(Square, 1991)

Final Fantasy was easily one of Squaresoft's most popular role playing video games on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and it sure turned a lot of heads when the big sequel arrived on old Super Nintendo in 1991. They not only added a new and compelling story to keep the player glued to the TV but Square also improved the graphics and sounds to take advantage of the 16-bit technology. Is this game the best in the series or was it too basic for its own good?

Final Fantasy 79?

For anybody confused about why this is named Final Fantasy II especially since its named Final Fantasy IV for the Playstation One, it's because we never saw the REAL Final Fantasy II and III in North America until we done enough bitc.... I mean complaining. The real Final Fantasy II can be found on the PSone game Final Fantasy Origins and Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls for the Gameboy Advance with the real third one on the Nintendo DS. The original Final Fantasy on the 8-bit Nintendo may have been a cult hit but it didn’t do nearly as well here in Canada and the US unlike in Japan so the two sequels were never released over here. When Final Fantasy IV was released in Japan, Square decided to bring the series back to the US after the game’s huge success but they named it Final Fantasy II so that nobody would care about the other two games not released over here. Square finally got sick of renaming all their FF games after the insanely popular Final Fantasy 7 (which was first rumoured to be named Final Fantasy IV believe it or not) was released on Playstation so there you have it. Confusing isn't it?

Crazy Crystals

Unlike the old blocky Final Fantasy game you don't have the option to pick a team of 4 characters from 7 classes like before, now Square decided to go with a more linear game and focus more on the story line instead to create something never seen before in a game. It's your mission to help the troubled Dark knight named Cecil to find his destiny in a chaotic war tore world. Cecil starts off the game as Captain of the Red Baron air squadron but soon gets demoted after he dares to question the all powerful King for making him attack innocent people for their Crystals. Cecil and his friends have finally had enough and they must now travel around the world to unlock the secrets of the Crystals if they hope to find any answers. Over the course of the game you’ll grow stronger by earning experience and if that doesn’t work you can always learn new magic techniques or buy the latest weapons and armour. The quest also has several characters that will constantly join and leave your party (you can have a rather impressive 5 fighters in a party at once) over the course of the adventure which is important for the story line but it is also a little annoying as well.

Moving back to the FF II's 16-bit graphics, well to be perfectly honest the game looks absolutely horrible. This is thanks to those dinky and small super deformed characters that don't even animate that well. The game even uses those cheap cardboard cut out enemies that don't even animate during the battles like in the last FF. I know this was used to save on memory and maybe some gamers may not mind the look but just look at the animated opponents in the Phantasy Star games for the Genesis and Sega Master System, why couldn’t Square do this? The game does have some bright colours and a few nice Mode 7 3D effects at moments to look better then those ugly NES games but dressing up trash is still just trash.

The music on the other hand is still some of the best in the Final Fantasy series and that's saying a lot because this series as been well known for it's great soundtracks. You'll hear exciting music from the loud Red Barons intro to epic high energy boss battles. I was really amazed when I first hear this game back on the old Super NES and I knew this game was the future of music in video games. It's still great even by today's standards and they sure help me get over these awful graphics.

Story or Game?

Final Fantasy II has an unforgettable story with addictive role playing action and a stunning list of great music. Unfortunately, as an adventure the game is still a little too linear for an RPG for my liking because it just really limits the game play when you're forced to stick to the script all the time. For example; part way through the adventure when you have to confront your friend Kain one on one, you have to lose to him no matter how well you fight. This was stupid because I so wanted to kick his jumping monkey butt but thanks to the forced story line here you watch helplessly as this guy wins. Also because the game is so linear it means there is little to no reason replay the game after you completed the quest. There are no multiple endings, no score keeper, or anything else to hold the player's interest. Final Fantasy II has its problems but it still has a good flow to the game so chances are you'll still be hooked after only a few minutes or hours of playing. If you are Role Playing nut then Final Fantasy II will definitely keep you playing for a while but don't expect very deep game play here especially if you're use to the other Final Fantasies.



*Uncommon Super Nintendo Game
* Battery back up game

overall rating: 77/100

Find Final Fantasy II on eBay here!

For 1 player only
graphics: 3/10
sound: 9/10
gameplay: 6/10
replay: 6/10

(Ryan Genno) 2008