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Final Fantasy II (NES) artwork

Final Fantasy II (NES) review

"When it comes to Square's incredibly popular Final Fantasy series, there's one thing that becomes readily apparent right from the start: "

When it comes to Square's incredibly popular Final Fantasy series, there's one thing that becomes readily apparent right from the start:

Final Fantasy II is the bastard of the series.

Sure, it starts off simple enough. As the young orphans Frioniel, Maria, Guy, and Lionheart, running from their war-torn hometown, they get ambushed by soldiers from the Paramecian Empire. They fight them off as best they can, but they still get beaten into submission. Left for dead, they awake--sans Lionheart--in the town of Altea, where the Princess Hilda resides. You learn that she saved them on her way to Altea, and that she's fighting against the empire in hopes of restoring peace. Determined to find Lionheart and to repay their debt to Hilda for saving their lives, your three courageous allies set out into the wide world.

Just like nearly any Final Fantasy, right? But that's when a battle begins.

Once again, it start off innocent enough. You have your normal RPG options: Fight, Item, Magic, Run; everything's all there. You have your HP, and your MP. Everything's just like it should be, right?


The problem comes after the fight. After your classical Final Fantasy victory fanfare (rendered in cute little beeps and boops, no less!) your characters do their victory dance and run off the screen. At the bottom of the screen you're given your battle results: Gil and possibly an item.

Where the hell are the experience points?

Unlike most RPGs, Final Fantasy II doesn't use an experience point system. Instead, they gain stats based on how they perform in battle. If you get hit, you gain HP. If you use MP, you gain MP. Physical attacks increase your strength, and so on.

However, since there's no way to control which monsters hit which character, you're stuck using attacks on yourself if you want to even have enough HP to survive later battles. In theory it's a cool concept, but the way Square executed it made sure that what you're left with is less of an engaging RPG with a great story, and more of a frustrating game in which you forcibly make battles last as long as possible to increase as many stats as you can. The good news is that on the flip side of the coin, your weapons and magic gain levels as you use them, making them more powerful, allowing more hits, and for spells, even changing the graphic some.

It's a shame though, since everything else was executed so well. Dungeons are detailed considering the NES' graphic capabilities, and the music is also pretty good. With a storyline that still holds up today (if Final Fantasy XII's orphan in a war-torn land story is applicable), and even some replayability if you want to try different character builds, Final Fantasy II has the ingredients to create a good game, but the poor execution of the battle system makes it only a little better than mediocre.


espiga's avatar
Community review by espiga (June 26, 2007)

Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.

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