Final Fantasy Legend II

A little before Christmas in 1990, Square released the second installment of its critically-mixed SaGa series, which came to America roughly a year later as Final Fantasy Legend II. Like its predecessor, the game shows strong potential that unfortunately goes to waste, with Square having failed to fix many of the problems that plagued the original despite some new additions.

Upon starting a new game, the player can choose four characters of different races, including humans, mutants, monsters, and new to the second game, robots. Human and mutant stats randomly increase at the end of each battle, likely depending upon the actions they performed. As with before, humans can equip armor, as well as weapons and spell books that eventually disappear with repeated use depending upon their durability. Mutants can also equip armor, weapons, and spell books; however, they also gain special abilities with a certain number of uses the player can recover at inns, not to mention innate skills such as elemental resistance or weakness, and which occasionally and randomly change at the end of each battle.

Monsters, as with before, can consume meat occasionally obtained after battles to change their forms, although again, the player can’t see the stats of the form into which they can possibly change, yielding the annoyance of constant game reloads (though players can mercifully save their game anywhere). As for robots, players increase their stats simply by outfitting them with equipment, although the durability of weapons will reduce by half when players equip and unequip them; however, players can recover the durability of whatever robots are wearing at inns. It’s still annoying, however, that players can’t tell how a robot’s stats will change before equipping weapons, which again yields the inconvenience of constant save reloads.

The actual battles are turn-based, with players able to input individual commands or try and escape, an option that naturally doesn’t work all the time, and in fact seems to never work against enemies more powerful than your party. Each character, moreover, has to use an equipped item unless they have none to use. Afterward, your party and the enemy take turns supposedly depending upon agility, though even so, turn order annoyingly varies at times, which can somewhat throw off your planning. At the end of battles, alongside the mentioned stat/skill changes and occasional offering of enemy meat, the player gains money to spend in the games many shops.

Another feature is Magi, collected throughout the game, which each character can equip one at a time, granting various stat changes such as increased defense, strength, agility, and mana, and also being necessary at times to progress the game. Despite all this, though, combat isn’t any more enjoyable than it was in the first Final Fantasy Legend. For one, the encounter rate is grossly inconsistent, varying from very low to an encounter per step. There are also endless spikes in difficulty that’ll slaughter players constantly, and quite a few bosses that left me scouring the Internet for advice on how to defeat them. Overall, the battle system contains some decent concepts though fairly sloppy execution.

The interface, unfortunately, hasn’t improved much either. Players, however, now have three save slots, and using more than one, especially before dungeons, might just prevent you from outright getting stuck in the game and having to start all over. Unfortunately, the limit on inventory space still persists, and is very annoying given the number of treasures you find throughout the game. Equipment, items, and skills also lack descriptions, and would’ve easily been welcome given the varying degree of effectiveness certain weapons and skills seem to have against particular foes. The game, however, is more linear than others in its time, so finding out where to go next is largely a no-brainer. The menus also include a Memo system keeping track of certain NPC dialogues. Still, interaction could’ve certainly been much better.

The game borrows many elements from its predecessor to make it feel like a logical continuation of the series, such as the human, mutant, and monster races, not to mention the general battle mechanisms, but includes new elements such as robots, the Magi, and to some extent the story, to make it feel fresh.

The plot, though, isn’t as strong as it could’ve been. You play a hero whose father travels to find Magi, shattered pieces of the statue of the goddess Isis. When his (or her) father doesn’t return, the hero decides to set off on a quest to find him. Your party really doesn’t have any development throughout the game, and many events are basically side-stories in the game’s various worlds. Overall, the story really isn’t much of a draw to the game.

Much of the game’s soundtrack, though, is actually pretty good, despite its redundancy, and some of the sound effects fit.

The visuals are only slightly better than in the first Final Fantasy Legend, with okay sprites and scenery, although battle graphics are still simplistic, with monsters being inanimate, multiple foes of the same type represented by one monster, no scenery, and many monsters looking annoyingly similar.

Finally, depending highly on the player’s luck, Final Fantasy Legend II can take anywhere from ten to twenty hours to complete, and although a customizable party makes for different playthroughs, the game’s tortuous nature would probably discourage one from ever replaying. Ultimately, the game, like its predecessor, showed strong potential that falls flat. I honestly don’t understand why Square continues to produce this series without fixing many of its mistakes. My guess is that someone at the company has a grudge against the human race and continues to vent their anger in RPG form. Whatever the case, there are definitely many other better Gameboy titles out there.

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