Final Fantasy II: 20th Anniversary Edition Review

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Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix

Platform: PSP
Reviewed on PSP

The Emperor of Palamecia is summoning horrific monsters to support his constant craving for conquest. The Kingdom of Fynn attempted to resist, but was quickly crushed by the Emperor's forces. Somehow, a small force of rebels survived the onslaught, as did a group of four youths, whose parents were slaughtered by the imperial armies. With the help of the remaining rebels, those orphans must save everyone as they avenge their parents' deaths.

Kyle Ackerman

Video games haven't been around very long, so to have a "20th Anniversary Edition," Final Fantasy II establishes itself as one of the earliest mainstream titles. Brilliant in its own era, how does Final Fantasy II: 20th Anniversary Edition hold up today?

Fortunately, Square Enix has tweaked the original game's presentation for its PSP debut. The PSP version features an updated camera; graphics and movies designed for the PSP screen's 16:9 aspect ratio; new art; and even new dungeon content. But it's still a 20-year-old game, albeit one with an interesting history.

Final Fantasy II is a bit out of place when compared to the other Final Fantasy games of the same era. It tried to shake things up, not only adding a new story to the franchise, but also exploring a different leveling system that now seems strange relative to the long history of Final Fantasy class advancement. Still, this is the Final Fantasy game fans of the franchise are least likely to have played. If you never got around to playing the original, the 20th Anniversary Edition is a great opportunity to try out this classic game. The visuals are sharper and the music is better on the PSP than on a tinny, old television.

At the same time, if you've played Final Fantasy II, there's not enough new or updated content in the 20th Anniversary Edition to make this replay worthwhile for any but the most die-hard fans. This is compounded by the fact that versions of Final Fantasy II have been released as part of various compilations, all of which will cost less than the 20th Anniversary Edition.

Honestly, Final Fantasy II is an important part of gaming history. If you've played it, well done. If you haven't, this is more like Moby Dick or War and Peace – it's really long, but you should work your way through it to complete your gaming chops. Of course, Final Fantasy II's play conventions are just as outdated as some of the concepts and language in those books that make them difficult for young, modern readers. So the question becomes, do you want the shiny, new 20th Anniversary Edition, or do you want the gritty, even-more authentic experience of some of the older compilations?

Either way, you should play Final Fantasy II if you haven't.

But how does it hold up? Not terrifically well. Final Fantasy II was a great game in its time, but compared to modern console and handheld alternatives, it's laborious at times to work through. There are only so many repetitive and archaic random monster battles I can handle to revisit those classic epic story points that I remember so well.

Ultimately, Final Fantasy II: 20th Anniversary Edition is a great lesson in nostalgia. I remember this as a truly moving and brilliant experience, having erased endless random encounters and other tedium from my mind. Even with polished graphics and sound, the game seems less exciting compared to today's games than it did in memory.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 16, 2007 10:53 PM.

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