Review: Final Fantasy Origins/Final Fantasy 2
Final Fantasy 2 was originally released in Japan and did not make it to the US until many years down the road when Final Fantasy Origins was released for GBA. Despite the small packaging and obvious limitations of portable gaming platforms, the release on the GBA was a huge step in quality from the original. Final Fantasy 2 is a unique flavor of the franchise as a whole but still told a story of young individuals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, people got killed and the Empire once again is at large.
If you sensed some animosity there, you were not mistaken. This game is painful. I love Final Fantasy, most all the games I am a fan of, but this one I just shook my head wondering, what the hell is this? I know we live in an age where graphics are perhaps “too” important, but that is not what I am talking about here. The major downfalls to this game for me, happened at the root levels of JRPG’s in general, specifically Square’s recipe.
Progression in this game is very different from the first and the 10 that followed. There is no level system and you simply do not grow stronger by gaining a measurable amount of experience. You get better stats by using specific items, or actions or by simply taking damage or using magic. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, in fact that was an integral part of Square’s first MMORPG, Final Fantasy XI, which was done well! Final Fantasy 2 however, made a totally broken development system and here is why. Normally in a system such as this, you would be measured in terms of skill or the frequency of your actions etc. What transpired in this game is nothing of the sort, in fact, I found that by bringing my hp down, by inflicting damage on my party, I could in fact power level my party at a steady pace at any point in the story, even the beginning. I find that this could not have been the direction developers were going, but seeing as it is easier to break the system than to try and figure out the “correct” formula, I just went with it. The same goes for getting more mp and spell proficiency, just aim at your party and prolong the battle to progress in your skills and development.
There was also another stupid element to this game which never again appears in the franchise for obvious reasons. When you reach a goal or story event, you are given several options to choose. You can choose to use an item or from several dialog options by using a list of key terms. In itself, that isn’t bad, but the game forces you to learn key terms and then select from the list to say back to the NPC. What the hell is that all about. In the grand scheme of telling a story, doesn’t it seem odd to walk up to an unsuspecting NPC, like Queen Hilda, and it just so happens that she tells you of an ominous quest and then after you “ask” her about the ominous quest, she magically has new information… ridiculous.
Although these two items I listed, the key terms and the development of your character are terrible parts of this game, the rest of the game was fine. Final Fantasy Origins is actually two games on one cartridge, Final 1 and 2. While I think the second is a waste of time, the first is good and I had to finish them just because I am a fan of Final Fantasy. If you find yourself on a long car ride, sitting in a seat at 35,000 feet or laying awake at night, this game for JRPG fans may be a blast to the past for those nostalgic to the good ol’ days of 16-bit entertainment and a symphony of midi files.
Oh and for those of you who are confused by this as they swear they have played this game and loved it like so many others on the SNES… you are playing a different game. Final Fantasy IV which was released in the US on the SNES was labeled Final Fantasy 2 as seen on box art and the game itself, however in Japan the real Final Fantasy 2 was left in a dark corner collecting dust until about 2002 when Square decided to port the game to it’s new and improved look on the GBA, which hit shelves in 2003.
Purchase @ $15