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Final Fantasy Legend 2 - Review

Final Fantasy Legend, Ver. 2.0a

By: MrChupon


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 6
   Plot 7
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Medium - Slightly difficult
   Time to Complete

20 hours

 
Overall
7
Criteria

I wonder what the SaGa version looked like.

   The first RPG I ever played was on Gameboy's tiny dot-matrix spinach screen -- Final Fantasy Legend.  This game, one which I originally ridiculed, showed me that you didn't have to actively jump over, shoot at, and run around enemies in a video game in order to have fun. Its high customization and character building factor got me interested in the genre known as RPGs. 

   FFL was full of quirky annoyances though, and made me wonder whether or not (a) its localization team spoke English at all, (b) its interface designer realized that players like arranging their messy command menus, and (c) its graphics/level design team knew how to make anything other than bland, generic dungeons.  And hey -- how come I couldn't save more than one game?  Enter Final Fantasy Legend 2.  With somewhat of a graphical facelift, a better translating job and a cleaner overall menu system, FFL 2 would be considered much much better than its prequel -- if it weren't for the fact that much of the gameplay was the same.

"Got i? Got what? Finish your sentences dammit..."

 

   FFL 2 presents us with the same text and turn based battle system, with the same Fight - Run initial menu, and the same limit of 3 enemy types per battle.  At the very least, the Final Fantasy series added something to the battle engine each time (correct me if I'm wrong); except for the fact that the cursor now chimes when you confirm a choice, battles are almost identical to those in FFL -- save for the improved grammar in the text.  However, I shouldn't complain too much -- I rather enjoyed the battles in FFL anyways, and there's still the ever innovative monster meat.  Improved enemy art and the presence of new monsters for you to become somewhat make up for the lack of new innovations in the battle system. 

   If anything, the battles remain simple to execute, what with the simple menu structure. Choose Fight/Run, choose weapon/item, choose target, move on to next character. Then read the text. Gargle, rinse and repeat.  Fortunately, Squaresoft decided to make the other menus just as simple and manageable -- something lacking in FFL. Remember how you couldn't sort your abilities, and in the battle menus you were left with big gaps in between weapons and magics?  You can sort them now. "Gee," you say, sarcastically. But play FFL and see how annoying not being able to sort your abilities is. Also, there are more menu options to choose from, and they're all lined up in a nice row on the left hand side, not squished at the bottom horizontally. The feel is just cleaner overall. And this time around, we have 3 save slots. What a treat!  

While these may seem like tiny interface improvements, it makes the whole feel of the game smoother and more polished. Another improvement/change is the addition of the Robot class. Adding to the male and female humans and mutants, and the monster classes, the Robot increases the possible combinations that you can make your party out of.  They also level up differently. Where humans and mutants level up according to the weapons/items they use in battle, and monsters eat meat to level up (or down), Robots level up depending on what you equip them with -- kinda like a computer; the nicer the stuff you stick in it, the more powerful it becomes as a whole.  In addition to a four member party, sometimes you can get NPCs in the game (although I think Square used the wrong word to define them).  NPCs are fifth characters to your party that are added usually as a result of the storyline. Sometimes they have unique abilities relative to what your current party can handle, sometimes they suck -- but regardless, gaining an occasional extra party member keeps the game from getting boring.

   A big part of improving FFL was handling the plot better. Not the storyline itself, mind you -- but how it's done. And where FFL dumped you in front of some weird structure, FFL2 starts you off in bed (get your mind out of the gutter), waking up to the sound of your father exiting through the window to start his adventure. You're actually given enough background information to help you understand what your goal is, and the script doesn't sound like it's being written like a rigid script -- kinda like how an actor's not supposed to sound like s/he's reading off a teleprompter.  There are a few oddities here and there, for example, the robot class in general. Why do you have robots, when you don't even have an airship to fly around in?  And take a look at the Arsenal screenshot. I'm wondering how this big mechanical thing is going to be taken down by swords and crossbows.

"...stop following me, pointy-ears. I don't go that way.."  

   Of course, playing with the party possibilities will probably make you forget that you're holding a missile in a swords n' axes world.  Like FFL, FFL2 may have you coming back for more, just to see how a party of different combinations would fare compared to each other, or just to see what different monsters you can get by eating the meat. And if you're crazy enough, you can try to play through the game again using an all-monster or all-robot party. It's really hard to play through such a linear story so many times over --  there aren't even optional side quests to tackle, or many secrets to uncover.  Its replay value mostly consists of just experimenting. But there's lots of it to do, and if you have the time and patience, it can become quite fun.

It's a good thing the game isn't torturous to look at, either, or else you wouldn't even want to experiment with the game many times over. Actually, the graphics are quite alright, compared with FFL.  Tiles are a bit more detailed and the enemy art is much better than in its prequel.  Some maps are still plagued with the wide-open-spacedness that made it easy to get lost in FFL, but not nearly as often. Level design is more interesting now, at least. Weapon/spell effects during battle are drawn much better, as well. Knives, swords, and axes even have different animations -- whereas in FFL all three were the same generic "X slashes." And for a 9 year old  Gameboy title, Flare looks pretty durn cool.

The sound doesn't torture your ears either.  While they're nowhere near the equivalent of digital samples, the sounds sound okay and are bearable. I never got annoyed of the chimes and the rings, or the sound of a Cure spell being put to use.  The music is pretty good, as well, but it's nowhere near epic, and the dungeon music can get a bit corny.  In fact, quite a few tunes in the game are just plain -- but the battle music, boss music, and some themes are quite well done and fitting to the situation.  Just don't expect a symphony.


"Um. I say run. " Hey look, it's a big mechanical thing! Plothole, no?  

Don't expect the game to be overly easy, either. It has its moments where you have to sit there and gain gold, or gain hit points and stats. It also has bosses where you have to try over and over again before you figure out how to beat them. Then there are the dungeons where typically nasty enemies bear down on you.  You just have to be patient, build up that gold, and all the top tier weapons in the current area's shops will do the job for you.  Like the prequel, the game requires lots of patience, and in turn requires time -- the game takes a good 20 hours or so (hey, it may seem short, but it's an early 90's Gameboy RPG).  At the very least, this game is nowhere near as difficult as the original Final Fantasy, and much of its difficulty stems from an inadequate arsenal rather than inadequate status.

Final Fantasy Legend 2 is a good game, but it's a lot like its predecessor, only more polished. It's almost as if this game was the second quest in a Final Fantasy Legend expansion pack. And like the first game, it's *not* for everybody -- some will cling to it, and others will stay faaaar away.  Do try this game -- chances are, if you enjoyed the first game, you will definitely appreciate this offering.




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