Final Fantasy II is the second installment in the Final Fantasy series, developed and published by Squaresoft. It was released in December 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System exclusively in Japan, but was later re-released worldwide for the PlayStation, the Game Boy Advance, the PlayStation Portable, iOS, Android, and other platforms. It was directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, with Yoshitaka Amano designing the characters and Nobuo Uematsu composing the score. It was notable for being one of the first story-intensive RPGs released for console systems, and introducing many series staples, including chocobos and a character named Cid. Its story is unrelated to the original Final Fantasy, and its gameplay is a major departure from the previous title for eliminating the traditional experience-based progression system.
The game centers on a conflict by the Palamecian Empire, whose Emperor Mateus is using hellspawn to try to conquer the world. The protagonist, Firion, along with his allies Maria and Guy, join the Wild Rose Rebellion to fight them, and meet many allies along the way to try to stop the Emperor and save the world.
Final Fantasy II eliminates the leveling system from the previous game, focusing on the playable characters' stats, which increase according to how much they are used or required; for example, a character who frequently casts Magic would have their magic proficiency increase faster, while a character who frequently takes damage would have their maximum HP increase. Battles are fought in the turn-based system seen in the previous game, though each character has their class and abilities defined.
Final Fantasy II is unique in the Final Fantasy series for not using experience-based levels. Instead of earning experience points at battles, each participant develops depending on what actions they take during the battle. For example, characters who frequently use a particular type of weapon (sword, bow, axe, etc.) will become more adept at wielding a weapon of that type, as well as increasing their physical strength. Similarly, characters who frequently cast a particular magic spell will learn to cast more powerful versions of it, as well as increasing their magical power. HP and MP increase depending on need: a character who ends a battle in critical health may earn an increase in their maximum amount of hit points, and a character who expends the majority of their magic points during a single battle, may increase their maximum amount of magic points.
A handful of bugs related to this advancement system were present in release version, the most notable being the ability to cancel a previously issued command and still gain the stat-increasing benefits of having performed the action. This was possible because the game's turn-based battle system gave the player the opportunity to input commands for all four party members at once. At any point before the command for the final character in the lineup was issued, the player could return to the previous character to reissue a command.
Since many statistics, such as weapon and magic spell proficiency, were based on how many times a particular command was used in battle, a little patience meant it was possible to quickly advance in proficiencies in the space of a single battle round. A similar problem manifested in the way hit point increases were granted, which allowed characters to attack members of their own party to increase their maximum hit points. These problems were replicated in both the WonderSwan Color and the PS ports. The GBA remake eliminated the command cancel bug, though the hit point increase trick remained. Various other changes were made to the GBA version, including regular maximum hit point increases outside of those gained as outlined above, to decrease game difficulty.
Battle parties can consist of up to four characters. Three are present throughout the entire game, but the fourth position rotates. Final Fantasy II was the first game in the series to allow a friendly character to be placed in the "back row" during battles making them immune to most physical attacks, but still harmed with bows and magical attacks. Enemies can be arranged in up to four rows of two creatures each (for a maximum of eight hostile opponents on screen). Only the two rows closest to the player's party can be damaged with physical attacks. By eliminating the two closest rows, the player can then physically damage the other rows.
When in conversation with non-player characters (NPCs), the player can "learn" special words or phrases, which can later be repeated to other NPCs to gain more information or unlock new actions. A handful of special items can be shown to NPCs that have the same effect.
Final Fantasy II was the first game in the series to have an actual main cast of characters with names and histories. The first three characters never change, while the fourth is always changing.
- Firion is the main character. The adopted friend of Maria and Leon, and childhood friend of Guy, he seeks to destroy the Empire to avenge his fallen family.
- Maria is Firion and Guy's childhood friend, and the female lead. She quests to find her brother Leon, who disappeared after being attacked by the Empire.
- Guy is a friend of Firion and Maria. He speaks in a stunted manner, and can speak to animals.
- Leon is Maria's older brother, and the new Dark Knight of Palamecia. He went missing during the attack on Fynn, and has since grown to be the emperor's most faithful follower.
- Minwu is a White Mage and Hilda's personal adviser. He joins the party during their first adventures, and is learned in the arts of magic.
- Josef is a miner, and helps the resistance gain mythril.
- Gordon is the prince of Kashuan, and fled from battle after his brother, Scott, died in the battle for Fynn. He believes himself to be a coward, and to prove himself fit for the throne, he journeys with Firion and his allies to aid in the defeat of the Empire.
- Leila is a pirate who attempts to rob the party, but her crew is weak and Firion, Maria, and Guy easily defeat them. She repents, and decides only to attack the Empire instead.
- Ricard Highwind is the last Dragoon of Deist. Having been stuck in Leviathan for some time, he is eager to return to action and stop the Empire to avenge his fallen allies.
- Scott is a prince of Kashuan and the older brother of Gordon.
A long-lived peace...is at an end. The emperor of Palamecia has called forth monsters from the underworld... and has begun his campaign for world conquest. A rebel army arose in the Kingdom of Fynn to thwart the emperor's plan. But the rebels' castle fell to an all-out assault by the empire. Left with little choice, the rebels withdrew to the remote town of Altair. Four youths from Fynn also found themselves fleeing the imperial forces. They had lost their parents at the hands of the empire. But their escape wasn't over...
The Emperor of Palamecia summons forth monsters from Hell to dominate the world. Firion, Maria, Guy, and Leon are orphaned when the Empire attacks Fynn and they are cut down by imperial soldiers as they flee. Firion, Maria, and Guy are rescued by forces belonging to the Wild Rose Rebellion led by Princess Hilda and taken to Altair to be revived, but Leon has gone missing. Though they ask to join the rebellion, Hilda refuses due to their youth and inexperience.
Firion, Guy, and Maria return to Fynn and find Prince Scott on his deathbed. He tells the party of Count Borghen's betrayal and asks them to encourage his brother Gordon, who is afraid to join the rebels. Scott asks them not to tell Hilda his feelings for her, and gives them a ring to take back just before he dies. Returning Scott's ring convinces Hilda that Firion's group is strong enough to join the fight.
She sends the group to Salamand in search of Mythril. Josef, a member of the rebellion, was sent to search for it, but Hilda hasn't heard from him since. Hilda's right-hand man, Minwu, joins the party for this mission. The party finds Josef, who is unwilling to give any information, as the Palamecian Empire has kidnapped his daughter Nelly, and Borghen has threatened to kill her if Josef helps the resistance. He tells them to go to the Semitt Falls and free her, along with the townspeople who have been enslaved in the mines. They do so and also rescue Paul, a thief in the rebellion's employ. After defeating one of the imperial Sergeants, the party takes the Mythril and returns to Altair.
After the weaponsmith Tobul crafts Mythril equipment for the resistance, the party is dispatched to Bafsk. The Empire has enslaved the residents and made them build a powerful airship known as the Dreadnought. It was built under the watchful eye of an imperial known as the Dark Knight, but he was replaced by Borghen after the loss of the Mythril. This gives the resistance the opportunity to destroy the Dreadnought before it is finished. Just before the party reaches the massive airship from the Bafsk Sewers, the Dark Knight, who has not left Bafsk after all, takes control of the airship and lifts off.
The Dreadnought attacks the cities of Poft, Paloom, Gatrea and Altair, but the secret base at Altair is unharmed. Minwu leaves to care for the ailing King. After talking to Cid, owner of the world's other airship, Hilda and the party decide to obtain Sunfire from Kashuan Keep. To enter, they need either the Goddess's Bell or the voice of a Kashuan. Josef helps the party reach the Snow Cave with a snowcraft, and the party retrieves the bell located within. On the way out, Borghen attacks the party, and although he is defeated, he sends a boulder after them. Josef holds back the boulder to allow the party to escape and is crushed.
With heavy hearts but renewed determination to avenge Josef, the party heads for the abandoned kingdom of Kashuan to retrieve the Sunfire. They enter the keep and find Gordon, who came on his own but was unable to make it past the monsters inside. He joins the party and helps them to locate Egil's Torch, the only vessel they can use to carry the Sunfire. The party defeats a Red Soul for the torch and retrieve the Sunfire. As they leave, they witness Cid's airship being captured by the Dreadnought, which parks to replenish fuel supplies in the far south. The party heads there, frees Cid (and Hilda, who was on board Cid's airship), and throws the Sunfire into the Dreadnought's engine as directed by Cid. They meet the Dark Knight in the engine room and Maria recognizes his voice, but they have no time and escape just before the airship is destroyed.
The party returns triumphantly to Altair, only to learn the King is about to die. With his last breaths, he plans a three-pronged attack on the Empire to take back Fynn. In his plan, Minwu heads to Mysidia to retrieve Ultima, the ultimate magic tome, Gordon takes command of the rebel army to attack Fynn directly, and Firion's party heads to the island nation of Deist to enlist the aid of the Dragoons. Hilda has started behaving strangely and retires to her chambers. The party accepts passage from Leila, who reveals that she is a pirate captain and tries to mug the party. When they defeat her and her crew, she is impressed and joins them. They reach Deist, but find the Dragoons fallen in battle and only a single Wyvern remaining. The beast is dying, poisoned by the Empire. It gives the party the last Wyvern Egg, which the party drops in the healing spring at the bottom of Deist Cavern to incubate it and hasten its growth process.
The party returns to Altair empty-handed and Firion learns that the Hilda they rescued is a Lamia Queen in disguise. The real Hilda is being held as a prize in the tournament at the Palamecian Coliseum. The party, with Gordon in tow, make haste to reach Hilda, defeating a Behemoth at the Coliseum to earn her as a prize. The Emperor overseeing the match dispatches the party and has them thrown in the dungeons. They are saved by Paul, who unlocks their cell. Hilda and Gordon escape on their own while the rest of the party draws the guards' attention.
The rebel army plans an attack on Fynn and encamps outside the town. Firion, Maria, Guy and Leila lead the attack and defeat the imperial castellan, Gottos, earning the rebels an important victory. Minwu and the Ultima Tome are nowhere to be found so Hilda instructs the party to look for him and retrieve the Tome from the Mysidian Tower. After obtaining the Crystal Rod from the trials on the Tropical Island, the party heads for the Tower, only to be swallowed by the Leviathan. Shipwrecked and separated from Leila, the party works its way from Leviathan's innards to the mouth, where, with the help of Ricard Highwind the Dragoon, they retake the ship by defeating a Roundworm. They head for the Tower with Ricard, best the Fire Gigas, Ice Gigas and the Thunder Gigas and find Minwu at the Chamber of the Seal. He has been waiting for Firion's group to arrive; once they are there, he uses his life force to break the seal.
The party takes Ultima and returns to Fynn, but discover the towns of Altair, Gatrea, Paloom and Poft have been destroyed by a mysterious force known as the Cyclone. It threatens to tear the world asunder if the party cannot figure out how to stop it. Hilda explains a pendant can be used to call wyverns in the chamber at the top of the castle, and Paul gives them the item. The pendant calls the young wyvern that was hatched at Deist, and they fly it into the Cyclone.
They infiltrate the fortress inside the storm and defeat the Emperor. A victory celebration is held at Fynn, but it is interrupted by the news that the Dark Knight is Maria's long-lost brother Leon, who has crowned himself Emperor. Cid, dying after the attack on Paloom, gives the party his airship, and they fly to Palamecia. Leon refuses Maria's pleas and prepares to battle, but the Emperor returns from Hell, now more powerful than ever, and reveals his intentions of bringing Hell to Earth, no longer caring about ruling Palamecia. Ricard sacrifices himself in battle against the Emperor so that the others can escape on the Wyvern.
After Ricard's death, the Dark Emperor raises Castle Pandaemonium, the fortress of the Lord of Hell, to start a new empire. Leon joins the party at Firion's behest, and they set out to prepare for the final battle. After returning to Deist to earn the Excalibur, the treasured sword of the Dragoons, the party fights through the Jade Passage, entering Pandaemonium from underneath as other forms of approach are impossible. Inside the castle, the party fights its way through several of the Emperor's most powerful minions, including an undead Borghen, en route to the throne at the top.
A fierce battle ensues as the Emperor attempts to destroy the last hope of the resistance. Despite his powerful spells and his ability to call down meteors, Firion and the others defeat him for good. They return to Castle Fynn where Hilda, Gordon, Nelly, Leila and Paul wait to congratulate the party on the victory. Life begins anew for everyone, but Leon takes his leave, feeling that too much has happened between them for him to stay. Maria protests, but Firion says they will be waiting when Leon is ready to return.
With the war's end, the monsters called from Hell vanish and the world returns to peace, eventually to forget the bitter memories save for the efforts of the young heroes who saved them all.
Soul of Rebirth Edit
In the GBA and PSP versions, a new story, titled Soul of Rebirth, tells the tales of the four party members who died defending Firion and his party to see the Emperor defeated.
Minwu wakes up in a mysterious cave and tries to figure out where he is. He finds Scott, the prince of Kashuan, who had died earlier. After defeating a few soldiers, the two find Josef, being confronted by a hideous zombie-version of Borghen. The three of them defeat Borghen, and start searching for answers about where they are. They find Ricard, who is fighting the Roundworm, and aid him. He joins Minwu's party. They find their way out of the passage, and learn that they are in the afterlife. The town of Machanon was built as a safe house for the souls trapped in this unknown dimension. They find Cid, Tobul and other rebels, who helped build the place, and who encourage the party to explore the other two mysterious portals that appeared in Machanon not long ago.
After adjusting themselves to the difficult battles of the afterlife, Minwu and the party enter one of the portals, and find themselves in the Chamber of the Seal, Minwu's resting place. Minwu must again break the seal, but this time, he is powerful enough to do it without sustaining fatal injuries. The party enters the chamber and attempts to claim Ultima, but are met with the guardian of the spell in the afterlife: the Ultima Weapon. The party defeats the monster, and claims Ultima.
This leaves one final portal, which leads to the Unknown Palace. Like Pandaemonium before it, the Palace is guarded by fierce creatures, and contains some of the most powerful equipment. Minwu's party finds four the Stardust Rod (for Minwu), the Wild Rose (for Scott), the Bracers (for Josef), and the Wyvern Lance (for Ricard).
After all the battles, the party meets the Light Emperor, who asks for forgiveness for his dark side's actions. The Light Emperor explains he split into two entities when he was defeated, and that Firion and the party defeated the dark half in Pandaemonium. He explains they are in Arubboth, the passage to Heaven, and that they can rest in peace. The subconscious souls of their still-living friends and family appear and tell them they must not be fooled by the Light Emperor, because he is just as evil as the Dark Emperor. The party recovers their will to fight and defeats the Light Emperor. The four heroes return (at least in spirit) to Castle Fynn, where they witness the end of Firion's party's adventure. Minwu, Scott, Josef and Ricard fade away, presumably going to Heaven.
Final Fantasy II was scored by Nobuo Uematsu, and was his seventeenth work of video game music. The music was arranged by Tsuyoshi Sekito for the WonderSwan Color, PlayStation and Game Boy Advance remakes, who also composed the two new boss battle themes for these releases. There were also a batch of themes made for the Famicom Version that were unreleased for reasons unknown. Some of the music is not original to the game, but is taken from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet.
Final Fantasy II had three unused themes composed by Nobuo Uematsu: an Airship Theme, removed due to being too "happy" for this rather dark game; a dungeon theme, removed from the game and later used for Final Fantasy VI; and a "shop theme", ultimately removed for being too similar to the shop theme from the original Final Fantasy.
There is no character creation or job system because Final Fantasy II was intended to be a more story-driven game than the first Final Fantasy and thus would need specific characters. The second reason was the idea that the system would be more about nurture than nature: the player doesn't choose a character in the beginning, but they can make them grow in a certain way to become anything the player set them up to be. This way the character-building process would continue throughout the game. When making the system the developers didn't anticipate it would lead to a system where players could easily exploit it. The ability to hit party members was included so players could wake sleeping characters, but instead people used it to grind levels.
Final Fantasy II was originally released for the Nintendo Family Computer in Japan in 1988. There was some initial talk that either Nintendo of America or Square Soft (Square's North American subsidiary) might localize the title for American audiences as had been done with its predecessor in 1990. Such a project was announced and an early prototype cartridge was produced in 1991 as Final Fantasy: Dark Shadow Over Palakia, but the game was canceled in favor of the more recent Final Fantasy IV. The game was never released outside of Asia in its original form. Enhanced remakes were later issued for the Bandai WonderSwan Color (WSC), the PlayStation (as part of the Final Fantasy Origins collection), the Game Boy Advance (as part of the Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls collection), and the PlayStation Portable. Final Fantasy II was, for the first time, released in Europe and other regions when it became part of the Origins compilation.
Unreleased English version Edit
Following the successful release of the original Final Fantasy by Nintendo in 1990, Square Soft, Square's North American subsidiary, began work on an English language localization of Final Fantasy II. Assigned to the project was Kaoru Moriyama, whose later work included script translations for Final Fantasy IV and Secret of Mana. Although a beta version was produced, and the game was advertised in several Square Soft trade publications, the age of the original Japanese game and the arrival of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the NES's successor console, led Square Soft to cancel work on the Final Fantasy II localization in favor of the recently released Final Fantasy IV (which, to avoid confusing North American gamers, was retitled Final Fantasy II to reflect the jump in releases).
Although a prototype cartridge of the NES Final Fantasy II was produced (with the subtitle Dark Shadow Over Palakia), Moriyama admitted the project was still far from being complete. She is quoted as saying:
"We had so very limited memory capacity we could use for each game, and it was never really "translating" but chopping up the information and cramming them back in... [Additionally] our boss had no understanding in putting in extra work for the English version at that time."
The English script for the prototype version is clunky and erroneous, but it was only the preliminary version that was cut down to fit the text area. The project was cancelled before the script was refined.
Even at the prototype stage, changes had been made from the original version due to the religious imagery policies Nintendo had at the time: the Star of David used in a dungeon design was replaced with a triangle and the cross that replaces a character's face on the pause screen at death was replaced with a gravestone.
In 2003, when the game was finally released to English-speaking audiences as part of Final Fantasy Origins, it was released with a brand new translation produced under the supervision of Akira Kashiwagi. NeoDemiforce's fan translation, similarly, made use of an original translation, as the existence of the prototype cartridge was not common knowledge at the time.
Wonderswan Color Edit
The first remake of Final Fantasy II was released on May 3, 2001. The most notable change was the graphical updating, which included more detailed sprites, a total revamping of battlefield and dungeon backgrounds, better sounds and higher resolution overall.
North America's (and the rest of the world's) first access to Final Fantasy II was through the Final Fantasy Origins collection, which also included the original Final Fantasy. The graphics and gameplay remained nearly identical to that of the Wonderswan, though resolution increased by a marginal amount. Due to the PlayStation's higher processing power, several new features were added, such as a full motion video scene, better sounds, a Bestiary, art gallery by Yoshitaka Amano, and an item collection gallery. The game also features Easy and Normal modes of play.
Game Boy Advance Edit
Final Fantasy II was paired with Final Fantasy for the Game Boy Advance, under the compilation Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls. The stat leveling system was tweaked, including the removal of the "action-cancel" cheat, which allowed players to gain statistics for moves that were canceled, and the removal of stat decreases. As in Final Fantasy, the player was afforded three save files, and the game could to be saved in any location barring battles. Yoshitaka Amano's character portraits are used whenever a major character is speaking in a dialogue box.
The Dawn of Souls version introduced the Soul of Rebirth dungeon, which is available after the final boss's defeat. It consists of multiple areas and a town, and the playable characters include those that died during the main story. An extra save file is needed for this bonus dungeon.
PlayStation Portable Edit
Final Fantasy II was ported to the PlayStation Portable as part of the Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary compilation. Its music is the same as in Final Fantasy Origins. The graphics have been updated to higher resolution. The script is the same as the Game Boy Advance port aside from the dungeons exclusive to this version, but the FMV and Art Galleries from Final Fantasy Origins have returned, and the Arcane Labyrinth dungeons have been introduced, a new series of three dungeons, that after being completed, lead to the Arcane Sanctuary, where the party may challenge new bosses. This version introduced a Defend command to the battle menu, whereas before party members would occasionally block with a shield if one was equipped.
Square Enix has released both Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II for iOS with graphics similar to the Anniversary Edition and their special dungeons. With a single purchase, both the English and Japanese language versions are made available (through the phone's system language). The gameplay of the original Final Fantasy remains the same of the PSP port, while Final Fantasy II adds new gameplay elements. The Window Color option has been removed, and the Art Gallery is no longer featured. These versions were confirmed on iOS soon before they were released on February 25, 2010.
Final Fantasy II for iOS, v1.1.1, is available from the Apple App Store, is $ 7.99 USD, 7,99 € or £ 5,99 and 154 MB.
In their current form, as of the March 10th 2011 update, the games have graphics updated for the iPhone screens, touch-enabled menus, and overlay screen controls for the d-pad. The game can be saved at any time, and the game automatically does a quick-save if the app is interrupted (e.g. by a phone call). They are currently not multitasking aware for iOS4, nor do they have custom controls or graphics for the iPad to make them easier to play on the bigger screen.
In December 2015, the app for iOS & Android received the first update in nearly three years, which included bug fixes, improved support for newer devices, and updated controls.
On February 4, 2016, a version of the game was released within Final Fantasy Portal App to celebrate the portal's first anniversary (since the Japanese launch). It was a free download from the release date until February 14.
Final Fantasy II, along with Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy: Unlimited and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, is one of the several Final Fantasy installments to be novelized. The game's novel is titled Final Fantasy II Muma no Meikyū (ファイナルファンタジーII 夢魔の迷宮, Final Fantasy II Nightmare's Labyrinth?). It was only published in Japan. It was written by Kenji Terada and was published exclusively by Kadokawa Shoten rather than Squaresoft.
As part of its Final Fantasy 25th anniversary celebration, Square Enix released a novelization of the first three Final Fantasy games. The novelization titled Novel Final Fantasy I, II, III Memory of Heroes was released Fall 2012.
Production credits Edit
Original Famicom version Edit
|Co-designers||Hiromichi Tanaka, Akitoshi Kawazu, Koichi Ishii|
|Programmers||Nasir Gebelli, Naoki Okabe, Katsuhisa Higuchi|
|Assistant Programmers||Hiroshi Nakamura, Takeyoshi Itoh|
|Character Designer, Title Logo Designer, Graphic Designer||Yoshitaka Amano|
|Graphic Designers||Kazuko Shibuya, Ryoko Tanaka|
|Sound Designer||Masanori Hoshino|
|Special Thanks to||Shinichiro Kajitani|
Packaging artwork Edit
- Final Fantasy II took the second-longest amount of time, out of any main-series entry in the franchise, to receive an official English localization. The game was first released in 1988, and an official English version of the game did not appear on any platform until 2003. This fifteen-year release gap is beaten only by Final Fantasy III, which took 16 years to receive an official English version.
- Final Fantasy II does not include many allusions to its predecessor, but it is referenced heavily in Final Fantasy IX. The eidolon Ramuh tells the story of a battle between many nations, and a man who sacrificed his life so that a young band of rebels could live to fight the Empire. This narrative refers to Josef and his purpose in Final Fantasy II.
- This is the first Final Fantasy game to have facial expressions in characters' portraits.
- In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Beelzebub, Astaroth, King Behemoth, and Iron Giant are guardians for the crystals of the True Moon.
- This is the first Final Fantasy game where the player must lose a battle to progress in the story. In this case, it is the first battle.
- In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Scott mentions he can play the bass line of the Final Fantasy II battle theme. However, the bass line is from Final Fantasy IV, referring to the game's original SNES name in North America.
- Final Fantasy I・II Advance Official Japanese Site
- Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Official Japanese Site
- Final Fantasy II for Mobile Official Japanese Site
- Final Fantasy Origins Official North American Site
- Final Fantasy I・II Dawn of Souls Official North American Site
- Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Official North American Site
- iTunes Store Purchase Page
- Googleplay Purchase Page
- Wikipedia Article