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Where Final Fantasy I defined the role-playing genre for the late 80s/early 90s, Final Fantasy II took the core idea and experimented with what could be done with it. That being the case, the classic sequel has come to the iPhone and iPod touch in outstanding form with only a few wrinkles to iron out.
Like Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy II puts you in control of a group of four young heroes whose parents were killed during an army invasion by the nearby empire of Palamecia. Upon waking from the battle, three of the four heroes join the rebellion in an effort to find the fourth, the story heading in a new direction from there.
Final Fantasy II’s battle and play system picks up where the original left off. In lieu of a traditional role-playing system in which your characters gain experience points towards the next level, Final Fantasy II builds upon this, a character’s skills growing depending on what weapons or tactics they used. Love to use dual axes for your fighter character? Keep this up and this branch of their fighting abilities will grow while other fighting styles will remain at their previous levels.
Where Square-Enix got it right, they really got it right. Great graphics meet terrific sound and music that makes the most of the iPhone’s speaker or your headphones. A good storyline injects multiple twists and turns, smooth controls, the save feature is reliable and a focused combat system pushes you to learn your enemies’ weaknesses quickly, then use whatever spells or items your party has in its possession to cripple them in order to survive.
Final Fantasy II got almost everything right for a version 1.0.0 release, though there are a few areas for improvement. Though generally consistent, the app’s frame rate can stutter at times, and a lack of a general world map option makes navigation harder than it needs to be before you get your bearings as to where you are in the game.
Even with these flaws, Final Fantasy II remains interesting, fun and as in-depth as you’d expect the title to be with the port remaining true to its roots. There’s monsters to slay, rare items to find, spells to learn, killer armor and weapons to snag, and an interesting story to back it up and makes it amusing to both veterans and newbies alike. A few software updates could smooth out the wrinkles and for $8.99, this remains a classic worth both the price and the time invested in it.