Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-08-18 PSP RPG E10 (Everyone 10+) Square Enix

Following up on the anniversary celebration, Square Enix releases a remastered edition of Final Fantasy II for the PSP.

There is a lot more focus on the story and character development than in the previous title. The story tells us about an evil emperor who is controlling monsters to defeat any who oppose him and his plan of conquering the planet. Four heroes stand out among those who resist, Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon, whose parents have been killed in the conflicts arising all over the world.

Compared to the recently released Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition, you won't find many differences in the look of the game. Yes, it's still 2D but I'm not one of those who believe 3D is always better. FFII has been redone with new character art, updated graphics, colorful presentation, redesigned sprites and plenty of little details that catch your attention in the world map (little clouds cast shadows and you can sometimes spot the occasional air ship).

However, you will find the differences in the character advancement and battle systems.

Instead of the usual method of gaining experience and leveling up automatically, in FFII your characters have to work for their skills. There are no pre-defined classes, so any of your party members can be whatever you want them to be by using a certain weapon or spells repeatedly. Each character is like a blank canvas waiting for you to start sketching on it.

This means that if you want a character to be a mage, have him/her use magic all the time, and he/she will be rewarded with more magic power and higher intelligence. This also means that someone who uses a specific weapon all the time will be more proficient with it. But there is a downside to it, so magic users will gradually become physically weaker, while melee fighters will have their intelligence lowered as they become more powerful.

To sum it up, characters are defined by what actions they perform in battle, so at any time you can switch any of their "jobs", but that involves starting the learning process all over again. To really boost up your character's abilities to face the toughest bosses, you will be forced to do battle a lot.

The battle system is also different from that of Final Fantasy. The first change is the introduction of a second row for both your party and monsters. Those in the back row become protected from physical attacks by the front row, but can still be hit by magic and ranged attacks. Defeating all of the front row monsters brings those in the back forward, which gives the fights a little more of a strategic element, since you will want to adjust your party's formation and pick certain ways to attack.

FFII was also the game to introduce the Chocobos and Cid, two persisting elements of the Final Fantasy series. You are also able to interrogate NPCs about certain things you have learned in your adventure by choosing specific keywords or phrases.

Although the sound is great and the music excellent, you won't find any voice acting in here. However, the dialogs are well-written and the story is well presented through text.

I was initially expecting both games to be bundled together though, so I suppose many will complain about the retail price. But with improved graphics, a brand new challenging dungeon, beautiful cut-scenes, the original soundtrack remixed and a fairly good story, I believe Final Fantasy II Anniversary Edition is a keeper, especially for those who haven't experienced or don't own any of the earlier releases.

Special thanks to Charlie Sinhaseni and Square Enix for providing a copy of this title.