Release Date (Japan): 12.17.1988
Release Date (NA): 04.08.2003 (FF Origins)
Preferred Platform: PSP
Other Platforms: NES, GBA, PS1, iOS
Percentage Played: 71%
Percentage Completed: 75%
Scores (Out of 5)
Story & Cast: 2.5
Battle System: 2.0
Soundtrack: 2.8
Visual Style: 2.6
Originality: 3.4
Replayability: 2.4
Fun Factor: 2.6

Trent Seely
Widely considered the black sheep of the franchise, Final Fantasy II is one of the more interesting outings in my humble opinion. At the time of its release, Final Fantasy II was one of the first RPGs on the NES to feature a complex narrative and was also the first Final Fantasy to include chocobos and the character "Cid." The first time I played it was on the PSP just a few months ago — specifically, it was the 20th Anniversary release with updated sprites, bug fixes, and new character animations. When I first picked up the title, at the very reasonable price of $5.99, I was a little thrown off by the complete absence of character levels. For the uninitiated, the game's character development system was predicated on "use" instead of experience; all character statistics increased according to how much they were required or how often you selected a specific ability (something that would eventually return in Final Fantasy XIV).

It was hard to adjust to at first, but it also added a pretty cool layer of strategy to the battle system and kept me engaged enough to invest well over seventy hours into the portable title. Sure, the battle system could be exploited (you can attack your own characters to increase their max HP), but if you play the game straight-up, the progression system creates a legitimate challenge. Final Fantasy II is one of my favorite traditional RPGs and I would highly recommend it to any Final Fantasy fan that has become fatigued with the standard RPG character development formula.

Cassandra Ramos
I am among the oddballs who enjoy Final Fantasy II over the original game, though that's perhaps not saying much. The story of a rebel group fighting against an evil empire may be common, but at least the playable characters had set names and the plot was a bit more complex than the first game. Having the ever-changing party member die throughout the game until Leon returned was a bold move, made more interesting in the Soul of Rebirth extra story. As for the lack of levels, I didn't think it was a big deal. True, most magic except for healing spells became greatly underpowered, but for the most part it was easy to keep my party up with enemy encounters. I do recognize why Final Fantasy II is considered the black sheep of the series and while it ranks low on my list, I don't think it's bad at all.

Mike "JuMeSyn" Moehnke
As for Final Fantasy II, perhaps beginning it on a trans-Atlantic flight was a good thing. With an elderly Egyptian couple who knew minimal English on my row, and the dinky back of an Air France seat not exactly inspiring a great urge to watch one of the in-flight movies, beating my own people up for many hours seemed a perfectly legitimate use of time. That mostly sums up my memory of FF II: a lengthy grind that even encompassed leveling multiple magic spells for each character, and that continued even when I was off the airplane because it was a habit. Neither this nor the original made a strong impression on me in this format, but they seemed perfectly suited to handheld status. I liked that.

Michael A. Cunningham
I didn't know about the existence of the real Final Fantasy II until a few years after I had played Final Fantasy IV on SNES. Not having internet access or friends with knowledge of such things, it was only well into the SNES era that I learned of the renumbering.

When I finally got around to playing the real Final Fantasy II on PlayStation many years down the road, I wasn't really upset that I had missed out. I didn't like the game at all. The beat-yourself-up mechanic was annoying and standard leveling wasn't fun. After dying multiple times due to running across enemies way above my range, I was going to give up. Luckily, a friend of mine had a GameShark for PlayStation, so I was happy to cheat my way through the game.

I wasn't content with that, though, so when Dawn of Souls came out I figured I might try it again. I wanted to play the original Final Fantasy once more, but wasn't sure if I'd care enough to make it through the second one. For some reason, the portable format works much better for this game, so I was able to make it through without any problems this time. I enjoyed the named characters, even if they still lacked anything to make them unique in combat. So it might have just been Stockholm Syndrome, but I found a way to enjoy Final Fantasy II and even was eager to play it again on the PSP. It could use some refinement, but I've learned to have fun with it regardless.

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