Final Fantasy II: Pixel Remaster

released on Jul 28, 2021

The original FINAL FANTASY II comes to life with completely new graphics and audio! A remodeled 2D take on the second game in the world-renowned FINAL FANTASY series! Enjoy the timeless story told through charming retro graphics.

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Not an awful game, but certainly not a great one either. It features a lot of weird design choices and really questionnable difficulty and leveling scale.

With that said, it's still a great adventure and story, the writing is clearly not as good as today gaming, but it's a charming one.

And the "mistakes" that made this game served well to make Final Fantasy what it is today so, it has to be done.

Have fun !

An awesome game which is better in everything than the first one (maybe except the way of leveling your abilities).

Final Fantasy II is an incredibly frustrating game. It’s awful, but it has so many great ideas, but none of them end up quite working. This review is structured in four parts. The leveling system, balance, story, and miscellaneous. The section on balance has some mechanical spoilers, the section on story has some story spoilers, so avoid them if you care about that.

The Leveling System
Pretty much the first thing anyone brings up when you talk about Final Fantasy II is its unique system of character growth. Instead of gaining XP and leveling up, your characters gradually get better at the things they’re doing.
This is fairly unique in video games, but if you play tabletop rpgs, you’re much more likely to be familiar with this system. Call of Cthulhu, the second most popular system on Roll20 and most popular system in Japan has a system like this. If you succeed at a skill check during a session, you get to roll to see if you can improve it at the end. This works great narratively, because unlike in other roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons you’re not playing legendary heroes in that game. You play average people who suddenly get confronted with eldritch horrors, and the waitress who buys a .22 derringer for self-defense at the start of the campaign is never going to be a legendary gunslinger, but maybe with enough time she can become a pretty decent shot.
And the same is true in FFII. Guy isn’t some prophesized warrior of light, he’s just a teenager whose hometown got attacked so he picked up an axe, hoping to defend himself and his friends. Or maybe you decide that he should use a sword instead. Or fire magic.
So now that I have defended the concept of a leveling system like that, I have to admit that the implementation is actually fairly bad. It works for weapons, most skills, and some weapons.
But what does “using your hp” even mean? In the original it meant taking damage and then not getting healed which was obviously awful but now it can also increase when you didn’t take any damage, so it feels like it just randomly increases sometimes, which isn’t much better. In Call of Cthulhu your hp mostly stays the same throughout a campaign, but that doesn’t really work for a game like Final Fantasy either.
I get the idea behind increasing agility when you have high evasion. Heavy armor decreases evasion, so character in light armor gain agility. The problem is that shields also raise evasion, so Firion, who was always wearing the heaviest armor available but also using a shield ended up with the higest agility by far for me.
Spells that inflict status effects have very low chances to work at level one and you have to get them to a high level for them to be worth using. So, either you waste them a few hundred times, or you do it like me and just don’t bother with them.
In the early game, the only status effect you can Basuna away is poison, but that’s so weak that you probably won’t bother. Later temporary status effects are also usually things you can just wait out, so your Basune is probably going to stay fairly low level. Which you’ll regret once you run into enemies that can confuse and your Basuna is like 4 levels too low to deal with that.
And then there’s spells that don’t really get better as you use them. So if you use Life a bunch, it mostly ends up being significantly more expensive without being much better. In the final battle I was using Guy to raise people who I had previously only used to raise Firion, because his Life 2 was just that much cheaper than Firion’s Life 9. Similar things apply to Warp and Teleport, at least if you don’t want to use them in battle.
Perhaps worst of all, the system leads to everyone just feeling kinda same-y, at least the way I played. Everyone was good with their weapon(s) and had some spells they were good at, the only real differences were what those spells and weapons were.
Regardless of all of this, I wish more games dared being creative with the way character growth works. Call of Cthulhu shows it can work.

Most of the balance issues in this game are either a result of the leveling system or were already present in FFI, but there are a few things I still want to talk about.
Offensive spells being way weaker than just attacks was already the case in the previous game, but now Ultima is also a victim of this, a spell that is supposed to be super powerful. In the original Famicon version of the game, Ultima was even weaker and that had interesting implications but now it’s just another mediocre spell.
While spells were fairly useless against single targets in FFI, at least aoe spells were useful against large groups. But now every spell can be cast aoe which causes its damage to be split among all targets, so magic isn’t even useful for clearing large groups anymore. The only thing it’s good for in this game is dealing with enemies that have high physical resistance.
The different weapon types feel somewhat balanced, but there are some stretches of the game where you just don’t get a new axe or sword or something for way too long, so your axe or sword user falls off compared to the rest of the group.
Getting ambushed in the late game is pretty close to a death sentence. Some enemies inflict status effects on each attack that can easily lose you the fight (especially stone and confused), other enemies just deal very high amounts of damage, and coeurls just kill everyone in 1 hit. It’s very frustrating to get ambushed, something you have no control over, and losing the last couple of minutes of progress.
Dungeons are also very frustrating to explore regardless of that. There is way less in dungeons, many rooms just turn out to be empty, and even if you find a chest somewhere, most of the time it’s just a potion or some gil (which you can pretty much only spend on healing items).
As much as I love the 4th party member system, some of them aren’t very well balanced. Josef is so much stronger than the rest of the party that the game just turns into a one-man show for a while, while Leila and Gordon start with so few hp that everything almost kills them for a while. At least Gordon has high stamina, so the problem doesn’t last for long, but when Leila left my party she had less hp than Guy when his wounded animation starts.
Chaos in FFI was somewhat frustrating to fight because he could just randomly fully heal himself with Curaja so they learned from their mistakes and make the emperor only heal himself with every single attack /s. I spent almost an hour fighting him, and at some point I realized that I shouldn’t heal, only raise, because that just gives him more hp to absorb.

Criticizing the story of FFII in 2022 might seem rich. “It’s from 1988, how much story can you tell on the Famicon?” you might think. But I actually prefer the story of FFI over this game.
The story of four young heroes going on various adventures that eventually lead them to uncover a buck wild time travel plot while also growing up is much more compelling to me than FFII’s pretty generic rebels vs empire plot.
That said, there are some pretty good story moments and some of the character are also interesting.
The biggest issue I have with the story is how much it overuses death. So many characters that you barely know die (mostly through self-sacrifice) that it kinda just loses all impact. Especially bad is the death of Cid. Let me elaborate:
We are introduced to Cid as a former high ranking soldier of Fynn who gave up everything for his one true passion, the airship. If I was tasked with writing a story where a character like this dies, I’d have multiple ideas, depending on the kind of story I wanted to tell. He could decide to do one last job for Fynn and die protecting Hilda to show that in spite of abandoning his post, he is still a loyal soldier at heart. He could die during the dreadnaught bombardment, so you’d have both the irony of him being killed by what he loves, airships, and you’d blame yourself for not being able to stop the dreadnaught. Instead he dies from the wounds he got from the cyclone, something neither he nor you had any agency over. The entire cyclone thing is pretty out of nowhere anyway and it just feels like they needed him to do so he’d have a reason to give you the airship.

To close out this way too long review, here are a few minor things I’d like to mention.
The variable 4th party slot is such a great idea despite the aforementioned balance issues. It allows you to use way more than 4 characters without breaking the technical limitations of the Famicon.
I almost got softlocked in the dreadnaught because I was out of healing and wasn’t allowed to leave for some reason. Luckily I didn’t rely on just quick saves so I had an older save I could load.
Speaking of the dreadnaught, what is up with the random encounters in the dreadnaught and Palamecia? These are supposed to be highly empire-controlled areas but you’re mostly fighting the undead and stuff, barely any soldiers.
Leila and Leon being left-handed is such a nice touch, it barely changes anything but makes these characters feel so much more real.
The soundtrack is really good, but I wish there was a bit more variety.
Lastly, the most minor nitpick possible, please adjust keys for non-standard keyboards. I’m using a German keyboard, so my Z and Y key are swapped and games usually account for that. This one didn’t and I really feel like I can expect better from a game published by Square Enix.

i liked this slightly more than ff1 lol. there are definitely flaws to the exp system but i like what they were going for at least conceptually; it's solid at low levels but the curve for high levels is really absurd. luckily none of that is even necessary, since the majority of the leveling you need to progress is easily acquired just by engaging all the encounters. unfortunately the game is also somehow way too easy; none of the bosses posed a threat whatsoever, and pretty much all of my deaths were from regular enemies, which was pretty disappointing. aside from a couple strangely timed missables i didn't find anything too cryptic, which was nice. i find it kind of hilarious that each new fourth party member gets killed off and the rest of the characters just act like they never even existed to begin with, almost like it was just used as an excuse to force your party to change lol. i didn't mind that part too much but it probably could have been executed better.
i certainly wouldn't call this a "great" game but i don't think it deserves to be called "bad" either. 7.1/10

Final Fantasy II Pixel Remaster

Pues un poco sorprendido, ya que me habían puesto el juego un poco por el suelo, pero realmente no está del todo mal al principio. Luego se vuelve bastante horrible.


El mes que viene el III #1Month1FF