Final Fantasy Legend II

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Final Fantasy Legend II
Final Fantasy Legend II Coverart.png
Box art of the North American Game Boy release, titled Final Fantasy Legend II
Developer(s)Square[a]
Publisher(s)Game Boy
Nintendo DS, Switch
Square Enix
Director(s)Akitoshi Kawazu
Designer(s)Akitoshi Kawazu
Hiromichi Tanaka
Toshiyuki Inoue
Programmer(s)Naoki Okabe
Tomoki Anazawa
Artist(s)Katsutoshi Fujioka
Writer(s)Akitoshi Kawazu
Composer(s)Nobuo Uematsu
Kenji Ito
SeriesSaGa[b]
Platform(s)Game Boy, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch
ReleaseGame Boy
  • JP: December 14, 1990
  • NA: November 1991
Nintendo DS
  • JP: September 17, 2009
Nintendo Switch
  • WW: December 19, 2020
Genre(s)Role-playing
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer (DS only)

Final Fantasy Legend II, known in Japan as SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu,[c][4][5] is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square for the Game Boy. The second entry in the SaGa series, it released in Japan in 1990, and in North America in 1991. A later edition released in North America in 1998 through Sunsoft. The Game Boy version was later ported to Nintendo Switch and released worldwide by Square Enix in 2020. A remake for the Nintendo DS was released in 2009 by Square Enix, remaining exclusive to Japan.

The game is set in a fantasy world where the player assumes the role of one of eight different characters of varying race and gender who leaves on a journey to find their lost father and discover the secret of "Magi", a substance created by the gods that holds powerful magic. Final Fantasy Legend II was largely well-received worldwide during its original release, with readers of Japanese magazine Famitsu voting it the 94th greatest game of all time in a 2006 poll.

Gameplay[edit]

A battle from the original Game Boy version

Final Fantasy Legend II, known in Japan as SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu, is a role-playing video game set in a science fiction-based world where players take on the role of a four-person party.[4][6] Most of the gameplay is carried over from the first game.[4] The player navigates a character throughout the game world with a party of up to four characters, exploring areas and interacting with non-player characters. Most of the game occurs in towns, castles, caves, and similar areas.[6][7]

Initially limited to the First World to explore, the party is given access to other worlds as they progress through the game. Players can save their game anytime and anywhere when not in combat to the selected save slot for later playing. Players can journey between field screen locations via the world map, a downsized representation of the different locations. Players can freely navigate around the world map screen unless restricted by terrain, such as water or mountains.[6] Like the original title, travel across the world map screen and hostile areas is occasionally interrupted by random enemy encounters.[6][7]

The Nintendo DS remake changed the perspective to an angled 3D perspective on the world.[8][9] Unlike the Game Boy version, battles in the DS version no longer occur randomly, and were adjusted to be more like later games in the SaGa series where enemies appear on the field screen along with the player and are encountered when touched.[10] Also unlike the original, where a character's stat increases through gaining levels was largely randomized, characters have stat increases defined by growth tables for each playable character.[10] Other new additions are combination attacks, the ability to chain battles together, additional rewards based on preset conditions, and the new "Thread of Fate" mechanic which is manipulated through gameplay actions to trigger additional storyline events.[8] A new multiplayer boss arena allows up to four players to battle the game's bosses to win various rare items.[11]

Synopsis[edit]

The story in Final Fantasy Legend II revolves around MAGI, the shards, of which there are 77 according to legend, of a shattered statue of the goddess Isis. As a child, the main protagonist character is awakened by his or her father in the middle of the night, who explains he has to leave for a while. After leaving the protagonist with a MAGI and instructing the protagonist to never lose it, he makes his way through the protagonist's open window. Years later, having grown up, the protagonist decides to set out to find his or her father, learning he was part of a secret group called the Guardians hunting for the MAGI, fragments of an ancient statue that give power to their bearers. Accompanied by three friends, the protagonist sets out. Exploring their world, they learn that there exist other worlds connected in a Celestial World by a winding twisting tower called the Pillar of Sky, and using MAGI they can use it to reach each world. They learn that new gods have risen to power in various places using the MAGI, and not all are benevolent to their surroundings. Seeking to become more powerful, the gods are looking for the other fragments, but the heroes learn of the Guardians' worries that if all the fragments of the MAGI are brought together and the statue of Isis is reassembled, a terrible calamity will destroy all worlds.

Unlike the previous title of Final Fantasy Legend where defeat in battle means game over, in this game the heroes are brought before the god Odin where he offers to revive them if they promise to fight him someday. If they elect to do so, they return to the start of the battle in which they were defeated. They may retry a battle as many times as they wish, but if the heroes refuse, then the game is over, only to restart at the last save. The heroes battle to collect the MAGI themselves while at the same time trying to retrace the lead character's father's path. They must battle with various foes and oppressive gods. The heroes eventually reunite with the main protagonist's father at the Guardians' base, but the base is found and raided by the minions of aforementioned new gods. The father appears to sacrifice himself to rescue Lynn, an ally from a previous world, who is being held hostage. Once the heroes defeat Odin himself in battle, they no longer have the option to revive and re-attempt battles.

After the heroes have collected 76 of what they believe to be all 77 MAGI, the character Apollo reappears and displays various previously encountered characters as hostages, extorting all the MAGI from the group. He then enters the Celestial World, to which the group is now unable to pursue him due to their lack of MAGI. They fear that the destruction of the world is at hand, but the protagonist's father reappears and reveals that the Guardians spread disinformation about the MAGI and that there are actually 78. The father rejoins the party, and they recover the last MAGI and re-enter the Celestial World to challenge Apollo, who uses the MAGI in an effort to channel into himself the full power of the Isis statue. Believing that the combined power of the MAGI makes their owner invincible, Apollo engages the heroes. Because he is missing the last piece, however, the process goes awry, and the power overwhelms him, causing him to explode. The father shields the other party members from the explosion and is mortally wounded in the process. As the party recover the MAGI, the concentration of the MAGI's power in one set of hands causes the Celestial World and all the worlds connected to it tremble violently. Hoping that the combined power of the MAGI can save the protagonist's father, the heroes decide to assemble the complete statue. The goddess Isis appears, notices the earthquakes, and, after treating the hero's father (who remains unconscious), joins the party in descending to the center of the worlds where everything is now off balance. Upon reaching the center, a pair of massive mechanical Arsenals acting as a security system must be defeated to gain access to the core and stop the worlds from shaking.

The heroes learn that Isis was set aside by an ancient civilization to safeguard this pillar system, as the worlds would eventually become old and need to be repaired. Isis stays at the core, fixing the damage from the tremors, and the heroes return home with the protagonist's father. After the credits roll, the protagonist is awoken in the middle of the night by his or her father again much as in the beginning of the game, with the father saying he must leave again, this time in search of the Lost Ark (in the Japanese version of the game, the Three Sacred Treasures of imperial Japan). The main protagonist demands to come with him this time, and the father agrees. They begin to leave but are stopped by the protagonist's mother, who wants to join them rather than be left alone again. They agree, the three of them leave through the open window, and the game ends.

Development[edit]

Production began following the release and success of The Final Fantasy Legend (Makai Toshi SaGa) in 1989, also for the Game Boy. Kawazu had not anticipated a sequel, so when production began the focus was on refining and polishing the already-established mechanics rather than starting over from scratch.[4] The staff included Hiromichi Tanaka, who Kawazu attributed with pushing forward production and polishing the final game.[12] So Tanaka and other staff members could join the project, Kawazu had to wait until development wrapped on Final Fantasy III. Production was further delayed as developer and publisher Square moved to new headquarters in Akasaka, Tokyo. After these delays, development moved faster than the first game, as all systems beside the world setting were identical.[13] The "Teacher" character who acts as an instructor and supporting character for the cast was directly based on Minwu, a player character from Final Fantasy II.[14] Odin's role of reviving the player in exchange for a battle was implemented by Kawazu as a surprise for players.[4] The Japanese cover art and character designs were created by Katsutoshi Fujioka, who filled that role on the original SaGa.[15] Fujioka also handled level design layout.[16]

Music[edit]

The music was co-composed by Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito. While Uematsu had previously worked on the first SaGa, Ito had only just joined the company and this was his first title for Square.[17][18] At the time, Uematsu was busy working on music for Final Fantasy IV, so Ito was brought in to create half the tracks.[18] Composing for the game was a challenge for Ito as he had no experience with programming, needing to learn on the job.[19] His first completed piece was the track "The Land of Peace"; as he had no experience with the short looping tracks common at the time, the theme was notably long. Kawazu asked for tracks based on particular scenes and moods, keeping the console's memory limitations in mind. Despite precautions, the number of planned parallel sounds was reduced, and several tracks needed to be cut.[18]

A compilation album featuring music from the three Game Boy SaGa titles, All Sounds of SaGa, was published in 1991 by NTT Publishing.[20] The trilogy's music was released in a soundtrack album in 2018.[21]

Release[edit]

The game was released under its SaGa 2 title by Square in Japan on December 14, 1990.[22] The game's box was notably large, which Kawazu attributed to both wanting it to stand out and including a larger manual.[16][14] Two guidebooks were published by NTT Publishing in December 1990 and February 1991.[23][24] During its first print run, the game contained a bug where a button press in a particular situation caused a crash.[14] In North America, the game was released by Square in August 1993.[25] Sunsoft later licensed the game for a reprint in April 1998 alongside the other three Square titles for the Game Boy.[26] Square rebranded the game under the Final Fantasy moniker in English territories, capitalizing on the recognized brand to grow its regional presence.[3]

In 2020, the Game Boy original was re-released alongside the other Game Boy SaGa titles for the Nintendo Switch to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the SaGa series. The collection was published worldwide by Square Enix on December 19 under the title Collection of SaGa: Final Fantasy Legend.[d][27][2] It was a digital exclusive release, and included English and Japanese text options worldwide.[28] Production began at Square Enix so players could enjoy the original SaGa trilogy on modern hardware. While Kawazu had earlier plans to bring the originals onto newer hardware, the series' 30th anniversary provided a good opportunity to fulfil his wish.[29] The port included color and resolution options, higher speed options during gameplay, control options that emulated the Game Boy console, a commemorative track created by Ito, and new artwork by Fujioka.[27] The minor adjustments were done to reflect modern gaming tastes, but otherwise the games were unaltered.[29] While the titles were rebranded as part of the SaGa series, their original Final Fantasy branding was retained as a subtitle to avoid undue confusion for original players.[2] This edition was the first time the Game Boy titles released in Europe.[28]

Nintendo DS remake[edit]

A remake for the DS titled SaGa 2 Hihō Densetsu: Goddess of Destiny[e] was announced in January 2009.[9] Production of the remake began in 2007.[8] Directed by Kawazu, the remake used fully three-dimensional cel-shaded graphics.[9] Kawazu stated that he and his team had been planning a remake of the game ever since they remade the first SaGa for the WonderSwan Color in 2002, and went ahead with the project now that they felt "the time was right".[5] Youichi Yoshimoto, who had previously worked on Unlimited Saga, was appointed project supervisor, along with Ito who arranged the game's soundtrack.[30] Gen Kobayashi, character designer for Square Enix's The World Ends with You, provided the game's new promotional and character artwork.[30] Ito had to both arrange his own and Uematsu music, while also adding new tracks.[8]

The remake was developed by Racjin.[1] The remake was produced to add new features but still keep the core story and gameplay of the original, and is designed to retain the Game Boy version's play time of "ten-odd hours" from start to finish, which Kawazu felt as adequate for a handheld role-playing game.[5] The remake's 2009 release coincided with the 20th anniversary of the SaGa series,[5] and the remake was made available as part of a limited-edition Nintendo DSi bundle.[31] The SaGa 2 remake remains exclusive to Japan, though a fan translation was developed.[4] Kawazu attributed the lack of localization to uncertainty within Square Enix as to whether the West would accept such an unconventional title.[32]

Reception[edit]

As of 2002, the game had sold 850,000 copies, making it the second best-selling title of the Game Boy SaGa releases.[38] The remake sold 146,000 copies by October 2009.[39] In March 2006, the title was voted the 94th best game of all time by the readers of Famitsu magazine as part of its "All Time Top 100" poll.[40] The Nintendo DS remake received a 31 out of 40 scores from Japanese Weekly Famitsu magazine.[34]

The game was mostly well-received during its release in North America. Nintendo Power declared it to be superior to its predecessor, calling it "longer and more involving than Square Soft's original Game Boy RPG".[35] The magazine also found it to be more user-friendly, stating that it "includes features that will make playing more enjoyable for both RPG enthusiasts and beginners", but found it mostly lacking in play control.[35] During their annual Nintendo Power Awards, Final Fantasy Legend II was nominated for "Most Challenging Game Boy Game" of 1991.[36] In their review of the 1998 re-release, IGN found that the game had aged when compared to more modern role-playing titles and that "gamers jaded with today's FMVs and polygon graphics may find it hard to get drawn into a game with simple sprite characters."[7] Regardless of the game's antiquity, the website still found it to be a solid game with "great character development, a breathtaking score and a solid Role-Playing game engine, there is very little that stands in the way of an RPG gamer and this title," calling it "by far" the best of the Final Fantasy Legend games.[7]

GameDaily named it alongside the related Game Boy Final Fantasy titles as definitive games for the system, describing it as providing "hours of role-playing excitement, whether you were waiting in a dentist's office or on the way to Grandma's house."[41] The sentiment was shared by gaming magazines Electronic Gaming Monthly and Pocket Games, the latter of which ranked the titles together 8th out of the Top 50 games for the Game Boy.[37][42]

References[edit]

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  19. ^ 『サガ』は自分にとっての学校。『SAGA2015(仮題)』は学びを経て挑む集大成――伊藤賢治氏インタビュー【『サガ』シリーズ25周年記念企画】. Famitsu (in Japanese). 2015-01-19. Archived from the original on 2016-05-17. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
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  33. ^ 30 Point Plus: Sa・Ga2 秘宝伝説. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.358. Pg.32. 27 October 1995.
  34. ^ a b "New Game Cross Review". Famitsu. Enterbrain, Inc. (1084). 2009-09-11.
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  36. ^ a b "Nintendo Power Awards '91 – The Nesters!". Nintendo Power (34): 96. March 1992.
  37. ^ a b Staff (Summer–Fall 1999). "Top 50 Games". Pocket Games (1): 32.
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  39. ^ 【ゲームソフト販売本数ランキング TOP30】集計期間:2009年10月5日〜10月11日. Famitsu (in Japanese). October 22, 2009. Archived from the original on July 3, 2010. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
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  42. ^ Staff (1999). "Game Boy Pocket". Electronic Gaming Monthly Buyer's Guide (7): 55.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Nintendo DS remake developed by Racjin.[1] Nintendo Switch port developed by Square Enix.[2]
  2. ^ Rebranded in the West under the Final Fantasy moniker.[3]
  3. ^ Sa・Ga2: Hihō Densetsu (Japanese: サ・ガ2 秘宝伝説, lit. SaGa 2: Legend of the Secret Treasure)
  4. ^ Known in Japan as The Saga Collection (サ・ガ コレクション, Saga Korekushon).
  5. ^ (サガ2秘宝伝説 GODDESS OF DESTINY, SaGa 2: Legend of the Secret Treasure: Goddess of Destiny)

External links[edit]