Final Fantasy XIII is just around the bend, which gives us all the more reason to revisit this series’s heralded past. It probably came as a shock to Japanese gamers when a sequel to the final fantasy was originally released. The original did so well that it kept the endangered publisher Square afloat, allowing them to create one of gaming’s most memorable franchises.
This sequel, though, was never released in the U.S. until compilations started emerging decades after the fact. This latest version of Final Fantasy II sports updated graphics and tweaks for the iPhone platform, prompting us to once again enter the Empire of Palamecia to battle the forces of evil.
Just give him the snausages and let’s get out of here!
For better or worse, Final Fantasy II builds on the original game’s system in intriguing ways that still have not been universally accepted by fans. Traditional leveling is out, for instance, in favor of a proficiency system more akin to later games like The Elder Scrolls. In short, the more you use an ability, the better at it you become.
Unfortunately, being a relatively new idea to be implemented at the time, it doesn’t work quite as well and may lead to a greater imbalance than players desire. The key term memory system is also a tad befuddling. On the one hand, it incorporates dialogue into the gameplay, making conversations more important to advancing in your quest. On the other hand, though, it is implemented in a cumbersome fashion that ends up taking too much wasted time for small advances.
Gripes like these aside, this is an immensely enjoyable game. Whenever we take on an older RPG, it’s necessary to put ourselves back a few decades to when this was the cutting edge and appreciate the strides that were being made, however imperfect they were. These turn-based role-playing games were more about grinding out levels than expansive and engaging stories. Playing them now will help you appreciate how far we’ve come (in a good way).
“Walt sent me.”
Seeing as how this is the latest version of Final Fantasy II, as well, we’re treated with extra dungeons (Soul of Rebirth and Arcane Labyrinth) that have been added since the 1988 original. These add even more to an already lengthy quest, and we’re glad that Square Enix didn’t skimp on the extras for the much cheaper iPhone release.
The Final Fantasy games are nearly all different, with each numbered iteration being an original tale in a unique world. Names, music, and play styles may remain similar, but there is no direct continuity. As such, regardless of whether you enjoyed the first game’s story and characters, it will be worth your while to play the sequel, especially if you haven’t played it in previous re-releases.
The control issues mentioned in our Final Fantasy review are still valid, and the hardcore nature of the gameplay may will still take some time before you become accustomed to it, but this is nevertheless a worthwhile addition to your iPhone RPG library.