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Added: 20 Jun 2017
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.
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.
Four small human figures stand in a staggered line on the right side of the image facing a square of four blue monsters resembling men on horseback on the left side. A line of trees is displayed above the battle scene, and two white-rimmed black boxes cover the bottom of the image, with one displaying the HP and MP of the four characters and the other displaying their whacky water weasels in Japanese.
The ill-fated opening battle in the Famicom version
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.
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, a resident of the country of Fynn and the main protagonist; Maria, a soft-spoken archer and dedicated enemy of the Empire; Guy, a simple monk who communicates with animals; and Leon, 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, a villager in the town of Salamand; Leila, a pirate; Minwu, who is a White Mage with the rebellion, and Ricard Highwind, who is the first dragoon to appear in the series.
Firion and the Emperor of Palamecia are the respective hero and villain representing Final Fantasy II in Dissidia Final Fantasy and Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, fighting games featuring characters from across the series. Firion is voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa in the Japanese versions and by Johnny Yong Bosch in the English versions; Mateus is voiced by Kenyu Horiuchi in the Japanese versions and Christopher Corey Smith in the English versions. 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.
Final Fantasy II begins as Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon are attacked by Palamecian Black Knight soldiers and left for dead. Firion, Maria, and Guy are rescued by Princess Hilda, who has established a rebel base in the town of Altair after her kingdom of Fynn was invaded by the Emperor. Hilda denies their request to join the rebel army because they are too young and inexperienced. The three set off for Fynn in search of Leon; there they find a dying Prince Scott of Kashuan, Hilda's fiancé, who informs them that a former knight of Fynn, Borghen, betrayed the rebellion and became a General in the Imperial army. The party returns to Altair to inform Hilda. She allows the group to join the rebellion and asks them to journey north to find mythril, a metal which could be used to create powerful weapons. The party makes its way north to the occupied village of Salamand, saves the villagers forced to work in the nearby mines, and retrieves the mythril.
For their next mission, the party is sent to the city of Bafsk to prevent the construction of a large airship known as the Dreadnought; however, it takes off just as they arrive. After retrieving the Sunfire, a weapon which can blow up the Dreadnought, they watch helplessly as an airship with Hilda on board is captured by the Dreadnought. When the Dreadnought lands to stock up on supplies, the party rescues Hilda and throws the Sunfire into the airship's engine. Before escaping from the explosion, the party encounters a dark knight whom Maria thinks she recognizes as Leon.
On his deathbed, the King of Fynn tasks the party to seek the help of the seemingly extinct dragoons of Deist. In Deist, the party finds only a mother with her son, learning that all but one of the Dragoons are dead, partly as a result of Imperial poison. After placing an egg of the last wyvern in a cavern, the party returns to Altair and rescues Hilda from the Empire a second time, before successfully reclaiming Fynn from the Imperial forces. They then travel west in search of a powerful magic item, joining forces with the last surviving dragoon on the way. The party returns to Fynn and sees that many towns have been destroyed by a cyclone summoned by the Emperor. The party calls upon the newly born last wyvern to take them to a castle inside the cyclone, where they confront and kill the Emperor. Back at Fynn, everyone celebrates the Empire's defeat, but a mortally wounded Fynn soldier arrives and reveals that Leon has taken the throne and plans to destroy the Rebels with the Imperial army.
The party enters the castle of Palamecia and confronts Leon. However, the Emperor reappears in the throne room in a new demonic form, revealing he has returned from Hell with the intention of destroying the entire world. The party and Leon escape Palamecia Castle with the wyvern, as the castle is replaced with the palace of Hell, Pandaemonium. Leon agrees to help the group seal the Emperor away. The party travels to the Jade Passage, an underground passage to the underworld, and finds the portal to Pandaemonium, where they finally defeat the Emperor.
The Dawn of Souls remake of the game for the Game Boy Advance includes an additional mission that takes place after the game, called "Soul of Rebirth". The story of the bonus mission follows several characters who died during the story of the game as they travel through alternate versions of several locations in the game and defeat another version of the Emperor.
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.
The music for Final Fantasy II was later arranged by Tsuyoshi Sekito for the WonderSwan Color, PlayStation, and Game Boy Advance remakes. Although the two soundtracks were composed separately, the soundtrack to II has only been released as a combined album with the soundtrack to Final Fantasy I. They were first released as All Sounds of Final Fantasy I•II in 1989, which was then republished in 1994. An arranged album of music from the two soundtracks titled Symphonic Suite Final Fantasy was also released in 1989, while Final Fantasy & Final Fantasy II Original Soundtrack, a combined soundtrack album for the PlayStation versions of the games, was released in 2002 and re-released in 2004. The music of Final Fantasy II has also appeared in various official concerts and live albums, such as 20020220 music from Final Fantasy, a live recording of an orchestra performing music from the series including several pieces from the games. Additionally, several songs from the game were performed as part of a medley by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra for the Distant Worlds – Music from Final Fantasy concert tour, while a different medley of songs from the game were performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in the Tour de Japon: Music from Final Fantasy concert series.
Versions and re-releases
Final Fantasy has been remade several times for different platforms, and has frequently been packaged with Final Fantasy I in various collections. While all of these remakes retain the same basic story and battle mechanics, various tweaks have been made in different areas, including graphics, sound, and specific game elements.
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