Don’t let the CGI movie fool you, this is another adventure in pixellated archaically outdated game systems. 😂
As usual, disclaimer, I emulated my way through this monstrosity because this game features systems like “stab your party members to raise their HP” and “walk back and forth to the
waking sands Altair to report your findings while having to fight a ton of crap along the way because there’s only 1 chocobo forest and 1 way boats/airships.” For example take a look at the world map:
The map above is labeled by a fansite, but when you open it up in game it’s just the map with a couple dots. The worst part is you can select on “names” to then find the place on the map but not the other way around. Sometimes often the game is unclear to where you should go and doesn’t tell you to go exactly to the spot, but is like “the little island in the middle of the ocean”. Anyway before I ramble about the terrible system let’s go through the story.
The story is your typical a group of adventurers defeats the evil dark lord and saves the world. Our heroes Firion, Maria and Guy are the main trio and then you have a bunch of characters who join in to your 4th party slot and almost certrainly will sacrifice themselves and die….making me unable to be sad or emotional because in the end it’s like “welp whoever joins that 4th slot is going to inevitably die so not only am I not going to give you any good gear I am not going to care.” The only exceptions were Maria’s brother Leon and the pirate lady Leila….and the thing they have in common is – they first were bad guys and attacked you but then became good. Anyone who was a good guy from the start almost inevitably would be hit with a death flag. 💀
Unfortunately unlike other FF games there wasn’t much interesting or funny dialogue between you and townspeople. The one exception was the scene where some evil snake woman takes the form of princess Hilda and tries to woo Firion whose reaction of “Umm…” sent me howling. 😂😂😂 But yea otherwise, a ton of walking, a ton of dungeons, and a really odd leveling/weapon system. For example despite me using all the usual 9999 hit/exp/HP codes, for some reason Maria could ONLY do damage with bows. If you equipped any other weapon on her, she would literally just miss every attack. Also you had to “keep using” spells in order to “level them up” and so with my codes, doing anything other than bonking enemies with a stick did absolutely no damage. Another dumb grind that I was able to avoid. So ultimately yes, this game is basically unplayable unless you inject enough cheat codes to just cheese through every battle and turn off all field encounters. 😂
Like with a lot of FF games there is Cid and his airship but you only get it to fly freely at the VERY VERY end of the game, like 2 chapters away from beating the game and by then do you honestly care to go back to do sidequests? And on the topic of quests, all the quest dialogue was insanely unclear. The game had this strange “Learn” and “Ask” system. So what you had to do is whenever an NPC said a highlighted word you first had to select “Learn” to learn this keyword. Once you “learned” it , you then had to talk to them AGAIN to “Ask” info about said keyword. More often than not it was unclear WHICH NPC had a keyword you needed to learn and which one you had to then “ask” so I found myself sometimes running back and forth between towns because person in town A had a “learn” keyword while the dragon in castle B had the “ask” and when you asked you would get the key item you needed to proceed with the quest that would then take you to dungeon C. Annoying. Nowdays in FF games you basically just talk to one npc who explains what you have to do and where you have to go and it’s easily marked on your map.
On the topic of dungeons, while most of them were straight forward, at points I actually had to refer to a dungeon map because of the RANDOM ENCOUNTER ROOM gimmick. This basically was a thing where every dungeon had a bunch of “trap” doors that when you enter, you’re going to face a random battle of monsters you have to fight (not even the no-encounter cheat could overpower this.) And while you try to exit the room you would inevitably have to fight another 2 times because each time you enter, it literally puts you into the middle of the room. 😱 Obviously, I was able to cheese these battles, but I can definitely see this wiping your party and annoying the hell out of you. Not to mention, like with FF13-2, the high encounter rate would almost certainly break your train of thought to the point you might forget where you were coming from and going to, which would then lead you to yet another high encounter room and make you wanna throw your GBA out the window.
And finally the “optimize gear” feature again was a completely useless sack of shite. In all other FF games it would give you the best gear for your party so I always enjoyed trying to open all the chests in the game and buy new items in the shops. In this game though, it had both “Best gear” and “Optimal gear” and neither of it made any sense. It would frequently put non-bow weapons on Maria and she would do 0 damage to anything. It would sometimes give maces or wands instead of swords to Firion. Sometimes you could hit Optimize twice, and it would give you different gear every time. Frequently it would just pick starter gear as the best gear. So honestly – wtf? I don’t know, I still don’t understand this system and yet another reason why I’m glad I was able to cheese through it.
Overall the focus on a crappy battle system, terrible quest mapping and a lack of character development leaves a lot to be desired for me. I ultimately play FF games for the story, and coming from FF6 this is just a huge let down. Honestly I didn’t have much expectations to begin with and I was probably just hoping it to be as funny as the usual Rabtoons video 😂
And now as usual, some parting thoughts from my husband~. Also his post reminded me that there’s actually no moogles in this game. 🤔
We had the disclaimer of “we used cheats for this one”, which means that we did skip most of what makes this game probably the worst mainline Final Fantasy game. Even with that in mind, the systems behind this game were bafflingly opaque. Just basic questions like “what stats can be improved?” or “or do I level?” are not in any way clear in this game. Like for example, I’m not sure if characters are “supposed” to have certain builds, or just that for some reason the cheats had some gaps. Then imagine trying to play this game legit and getting stuck at a hard dungeon and trying to figure out what exactly is your problem and how exactly that you’re supposed to fix it. Do I need new gear? Do I need to level my stats with that gear? Or is my current gear fine and I just need to level more? But am I trying to level in general or the specific stuff I’m using ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
The baffling stat system is the most obvious example of the uh “innovations” in this game, but the other ones that stuck out to me as well were the Ask/Learn dialogue system, the party/NPC setup, and the maze-centric dungeon design. All of these are things that Squeenix tried out for this game that bombed horribly and therefore were never used again. I guess you could look at that in terms of my “baseline” way of comparing the Final Fantasy games. We’ve already established that almost all of the games have annoying battle systems, grindy stat/item gain, etc. so in the few cases where the games don’t we highlight that but otherwise we then focus on comparing everything else in them (namely story, characters, settings, questing, bullying moogles, naughty magazines, time travel, horniness of protagonists, whether or not they’re loaded with stupid jargon like l’cie and shit, etc.) So yeah, taking that into account FFII is bad at all the stuff we handwave away, bad at all the stuff we actually try to compare, and bad at a bunch of ways totally unique to itself.