After playing the first game of the series on Final Fantasy Origins, it was time to experience the sequel. Well, it wasn’t a direct sequel. Final Fantasy games are stand-alone with very little connection between them. Besides, Sakaguchi hates sequels. The numbering convention must have been a way to group the games together under one title. Still, most people thought Final Fantasy IV was the second game. The numbering system messed with people’s minds.
The new battle system did the same. Instead of leveling your characters, you leveled their proficiency in skills. The more damage they took, their armor and HP grew higher. The more they attacked with a specific weapon or magic, the higher that skill became. Pretty straightforward stuff. Even after playing four Final Fantasy games with the traditional leveling system, this didn’t bother me too much.
What bothered me was not knowing where to go. Or rather, how to proceed. Once you get into the open world, you have to go North. But if you go to certain parts of the open world, you’ll encounter powerful enemies. And they’ll slaughter you. I didn’t know how to prepare myself for this. In the other Final Fantasy games, monsters in the area were roughly around your level. But here, the wrong move could kill you. And it did many times. I spent two hours looking for a way to get to the North without dying to higher level enemies.
I remember closing my eyes and hoping my dreams could give me an answer. Well, it did. I dozed off to dream world with the game on. What did I envision? Firion walking around aimlessly in the same field, not knowing where to go. I woke up, not knowing how to get up there. Eventually, I kept the straight and narrow path until I reached Fynn. And everything was fine.
Except not at all!
Then I had to travel a Kingdom overrun by evil, powerful Knights. If I got into a battle with them, they’d one shot me. It was like the cutscene battle all over again. You know, the one where you lose to Death Riders. Well, here you still lose. I guess this is hammers home the point that these orphans are just inexperienced kids. It’s dangerous enough for them to travel in the field, yet one wrong move and it’s the end for them. But I’m a veteran player, so give me a hint.
I thought about drinking myself into a stupor, blaming Final Fantasy II for wasting my time. That’s when I saw a bar in the game. So then, I’m going to make Firion drink himself into a stupor. How do I get to the bar? Oh, it’s around the wall on the “outskirts” of town. This is the town, everything on this screen is the town. I walk in. I hope I never see more knight ever again in my life. I go in and see more knights…
And of course, the frustration doesn’t stop there, either. I love exploring in Final Fantasy. I think we all do. That’s why a lot of people disliked the level design of Final Fantasy XIII. In that game, there was a big expansive world, but we couldn’t explore it. What’s over there? Can’t go, walk down the hallway. Well, in Final Fantasy II, you can explore. If you dare. Well do ya, punk? Do you want to go left to find out it was a dead end? Do you want to walk through a door and realize nothing was in it? If you do, you’ll find yourself in another random encounter. The level design in this game is out of control. At least Final Fantasy XIII didn’t punish me for wanting to explore.
A lot of this game is trial and error, just to get through the dungeon. It’s even worst in the long slog towards the Pandemonium, but by then it’s nothing to you. You become just as hardened as your characters and it doesn’t faze you a bit. Of course, the Origins edition limited your inventory to 24 spaces. You’ll be lucky if you didn’t run out once you got to the emperor.
But I liked Final Fantasy II for the same reason I liked t the first game of the series. I was witnessing history. Only here, it seems like I witnessed the series finally get its footing. Obviously, we see Cid, an inventor who makes airships. He’s in every single game afterward. They even tried retroactively fitting him in the first game, but really…it’s not necessary. I stumbled through a little forest that contained a couple of birds. They were yellow, and I knew…they were Chocobos!
And you could ride them! I heard a goofy rendition of their ironic theme, but it was just too short. And the enemies. This is the first game were we see Behemoths and Malboros, two tough monsters. This game was memorable to me for the fact that I saw Final Fantasy take shape.
After beating this game, Final Fantasy III was next. Of course, I had no idea how to get my hands on this one…