Hey everyone! It’s been a long week and it feels like an eternity since I was playing FF2 last. I was excited to have several hours to spend on it tonight and got through a few major dungeons including the ice cave, Kaljfkdjfkdsj Castle and the Warship.

Since I’ve still got a ways to go, doing a full review seems premature. I’m going to hold off on the battle summary for a while as well so that I make sure I fully understand the way the mechanics work. Yeah, it can be that complicated. Until then, I thought I’d talk a bit about the different versions of Final Fantasy that are available.

I’m doing this playthrough as a purist, playing only the original versions wherever possible but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend following this route. Since many of these games have been out for over 20 years(!), the mechanics are aged brutally. In my posts on the first game, I mentioned how many of the systems simply don’t work, like the spells. Thankfully, Square has created several high quality remakes of these games for newer audiences that fix these problems and rebalance the systems to reflect additional playtesting and modern game concepts.

Final Fantasy:

If you want to play the original version just as it was intended on the NES, the best way to do it is probably to go through the Nintendo Virtual Console. This won’t have some of the benefits of emulators and it will cost you a bit of money but the Wii remote can have a distinctly NES feel to it, much moreso than most computer gamepads or keyboards.

A better way to go, however, is to get one of the ports of the Dawn of Souls version.

Sensory overload!

The most obvious difference is that it looks a ton better. They clearly modeled the Dawn of Souls version after the SNES games rather than sticking with the original NES graphical limitations and the game looks much nicer for it. Growing up in the 16-bit era myself, I much prefer this look to the pixelated NES images.

More importantly though, these versions are both fixed and upgraded from the original game mechanics. The original game is fully intact but spells work correctly and many of the brutally unfair aspects from the NES are removed. Many of the instant kill spells from monsters are either given much lower success rates, limited to one party member or removed entirely. Even if you’re a gamer who loves a good challenge, I recommend going this route. Having your entire party brutalized at the end of a long dungeon without ever being given a chance isn’t fun, it’s just aggravating. Also, this version comes with four bonus dungeons that harken back (forward?) to several other classic Final Fantasy games. They aren’t the best bonus dungeons you’ll find in an RPG but hey, more content is more content.

Also, this version is packaged with the remake of Final Fantasy II if you get it on the GBA. The game is also available on the PSP or pretty much any mobile device (many pre-smartphone devices, Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Sorry Blackberry users, you’re out of luck). My only issue with the mobile devices is that you are limited to the touchscreen. Android users with rooted devices can put some effort towards getting a wired 360 controller or a wireless Dualshock 3 to work but this definitely takes some doing. While it may be possible to do on Windows phones as well, I can almost guarantee that Apple has got this ability locked down. Still, if you don’t mind the touchscreen controls (which really don’t impact gameplay that much since you don’t exactly need quick, agile movements or anything), these are a good and cheap way to go.

Final Fantasy II:

Final Fantasy II has pretty much the same options as Final Fantasy since they were commonly released together. The Dawn of Souls version has been ported on all the same devices as Final Fantasy and features similar graphical upgrades. Oddly enough, this game uses more pastel coloring than the original though even though they were made by the same team.

The colored pencil drawing moves!

This remake provides an additional storyline after the game called Soul of Rebirth. Basically, you play as several of the side characters in their own “what-if” story. It’s not really very meaningful but more fun than the bonus dungeons in 1, in my opinion, since there’s actually a storyline.

Final Fantasy III:

Spoiler alert! This game goes back to the unnamed, silent protagonists like the first game! That’s right, dropping bombshells over here.

Anyway, like many people, I found this completely off-putting and a huge step backwards for the series the first time I started this game. The unfortunate part is that the rest of the game is a huge step forward. More on that when I get to Final Fantasy III a little later.

This is what makes the remade versions so much better than the originals though. They make subtle changes to the game in order to give the characters actual personality rather than the silent shells they were in the original. Sure, it’s still a little flat compared to other entries in the franchise but it’s a big upgrade and actually doesn’t change the story too much. A few added scenes and some added dialogue. It all feels natural and they did a great job translating it.

Hard to imagine this came out of an NES game

They also completely changed the way the job system works from the original. Again, I’ll go more into that when I actually get to Final Fantasy III but suffice it to say, they did a great job with this one. I spent a bit of time with the Android version and really enjoyed the upgraded graphics and cutscenes. It’s a bit spendy for a mobile app but well worth it.

Apparently, the DS version of the game included some kind of weird mail system using the DS’s wi-fi capabilities. If you have a DSi this may be great but having a DS lite myself, I can’t find any wi-fi networks that are still compatible with it so I’d recommend going with the mobile versions as the associated side-quests have been retooled, removing this feature. As a side note, if you happen to be one of the ten people in the world who own a Ouya, Final Fantasy III was a launch title for that console in HD, which, I guess is cool having a remade NES game in high definition…

Final Fantasy IV:

Cecil’s outing has held up a lot better than the NES games but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t gotten the remake treatment as well. One of the most famous, albeit unchanged, remakes was the Final Fantasy Chronicles for the Playstation. This game is almost entirely faithful to the original but like Chrono Trigger which it was packaged with, it got a few CG cutscenes that are kinda neat.

While there were a few remakes in between, I want to jump straight into my personal recommendation, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for the PSP. While I personally can’t stand the PSP and will almost undoubtedly use an emulator to spite the PSP lying behind me at this moment when it comes time for Crisis Core, this is definitely the best version of the game. Not only has it been upgraded with some reasonably high quality 3D graphics, voice acting and gameplay rebalancing, but it comes with Final Fantasy IV: The After Years AND Final Fantasy IV: Interlude, a bridging chapter not released anywhere else. If you’re like me and appreciate content above all else, this is undoubtedly the best package deal.

If you don’t have/can’t bring yourself to pick up a PSP for this game, you can also find this ¬†version of the game on iOS and Android as well, minus the After Years and Interlude chapters.

Well, I’ll leave it at that for now. There are also good remakes for V and VI but I want to talk a little bit more about those later down the line.

Game on!