News On Japan

Final Fantasy II: A Unique RPG Without Levels

TOKYO, Apr 04 (News On Japan) - The "Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster" series, which has masterfully remastered the dawn of the "Final Fantasy (FF)" series from "I" to "VI" for the modern era, offers a simultaneous revival of the past series, allowing players to enjoy all six games with the same quality.

"FF2," the innovative second installment of the series, surprised fans with its new system. Released for the Family Computer (FC) on December 17, 1988, nearly one year after its predecessor, "FF2" diverged significantly from the popular fantasy and RPG elements of "FF1" in both system and story, stunning fans. Firstly, the system underwent a radical reform by abolishing the level system. At the time, this was groundbreaking, and players were amazed by such an approach. The concept of the protagonist being an extension of oneself was diminished, with detailed settings provided for the characters, emphasizing their roles as "heroes of the story." While role-playing elements were reduced, players could immerse themselves in the story as if watching a movie. It could be said that "FF2" was the first "Final Fantasy" game to be described as cinematic.

Growth System Based on Proficiency As mentioned, the game discarded the level system and introduced a proficiency system, where the more you use weapons or magic, the stronger they become. Each weapon type and magic spell had its proficiency level, which would increase individually as they were used. Furthermore, maximum HP would increase based on the amount of damage received, leading players to intentionally take hits from enemies to become stronger. Uniquely, you could also attack allies, ultimately leading to situations where you would strike your comrades to boost your strength. This was a rather intense approach, but the novel growth system provided a fresh gaming experience.

There were no restrictions on equipping weapons and armor, and it was up to the player to decide who would attack with weapons and who would use magic. As a result, each player's approach to character development varied significantly. Typically, Firion would focus on weapon attacks (mainly swords), Maria on magic and bows, and Guy on unarmed attacks (or using an axe). Many players, myself included, would overload Maria with various magic responsibilities, leading to a somewhat haphazard development (laughs).

A Deep World and Story "FF2" is also renowned as the first title in the series that emphasized story. The narrative revolves around four young individuals who are drawn into the resistance against an imperial invasion. The four protagonists were given well-defined names and backgrounds (though the names could be changed), and they were portrayed as characters within the story, rather than projections of the player. The game also featured compelling supporting characters, such as the sage Minwu, the monk Josef, Prince Gordon, the pirate Leila, and the dragoon Ricard, all of whom enriched the story.

The Tragic Tale of Minwu Given the war backdrop of the story, it was inevitable that many would fall in battle. Among these, the end of Minwu stands out as unforgettable. To counter the empire, he sought the tome of Ultima in the Mysidian Tower. Upon reaching the top floor, he released all his magical power to break the seal, ultimately depleting his magic... Ironically, the crucial Ultima spell wasn't particularly strong. Since weapon attacks dealt more damage, there was no need to rely on magic. Many players must have wondered why such a powerful character at the beginning would sacrifice himself for such a spell.

Word Memory System A distinctive feature of "FF2" was the Word Memory system, which allowed players to "remember" specific words from conversations and "ask" about them to other characters. The famous passphrase "Wild Rose" was one of the first words learned through this system. Beyond advancing the story, this system also allowed interaction with characters who would respond to certain words, thus complementing the narrative.

Further Solidifying the "FF" Identity While the game developed its unique system, the quintessential "FF" elements of magic, weapons, and monsters remained. Additionally, this was the first game to feature Cid (who was only mentioned by name in "FF1"). In this installment, he operated an airship service in the town of Poft, providing a means of transportation from the early stages of the game. This marked the beginning of the inseparable relationship between Cid and airships. And not to forget, the chocobo made its debut in "FF2," appearing in the Chocobo Forest and serving as a mode of transportation, accompanied by its lively theme music.

"FF2" fulfilled two elements: introducing a new unique system and further establishing the "FF" identity, making it an indispensable part of the series' history. Although the difficulty level is somewhat high for a 90s game, the "Pixel Remaster" offers a boost mode, so be sure to give it a try!

Source: Dengeki

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