Every week Cyril Lachel comes down from his giant castle in the hills to provide the final word on all of the classic downloadable games and retro compilations. This is the Retro Round-Up, your official guide to the best (and worst) in classic gaming for the Nintendo Virtual Console. Join us as we shed some light on what games are worth your five or ten dollars, and what games you should avoid at all costs. For more information about these games (and retro gaming in general) we invite you to check out Defunct Games
It looks like Nintendo is hoping to ride on the wave of hype surrounding the release of Final Fantasy XIII. This week we see the release of Final Fantasy II for the Super NES. Although I love this game to pieces, I still have problems with the game's numbering system. Find out what makes me excited when you read another exciting episode of the Retro Round-Up!
Final Fantasy II (Virtual Console/Square/$8)
What Is It?
Thirteen years after the release of Final Fantasy VII, who knew I would still be fumbling over Square's crazy numbering system? In case you don't already know, this American Final Fantasy II is actually a port of Final Fantasy IV, the popular Japanese role-playing game. At the time it made sense, seeing as neither Final Fantasy II nor III made it to these shores. For American gamers, this was the second Final Fantasy game, and SquareSoft was happy to keep you in the dark. But those days are long gone. These days the Final Fantasy sequels are all using the same number and Square has gone back and ported every single unreleased game in the series. The entire world is up to speed, just as we should have been all those years ago. So why are they still calling this Final Fantasy II?
To make things even more confusing, there's a WiiWare sequel TO THIS GAME that uses the name Final Fantasy IV. And when Square Enix recently remade the game for the Nintendo DS, they called it Final Fantasy IV. It's not like it Square even needed to change the title screen, they could simply use the one from the Japanese game. There's absolutely no excuse for calling this Final Fantasy II.
But alas, this review needs to be about more than me bitching about Square's confusing numbering system. Final Fantasy II is the first 16-bit Final Fantasy game. It's a story about a soldier who discovers that he may be fighting for the wrong side. From there it falls into a lot of traditional Final Fantasy traps, including random battles, turn-based combat and tons of moping around. The good news is, this is still one of the best role-playing games of all time ... even with the moping.
Does It Still Hold Up?
Unless you're absolutely sick and tired of traditional Japanese role-playing games, you're going to have no problem snuggling up to Final Fantasy II. The graphics are nowhere near the quality of the other 16-bit Fantasy games, but the story is still strong. It's easy to complain about the ever-present random battles and some annoying quirks in the translation, but the game has an ageless feel and characters you can't help but root for.
Is It Worth the Money?
Thank goodness Nintendo waited so long to upload Final Fantasy II. Had they introduced this game back in 2008 I probably would have advised you against buying this game, instead recommending the Nintendo DS remake. However, enough time has passed where I would definitely recommend you buy this Super NES game ... even if you've already gone through the DS game. There is enough different in this game to warrant a play through, especially when it comes to the unassuming look and great enemy artwork. This may not be the best 16-bit Final Fantasy game, but it's definitely worth adding to your collection.