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Game Review: Final Fantasy II (iPhone)

Final Fantasy II is a 1988 NES game that Square Enix in its infinite wisdom ported onto the iPhone for nerds like me to squee over. The second installment of the ironically-named video game series departs from the leveling up system of typical RPGs, introduces a protagonist with a semblance of backstory, and features gorgeous artwork from Yoshitaka Amano. I mean, who wouldn't immediately volunteer to fight for a princess who looked like this:

Her headgear alone is enough to make me swear fealty. Although on the tiny screen, the scene where the player's group initially meets Princess Hilda actually looks like this:

Awwww, 16-bit graphics are so cute. Now imagine kids today staring blankly at you because they have no idea what bits are. You're old.

Back to the subject at hand! FFII is ridiculously easy, except when it isn't. Until you get the ring that lets you view the world map, you'll probably do what I did, which is wander around and get ridiculously over-leveled until giving up and going to for a quick peek at a walkthrough.

Now I did say that FFII has a different leveling system. Basically, players don't get experience points and level up all their stats. Instead, surviving battles whilst using specific weapons, spells, and/or shields will increase the level of those instruments, as well as your agility, strength, intelligence, spirit -- whatever innate ability is involved with spell casting or weapon-swinging. So a savvy player can max out an axe or a Cure spell easily! It's fun.

By the final dungeon, I had pimped out my main character with a Blood Sword (absorbs enemies' HP) and Holy Lance; my lady-friend whacked allies with a Healing Staff and protected herself with a crazy-strong shield, when she wasn't blasting enemies with Fire, Ultima, or Scourge; my bruiser was just wailing on everything with an axe and a dagger that did extra damage; and... hmmm, I know there was like a guest character, I forget which, but I armed him to the teeth, too.

There are so many spells, weapons, armor, shields, and all sorts of items that just beg to be sold so you can afford a stay at an inn. See, in FFII, you're charged according to how much HP and MP recovery you need. I would usually pay over 1,000 bucks just to get some rest. I worked my team very hard, mostly because I got lost a lot. Like I said, the game is easy except when it isn't.

Right, here's the story: the emperor of Palamecia killed a bunch of countries and Princess Hilda went into hiding in a little village. Four youths from the same town escaped but, as the game starts, they get ambushed, and only three make it to the princess. They volunteer to join her rebel army so they can look for their friend, and essentially go on a ton of fetch quests. "Get me some mythril!" leads inevitably to freeing prisoners in mines, and then of course one needs a McGuffin to destroy the enemy dreadnought, and after that one simply must find an airship, then grab a Wyvern egg, then uncover an ultimate spell, et cetera, et cetera. Also, there's a "twist" that I saw coming from literally the first minute of the game, but I'm sure it made eighties gamers go, "Oooooh!" Anyway, overall 'twas most diverting.

The music is pretty ill, too -- melodies that hint at grand adventures and heroic struggles. I was listening to the main theme on repeat when I got bored and switched to Ghost in the Shell's "Making of a Cyborg." Everyone repeat after me: "A gaaaaaaa, maebaaaaaaa, kuwashime yoini keri! A gaaaaaa, maebaaaaa teru tsuki, toyomu nari!"

FFII is a nice little game to download if you're in a nostalgic mood. Its gameplay may be uneven and its characters not very developed, but sometimes, you just have to go out there and save the world.


This post brought to you by water. I am so hungry...

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