Final Fantasy II - PSP - Preview
They say that before you can move forward you have to look back. At least that’s the excuse they use to get kids motivated in history class (it rarely works). History seems to repeat itself regardless of the warnings old books supply. No matter how rare, there are times when the repeat is one to savor: a rerun of Lost (rarely seen!), a re-release of a classic movie in theaters, and a remake of a rare Final Fantasy.
We’ve all played Final Fantasy VII through X, and most of us have played the SNES sequels. But how many gamers can say they’ve finished Final Fantasy II, which stayed a Japanese exclusive for more than a decade? Whether you tackled it before or have never been swept away by its intriguing story and engrossing action, the PSP port is one to watch for when it’s released on July 24.
This Isn’t Star Wars
…But there is an evil empire on the loose. Without giving anything away, the game centers on the fight to overcome an all-too-powerful force that has begun to take over cities and villages across the world. It’s pretty grim. As with all Final Fantasy games, there is a battle early on in the story that cannot be won. Most fans expect that. The story continues on, so you won’t be faced with the “game over” music following your defeat.
After that, however, you may encounter other battles where you’ll meet the same fate. These are not a necessary part of the story and are meant to be avoided. You’ll pound your fist if you stumble upon one of these battles, but should be pleased to know that players can save their progress anywhere in the game, and at any time. Up to 20 save files may be stored on one memory stick, giving you ample room to backup quests you fear of screwing up.
Given that the game is over a decade old, there aren’t any voice-overs to advance the story – just text. But the text is big, clear, and very easy to read. It’s also well written and well translated. I haven’t noticed any spelling errors, jumbled words, unclear sentences, etc., none of the strange words or grammar that were a part of PSone RPGs in the 90s.
Final Fantasy II is still an NES game, but its sound and visuals have been upgraded to a higher level. The graphics are nearly on par with an SNES RPG, and the sound quality is generations above the NES’s capabilities. A new CG intro has been added to the game, and it looks fantastic running on the PSP’s high-res screen.
In the tradition of all Final Fantasy games, the music is instantly spellbinding. Every song has that distinctive FF feel, with hints of the future that’ll make you wonder, “Did this inspire the soundtrack for Final Fantasy VII?” If you’ve listened closely over the years, you’re bound to have noticed the parallels in each Fantasy, almost as if each score has been building to something bigger and better while drawing pieces from the past.
Final Fantasy II’s combat is a little different from the other FF games. Attacks are turn-based but without the active time battle system employed, which means that characters can’t attack out of order unless they have high agility. Battle and magic classes seem to be inherent – a character is either one type of magician or warrior, not both. Magic is not stolen or equipped, it is learned over time by battling. But the leveling system isn’t necessarily what you’d expect. It stresses the importance of growing stats (like attack strength or HP) but advances them individually. You will also notice that magician’s HP grows much slower than other characters, potentially limiting their survival in battle.
These differences might sound a little weird, but they’re more extreme in description than in execution. Once you play the game and start to take on the hundreds (if not thousands) of battles that lie ahead, Final Fantasy II will merge into familiar territory.
Due for release in just a couple weeks, Final Fantasy II is the strongest sun block RPG fans can get this summer. Because once they start playing, their skin won’t see the sun until the credits roll. Get ready to get hooked, and stay tuned to GameZone as we bring you our full review of the game in the coming weeks.