and sweeping aside bosses with little effort.

I appreciate this makes me sound like the least resilient “gamer” with my prima guide in hand and action replay on board but I found they actually made me finish games in a genre I probably wouldn’t have entertained without them.

I also remember these were the first games I had encountered since sensible soccer which let me rename everybody so I grew attached to Conrad, Graham and Tamsin. Embarrassingly my brother would bring this up in my best mans speech as these were the names 13 year old me wanted to call my children. A little off topic but fun fact.

It’s quite nice that I started here as it was great to be able to appreciate the evolution of the series in terms of graphics and ideas. It’s quite a simple game and a simple story but it’s a good platform for anyone starting out in this genre because it’s mechanical simplicity makes it more accessible. I must confess however that along the way there were moments when I had no idea what I was supposed was going on and ended up consulting my guide book for help and context to the in-game goings on.

User avatar
Octorok385
Member
Posts: 13
Joined: November 23rd, 2016, 3:34 pm

Re: 306: Final Fantasy II

Post by Octorok385 »

Final Fantasy II is pretty maligned by the gaming community, but it is one of my favorite classic RPGs. The Dawn of Souls rendition, in particular, makes significant fixes to the original, smoothing many of the game's rougher edges. The skill based leveling system, while implemented in a rather cumbersome way, is an early glimpse of a core gaming mechanic which would be developed further through the SaGa series, and which would remain pervasive in role playing games through to modern times. An hour or two with Skyrim will show that developing a character based on their skill use or preference, rather than through a global experience system, makes for much more meaningful game play in the long run than the leveling system which FInal Fantasy would end up maintaining well beyond its time.

While clearly a product of its time, Final Fantasy II showed us what RPGs might some day become, and continues to prove, to this day, that standing in a line and beating your friends can be fun and rewarding.

User avatar
blueallday
Member
Posts: 8
Joined: April 6th, 2016, 12:52 am

Re: 306: Final Fantasy II

Post by blueallday »

Before the release of Final Fantasy VII, I still remember Squaresoft bending over backwards to explain to gamers that the Final Fantasy II that we played in the West was, in fact, Final Fantasy IV, and that Final Fantasy III was Final Fantasy VI. Prior to that, those facts were knowledge that dedicated fans held from tiny screenshots of the Japanese imports in Electronic Gaming Monthly. So, it turned out that I had been missing installments of one of my favorite franchises. Final Fantasy II and III from the NES, and Final Fantasy V from the SNES.

Fortunately, in 2003, Square Enix released Final Fantasy Origins on PS1, which included remastered versions of Final Fantasy I and II, updated to look similar to the excellent SNES games, as well as improved music and some CG cut scenes. I picked up a copy and held on to it so I could play it during my summer break from college. I was prepared for a bit of a slog, knowing it was an NES game at it's core, but I was sure it would be a fun game to experience.
Little did I know, I was about to experience a series nadir.

It's difficult to talk about Final Fantasy games without comparing them to Dragon Quest games, especially in the NES & SNES eras. They were direct competitors, informed each other with each installment, and built legacies of music and gameplay. Where Dragon Quest is iterative, Final Fantasy takes chances. When Dragon Quest takes a feature from Final Fantasy, like having a party instead of a single character, Final Fantasy puts together a rotating cast of characters. Dragon Quest is content with obsessively rewriting on a theme, gameplay, and worlds until they get it right. Final Fantasy would rather throw out the books and start over from scratch, with a new world and new gameplay. They've both achieved greatness, and they both have games I consider my favorites of all time. Coincidentally, they both share the distinction of having the second game be the weakest link in their long running histories.

Final Fantasy II opens nicely enough, and introduces a key gameplay feature - the ability to learn code words/key words and use them later when speaking to an NPC. This was one of the few highlights of the game, and something I genuinely enjoyed. Asking guards and townspeople about every little thing was a great way to keep the player engaged, and it created a more fleshed-out world than I was expecting. Even the random characters had a personal stake in the war with the evil empire. I wish later games had stayed with that feature. I'm so fond of the later games, and I would have obsessively looked for tidbits of information.

A few steps out of the first town, and you're introduced to another major change from the first game. This gameplay feature is the "leveling" system, which has no leveling at all. Although a lasting strength of the Final Fantasy series is the changing gameplay and experimentation from game to game, this one feels like an enormous misstep. I remember playing those opening moments, completely baffled by the systems in place. Stats raise and lower depending on which actions each character takes. If you attack, strength goes up. Use magic, then it goes up. If you get hit, your max hp goes up. etc, etc... The idea is that your characters will shape into having the strengths that you want them to have. In theory, this is a system that could work, and is definitely forward-thinking. Having a wide array of opportunities for each character that becomes more and more specialized could be fun. However, this system is so broken and out of whack that it's laughable.

I went out and bought the guide after a day of playing, and it outlined a ludicrous loophole in the game. You can just leave a weak enemy alone in a fight, and have each character attack each other in different ways. This breaks the game, allowing you to level up stats and HP at an incredible rate. So naturally, I did just that. Every few hours of play, I'd spend some time fighting myself instead of grinding the old fashioned way. It takes tension out of the game, but I can't say it would have been any more enjoyable if I went to incrementally stronger enemies to get the desired stats on each character. The fights are just flat, and are not memorable. Plus, the dungeons are flat out awful. Too many dead-ends to count.

The storyline contains a pseudo Star Wars plot, with an evil emperor and a black knight that is in fact someone connected to the heroes, who ends up helping defeat the emperor in the end. I didn't enjoy the story, but I will say, at least there was more of an effort toward high stakes and character development, compared to the first game. Though none of the moments stick out in memory, it was nice seeing the first appearance of series mainstays: chocobos, Cid, dragoons, and a leviathan. And, I enjoyed the rotating cast for the 4th character slot, even if they were used as plot devices instead of characters.

Like most Final Fantasy games, Nobuo Uematsu's music has some incredible highlights in this game. The Rebel Army theme is solid, as is the Battle Theme. But the stand out themes are Ancient Castle, a track full of energy and wonder that communicates unification and optimism, and The Princess's Seduction, a skillfully covered version of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, showing the potential of game music.

In closing, I would not recommend anyone play Final Fantasy II. It's a low point in design, and is difficult to get through. But I would say listen to the music. It will be a much more enjoyable use of your time.

User avatar
Simonsloth
Member
Posts: 1450
Joined: November 22nd, 2017, 7:17 am
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Our next podcast recording (11.2.18) - 306: Final Fantasy II

Post by Simonsloth »

Haha I forgot about the attacking yourself levelling trick! Great post

User avatar
thegreenflea
Member
Posts: 5
Joined: May 16th, 2016, 12:32 am

Re: Our next podcast recording (11.2.18) - 306: Final Fantasy II

Post by thegreenflea »

The biggest thing I remember from Final Fantasy II is how different it felt from Final Fantasy I. No character choice or blank slates; the characters are who they are. I think the game is better for it as you're brought along with the characters. You find out who they are as written and can empathize with them. Also, I played FF I on original NES hardware and FF II on the GBA "Dawn of Souls" edition. I'm still mad the original FF I didn't have any phoenix downs... unless you played the "Dawn of Souls" version!!

Although I knew about the tricky battle system and the means of which everything levels, I never had any issues playing the game like I would any other Final Fantasy. You hit, get hit, use magic, and everything levels. I never thought to do any of that to my own party and didn't have any trouble (besides the normal ones in a JRPG) getting through the game.

Post Reply