Second Chance for the Second Game
I recently replayed Final Fantasy 2 for the first
time since the Final Fantasy Origins release came to
the west with the first official English translation.
Previously I had played an unofficial translation for the
original version. I won't say that this game is my least
favorite in the series, however it is the least favorite
that I haven't played fairly recently.
Fair enough, and
considering the PS1 Final Fantasy ports
didn't turn out all that well, perhaps the
system had something to do with it.
Unlike most people, who characterize the growth system in
this game as "the game where you hit yourself", I always
considered the growth mechanics both ahead of their time,
and actually similar to games I love, like the Elder
Scrolls. Where this game suffered was in the story,
and in that if you wandered too far in the wrong direction
early on, you would end up in battles with enemies that were
significantly more powerful than you are. Though that can be
exploited if you make your way to Mysidia early on, the
world design is fairly poor in this game.
This is true,
though to be fair it was a NES game. These sorts
of issues weren't all that uncommon for RPGs in
I chose to play the most recent version of this game, the
Android remake. Unfortunately, this version is one of the
buggiest games that Square-Enix has ever released. I
experienced crash bugs fairly regularly, and in some
dungeons I found crashes far more frequently than in others.
There is also no obvious way to properly shut down the game,
so I had to make use of a known crash bug in order to shut
down the game (press the Back button on the phone). Unlike
the other games, I hear, this one also requires an internet
connection to start. However given all these issues, I am
not letting the bugs in this version color the impression I
got from this game as a whole.
Oh dear, the
mobile ports. I believe they are based on the
fantastic PSP versions of the first two games,
but they are less than ideal. I'm glad you're
able to look past the specific issues with this
port. I'm sure many would have just given up. I
wouldn't be able to blame them!
This game established a lot of
the mainstay Final Fantasy elements, many of which
were not originally in the first Final Fantasy. This
game introduced us to both Cid and the Chocobos. It also is
the first game in the series that had named characters, and
that featured the death of playable characters. Final
Fantasy 2, 4, and 5 are all examples I
use when people act like the death of Aerith in FF7
was somehow unprecedented.
Don't forget that Final
Fantasy II eventually led to the creation
of a whole other series as well, good old SaGa.
No doubt this game was a trend setter for the
series, just like all three NES games were
really. Looking back, I'd be hard pressed to
call these games the best in the series by any
stretch, but no doubt that they set the
foundation. You're also totally right on the
death of playable characters issue. This is
something the series showed it wasn't afraid to
do from nearly the start. Of course Final
Fantasy VII had the benefit of being able
to make it look cinematic.
Unfortunately, this game simply has not aged particularly
well. Dungeons have frequent doors where you are put in the
middle of a room with an even higher than normal encounter
rate (which is already ridiculously high), making it
difficult to make it back out without getting in at least
one battle. Since the game does not include traditional
levels, and enemies are not scaled, it is difficult to tell
if you are actually ready for the enemies you are battling.
Further, at least in the version I played, they also
included caps on the level building for your weapons based
on how powerful the enemies are, and further they appear to
have fixed some of the bugs that vastly sped up the process
of building skills such as spells. Unfortunately, spells
never feel powerful enough to be worth using other than when
they are necessary. I spent several hours trying to grind
spell levels the old-fashioned way, simply because there are
a few boss-level enemies in the final dungeon that pretty
much require magic.
Yeah, hard to
ignore a lot of the old school issues with the
game. RPGs have progressed a lot since then, and
it just makes older games without much balance
look worse. Not unplayable of course! I agree
with the spell issue as well, takes way too long
to make them powerful.
The plot for this game is extremely bare bones. While there
was named characters, the background for each of the main
characters as well as the temporary ones were not fleshed
out almost at all. The plot itself is also fairly basic, the
typical evil emperor taking over the world and you are a
member of the rebellion (probably the closest to the Star
Wars plot of any of the Final Fantasy games).
great about the game's plot. A bit more involved
than many NES RPGs, but that's not a great
excuse, especially in an updated port where they
could have expanded things. I mean, it's a Final
Fantasy game that I like a good deal, and
I can't recall a single character name.
Given that this game is probably not considered to be an FF
fans favorite to most anyone, this game would be a prime
candidate for modernization. I would love to see this game
getting a lot more background added to the plot and to the
characters. The dungeon design could use a revamp, and there
are a lot of other enhancements that could be added to this
game to make it more appealing and an overall better game.
However, I understand that there are a lot of people who
dislike significant changes to games (or other media such as
movies- because we all know Han shot first).
I don't think
you'd find a ton of argument for doing that to
this game. Besides, we have plenty of versions
of the original design to toy around with. They
could give it a makeover like the PSP version of
Final Fantasy IV and really expand
things. I'd buy it! Probably not worth Square
Enix's money or time though.
In the end, I found that I mostly enjoyed playing through
this game, more than I expected. I clocked in around 35.5
hours. I definitely think this has moved up the mid-range of
my Final Fantasy best-to-worst list. And given my
disappointment with the DS remake of FF3, knocking
that game down a few pegs, I believe that FF2 might
be my favorite of the NES Final Fantasy games now.
It's a fun little
NES game! I'm glad you enjoyed it more the
second time around. Kawazu's take on the series
really did some good thing despite all the
oddities. Enjoy your prize for being one of two
(Wheels' note: this is mail sent to one of our reviewers)
Wrong. ToS is not the greatest jRPG. Tales of
Phantasia is better. The best RPG, by far, is Star
Ocean 2. Star Ocean 3 was great as well.
Star Ocean 4 deserves more than 2.5--
it's at the very least a 3.5, probably 4. Does Valkyrie
Profile not get any say?
Wow, where to begin with this
one? For starters I'm going to sick Eric Bishoff
So let's start with one thing, who are you that
you get decide for all of us what the best JRPG
is? I don't think many would put any Star
Ocean up there. Probably not even Valkyrie
Profile. Dare I even go into how much of a
piece of trash I think Tales of Phantasia is
(pending trying the updated version from Narikiri
Dungeon X)? Not going to touch the awful Star
Ocean 3 with a twenty foot pole. All that
aside, we all have different tastes. There is no
one universal best JRPG. I'm not sure why you
felt the need to act like there is. Now I have
one last thing for you:
I hadn't really
thought about the Job Fiesta thingy, but I'd
certainly consider it (this is the Final
Fantasy V one right?) Always fun to play
classic Final Fantasy games in a new
challenging way. As far as tips on how to
succeed, I would just prepare to grind a lot,
and learn as much as you can about the classes
you get stuck with. Often times they're more
useful than you think. Find out how best to
exploit them, and do so! Don't forget to always
find the best equipment as well. When is this
Here are some hot topics I've seen around
- JRPGs don't seem to be having much trouble selling
decently in the West, so where has Dragon Quest
- Atlus is quickly loading up PSN with their PS2
classics. What other Atlus PS2 releases would you like
to see on PSN?
- If Child of Light is a success, will we see
more RPGs with the UbiArt engine?
- Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?
See you next week!
| Mailbag Archive