Balan Wonderworld Review


Balan Wonderworld is a game that got fairly infamous right after it came out. People had been expecting the next big thing but instead the game turned out to be a very sloppy production on all sides of the ball. Due to that I was able to find it for a really good price at 6 bucks though so was it really as bad as all that? In a lot of ways it is. There are some areas here where you see some potential but on the whole this just isn’t a good game and I can’t imagine dropping $60 on it. I’d be feeling pretty sad at that point.

The game starts by showing us two kids who are not having a good day. They end up getting taken into Balan’s world and now they have to help various people who are dying or have fallen into the darkness. They can do this by defeating the evil monster personified through the person and collect some statues along the way. Can the kids manage to achieve eternal peace or are they just doomed at this point?

Now the game doesn’t have much dialogue at all so this is my interpretation here but you can probably look at things a bit differently as well. Balan has an archnemesis running around who is causing these nightmares and monsters to appear so we have to take him down for the count as well. Along the way the kids learn what it means to have a good time and enjoy themselves. The game is clearly trying to have a moving story but without voice acting or better cutscenes it is just hard to get that across. At no point will you be particularly interested/engaged in the story. It just never pops out at you.

I really think of the game itself as Ninjabread Man but with a bigger budget. The actual platforming is even a bit weaker than Ninjabread Man, good luck on some of the jumps here! Balan Wonderworld’s main gimmick is that it’s a one button game. At no point in the campaign do you need to do more than press one button. That’s it. Whichever button you press allows you to jump or use whatever ability your costume has. It makes this game rather easy to master of course but there will be less depth within the title as a result so it’s really a true tradeoff.

So in each level the objective is to get to the end but you also have to try and grab some golden statues along the way. Each level has 7 gold statues and you want to average around 3 when you complete a level so that you don’t get stuck. That’s because every world has a statue requirement so if you beat the level without getting enough statues then it will definitely come back to haunt you. I never particularly appreciate having to go and grab collectibles so that didn’t do the game any favors either. The game also does everything it can to slow you down.

For example, some statues are only obtainable for a short potion of the level so if you miss it or beat the minions too quickly then it will disappear. Others are locked in areas that you can’t reach without a costume that you would unlock in a future world. As a result the game is really just doing its best to waste your time or at least it feels like that a lot of the time. The collectibles really were regrettable. Then you have eggs and gems you can grab in the level but they don’t do much of anything. I suppose they help you construct the clock tower in the hub world but there’s no benefit to doing so aside from a trophy and that takes a while.

You just sort of stand there and let the minions build the tower which gets old very quickly. It should have been a more active experience where you get to jump in and everything. The levels and bosses may have some annoying parts but ultimately the platforming gameplay is not terrible. It’s basic but you can have a calming experience just running around at some points in the game. The final boss was not developed well though. There is a glitch where if you bump into the final boss you end up losing all of your lives immediately and have to replay the whole climax from the start. Not a great look if you ask me.

Because of that the final boss took me more tries than it should have. Now I will give the game credit for having decent graphics. I thought all of the screens were colorful and the character designs were on point. There were actual cutscenes which is good and the main villain had a great design even if he couldn’t really manage to do anything. At no point do you ever think that he is a threat to Balan. Why would you when Balan humiliates him over 20 times before you reach the end of the game?

Each level has what are called “Balan Bouts” where you get to beat up the villain through some quick time events. Much like the rest of the game this is a section that has potential but is dragged out way too much. You have to go through the whole sequence in every level and you have to get a perfect score to get the gold statue. Mess up the sequence at all and you may as well close your eyes for the rest since it doesn’t matter. Each cutscene sequence is rather long and drawn out which doesn’t help matters either.

That brings me to the cutscene that plays after beating each boss. There are like 3 songs that cycle over and over as you dance with the characters. The character models do the same drawn out dance each time with the only changes being the character models. It feels rather lazy and if you want to do a celebration after each level then you have to make it quick or iconic. Kirby is an example of how you do this really effectively. It’s short enough where you find it fun rather than repetitive. I’ll give the game some credit for having a real soundtrack filled with songs here but the whole time you just know that it could have done better so as not to make you tired of the songs.

As mentioned, there is just a whole lot of things that went wrong here. Ultimately it’s fair to say that one of the biggest problems is how the game just goes about wasting your time. Having to re-enter a level to grab a statue if you messed up the Balan bout is pretty bad. The statues being required to enter each world is unfortunate and so when you beat the game and unlock a bunch of new levels there is no anticipation on you side. There’s no drive to go and complete the levels because you just aren’t interested enough. Obtaining the platinum is very achievable but it’s a time consuming one so I don’t see myself going back for it anytime soon.

Overall, Balan Wonderworld is about what I expected if not a little worse. It’s really known as a bad game and when a title drops in price so drastically you know that you have to pick it up. Ultimately I would say it’s a little better than the reputation. I mean, it’s not good but it’s not all that bad either and so I’d put it in the middle. You can absolutely play this for a while as a way to pass the time but there are countless platforming titles that are better which you should spend your time on instead.

Overall 5/10

One Piece: World Seeker Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 12h 33m
PS4 Trophies 30/44
Pirate Rank 60
Items Acquired 109
Materials Acquired 614
Equipment Made 1
Explore Requests 3
Chests Opened 76
Enemies Defeated 435
Most Enemies Defeated Simultaneously 6
Objects Broken 26
Longest Gum-Gum Rocket Air Time 13s
Total Gum-Gum Rocket Air Time 11m 6s
Longest Continuous Air Time 38s
Perfect Guards 32
Perfect Dodges 32
Critical Shots 288
Enemies Defeated with Takedowns 54
Damage Inflicted 952021
Distance Traveled 141612

Grandia II Review


It’s time to take a look at an RPG that’s a part of a series I know the name of but that’s about it. I certainly had no idea on the plot or anything like that. It’s certainly a great RPG and one that has lasted throughout time. You’ll have a good time with this one as there are a bunch of likable characters and solid gameplay throughout.

The game starts out by introducing us to Ryudo. He’s effectively a solo hunter/bounty hunter that nobody likes. His career choice isn’t exactly a popular one and Ryudo isn’t known for his winning personality either. Well, one day he finds himself in a village where his next assignment will be difficult. He has to guard a girl named Elena as she heads off to a mysterious castle to perform a ceremony. It doesn’t go well though and she ends up absorbing the Wings of Valmar.

Elena is now considered corrupted and must find a her way to the master church in order to cure her affliction. It won’t be easy though so Ryudo will have to stay on the job a while longer. He doesn’t believe in either Granas or Valmar as the two gods and just wants to live his life as best he can. The two heroes will ultimately run into several allies, enemies, and even a whole conspiracy. All they will have is each other as the group of heroes prepare for their ultimate confrontation.

The story goes through a whole lot of twists and turns so this is really more of a basic summary. The main thing to remember here is to always watch your back. Ryudo has a pretty good sense of danger about him and usually suspects everyone at first. It’s a wise policy since most of these characters always have some kind of agenda at the ready. It’s impressive just how antagonistic Ryudo is at first. He insults everyone and is clearly not having any fun.

As the game goes on we learn more about his past and why Ryudo is the way that he is. He gets a lot of memorable dialogue throughout the game including a variation of Bully Maguire’s famous line “You missed the part where that’s my problem.” Ryudo is a very different kind of protagonist and is written very well. He’s memorable and not a lead that you are likely to forget anytime soon.

As for Elena, she’s a bit of a weaker heroine. I wasn’t on board for her during most of the game as she always follows the bosses even when they’re acting rather suspect. She’s slow on the uptake in that front and just takes a lot of time to get used to the real world. She finally does, but not until the very end of the game so it took some time.

Her counterpart Millenia was a lot more fun. Effectively this fighter is the embodiment of the Wings of Valmar and one of the most powerful demons around. Naturally that means that someone like Elena who is incredibly focused on the church of Granas does not take too kindly to her. They are polar opposites in personality as Millenia is very forceful and takes what she wants while Elena is a lot more passive.

Roan is a kid who joins the group as well and he’s got quite a few secrets to hide. He’s a nice enough kid even if you feel like he’s too young for this adventure for a while. Ultimately he does end up helping out the group when it counts though. He was also one of the first characters to really trust Millenia which was great for her character arc.

Then you have Mareg who is the power member of the group. He wants to destroy Melfice no matter what due to a tragedy that happened in his origin story. Mareg is always speaking in riddles and trying to be fancy. It may make his dialogue a little stiff but I wouldn’t say they overplay this angle too much. He may not rank quite up there with some of the other characters but he gets the job done.

The final main hero is Tio and she’s an android who has to try and develop a heart. That’s not an easy tasks for anyone but she gives it her all. She comes a bit late in the game but makes the most of her screen time and quickly became one of the more enjoyable members. It always makes for a powerful character arc to have a robot truly become alive like this.

There’s also Ryudo’s pet bird Skye but he doesn’t do as much as you would expect despite technically being around for the whole game. He likes to tease Ryudo once in a while. Selene is one of the big members of the Church of Granas so she gets a sizable role here. From the start she comes off as very forceful in trying to keep people safe so you don’t want to be near her when the knights come strolling in. I’ll give her this, she was very dedicated to the cause.

Then you have Melfice, Ryudo’s long laost brother. This guy was a difficult fighter and certainly not someone to take lightly. He’s one of the more interesting villains even if he isn’t around for a big part of the game. Ultimately he chosse power over everything which is rarely ever a good decision. It was interesting to see how in his village this was a popular idea though in the sense that you can’t create justice without power. To an extent that is true but it’s definitely easy to lose focus and start obsessing over power too much.

Zera is a big player in the story for sure. I’d say he’s your classic old guys in one of these RPGs. He has big plans and will do anything in order to make it to the end. Not the kind of guy you want to trust and he loves showing off with his big speeches and everything. It’s just what he does.

Towards the end of the game things get rather cosmic. One of the best cutscenes is when we actually got to see the origin of the big battle between Valmar and Granas. Typically this is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear about but never actually see so I was impressed when the game threw me a curve ball and actually showed this on screen. That was very impressive and a prequel could easily work with this concept. There’s a lot you could do for that war.

Throughout the game the graphics are definitely impressive. We even get some good soundtrack themes during the game. I like the battle themes and boss music. It’s not surprising that a big RPG like this could have a solid soundtrack but it’s always worth noting. It makes the battles all go smoothly as you would expect.

In the end the game took me over 30 hours to complete which is a very solid length. I had to train for several hours before the final bosses because of how difficult they were though. Once I got a certain character back into my party then things eased up though. I’m not sure if there is any replay value here though as it seems it’s the kind of game that takes you back to right before the final boss when you load it up. So this will be a game you just aim to beat all the way through.

The only two areas in the game that could be improved are that the cutscenes can’t be skipped as well as the attack options. The latter may not sound like a big deal but quite a few of the attacks here are very fancy so during the final battles you’ll be having to wait for many attacks to go trough. I would usually have reddit open or a manga while I was waiting between attacks. So if the game is ever remade they should definitely add a skip feature in and that would be perfect.

It may go without saying but the combat system is that of a turn based combat mode. It’s a lot like Mega Man X Command Mission where your turns are based on speed as opposed to things always going in the same order. So that makes investing in quick equipment well worth your while. Each character can also equip 6 skills from the books you collect as well as an egg which grants you the ability to use magic. Leveling all of your techniques up takes time so I recommend saving your points for the abilities that you will really want to use.

Overall, Grandia II is a great game. It’s got a very satisfying story to it and a good cast or characters. It’s also fairly long at over 30 hours so this is certainly not the kind of game that you can just complete in an instant. You’ll really have to apply yourself here and I recommend fighting enemies as often as you can because it will certainly catch up to you by the end. I cleared the game at around level 57 and it was still fairly difficult. So I definitely recommend this to any RPG fan.

Overall 8/10

Madden 20 Review


It’s definitely been a long while since I played a Madden game. It’s always somber waiting for the next one because even if there aren’t any big changes, the series just has fantastic gameplay. To date it has to be one of the all time greatest series out there. This one’s certainly no different even if I wouldn’t say that it is quite able to compete with some of the older ones. Mainly I feel like scrambling has been nerfed and the deep ball is still nonexistent. Still, if you’re looking for a quality Football game you can’t really top this one.

Right off the bat you can jump into a ton of different modes like franchise, story mode, play now, online modes, or the skill trainer. Of course for me the first stop is just the quick matches to get a feel for the game. I always make sure to do one game on each difficulty level before I review the game so see how I stack up.

I was able to defeat most of the difficulties but I did get stomped in All Madden. I kept it rather close in the first half at 17-6 but as I got more and more desperate the A.I. would take advantage of that and ultimately go on to score a total of 40+ points. All Madden is as tough as it ever was but this time it did feel pretty legit. Usually I walk away shaking my head but in this instance I thought it was fine. I just got out played there.

The gameplay is pretty much the same as always. The goal in Football is to carry the ball across the goal line. At that point you will have claimed victory and will be in the home stretch. If you allow your opponent to do this, then you have to do it again as well. Whoever scores the most points at the end of the game is the winner and then that would be a wrap. It’s easy to understand if you’re familiar with the sport but otherwise Madden would not be the best place to start learning. I would recommend watching a real game first to see this in action.

Granted, you won’t be calling plays as if you were a real team but it’s still helpful for learning the fundamentals. As mentioned the game is a blast but there are a few aspects that are weaker than in most of the other titles. One of those is the QB scrambling which is when you decide to make a break for it instead of throwing the ball.

I can see how this could be a little overpowered in some of the games but I just love doing it. Often times I will make a break for it instead of throwing the ball because I don’t really have anyone open. Now you have to be a lot more careful because it takes a lot longer to actually start running and that’s an issue for when you just want to take off. I’m thinking it’s the game’s way of telling you that you should be throwing.

The QB throwing accuracy has also been given some more in depth features such as your ball not being thrown where you want it to be if you’re under pressure. You’ll suddenly throw in odd directions and while this is an interesting way to factor pressure in, I don’t think it’s needed. It should all go to your individual skill and where you throw the ball. That’s definitely a lot more straight forward.

I also just miss being able to toss the deep ball around. Find a receiver in a 1 on 1 matchup and just throw the ball over. Nowadays if you try that it will be incomplete 6/10 times and intercepted the other 3/10. Actually completing one of these balls is never worth the risk and that’s a shame because they’re the most fun to complete. Instead it’s often best to go for most short length passes and chip your way to the goal.

Running the ball is as solid as ever though. I don’t typically run a lot but it does make me feel like I’m using some real plays so I’ll do it here and there. You always get that feeling of being so close but so far away when running the ball because every time you get tackled you’ll think about where you should have run instead. It’s definitely a blast making your picks.

A lot of the modes also have the ability to skip all defensive drives which is pretty cool. Defense isn’t bad but I definitely do prefer being on the offense so that’s definitely more my speed. You have control of the ball and what you do with it at that point which is what makes the game fun. There is a lot amount of RNG in most of these plays.

As for the other modes, well there is a classic Story Mode once again but as always the cutscenes are completely unskippable. This has been the case for 3-4 years now and that’s unacceptable. Surely the devs have heard of the complaints before now so there’s no excuse for not being able to skip these. Especially since the story mode just isn’t all that engaging. You’ll really only be playing through the mode for the trophies.

Outside of the story mode the graphics are very solid though. It’s always great just loading up the game and seeing how nice the uniforms and backgrounds are. This is where 99% of the effort goes into so it makes sense that this part would look good. The soundtrack is very forgettable as while you’re in the games you won’t be hearing it anyway. You’ll just have the classic Football sounds at that point which is really what you want to have to focus on anyway.

Beyond that there is naturally a whole lot of replay value here. You can play games endlessly with a variety of different things to do. If you have the PSN subscription you can also take advantage of the head to head battles which is probably the most enjoyable mode. There’s nothing quite like battling others online. It’s why I would snap up a Switch version if that ever came out, but alas it doesn’t look like EA and Nintendo are ever going to mend the fence here.

Overall, Madden 20 is definitely a blast. While there are some specific changes that make it weaker than some of the other installments, ultimately it’s the core gameplay that you know and love. The series gets a lot of shots fired at it for not changing things up between years and keeping in every glitch which is valid. Still, you’re unlikely to see much of that while playing normally and it’s just too fun to put down. So ultimately the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.

Overall 8/10

Grandia II Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 30h 39m

Ryudo Level 57
Elena Level 56
Millenia Level 57
Adventure Book Level Max
Book of Warriors Level Max
Book of Gales Level Max
Book of Swords Level Max
Book of Priests Level Max
Book of Wizards Level Max
Holy Egg Level Max
Chaos Egg Level Max
Mist Egg Level Max
Gravity Egg Level Max
Soul Egg Level 66
Star Egg Level 82
Ryudo 3/4 Moves Maxed Out
Elena 4/4 Moves Maxed Out
Millenia 5/6 Moves Maxed Out

Fast & Furious Showdown Review


Fast & Furious Showdown is one of those games that is easy to forget about. I didn’t even know it existed until I was on Ebay looking for the new game and came across it. That said, this should not be mixed up to say that it isn’t a high intensity title. The racing is solid and while the game is short enough, there is a tough level or two that should take you some tries. Ultimately it’s a good racing game that is hindered by its short length.

The game takes place before film 6 where the heroes had their big team up with Hobbs. So the campaign follows the introduction of his new partner who is trying to learn about Hobb’s objectives and enemies. To do this, the heroes basically talk about how great Dom and his crew are as well as Shaw and the villains. As they continue defeating us in each encounter, the partner gradually sees why Hobbs wants to recruit Dom and his gang since Shaw is unbeatable otherwise.

As for the gameplay, it’s your standard racing game for the most part, but throw in a bit of Need for Speed type combat as well. After all, either the cops or the villains will always be trying to stop you depending on what side you’re playing as. So you have to move as fast as possible and always stay one step ahead. For the traditional driving levels, the gameplay is on point and you feel like you’re going rather fast. The toughest levels are when you have to win through drifting which is not a mechanic I use a whole lot in any title.

Then you have the double driver levels where one person jumps to the top of the car and blasts away at the others while someone drives. I would always switch myself back into the driver’s seat because I’m not the biggest FPS fan. Additionally, I found the A.I. to be a pretty bad driver in most instances so driving on my own was the best bet. Otherwise you’re just crashing all the time and at times it also feels like you’re just moving really slowly which was kind of odd. I don’t see how that would have an effect on anything as long as the A.I.is holding down the accelerator.

There is one level where the obstacle feels a bit odd though. That’s when there are these little bombs on the ground and the shockwave feels like it’s a whole lot bigger than the animation. It doesn’t matter where you are, the bomb will ultimately catch you. I thought this was a bit much and died numerous times but I suppose I eventually got out of there which is the important thing. That’s the only time I let the A.I. drive so I could snipe as many bombs as possible.

There are also some quick time events where you have to jump on a truck once in a while. I like quick time event type scenarios but this one does feel like there is no true purpose to even have it here. It’s a small instance once in a blue moon for something that will not actually affect the level since it usually ends at that point. I’ll give the game credit for coming up with new modes and all but I think you could have done more with it. Imagine quick time events for some hand to hand fights among the main characters? Now that would have been pretty awesome.

As for the graphics, well they’re fairly standard stuff. Not as good as you’d find in one of the big AAA titles but I would say they are good enough not to be called bad. So they’re fairly passable and better than what you would find in the Madden cinematic moments. The soundtrack is more on the bad side. It’s going for an EA kind of feel with a lot of modern lyrical songs but most of them definitely felt more annoying than good. They’re loud and all but the lyrics don’t work so well and I wouldn’t count this as a net positive.

In terms of replay value, there doesn’t seem to be much of anything here. No extra levels or big collectibles to grab at all. I suppose that means you will purely be here to re-experience the story levels again but the thing to note is that you cannot skip the cutscenes. So that will present a bit of an issue I imagine. There may have been some kind of challenge mode so hopefully that will help but for the most part this is definitely the kind of game that you play for the story and after that you’ll likely leave it around. The story’s around 4-5 hours so it’s good enough if you find this for a small price. For full pricing it would not have been worth it though.

Overall, Fast & Furious Showdown is a fun title. I’m always up for a good racing game and the combat part is also nice since it expands on the concept a bit. What’s more thrilling than trying to turn the corner as someone is blasting as you right? The A.I. uses a lot of rubber banding though so they tend to catch up to you no matter how far ahead you are. Definitely makes it difficult to truly get away without defeating them so you always need to be on the attack. It should have had more of an in depth story mode and more replay value though. I look forward to seeing how the new version plays out one of these days and if it’s able to improve on these areas. If it does then I think we will have a true winner on our hands.

Overall 7/10

Samurai Warriors 5 Review


I bought Samurai Warriors 4 recently so I would be ready for this one but otherwise it’s definitely been quite the wait for the 5th game to come out. They pulled out all the stops with this one though so it was worth the wait. It’s pretty interesting to be playing as a younger Nobunaga in this version. It’s definitely way before the days when he really cracked and became known as the Devil King. The gameplay is on point and there’s a lot of content to enjoy here.

The main campaign introduces Nobunaga as someone who wants to end the chaos in the land. As with all would be tyrants he figures that the best way to do this is for him to rule over everyone. If he has all of the command decisions then perhaps that would ensure that people would finally stop having wars with each other. The obstacles in his way are numerous though as every other leader and king doesn’t want this to happen. Along the way Nobunaga will make allies, enemies, and wild cards. He will have to manipulate everyone effectively in order to win.

Nobunaga may start off with good ambitions but you definitely see him begin to falter as the game goes on. He makes more and more dicey decisions which even leads at one point to him ordering one of his teammates to destroy himself. The teammate is the one who brought up the idea first but that’s definitely a time where you need to override them. Nobunaga’s pride also gets in the way often times as he fights battles that cannot be won.

Of course with the gameplay mechanics it looks like his plans are going pretty well but then the cutscene appears and you realize that officially you’re actually losing. It’s not like the other kingdoms are light weights after all. They’ve got plenty of strong fighters in their own rights as well which is why careful planning is definitely a must here.

As for the gameplay, it’s a 3D hack n slash as you would expect. You run through the levels and take down as many enemy officers as you can. You have to clear some objectives and defeat the final boss in order to clear the level. Once you have done that, you repeat the process in the other levels. Always keep your defeat conditions in mind because in some you will need to protect someone or you will risk being defeated.

Losing in these games is always rough because of how long each level takes so you will want to keep that in mind. You have your normal attacks, special moves, and power blows. I recommend power blows against minions since it takes them out real fast but against bosses mainly you want to stick to standard moves. They can always block the initial power blow and that can be risky. You can mix it in through combos which is a better way to go about it.

Riding your horse is a great way to move around the stage so I highly recommend doing this. While you’re on your horse it just feels like you save time on all aspects of the game. Usually that might not be a big deal since you want to have fun and enjoy the game at your leisure but in protection missions this will come in clutch. As you progress through the game and level up your character you will begin moving faster as well.

Samurai Warriors typically has a slower running speed than Dynasty but with these power ups you will end up moving very quickly by the end. It gets to the point where it almost feels like you’re on the horse full time. It was a blast and felt like a power up that actually made a huge difference. A good leveling up system should have noticeable benefits so I was pretty pleased about that.

The graphics are really solid as expected. I got a little nervous at first when I saw it was just text boxes but then the game changed to full cinematics and I was happy again. Basically the game just switched between the two. There aren’t a ton of full cinematics but enough where I’m satisfied. You get one between levels and occasionally during an event in the level. The graphics inside the actual gameplay are on point as well.

As for the soundtrack, it’s got a lot of pretty fast paced tunes which I enjoyed. They fit well with the constant action that a warrior game brings you. You might not remember a lot of them in particular but it can be hard to notice anything while you’re fighting it out in the map. I should probably look up the soundtrack at some point but while playing you will be all set here.

As for replay value, getting all of the trophies to this game will take a very long time. The main campaign also isn’t very short, it was a little longer than I had expected. After that you can play the game through someone else’s point of view so there are 2 stories total. Finally you have Citadel mode where you try to protect the palace from intruders. It’s not quite as fun as the standard mode but I’ll give the game props for switching things up a bit. It does feel different from the main mode which is important. Leveling everyone up and getting all collectibles are all things that will take time as well.

Overall, Samurai Warriors 5 is definitely a great game and one that I would recommend to any action fan. It’s got all the fighting you could want and the game is very intuitive. The mechanics just make sense and it’s a very satisfying game to play through. You’ll have a lot of fun going through it and then beginning the wait for 6. Granted, I doubt we will get a 6th title for a very long time but this one will last you until then. I doubt I’ll get the Platinum in this one but at least it does look more achievable than some of the previous installments in the series.

Overall 8/10

Final Fantasy II Review


This game has certainly been sitting on the backburner for many years. After beating the original Final Fantasy I tried to get in on the action with the sequel but I just couldn’t pull it off. The gameplay didn’t click. Well, I finally played it from start to finish and I have to say that my view hasn’t changed a whole lot. The story is the strongest part of the game even if it doesn’t touch the newer ones.

The basic plot is that the world is under attack by the Emperor. He has decided to rule over everything just because he can. The heroes are in a rough spot so the queen will now rely on a talented swordsman named Firian, a mage known as Maria, and a strong axe user named Guy. The three of them will need to travel the world and get strong enough to defeat the Emperor. Do they actually have enough strength to do so though? The Emperor has many powerful allies as well as pretty impressive tech at his disposal as well.

This is one of the first games where it took me way longer to complete than the estimated time on the “How long to beat” site. My time nearly doubled it I think at around 20 hours. It’s pretty difficult and that’s due in large part to how the level up system works. See, you don’t have straight level ups like 1, 2, 3. Instead you level up your proficiencies and stats in battle one by one.

Lets say you defeat a minion but you took a hit in the process. You have the potential to increase your max health, speed, defense, and attack power. If you used magic during the battle you may increase that as well. You passively level up your weapon skill as well depending on which kind you have equipped. You can already see how a lot of this is luck based. You increase the chance of increasing your proficiency but it’s not guaranteed. There are a lot of other factors here as well like the strength of your opponents and the duration of the match.

It’s not a very satisfying way to level up though because it’s hard to see when you’re really getting better. You also need to make sure you choose the right spells and weapons or you’ll be wasting your time leveling up something that you’ll never need. Your 4th member of the team also tends to change every other chapter so don’t get too attached. Often times when they leave they will never return so say good bye to any level ups you got.

The weapons also don’t seem very balanced to the point where I discarded them entirely by around the halfway point of the game. Instead I focused on using the barehanded techniques for the climax and honestly they seemed better than weapons anyway. I would always deal heavy damage while the weapons would falter at the worst moments. I have little doubt that the weapons would ultimately be better than bare handed but at least to the point where I was up to this did not seem to be the case.

The final boss was very difficult to defeat like this though. RNG is partially what got me through. See, his attacks were strong enough to not only finish me in a single hit but also replenish almost all of his health. Of course, that was only with physical attacks. On one of my runs I got lucky because he kept spamming magical spells which deal far less damage. I was able to buy just enough time to defeat him before he healed. Even now I think I would have a very hard time trying to defeat him again. It’s rare for things to work out in quite the same way they did here.

I don’t understand why the game went so far as to also make the equipment work against you. Wearing heavier items makes it harder to dodge but you can’t see how heavy something is without going to your character status page and leaving the item screen. Everything just did not feel very intuitive at all. Perhaps there was an easier way and I just didn’t find it. It seems like Final Fantasy II was meant to be very experimental but in this case I felt like it just back fired completely.

FF II’s spawn rate is also extremely high. Enemies are constantly attacking you every few steps. I was able to get in a lot of good reading during every dungeon. I would just keep spamming the attack button as I read through the God of High School chapters. I finished over 100 chapters as I played through this game because the battles took forever and there were so many of them. It was also uniquely useful to multi task in this game since I didn’t need spells and could just use normal attacks for every minion encounter. If I had nothing to distract myself with that would have hurt though.

Final Fantasy II also suffers from being unclear at times. You just don’t know where to go or what to do in order to advance the plot. The worst is when you’re supposed to talk to someone again and forgot to do so. So you go to the next temple but it’s still closed so you have to travel the world again in order to open it. You don’t get to fly until the very end of the game so prepare for a ton of walking. The game doesn’t give you any real shortcuts either so you really feel like an explorer. Just not in a fun way this time.

I could go on, but as you can tell pretty much none of the gameplay elements worked for me. It’s just a title that offered no qualify of life features. The graphics are good though. The character portraits are on point and I did like the minion designs. The game has a very retro sprite look which works well enough. The soundtrack is also very classic Final Fantasy with how each tune sounds. It’s all got a lot of energy and works really well.

As for replay value, by beating the game it seems like you do unlock some kind of new game+. I’m sure that will take you quite a while. Considering that the game is 20 hours long to defeat once, this is probably a 40 hour game or so. I’m not sure what the price is nowadays but it was pretty cheap before so I doubt it would set you back all that much.

Overall, Final Fantasy II is one of the weakest Final Fantasy games for me. In fact, I would have to say it loses to Final Fantasy VII and is my least favorite title. VII has the better gameplay, characters, and stories so II loses around the board to me. Don’t get me wrong, the story is fun and all but it just doesn’t make up for the game’s weaknesses. I don’t really see myself recommending this title to others as well. I’m glad that it helped continue the franchise into its current state but this is an entry you can skip.

Overall 5/10