(Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Final Fantasy II (Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Final Fantasy II Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Still a timeless RPG classic.

While the game was the second numbered Final Fantasy when it was released in North America back in 1991, it's actually the fourth entry in the series due to the second and third 8-bit releases remaining in Japan at the time. It marked the series debut on Nintendo's 16-bit console and added quite a few new gameplay elements to the mix, namely Square's new Active-Time Battle system, that would greatly increase the game's playability and sense of strategy. Over the years. the game has seen re-releases and remakes on many of the more modern game consoles, including a release on the Nintendo DS system under its correct numerical name Final Fantasy IV, but it's this original Super Nintendo release that still holds a special place in many RPG fans' hearts. So how exactly does this classic hold up?

The gameplay in Final Fantasy II never strays too far from the usual core concepts used in many of the earlier console RPGs of the time period. Most of your travels will take you across a world map where you'll encounter numerous random enemy battles along the way. These become a very integral part of the game as you need them in order to earn money and gain experience for your characters so that they can level up and become more powerful. You'll also spend a lot of time speaking to the many townspeople throughout the game gaining valuable insight as to what your next move in the game will ultimately be. Of course you'll also be able to purchase better armor, weapons, and specialty items in these towns as well.

One interesting new touch in Final Fantasy II is the Active-Time Battle system. This basically allows the fights to play out in real time, but forcing your characters to wait a brief period of time in between battle selections. It also makes combating enemies a bit trickier as some enemies can only be successfully attacked at specific intervals of time throughout the battle. This means there will be times when you need to back off of your attacks. This does, however, provide a good opportunity to manage your party and perform any restorations or healing that might be needed at the time. Toss in the ability to now control five characters in your party instead of the previously available four, and what you have is a much more well-rounded and strategic battle system altogether.

Playing Final Fantasy II is made increasingly more enjoyable due to its smooth and intuitive control scheme. Controlling characters and selecting menu commands is fast and easy and even purchasing, selling, and upgrading items in the game is quite simple to do, even in a pinch. It's clear from playing the game that Square wanted to tighten things up and it really makes an already playable game that much easier to navigate and control. The game's overall progression speed might be a bit slow by today's standards, but it remains a very playable classic RPG experience for those willing to invest the time in it.

Final Fantasy II might not have quite the visual flair of its sequel, but it's still a nice step up from the 8-bit releases. The areas in the game are all quite varied and some show a surprising amount of detail in their construction and vivid color schemes. The enemies you take on in battle are all very detailed and well-drawn, albeit a bit stiff from a lack of any type of movement, and the menus are well presented and very clear and legible to read. And much like many other Super Nintendo releases, there's some good old Mode 7 scaling and rotation tossed in to further liven things up a bit from time to time.

When it comes to RPG soundtracks, few can hold a candle to the majesty of the great Square. Nobuo Uematsu, who's composed some of the greatest soundtracks in video game history, did a perfect job of conveying the many moods and themes taking place throughout the game using the often moody soundtrack tunes strung throughout the game. It's a classic example of putting in the extra time and effort to get the job done right and it ends up paying big dividends in the finished musical product. There's a reason it's become a big seller in the game soundtrack market and it won't take you long to find out why that is.

Conclusion

Yes, Final Fantasy II is beginning to show its age, which is understandable given that the game is approaching 20 years old, not to mention the fact that console RPGs have come a long way in that time. There's still something quite charming and engaging about the classic, a testament to its staying power, and any RPG fan who might have missed out on this legendary title need only give the game a try to see what all the fuss is about. At only 800 Wii Points, you're getting a lot of RPG bang for your buck, not to mention one of the all-time great role-playing games of our time.

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User Comments (66)

Zork2

#1

Zork2 said:

This is really more of a 9. It's a better game than Phantasy Star IV.

siavm

#2

siavm said:

I just cannot play final fantasy. I may play 13 when I get a ps3 this year but that and the first one on gameboy advance is all I am playing ( in the number series, I played crystal bearers and dissia).

CorbsAdmin

#3

Corbs said:

I think Phantasy Star IV has aged a bit better and is the pinnacle of the series from the 16-bit era. FF2 is not quite the pinnacle, as its sequel wins that tag in my book. :)

MrPinguy

#4

MrPinguy said:

@Zork2
The regular version of Final Fantasy IV perhaps.
Now this mutilated "American kids are stupid" version, no way.
For me the review was too high, when there are better versions out there.

Oh an Corbie, thank good for saying it right.
"While the game was the second numbered Final Fantasy when it was released in North America back in 1991, it's actually the fourth entry in the series due to the second and third 8-bit releases remaining in Japan at the time."
Some reviews like to say it wrong like, "Final Fantasy II Internationally" when it was really only in SNES US or for example that the real II and III weren't released.(implying that they still aren't released.)

sephiroth79

#5

sephiroth79 said:

Great game, especially the music.

The sequel is the pinnacle of 16 bit RPG's (maybe tied with chrono trigger). I was never into the phantasy star series (didn't have a sega), so I can't comment on it.

pixelman

#9

pixelman said:

I'm going to wait for 6 to release. The battle system in this one is far too slow and finicky for me.

DiggerandIndy

#10

DiggerandIndy said:

I remember my dad playing this one a long time ago. He also played FF3 as well. Oh the memories! Long live the SNES!!!!

Kevin

#11

Kevin said:

This is definately at least a 9 maybe a 10. I'll download it eventually. Right now I've got a case of Mega Man fever.

Chunky_Droid

#12

Chunky_Droid said:

I'm currently playing the DS version of this and am quite impressed with it. Still can't believe the main character's name is Cecil though....

grenworthshero

#13

grenworthshero said:

I agree with the score. I never played this when it came out, but I emulated it a few years ago, and it was pretty good, but the story was horrible. I was pissed off when everyone kept dying and then they all of the sudden just came back in the end. The one thing I can say I enjoyed was the soundtrack; especially the piano collections. Everyone needs to get that album

Yanagi

#14

Yanagi said:

This is my all time favorite FF game. The ending of FF VI was a buzzkill for me.

If it weren't for the fact that I own this game thrice over (DS, PS1, and my original SNES copy), I'd buy this. Instead, I'll heartily recommend it to any fantasy RPG fans.

@Chunky Droid: Cecil's not a bad name for a fantasy character. At least his name is not Snow...
Untitled

The_Fox

#17

The_Fox said:

I can only hope we get as many fanboys whining about this review as the Super Mario 64 DS one received.

LinktotheFuture

#18

LinktotheFuture said:

This game is great, and I am glad it has finally come to the VC. Hopefully Final Fantasy III (VI), will join it on the VC very soon.

mellowshipslinky

#19

mellowshipslinky said:

Fantastic game, though the US version was flawed terribly. First off, they dumbed down the difficulty to the point where a 3-year old could get through most of it. Second, the translation was ridiculous, absolute nonsense. I could make neither heads nor tails of the story when I played the original back in the day. Personally, I find the DS version to be the definitive version, though I may end up downloading this for the convenience of having it on my Wii.

Still a great game, though, well worth $8. Now just bring on FF III.....

aaronsullivan

#21

aaronsullivan said:

Always preferred II(IV) to III(VI), myself. :)
When I get some time I'll be picking up the DS version as I've played the SNES one quite a bit.

Rhansley64

#22

Rhansley64 said:

Based on the fact they release this game with error intact i won't spend my Wii points. Why? Cause i already have the DS version (which is 100% better then this not because in the 3D / upgraded no because the text are in this game fixed) and more exclusive dungeons plus the GBA version it's actually better this version do to the fixed text and exclusive dungeon / music player.

Bassman_Q

#27

Bassman_Q said:

Won't be buying it, as I have the DS version. That one has great graphics and a great story, but the difficulty is really up there.
But FFVI is better imo.

Kawaiipikachu

#28

Kawaiipikachu said:

I allready have this forth instalment in GBA form & im planing on getting the DS version .
Still i nice title to the series .

Digiki

#30

Digiki said:

FFIV is a top tier RPG. However I've not played the original, so I know not how it's aged.

pixelman

#31

pixelman said:

"I'm going to wait for 6 to release. The battle system in this one is far too slow and finicky for me."

I lied. Playing it right now. Sucky days are the best days to get me to buy something I wouldn't normally buy. :P

CanisWolfred

#32

CanisWolfred said:

@pixelman

Maybe you're thinking of the FF6. I remember I could never get into that one because the battles were soooo slow compared to FF4, even on the fastest speed.

Adamant

#33

Adamant said:

@mellowshipslinky: "First off, they dumbed down the difficulty to the point where a 3-year old could get through most of it."

Heh, for someone who apparently likes "FF3" beter, I don't really see what you're complaining about - non-dumbed down FF6 is still an easier game than dumbed down FF4.

Zork2

#34

Zork2 said:

I actually prefer this game to FF3 (US). It's more structured and cohesive, the cast of characters is limited and their skills are distinguished, the summons don't take forever, the battles are more tactical, and the monsters are better IMO. The music is also very very good. FF3 is objectively better in many ways, but this is probably the nicest JRPG of its type. In later Final Fantasy games the characters are in some sense interchangeable and by the end of the game they become tank-mages. I find this really annoying.

Having played the hard-type version on the Playstation, I don't think the buyers of this version are really missing out. The hard version has more specialized recovery items, things are more expensive, and the monsters are stronger. You can get a similar challenge from this game simply by not level grinding and running from the enemies a bit. The game is very well balanced for players of all skills.

Also Phantasy Star 4 was a very good game. My favorite Genesis game by far. But the spell effects are limited and the graphics and music just aren't as good as FF4. Take a listen to the battle music for the four fiends and tell me this is not awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGrTvlE_DO0

Sockapal

#35

Sockapal said:

I just downloaded this game and am playing it for the first time ever. I love it!! Fantastic little gem!

Draygone

#36

Draygone said:

This was one of my favorite games back in the day. I couldn't buy it on my own, but it was one of two games I rented more often than any other (the other being Super Mario Kart). I got so good at it, I could almost beat it in a single rental period, if only I hadn't gotten lost near the end of the game.

I keep hearing about how this version had a poorer translation and was made easier. And the PS1 and DS games definately were translated well and are definately up there in difficulty, where I like it. But it's been so long since I played this version, I'd have to try it just to see the difference.

primeris

#37

primeris said:

Story and characters in FF2 impressed me more than in FF3.
FF3 story and character development certainly had some great moments, but the "freedom" you have in the 2nd half of FF3 just drains the uniqueness out of the characters.

FantasiaWHT

#38

FantasiaWHT said:

No way does this only deserve an 8. You're trying to tell me that this game is just slightly better than average? I can agree that it's slight flaws keep it from a 10, but an 8 is nuts.

CorbsAdmin

#39

Corbs said:

Would you guys please read the scoring policy. A 5 is considered average. This is 3 points above that.

sephiroth79

#40

sephiroth79 said:

@ corbie: I understand the scoring policy, and I still think this deserves at least a 9. Your review was well-written though.

I agree w/ you on final fantasy III (VI). I love FF II (IV), but III (VI), is tide with Chrono Trigger for my all-time favorite RPG.

Rerun

#41

Rerun said:

I like Final Fantasy IV, but the SNES version with easy difficulty setting just felt wrong. I especially hated the latter stages when the "secret walls" would be visible paths.

Rerun

#42

Rerun said:

@everyone
Oh for those who are playing this for the first time, please consider downloading the sequel on WiiWare.

WanderFan91

#43

WanderFan91 said:

Hmmm, should I download the game on the VC or should I order the original SNES cartridge from eBay? Both options are tempting.
However easy or hard localized Final Fantasy II/IV is, I'm sure it'll be great. :)

theblackdragonAdmin

#44

theblackdragon said:

Chances are, StarBoy, if you were to get an original SNES cartridge, you'd have to go through the trouble of replacing the battery by now. Not only would the VC version probably be cheaper, it'd also be less of a hassle. :3

theblackdragonAdmin

#46

theblackdragon said:

I'm not saying they won't work, i'm just saying that games with battery saves are operating on borrowed time at the moment -- i know my old SNES cartridges aren't the only ones out there that won't hold a save file anymore. if you're cool with opening your cartridges and replacing the batteries yourself, though, more power to you.

CorbsAdmin

#47

Corbs said:

It's not tough to change the batteries if you have a little experience with a soldering iron. Or you could half-ass it with some duct tape if you don't. Either way it works perfectly. I just recently changed every battery in my SNES RPG collection. I was beginning to have a few not wanting to save.

WanderFan91

#50

WanderFan91 said:

Crazy idea, not probable, but here is sometihng I thought: you know how Final Fantasy V [5] was one of the first fan-translated RPGs? I wonder if it's gonna be released on the VC outside Japan?
Again, it was just a thought. :$ I know it's not gonna happen any time soon, but it was just a thought. :(

longtimegamer

#51

longtimegamer said:

Now I've got to decide if I want to get this version (Maybe this AND the ds version later?). I wanted to play the sequel, so I'm glad it popped up this soon. :)

@Starboy: I've been playing yu gi oh (However that's spelled) and I was wandering.....Is your name taken from the Starboy card there? (There's at least a couple star type pictures that "including starboy" that you could use for you ever changing avatar. :) )

pixelman

#52

pixelman said:

@Mickeymac: I played both awhile back and 6 was definitely faster-paced.

Anyway I'm lovin' the heck out of this one right now. I'm about 5 and a half hours in (about to fight a Dark Elf :O ) and so far it's been a joy to play.

pixelman

#55

pixelman said:

Now 10+ hours in. My only real complaint is the lack of variety in the game's tilesets. I've only noticed two or three different tilesets for the dungeons so far. They do mix up the colors a bit, but it's still annoying. Fortunately the overall gameplay vastly makes up for it.

Yatesy

#56

Yatesy said:

FFIV, in my opinion, has the greatest video gamesoundtrack of all time. This is my favourite Final Fantasy, and, although I won'tberate

Yatesy

#57

Yatesy said:

Corbie too much for his 8/10 score, I cannot believe that he rates Phantasy Star IV as being better than Final Fantasy IV!

PokkiTeam

#58

PokkiTeam said:

Is this game supposed to be released? I can't find it in both Wii Ware and Virtual Console's Shop Channel. Wasn't this game released for the European audience?

Tesche

#60

Tesche said:

There are things that I like differently about both this game and it's sequel. Both are outstanding and are my two favorite RPGs of all time...even more so that FFVII, though I know people a generation or so behind me are going to consider that statement blasphemy.

jazzydude

#62

jazzydude said:

@siavm

your right final fantasy isnt easy to get into.
got ff7 and ff8 and ff6 but i cant get into them!!!
am i doing something wrong???

Scarhino89

#63

Scarhino89 said:

I prefer to name it "Final Fantasy IV", instead of "Final Fantasy II". :)
Dear americans, I like your fabulous SNES version. :)

Collision_Cat

#64

Collision_Cat said:

I don't understand why Nintendo re-released this version, with the badly translated script and missing features...
If you don't fancy using an emulator and a fan translation patch, I recommend the GBA version, though it has some glitches and slowdown (most of which was fixed in the European version - yay!).

starcrunch061

#65

starcrunch061 said:

@Collision_Cat

I'm sure I'm being a nostalgic fool, but I really like the original version. I like the sound much better than the GBA version, and yeah, this is the one I remember.

Oh, Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan) is better. ;-D

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