Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Final Fantasy II

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Final Fantasy II
Developer - Square
Publisher - Square
Release date - April 8, 2003


Final Fantasy II
is a fantasy role-playing video game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) in 1988 for the Family Computer as the second installment of the Final Fantasy series. The game has received numerous enhanced remakes for the WonderSwan Color, the PlayStation, the Game Boy Advance, the PlayStation Portable, and multiple mobile and smartphone types. As neither this game nor Final Fantasy III were initially released outside Japan, Final Fantasy IV was originally released in North America as Final Fantasy II, so as not to confuse players. The most recent releases of the game are enhanced versions for the iOS and Android, which were released worldwide in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

The game's story centers on four youths whose parents were killed during an army invasion by the empire of Palamecia, who are using hellspawn to conquer the world. Three of the four main characters join a rebellion against the empire, embarking on missions to gain new magic and weapons, destroy enemy superweapons, and rescue leading members of the resistance. The Game Boy Advance remake adds a bonus story after the game is completed.

Final Fantasy II introduced many elements that would later become staples of the Final Fantasy franchise, including chocobos and the recurring character Cid. It also eliminated the traditional experience point leveling system of the previous and later games in the series, instead introducing an activity-based progression system where the characters' statistics increase according to how they are used or acquired. Despite being a sequel to Final Fantasy, the game includes no characters or locations from the first game. Final Fantasy II received little attention at the time from non-Japanese reviewers, though its remakes have garnered favorable reviews.


Story

Final Fantasy II features four playable characters as well as several secondary characters who are only briefly controlled by the player. Primary characters include Firion (
フリオニール Furionīru?, "Frioniel" in the Japanese release and English NES prototype), a resident of the country of Fynn and the main protagonist; Maria (マリア?), a soft-spoken archer and dedicated enemy of the Empire; Guy (ガイ Gai?, "Gus" in the remake for the PlayStation), a simple monk who communicates with animals; and Leon (レオンハルト Reonharuto?, "Leonhart" in the Japanese release and English NES prototype), a conflicted dark knight who is missing for most of the game. Five playable characters temporarily join the party to assist Firion, Maria, and Guy in their missions for the rebellion. These are Gordon (ゴードン Gōdon?), the prince of Kas'ion and a member of the rebellion; Josef (ヨーゼフ Yōzefu?), a villager in the town of Salamand; Leila (レイラ Reira?, "Reila" in the Japanese release and English NES prototype), a pirate; Minwu (ミンウ Min'u?, "Mindu" in the PlayStation remake and "Ming-Wu" in the Japanese release and English NES prototype), who is a White Mage with the rebellion, and Ricard Highwind (リチャード・ハイウインド Richādo Haiuindo?, "Gareth" in the PlayStation remake, Edward in the English NES prototype and "Richard" in the Japanese release), who is the first dragoon to appear in the series.

Firion and the Emperor of Palamecia (パラメキア皇帝 Paramekia Kōtei?) (named Mateus (マティウス Matiusu?) in Kenji Terada's novelization of the game) are the respective hero and villain representing Final Fantasy II in Dissidia Final Fantasy, a fighting game featuring characters from across the series. Firion is voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa in the Japanese version and by Johnny Yong Bosch in the English version; Mateus is voiced by Kenyu Horiuchi in the Japanese version and Christopher Corey Smith in the English version. In the PlayStation's opening FMV of Final Fantasy II, Firion is also voiced by Yukimasa Obi, while Maria is played by Noriko Shitaya, Guy by Kenta Miyake, and Leon by Takayuki Yamaguchi.

Gameplay

Final Fantasy II features gameplay similar to that of its predecessor, Final Fantasy. The player can freely roam an overworld containing several towns and dungeons. A menu-based system allows the player to outfit each character with equipment and up to two—often disposable—items for battle. Magic spells are assigned to the character from the item menu, and certain spells, such as "Cure", can be used outside of battle. The player can also save their progress on the overworld. Weapons, armor, items, and magic spells can be purchased at shops, and townspeople provide useful information for the player's progression through the game. One new feature is the "Word Memory" system: when in conversation with non-player characters (NPCs), the player can "ask" about and "memorize" special keywords or phrases, which can later be repeated to other NPCs to gain more information or unlock new actions. Similarly, there exist a handful of special items that can be shown to NPCs during conversation or used on certain objects, which have the same effect. Characters and monsters are no longer separated into separate windows in the battle screen as they were in the first Final Fantasy, and players can see their current and total hit points below the battle. Players can also fight with less than four characters in their party, which was not possible in the first game. Final Fantasy II introduced the chocobo, the signature Final Fantasy mascot, which lets characters ride to a location at great speed without being attacked by enemies. The recurring character Cid was also introduced in II; a character of the same name has appeared in every main-series game since.


On the overworld and within dungeons, random encounters with enemies can be fought to improve each character's attributes. Unlike the original Final Fantasy, players could not upgrade their characters' classes. The game is also one of the few games in the series to not use experience-based levels. Instead, each character participating in battle develops depending on what actions they take. For instance, characters who frequently use a particular type of weapon will become more adept at wielding a weapon of that type, and will also increase in physical strength and accuracy. Attributes include hit points, magic points, magic power, stamina, strength, spirit, agility, intelligence, and evasion. Players can also increase their ability to wield certain types of weapon, and repeated use in combat causes the ability to level up. Hit points (HP) and magic points (MP) increase with their use; a character who takes a heavy amount of damage in a battle might earn an increase in maximum HP, while a character who uses a lot of MP during battle might increase their maximum MP. This experience system had several unintended consequences that allowed characters to gain much more experience than intended, such as players having their characters attack each other and repeatedly cast spells, thus causing their HP and abilities to grow extensively. Final Fantasy II uses the same turn-based battle system seen in the original Final Fantasy, with battle parties consisting of up to four characters at a time. The game introduces a "back row" in battle, within which characters or enemies are immune to most physical attacks, but can be harmed with bows and magical attacks.


Development

During the development of the first installment in the series, Square's management decided to manufacture 400,000 copies of the game to make a sequel possible. As there were no concrete ideas for Final Fantasy II from the start, it was eventually taken in a new direction and included none of the previous game's characters or locations. Hironobu Sakaguchi, who had previously served as the main planner for Final Fantasy, assumed the role of director to accommodate for the larger development team. Using the experience gained from the first installment, which focused more on fitting story ideas into their new gameplay system and game world, the developers fully crafted the story of Final Fantasy II first. The gameplay was then built around the narrative. The experience system was designed to be a more realistic advancement system than that of the first game. Several members of the original staff from the first game reprised their jobs for Final Fantasy II. Sakaguchi again created the plot for the title, with the actual scenario written by Kenji Terada. Nobuo Uematsu composed the music, as he had for the first game, while Yoshitaka Amano was again the concept artist. As with the original, Final Fantasy II was programmed by Nasir Gebelli. Midway through the development of the game, Gebelli was forced to return to Sacramento, California from Japan due to an expired work visa. The rest of the development staff followed him to Sacramento with necessary materials and equipment and finished production of the game there. The game was released one day less than a year after the first game came out.

In April 1989, the game was novelized by its original scenario writer Kenji Terada under the title Final Fantasy II: Muma no Meikyū (lit. "The Labyrinth of Nightmares"). It was published in Japan exclusively by Kadokawa Shoten.

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