Final Fantasy II (SNES) Review

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Review by The Every Gamer (September 2017)

Score: A- (4 / 5)

   Welp, time for a Final Fantasy game, only this time with a more positive aspect than the second game…for the most part. Again, I may skip some games and maybe come back to previous ones. I skipped III, because…DS Vietnam flashbacks.
   Final Fantasy IV, (known as Final Fantasy II in the US) was developed and published by Square (now known as Square Enix) and released in 1991 in Japan as well as the US. Europe would not get this game until 2002, with the release of Final Fantasy Anthology.

    Now you’re probably wondering why the game was released in the US as II instead of IV, considering that Final Fantasy II was released in the US. Well the original Final Fantasy II on the Famicom was actually meant to be released in the west. The US division of Square was working on an English localisation of the game, to be titled as Final Fantasy II: Dark Shadow Over Palakia. However, by then Super Nintendo was coming out, Square deemed it pointless to release Final Fantasy II, so they cancelled it and decided to release Final Fantasy IV, but rename it to II to avoid confusing Western players…which would in turn confuse Western players once the internet came out and the re-releases would use the IV number for worldwide releases.
   Please Note: The version I’m playing is a ROM Hack known as Project II, with better translations and bug fixes. I know that’s confusing for some, but I want to give the game the benefit of the doubt considering the amount of issues like the difficulty and the actual English translation…but at least we still have the Spoony Bard line.
   Our main character is Cecil Harvey, a dark knight and captain of the Red Wings, an elite air force unit of the Kingdom of Baron. He serves the King respectfully and his best friend is Kain Highwind, the commander of the Dragoons. One day, Cecil and the Red Wings attack the city of Mysidia to collect the Water Crystal. Cecil then begins to question if this is even right and asks the King why he’s doing all this. Cecil gets his answer when stripped of his rank and is sent to deliver a package to the Village of Mist, along with Kain. But the package is a monster that destroys the village, and leads to a girl losing her mother.  In a fit of rage brings out a Titan to knock out Cecil and Kain to the point where they are separated, leaving Cecil with this girl named Rydia, who pretty much sees Cecil as the bad guy until he protects her from Baron soldiers who are looking for her.

   I don’t want to spoil any more, but let’s just say a group of heroes want to collect crystals, the villains want them too, but there’s more to this story as it’s more character-driven than the previous games, in fact there are a ton of characters who will join your party, up to five at a time at some points; more power the better, am I right? Each character will have their own personalities and issues to go through, like Cecil who is trying to find redemption after his own misdeeds, I like that, it shows someone wanting to get better, becoming a hero rather than a villain. Though I will miss the Dark ability since it got me through some tough monsters.
   Other characters eventually get their happy ending or some just…die and after a while it can get ridiculous on the death count, although there are fake-outs which brings down the intensity of the plot. But the story overall is pretty good and it’s something I’ve been looking for in a Final Fantasy game considering the legacy of the series.
   If you played previous Final Fantasy games, then a lot of things will be similar, with overworlds where you fight monsters, go to towns to upgrade your gear, going to caves and dungeons to find items, gear, fight monsters and battle against the boss to progress the story, use an Airship to go to your next destination, buy items like REVIVE, REVIVE, FILL THE INVENTORY WITH REVIVE SON! A lot is similar, but I still enjoyed the adventure once you know of the looming threats.
   In terms of battling enemies, the game introduces the Active Time Battle (ATB) system. This is where you can input orders on characters in real time instead of “this character will do this, and this character will do that, etc., etc. and then watch the fight resume!” So even if you input orders, the enemy can still attack you and vice versa. This gives you more immersive battles, but sometimes you wish the old system returned as it has its BS moments, especially if the enemy has a powerful attack that could instantly kill you…I’M LOOKING AT YOU DEMON WALL! 
    The game has 12 characters you’ll get to play as in the game, some staying, some leaving, some returning, some dying eventually. You’re going to get your Fighters, your Ninjas, your White and Black Mages for magic, your Summoners, some having unique abilities and some make you go, “I NEEDED HIM/HER, WHY ARE YOU GOING NOW?”

   The game is enjoyable, everything gels together well. You have characters you want to see get strong thanks to their abilities and personalities, you have great villains you really want to screw over, you have a plot that interests you where it becomes an incentive to continue on, it has the goods that make it a worthwhile experience.
   But…the graphics look OK, (as in, just OK) there’s nothing special about it other than the Mode 7 graphics, and even then, it’s odd and it doesn’t hold up by today’s standards, but I can understand how mind blowing it was. Is the world memorable? Not really, actually, it reminds me of the PSP port of Final Fantasy I, I really couldn’t tell the difference. But it’s the music that makes it a great time for me, the battle music does something I would never expect an RPG to do: make me pumped for any battle I come across, even in random encounters…to an extent.
   Overall, Final Fantasy IV is a fantastic RPG, it’s in the top contender to be my favourite Final Fantasy game in terms of story, characters and battle system (even if I think it’s flawed). It’s not perfect, but I enjoyed it…but that Demon Wall though. If you want to play this game, I wouldn’t recommend the SNES port unless you’re playing the Project II version. I would recommend the Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection on PSP (playable on the Vita if you buy the downloadable version) or the mobile ports if you have an affinity for actually purchasing a mobile game over £10…seriously.
   You can get Final Fantasy IV on the SNES/Super Famicom, PlayStation, WonderSwan Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, iOS, Android and Steam.

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