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June 06, 2014
Well, as it turns out I only got three Final Fantasy Second Chance write-ups, one from a staff member. Oh well, regardless I will be bringing you these one at a time for the next few weeks. Good to see some opinions changed with a second look at some of these Final Fantasy games. My own write-up will follow after these three.

Anyway, let's get to it.

- Michael "Wheels" Apps

This Edition's Contents:

Second Chance for the Second Game

I recently replayed Final Fantasy 2 for the first time since the Final Fantasy Origins release came to the west with the first official English translation. Previously I had played an unofficial translation for the original version. I won't say that this game is my least favorite in the series, however it is the least favorite that I haven't played fairly recently.

Wheels' Comment

Fair enough, and considering the PS1 Final Fantasy ports didn't turn out all that well, perhaps the system had something to do with it.

Unlike most people, who characterize the growth system in this game as "the game where you hit yourself", I always considered the growth mechanics both ahead of their time, and actually similar to games I love, like the Elder Scrolls. Where this game suffered was in the story, and in that if you wandered too far in the wrong direction early on, you would end up in battles with enemies that were significantly more powerful than you are. Though that can be exploited if you make your way to Mysidia early on, the world design is fairly poor in this game.

Wheels' Comment

This is true, though to be fair it was a NES game. These sorts of issues weren't all that uncommon for RPGs in that era.

I chose to play the most recent version of this game, the Android remake. Unfortunately, this version is one of the buggiest games that Square-Enix has ever released. I experienced crash bugs fairly regularly, and in some dungeons I found crashes far more frequently than in others. There is also no obvious way to properly shut down the game, so I had to make use of a known crash bug in order to shut down the game (press the Back button on the phone). Unlike the other games, I hear, this one also requires an internet connection to start. However given all these issues, I am not letting the bugs in this version color the impression I got from this game as a whole.

Wheels' Comment

Oh dear, the mobile ports. I believe they are based on the fantastic PSP versions of the first two games, but they are less than ideal. I'm glad you're able to look past the specific issues with this port. I'm sure many would have just given up. I wouldn't be able to blame them!

This game established a lot of the mainstay Final Fantasy elements, many of which were not originally in the first Final Fantasy. This game introduced us to both Cid and the Chocobos. It also is the first game in the series that had named characters, and that featured the death of playable characters. Final Fantasy 2, 4, and 5 are all examples I use when people act like the death of Aerith in FF7 was somehow unprecedented.

Wheels' Comment

Don't forget that Final Fantasy II eventually led to the creation of a whole other series as well, good old SaGa. No doubt this game was a trend setter for the series, just like all three NES games were really. Looking back, I'd be hard pressed to call these games the best in the series by any stretch, but no doubt that they set the foundation. You're also totally right on the death of playable characters issue. This is something the series showed it wasn't afraid to do from nearly the start. Of course Final Fantasy VII had the benefit of being able to make it look cinematic.

Unfortunately, this game simply has not aged particularly well. Dungeons have frequent doors where you are put in the middle of a room with an even higher than normal encounter rate (which is already ridiculously high), making it difficult to make it back out without getting in at least one battle. Since the game does not include traditional levels, and enemies are not scaled, it is difficult to tell if you are actually ready for the enemies you are battling. Further, at least in the version I played, they also included caps on the level building for your weapons based on how powerful the enemies are, and further they appear to have fixed some of the bugs that vastly sped up the process of building skills such as spells. Unfortunately, spells never feel powerful enough to be worth using other than when they are necessary. I spent several hours trying to grind spell levels the old-fashioned way, simply because there are a few boss-level enemies in the final dungeon that pretty much require magic.

Wheels' Comment

Yeah, hard to ignore a lot of the old school issues with the game. RPGs have progressed a lot since then, and it just makes older games without much balance look worse. Not unplayable of course! I agree with the spell issue as well, takes way too long to make them powerful.

The plot for this game is extremely bare bones. While there was named characters, the background for each of the main characters as well as the temporary ones were not fleshed out almost at all. The plot itself is also fairly basic, the typical evil emperor taking over the world and you are a member of the rebellion (probably the closest to the Star Wars plot of any of the Final Fantasy games).

Wheels' Comment

Yeah, nothing great about the game's plot. A bit more involved than many NES RPGs, but that's not a great excuse, especially in an updated port where they could have expanded things. I mean, it's a Final Fantasy game that I like a good deal, and I can't recall a single character name.

Given that this game is probably not considered to be an FF fans favorite to most anyone, this game would be a prime candidate for modernization. I would love to see this game getting a lot more background added to the plot and to the characters. The dungeon design could use a revamp, and there are a lot of other enhancements that could be added to this game to make it more appealing and an overall better game. However, I understand that there are a lot of people who dislike significant changes to games (or other media such as movies- because we all know Han shot first).

Wheels' Comment

I don't think you'd find a ton of argument for doing that to this game. Besides, we have plenty of versions of the original design to toy around with. They could give it a makeover like the PSP version of Final Fantasy IV and really expand things. I'd buy it! Probably not worth Square Enix's money or time though.

In the end, I found that I mostly enjoyed playing through this game, more than I expected. I clocked in around 35.5 hours. I definitely think this has moved up the mid-range of my Final Fantasy best-to-worst list. And given my disappointment with the DS remake of FF3, knocking that game down a few pegs, I believe that FF2 might be my favorite of the NES Final Fantasy games now.


Wheels' Comment

It's a fun little NES game! I'm glad you enjoyed it more the second time around. Kawazu's take on the series really did some good thing despite all the oddities. Enjoy your prize for being one of two entrants!

Hate Mail

(Wheels' note: this is mail sent to one of our reviewers)

Wrong. ToS is not the greatest jRPG. Tales of Phantasia is better. The  best RPG, by far, is Star Ocean 2Star Ocean 3 was great as well. Star Ocean 4 deserves more than 2.5-- it's at the very least a 3.5, probably 4.  Does Valkyrie Profile not get any say?



Wheels' Comment

Wow, where to begin with this one? For starters I'm going to sick Eric Bishoff on you:

So let's start with one thing, who are you that you get decide for all of us what the best JRPG is? I don't think many would put any Star Ocean up there. Probably not even Valkyrie Profile. Dare I even go into how much of a piece of trash I think Tales of Phantasia is (pending trying the updated version from Narikiri Dungeon X)? Not going to touch the awful Star Ocean 3 with a twenty foot pole. All that aside, we all have different tastes. There is no one universal best JRPG. I'm not sure why you felt the need to act like there is. Now I have one last thing for you:

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Wheels' Comment

I hadn't really thought about the Job Fiesta thingy, but I'd certainly consider it (this is the Final Fantasy V one right?) Always fun to play classic Final Fantasy games in a new challenging way. As far as tips on how to succeed, I would just prepare to grind a lot, and learn as much as you can about the classes you get stuck with. Often times they're more useful than you think. Find out how best to exploit them, and do so! Don't forget to always find the best equipment as well. When is this fiesta anyway?

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