That’s right, internet! This Final Fantasy n00b has finally beaten one of the classic Final Fantasy games, recently-ish. I won’t elaborate on this further but I’ve made peace with the fact most of my video game opinions are wrong, and I’ve also made it a goal to beat all of the numbered non-MMO Final Fantasy games before my life’s Game Over. I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about people connecting with a different iteration of Square Enix’s iconic series. For this reason alone, I think all of them are worth doing at least one run through. What better classic place to start than the game formerly localized as II?
How Far I Got
Last update (way back in Feb when I was trying to do weekly progress posts… laugh away), I had just acquired the Bahamut summon from a tough moon cave. My limited attention span was only held in short bursts after that. Although it took me like 8 months to finish this game, I’ve only spent just over 30 hours playing.
My occasional level grinding sessions paid off in the end, and I eventually downed the evil final boss after conquering one heck of a last dungeon! The final floors were filled with random BOSS encounters so it was a challenge, to say the least. A bonus dungeon opened up after big bad went down, but I’m ready to move on. This version also comes with the Interlude and The After Years spin off games. There are higher priority games I need to play in my backlog, so these will have to wait until later.
Completion Progress: Questioning A Dashing Dark Knight > Weekly Wrap-Up (2016-12-21) > Weekly Wrap-Up (2016-12-28) > Weekly Wrap-Up (2017-01-04) > Weekly Wrap-Up (2017-01-11) > Weekly Wrap-Up (2017-01-21) > Weekly Wrap-Up (2017-01-25) > Weekly Wrap-Up (2017-02-02) > Weekly Wrap-Up (2017-02-08)
Welcome to the glory days of Final Fantasy! The battles are random, the dungeon monsters are tricky, the bosses are crushing, and the game’s directions are limited, but the entire experience is quite rewarding. This may be the graphically enhanced PSP version, but just like its cartridge based grandfather, the UMD has little sympathy for you as the player. Oh and if you think old means slow, guess again you young whippersnappers! You are thrown into the tense battle action right off the title screen and immediately introduced to Dark Knight Cecil as he fights off creatures on an airship.
Unlike your typical RPG protagonist, you find out quickly that this main character has been terrorizing the locales and stealing their crystals – all in the name of his dear ruler. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what a proper hero is suppose to do. The game gets you interested in the story with this curiosity and rewards you with an epic tale of redemption and otherworldly destiny fulfillment… if you can get passed the dangerous boss battles and unforgiving random encounters that is.
You will spend most of the game traversing the world map (sometimes in cool vehicles), wandering around in dungeons, and beating up monsters in an ATB system (Active Time Battle) kind of way. Basically, during combat there’s this invisible timer thingy counting down all the time. Your enemy gets to do stuff when the timer expires, even if you haven’t taken your turn yet. If you’re old like me, you’ll be happy to know there are options to slow this down. I was a little panicky during some of the more challenging boss fights, but it added some interesting tension to the grind-y random encounters. During combat, there’s also the expected status ailments, summoning badass things, special abilities, magic, items, leveling people up, getting shiny weapons and equipment, etc. It’s an old school RPG!
Although fun to play, it can get really, really, frustrating fast since this game clearly doesn’t want you to beat it. For one, MP is precious and can only be restored with items, or an inn stay. If you don’t know a specific boss weakness, the odds will not be in your favor. It’s very unclear what that weakness is, causing you die a lot while you figure it out, in a trial by fire type of way. If you die, it’s back to the last time you saved, which can only be done on a special spot on a dungeon floor, or anytime on the world map. Thankfully, there is always a conveniently placed save point before a big fight. Sometimes you may find yourself taking damage just by walking in some areas. When that happens you need to cast a specific spell on your party to stop it, but the game never tells you that.
And wow, don’t get attached to any party member except Cecil. His companions come and go as they please during the story, taking all the shiny equipment you gave them away too.
Retro-ly breathtaking sums up the overall look of this game. They really killed the upgrade from the old SNES style. The character models, battle backdrops, enemy sprites, animations, environments, etc., are all awesome and charming. The dungeons do seem a bit repetitive but you can only add so much variety to games of this era. The PSP edition also includes a few minor cutscenes for some of the big events. These are nothing very exciting, and seem a little shoehorned in honestly, but they add a neat visual treat to the overall experience.
Here’s an after and before graphic comparison of the epic Mist Dragon fight:
An epic orchestral soundtrack is a Final Fantasy requirement and definitely present in this game! Originally composed by the renowned Nobuo Uematsu, there’s really nothing I can do but give a standing ovation to the soundtrack. The moon overworld music stands out the most in my mind. It was very distant and mysterious, fitting the area nicely. Also, I really enjoyed the whimsical Dwarven Castle song. Lali-ho and all that, eh!
My Overall Biased Opinion
I had to set aside my pride and start following a spoiler-free guide shortly into the second cave. I suck and the frog mobs killed me… stop judging me! In the end, I really enjoyed my time with this game. The most annoying part was not having the ability to save anytime I wanted to. This meant I had to make sure I had enough time or gamer stamina to play for longer bursts. Considering this is a portable version, adding a save anywhere feature would’ve been nice. I had some frantic “OMG, no!! The battery is dying, and I haven’t saved in a while!” moments, let me tell you.
Overall, if you don’t have any special nostalgia feelz and/or are a spoiled modern day gamer who despises the good ol’ days, you’ll probably not like this game much. The story is interesting, most of the characters are lovable, and the challenge can be fun at times, but this is definitely not the most forgiving Final Fantasy place to start.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.
This “Memory Lane” section of my “Post Playthrough Roundups” is a way for me to remember my journey through a game. Major spoilers will be present here so please avoid this unless you’ve already played the game, or don’t have any plans to. Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had with this game in the comments area thingy below.
My Plot Summary
Q: Bad King Baron, Cecil’s fatherly figure, wants crystals but why?
A: Bad King Baron is not the real King Baron, and a pawn of a moon terror named Zemus, who of course wants to destroy the planet. Golbez, Cecil’s main antagonist, is actually his bro who fell under the terror’s control – just like his best buddy Kain does a lot. During an epic journey with his companions, the awesome Cecil, who’s kind of a special moon child, redeems himself into a Paladin and eventually travels to the moon to vanquish the evil monster in a big showdown. He succeeds and marries his dear love Rosa in a cute ceremony that doesn’t make me jealous at all (oh and Kain like, like-likes Rosa too, I think). Edward is useless, Edge is annoying, Rydia is cool, Yang is badass, Cid is hilarious, Fusoya is wise, the mage twins are also annoying, and NO Tellah, why?? … The end!
Favourite Story Moment
What happens to Cecil on Mt. Ordeals. He fully sheds his dark persona and evolves into a benevolent Paladin, under the guidance of his deceased moon daddy.
The Odin summon, for non FFXIII related reasons… honestly. I’ll just be whistling innocently over here. Okay, fine! I love Lightning and Odin. They totally rock!! *rambles about FFXIII for several paragraphs before remembering I’m talking about FFIV*
Favourite “Oh S@#%” Moment
Finding out Golbez was Cecil’s brother. I was NOT expecting that at all.
The Developer’s Office. It’s a secret meta area you get to from the Dwarven Castle and occupied by sprites of the game’s creators, parody random battles, and other amusing silliness. I really don’t want to know what a Lustful Lali-ho is…
Mr. Cecil Harvey! It was very interesting to have him start out as an evil crystal stealing Dark Knight and watch him evolve along a very interesting redemption path. It was pretty obvious he wasn’t happy with being evil so the transition to good guy was very believable and well done. His true benevolence started shining through when he took care of Rydia, after the Mist Village incident, and he just kept getting more awesome from there.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
There are two dungeon areas where you have to play “the floor is lava”. It’s never explained, but you need Rosa to know and cast Float on your entire party, individually. The most annoying part is you need to re-cast it on every floor – consuming time and much of the healer’s precious mana pool.
“You Spoony Bard!” – Tellah to Edward for eloping with his daughter, Anna. It’s so nice to finally get jokes related to this awesomely horrible translation – another charming feature from the glory days of video games.
Total Playtime: 34 hours 33 minutes
Gil Leftover: 4,252,188 (I’m rich, baby!)
Bestiary Log – Monsters Slain: 73%
Ending Party Stats
Cecil – Lv 61 HP 4483 MP 250
Rydia – Lv 57 HP 2373 MP 525
Kain – Lv 61 HP 4179 MP 0
Rosa – Lv 59 HP 3152 MP 503
Edge – Lv 59 HP 3178 MP 196
Final Fantasy Series Stats
Beaten: IV, VII, X, XIII, XIII-2, Lightning Returns
Played but never finished, yet: VIII, X-2, XII
Want to play before I die: I, II, III, V, VI, IX, XV, Type-0 HD, World of Final Fantasy
Wannabe Writer’s Notes:
– For a MUCH better review of this game, go check out the Shameful Narcissist’s legendary review. Also check out her expert write-ups of the great Cecil – found here and here.
– For another better review, check out Red Metal’s superb analysis of the SNES version.
– Do you like writing about Final Fantasy? If so, check out the big community Final Fantasy project being organized by Overthinker Y and the Well-Red Mage.
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡