Final Fantasy II (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Square | November 1991 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Square | November 1991 | 8 MEGS

As a kid I had almost zero interest in RPGs. My brother loved them but I had the ignorant opinion that they were slow and boring. Now opinions are opinions and I would never call someone who dislikes the genre “ignorant.” However, I say ignorant for myself only because I judged an entire genre without giving it a chance. Ironically, I now love RPGs as much as any other gaming genre. My first foray into the RPG realm came courtesy of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (December 2007). Although certainly a flawed game, I had one hell of a good time. Naturally, it made too much sense to have my second RPG experience be Final Fantasy II. In some ways you could say that Final Fantasy II marked my first “real” RPG (if you don’t count Mystic Quest as a legit RPG which some folks do not). Final Fantasy II was a sweeping and grand adventure; what follows below will be some thoughts and memories. Fair warning: some spoilers lie ahead so play it first before you continue on! Besides, if you haven’t already played it, you probably should.

THE STORY GOES…

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Crew: Captain Cecil! We’re about to land.

Cecil: At long last!

Crew Guy 1: Pray tell, Cap, why are we stealing the crystals from innocent folk?

Crew Guy 2: That’s what we’ve been summoned to do. And that’s that.

Crew Guy 1: Do we really have to keep doing this? Captain?

Cecil:

Crew Guy 3: Prepare for landing!

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Elder: Take the crystal if you must.

Cecil: Could have saved yourself the trouble by saying that earlier.

Elder: But consider this. Why would the King of Baron do this? Why do you pursue the crystals so eagerly?

Cecil:

Crew Guy 2: SHUT UP old man, or I’ll shut you up myself!

The heist has been completed
The heist has been completed

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Crew Guy 1: Captain, I don’t know if we can keep doing this.

Cecil: Possessing the crystal is essential to our prosperity. More importantly, His Majesty has deemed that the Mysidians know too much about the crystal’s secrets. We are the Red Wings, the air force of the Kingdom Baron! The Royal Command is absolute.

Crew Guy 3: You sure?

Cecil:

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Baigan: About time, Cecil! I see you have the Crystal of Water. Well done.

Cecil: Indeed. But… the Mysidians were so helpless.

Baigan: What are you trying to say?

Cecil: Well… it’s just…

Baigan: Don’t get soft on me now. You did what you had to do. Don’t overthink it, for your own sake.

Cecil:

Baigan: Follow me…

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Baigan: Your Majesty, I’m afraid Cecil has developed a conscience and a rebellious air. I don’t think we can trust him going forward.

King: I have no room for backstabbers. I’ll take care of him swiftly.

*MOMENTS LATER*

Cecil: You called, Sir?

King: Yes! Good job, Cecil. Hand me the crystal.

Cecil: Sir, are we doing the right thing?

King: You dare question me, YOUR KING?!?

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Cecil: I just want to know what’s going on.

King: Let’s cut the bullshit. I know of your discontent, Cecil. Since you no longer trust me, you cannot be commander of the Red Wings. You are dismissed from your post!

Cecil: What?!

King: Take this package, and venture to Village Mist. Just remember this one thing. A man digs his own grave. Guards, get this maggot outta my sight!

LATER THAT NIGHT...
LATER THAT NIGHT…

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Rosa: Cecil! What’s wrong? You haven’t been yourself lately.

Cecil: We had to rob the innocent folks in Mysidia.

Rosa: Oh dear…

Cecil: I’m just a Dark Knight with no courage to disobey His Majesty.

Rosa: Hmph! The real Cecil I know would never whimper like this!

Cecil: Rosa, about tomorrow…

Rosa: I know. I know. Get some rest, for tomorrow is a big day… for all of us…

No genre does atmospheric late night musings like RPGs
No genre does atmospheric late night chats like RPGs :)
Really part IV in Japan but part II in North America
Really part IV in Japan but part II in North America

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In typical RPG fashion, you trek through the land in an overhead view. It’s simplistic but therein lies the beauty.

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Enemies randomly crop up, taking you to this battle screen. Growing up I thought RPGs were lame and boring, but now I can’t get enough of it. Go figure!

Use magic to light up the screen
Use magic to light up the screen
Gotta love magic attacks that strike all of the enemies
Gotta love magic attacks that strikes all enemies
Quoth the Raven: Nevermore
Quoth the Raven: Nevermore
And so, the bartering begins
And so, the bartering begins
Maybe Namingway should change his own name...
Maybe Namingway should change his own name…

Early on in the game, Cecil fulfills a life long dream when he legally changes his name to Steve. Hey, can you blame him? [Shush you -Ed.]

Chatting up the locals is all part of the storytelling fun
Chattin’ up the locals is all part of the storytelling fun
Oooh, the plot thickens. Who is this strange old man?
Ooh, the plot thickens. Who is this strange old man?
Hmm. I reckon this can't be too good...
Hmm. I reckon this can’t be too good…
What a guy, that Steve [It should be Cecil... -Ed.]
What a guy, that Steve [It should be Cecil… -Ed.]
Antlion doesn't sound like the name of sumthin' tame...
Antlion doesn’t sound like the name of sumthin’ tame...
Old Guy: Let's see what kind of game Steve has...
Old Guy: Let’s see what kind of game Steve has…
Rosa: Thank you for being here with me... Steve: Alright... well... yeah, get some sleep. Old Guy: Ugh... no game at all!
Rosa: Thank you for being here with me…
Steve: Alright… well… yeah, get some sleep.
Old Guy: Ugh… NO game at all!
Steve: Say whaaaa?! Um, no she doesn't... Old Guy: YOU FOOL. I'm blind and EVEN I can see!
Steve: Say whaaaa?! Um, no she doesn’t…
Old Guy: YOU FOOL. I’m blind and EVEN I can see!
Rydia: You always get me, Steve...
Rydia: You always get me, Steve…
Everyone plays a vital role in the journey
Everyone plays a vital role in the journey
Edward: DO IT FOR ANNA! Rydia: Playing the dead girlfriend card?! Oh my...
Edward: DO IT FOR ANNA!
Rydia: Playing the dead girlfriend card?! Oh my…
Steve: Hey, no! Wait, no it isn't what it looks like... Yang: Suuuuure... mmm hmm.
Steve: Hey, no! Wait, no it isn’t what it looks like…
Yang: Suuuuure… mmm hmm. Riiight…
Love Yang. Such a badass
Love Yang. Such a badass
Here comes the calvary at last!
Here comes the calvary at last!
Steve: Um... hi there... PS- no thanks on PPS
Steve: Um… hi there… PS- no thanks on PPS

The twins, Palom and Porom, are comic relief characters to the nth degree.

Old Guy: What, was there no decaf this morning?
Old Guy: What, was there no decaf this morning?

[Lord knows ONE Steve is more than enough! -Ed.]
[Lord knows ONE Steve is more than enough! -Ed.]
[Keep heading toward that light, Steve... -Ed.]
[Keep heading toward that light, Steve… -Ed.]

Envy is the ruin of us all
Envy is the ruin of us all
Plenty of story twists abound in FINAL FANTASY II
Plenty of story twists abound in FINAL FANTASY II
Here, take a look for yourself
Here, take a look for yourself
"Ooooooooh... ahhhhhh..."
“Ooooooooh… ahhhhhh…”
Old Guy: Hey I'm old and blind, cut me some slack. Listen again!
Old Guy: Hey I’m old and blind, cut me some slack!

This part cracks me up because we all know a nostalgic person like this in our lives who can’t shut up about their old war stories or the “good old days” [Pot, kettle, black -Ed.]

Such a sad scene this was... *SNIFF*
Such a sad scene *SNIFF*

Final Fantasy II featured an intricate plot full of twists and turns that will tug at your heartstrings. You latched onto the characters; you connected with them and believed in them. There’s a certain synergy about this game that makes playing it akin to reading a really good book.

Never know what goodies you might find
Never know what goodies you might find

JACKPOT! Finding a bevy of treasure chests just lying around is always exciting. Your eyes just light up as you make your way around each box. Classic RPG gaming at its best.

The story moves along at a brisk pace
The story moves along at a brisk pace

An epic battle wages between Golbez and Tellah. Tellah has a devastating magic spell up his sleeve known simply as Meteo. It inflicts a shit ton of damage — 9,999 HP reduction to be precise. But at what cost?

Forgiving someone can do wonders for ones own spirit
Forgiving someone can do wonders for your spirit…

In life sometimes we have to learn how to forgive those who have harmed us. We’re only hurting ourselves if we don’t. It’s more about what it does for you than it does to the person you’re forgiving. A good lesson I’ve learned over the years!

What's an RPG without an innocent perverse moment?
What’s an RPG without an innocent pervy moment?
It's prudent to heed the wisdom of your elders...
It’s prudent to heed the wisdom of your elders…
But not this one. D'oh! Love Square's sense of humor
But not this one, d’oh! Love Square’s sense of humor
Ominous...
Ominous…
Edge the ninja is a pretty bad-ass dude
Edge the ninja is a pretty badass dude

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One of the many things I love about RPGs is the relationship dynamic between the group members. I particularly like it when there’s some degree of inner turmoil among the party members. It just makes things more interesting when there’s little moments of in-house bickering. They add charm to the game and are always a hoot to read. Nothing like a little good old fashioned tension among the ranks to break up the monotony of the trip.

Edge is 1337! How appropriate...
Edge is 1337! How appropriate…
Door #1, #2, or #3? Which door shall it be? Hmmm
Door #1, #2, or #3? Which door shall it be? Hmmm
Of course, Nintendo of America didn't allow "PRAY"
Of course, Nintendo of America didn’t allow “PRAY”
"For me WHAT?! What 'cha say? Damn, maybe I should have been listening"
“For me WHAT?! What ‘cha say?
Damn, maybe I should have been listening!”
Plenty of intense drag-'em-out boss fights await
Plenty of intense drag ‘em out boss fights await
Can you survive the challenges ahead?
Can you survive the challenges ahead?
[Oh so you mean like basically the rest of eternity -Ed.]
[Oh so you mean like basically the rest of eternity -Ed.]
Will he finally say it at last...
Will he finally say it at last…
[I freaking knew it -Ed.]
[I freaking knew it -Ed.]
Who needs fancy 3D graphics when you have THIS?
Who needs fancy 3D graphics when you have THIS?
Final Fantasy II proves gameplay trumps graphics
Final Fantasy II proves gameplay trumps graphics
But the visuals certainly aren't half bad for their time
But the visuals certainly aren’t half bad for their time
Steve: "But naw, it was just my stomach growling"
“But naw, it was just my stomach growling”
Ah, how good to see everyone again!
Ah, how good to see everyone again!

In the end, a grand celebration is held and many old faces rejoin the fray for one big reunion bash.

To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left Now kick, now kick, now kick, now kick Now walk it by yourself, now walk it by yourself
To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left
Now kick, now kick, now kick, now kick
Now walk it by yourself, now walk it by yourself
From the previous owner's save slot. He went nuts...
From the previous owner’s save slot. He went nuts…

I love how stupid high the numbers get in this game. HP of 5611? Why not! My final stats:

Steve L55 3699 HP 222 MP
Rydia L51 1704 HP 449 MP
Edge L52 2614 HP 168 MP
Rosa L53 2654 HP 440 MP
Kain L54 3373 HP

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

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Final Fantasy II was very well received by the critics. EGM gave it the Game of the Month honors, earning scores of 7, 8, 8 and 9. Super Play Magazine rated it 90%. You can’t go wrong with this game, and there’s even a small spattering of fans who prefer it to the almighty Final Fantasy III. Final Fantasy II is a well paced, story driven RPG no SNES fan can afford to miss. If you’ve somehow missed it all these years, be sure to bump it up to the top of your queue.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest eased me into the genre, which I blindly disliked as a kid, but it was Final Fantasy II that cemented me as an RPG fan for life. I discovered, in my mid 20s, just how satisfying RPGs can be. The action may not come at you fast and furious, but the great storytelling and character dynamics make for a hell of a ride no other genre can provide. From romantic subplots to betrayal to even death, Final Fantasy II is a breathing and organic piece of art that sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the very last magic spell. You can’t ask for much more from a video game than that.

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The effectiveness of its characters can often times either make or break an RPG. Thankfully, Final Fantasy II is graced from top to bottom with plenty of memorable characters. Yang, the wacky twins, Cid and Edge — just to name some — are the sort you’ll grow attached to as you go about the journey. Although Cecil is the main star here, it’s more akin to an assemble cast. Sure, the formula’s a bit simple and basic, but that’s also part of its charm. You traverse from town to town, talking with the locals, picking up clues, buying supplies, leveling up in the nearby forests and caves, and then battle a boss before moving onto the next region. It’s the storytelling aspect of these games that I admire so much. When an RPG is done right, like this one is, it sweeps you away to a far away land full of wonder and danger. It’s video game escapism at its best. Long day at work? Long holiday weekend? Nothing like popping in a quality RPG to get away from it all for a few moments. Although Final Fantasy II may be linear, doesn’t have many side quests and may even seem rather basic to more seasoned veterans of the genre, there’s an undeniable charm to the game. The story moves along at a brisk pace, the characters are endearing and it’s backed by a stellar soundtrack. If you haven’t played this game yet, you’re missing out on one of the best SNES RPGs.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 8

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

Sure. As we know, nothing is final with Final Fantasy :P
Sure. As we know, nothing’s final with Final Fantasy :P

2 thoughts on “Final Fantasy II (SNES)”

    1. Yup, Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan) was even better (IMHO) than Final Fantasy II (IV in Japan). What a masterpiece.

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