The original Final Fantasy Legend was a good RPG, both for the Game Boy and in general. It had a few flaws and some big challenges, but the sequel Final Fantasy Legend 2 streamlines out the bad. There is a far better story about a child searching for a father than snuck out in the middle of the night. There are far more enemies, with better weapons and skills to deal with the numbers. The dungeons are grander environments and the best the system can muster. The long trek through the tower is gone and its a simpler point A to B experience to get you from one fun world to the next. There are far more worlds than the previous game with more gimmicks such as desert world, giant world and so on. Even the graphics have gotten better with more attention to detail both on maps and enemies.
The game takes a turn for the worse with its excessive enemy battles after the first few worlds. Once the training wheels are off, the game’s dungeons get to be too long with frequent battles. Sometimes you’re lucky to get 20 steps, but other times you’ll have battles every step. That’s the luck of the draw. Sometimes running away from a battle leads to a battle without walking a step. It turns what would have been a fun game into an uphill battle.
That was the quick review, now to break it all down. The Final Fantasy Legend series was all about customization From the start, you get to assemble your party from other students that gather around you wanting to aide you on your quest. In terms of story, its a brilliant idea to take three students from your class rather than select them from a guild.
Rather than selecting classes, you pick the basics like humans, mutants, monsters and robots. In the first game, humans required you to use potions to increase your stats, mutants would increase them with battles while obtaining and losing skills and monsters could eat meat from slain foes to transform them into different creatures. Like before, mutants and humans both have male and female counterparts with males having more strength and females having more agility. Everything is back, but now the sequel twists things in a different way. There are no more stat potions for humans, instead they increase from battles just as mutants do. Another perk to the sequel is the fact the game tells you after a battle what stats and skills changed.
The mutants will acquire far more generic skills this time around. While generic, they are a lot more helpful things like cure, flame to affect all enemies, fire to burn a single group of enemies and so on. The previous game had a too many useless skills such as ESP or things that never helped you kill enemies like barrier and armor. Its making this game seem far better than its predecessor by simple comparison.
New to the selectable array characters are robots. These mechanical beings will add a new twist as take on the stats of what you equip to them. Adding better weapons and equipment means their health goes up. It was a staple of the original game that weapons and spells have limited uses and the sequel is no different. I bring it up, because when you equip something to a robot it reduces the uses by half. To balance that out, whenever you visit an inn, the uses get replenished, much like the mutant’s skills.
I always liked the idea of a mechanical boy getting abandoned his inventor father. Then again if your first character is a monster, it can be a dad who runs out on his creature kid or even a mutant child. On the plus side, your dad does give you something, before he heads out through the window like a thief in the night.
What does your dad give you? A magi, which is another fresh twist to the game. The entire sequel revolves around the magi. What are they? Broken pieces of a magical statue and you need to collect all 77 of them. The magi work as bonuses when bound to party members. The agility magi gives an agility boost, the power magi gives a strength boost and so on. As for the magi your dad gives you? Its a prism magi that rather than equip it, you can use it to see how many magi remain in the world you’re in. Later on, you will get the pegasus magi that can teleport you to previous locations. Its helpful.
Another thing to aide you along the way is a new memo system that lets you flip back through important dialog that gets said. This is great as the game can get to be long with its multiple worlds and it may get confusing to remember things if you go without playing the game for days or weeks.
Even the menu screen is more streamlined to show you more about your characters at a glance. It was always a pain having to jump into menu and then abilities to see a quick status of your characters. Now its just there, taking the place of which floor you were on with the original. Another big thing to cut out the tedium is the fact the menu remembers your previous selection. It even remembers your combat selection from battle to battle. Its just a lot of little time savers that help the game feel better. There are even three save slots compared to the one slot of the original.
The party inventory has gets expanded to offer sixteen slots rather than a mere eight. This makes resource management far easier and the game throws a lot more treasure chests at you. Plus, enemies now drop random things like swords, martial arts and potions. Each character still has eight slots for equipment, weapons, spells and skills. Mutants have four slots reserved for skills and abilities. Monsters get condemned to only use skills with no extra equipment or weapons. Robots have a single ability that prevents them from getting paralyzed or poisoned, so that takes a single slot, but its worth it to have them on board.
With more of a focus on a narrative and characters, its tough to do when you’re always pushing forward up the tower, so the game brings you back to other floors. It fast travels you, out of dungeons and fast travels you back to where you need to be like when an early character gets sick. This is the game’s way of making characters mean more when you’re required to pay them a visit. You’ll meet some sort of celestial healer, then later when she takes ill, you’ll need to find something in a different world to shrink down and enter her bloodstream.
When your party is wiped out, you’ll meet Odin, who will give you a choice… restart at your last save file or get thrown back into the battle you were wiped out. This is one of the many ways the game is forgiving. The other way is the fact there is no death. Even if someone dies, they’re unconscious and after the battle ends, they are revived with a single health point and you heal them from there. Odin becomes a character as you’ll meet him over-and-over until one day you have to challenge him in his palace.
Final Fantasy Legend 2 has a lot of gods and goddesses. You’ll meet Apollo, Venus, Ashura and others. These gods tend to act as the boss and the villain of each world. You’ll meet many of them long before you have to slay them. How did they become gods? They found magi of course! Ashura was a simple goblin who found magi and became a six armed, three headed being that took control over a small desert world. Killing them releases the magi and I would assume making your party more corrupt as you go around slaying gods to free the people under their oppressive reigns.
An interesting facet is the one person full of magi that doesn’t turn out evil, ends up getting sick because of it. Then once the magi is removed, everything is better, so I can only ponder if the magi was left in her, would she become that realm’s oppressive ruler. The magi corrupts those who consume it and the player completes the game before its given a chance to corrupt them.
All this time, you’re still a child looking for the father that left out your window. The game made it seem like your father had left years earlier, but to keep that focus, you’ll always find men that look like your father early on. Then again any “man with a hat” looks like your father when its all in monochrome. There is a man in a town that walks away, a prisoner in a tower that aides you to defeat a boss and a few others until you meet him early in the game. Your father, on his solo mission must have struggled against foes, so he spent months grinding to purchase his next armor upgrade and that’s why your party can catch up to him.
That brings me to the next new element of Final Fantasy Legend 2, which is the fifth party member. Most of these extra characters can start overpowered, temporary characters that join you for a dungeon or so. They come with their own equipment and you can only use them for combat.
Because magi becomes the focus of your party and your dad, the game does a cheap job of blocking you with magical doors that require enough magi to enter. This is fine, if its relegated to the tower, but instead its in various doors throughout several realms. A key would have been better or something to unblock a passage, but with the limitations this is fine.
Even with the limitations of the console, the towns seem bigger. Each town even has a pub to soak up atmosphere, talk to people, change the music and pay the bartender for a drink. With each cheap drink comes a helpful hint about the world.
Another nice touch are the details to the environments. You can walk through water and go under bridges. New to this game, when you go in doors the game blacks out the area were while revealing the new area. Its something other games have done before, but its special on the Game Boy. In the desert realm, towns and the over world get partitioned by sand storms to restrict your view.
Final Fantasy Legend 2 feels like a leap forward. It takes everything good and interesting about the previous game and magnifies it. Meanwhile, it cuts out the tedium and keeps you moving forward with how forgiving it is.