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Final Fantasy Legend II – Game Boy

Final Fantasy Legend II – Game Boy

UnknownPlatform: Nintendo Game Boy

Developer: Square

Publisher: Square

Release Date: November 1, 1991

Genre: RPG

Nerd Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed by Paladin

The sequel is never better than the first one. How many times have we all heard that? None of the Ninja Turtles sequels measured up to the first. Planet of the Apes had some good attempts, but none achieved what the first did. Lost World wasn’t better than Jurassic Park, the movie or the book. Every now and then you’ll get an Empire Strikes Back or a Godfather II, and of course it’s all subjective, but in my opinion, a second installment will more often than not fail to measure up to its predecessor.

In movies.
imagesVideo games seem to be the opposite. Kingdom Hearts, Uncharted, God of War, Super Mario Bros.; these names all belonged to individual games at one time, but are now marquees for successful franchises, and all because the sequels were at least as good, if not better than the first installment. This is truer for no series more so than Final Fantasy. Some folks may not know this, but there is more than one Final Fantasy game. Closer to fifty, actually, with many side and sub series in the mix.

Final Fantasy Legend is one such series. Originally released in Japan as the SaGa series, the first entry was brought to the States and repackaged as an FF game. As the first RPG for the Game Boy, expectations were high and The Final Fantasy Legend delivered. Gameplay was innovative, the plot was different, and dungeon design was unique. How could it be improved?

Answer: Final Fantasy Legend II.

The developers wisely kept all the best qualities of the first game and added new features to make it an even more solid entry. The best part of these games is the unique qualities of each character in battle. Just as in Legend the player assembles his party from among different races. Making their return are Humans, Mutants, and Monsters. Human’s get stronger with experience points and imagesimproved equipment, Mutants can randomly learn up to four special skills at a time, and Monsters once again eat the meat of enemy creatures and turn into stronger beings. New this time around is the Robot. A Robot’s strength depends entirely on its equipment. In the Legend games, weapons can only be used a certain number of times before they disappear, but a Robot’s weapons are refilled after staying at an inn.  Occasionally, a guest character will join the party, but they have their own backstory and act of their own accord in battle.

Wait a minute…guest characters? Back story? These terms didn’t apply to the first game. You mean to say Legend II has more than just improved gameplay? I sure do.

The plot of Legend was always on the vague side. There’s an evil being at the top of a tower and within the tower are a bunch of different worlds with problems to solve. Legend II has a complete story that starts at Point A and ends at Point B, with plenty of excitement in the middle. The main character embarks on a quest to find his/her (you pick the gender) father, who has set off in search of the mythical Magi shards to stop the wrong people from finding them and turning into gods. Some friends join you (the party you assembled earlier) and you’re off. Along the way you find clues to your dad’s whereabouts and fight powerful evildoers to collect Magi. Once enough have been collected, you can access the next world and all its wonders.

images-1The first game also had different worlds to explore, but a lot of them weren’t flushed out and some served no point at all. Legend II completely immerses the player in environment and atmosphere. The futuristic world has towering skyscrapers, hover vehicles, an expansive metropolis, and a network of intersecting highways. The feudal Japanese world comes complete with pagodas, traditional dress, and samurai. My personal favorite is Giant World. The giants are all dead, but they’re houses are still there to explore and everything is proportional. Getting from the floor, onto a huge chair, and then onto a table is an ordeal that requires a lot of climbing. Perspective is not an easy thing for a 2D game to tackle, but this one does a fine job.

One downside is that exploring all of these worlds is a very linear experience. When the necessary Magi are gathered each time, you return to an outworld type realm that exists outside of the multiverse, open a door to the next one, do what you have to do, and repeat. There’s almost no element of puzzle solving or unraveling hints. Once a world is beaten, there’s no reason to return. Even finding all the Magi in each world is straightforward. Non are hidden particularly well or take any more effort to find other than beating a bad guy. There are plot twists like the sudden reappearance of your father or Apollo blackmailing you, but there are times when it feels like the game is holding your hand.Unknown-2

Then there are times when the game pulls the rug out from under you and kicks you while you’re down. The difficulty level in the final dungeon and its boss take a particularly high spike. It doesn’t help when your weapons run out in the middle of a battle either. Need that one extra healing item? Better start emptying your inventory because there’s not much room there. It can take some careful planning, but working through the tough moments is worth it.

Final Fantasy Legend II can be an exercise in patience, but only at times. The majority is thrilling gameplay as you unfold an exciting story. Seeing what each new world has to offer is is always a nice surprise, and the soundtrack and character design add their own little pieces of 8-bit charm. If you get the chance to experience this game, don’t pass it up.

Written by Paladin


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