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If you're looking for the SNES game originally released as Final Fantasy II, see Final Fantasy IV.

A long lived peace...

is at an end.
Opening lines

The second entry in the bone-shatteringly popular Final Fantasy series.

The plot is extremely basic: You play as La Résistance, and your goal is to stop The Empire from taking over the world.

Nonetheless, the heroes have personalities, names and relations with each other, unlike in the first game, where they were blank slates.

A major difference from the rest of the series is that the game uses a "learning by doing" experience system (more commonly known for its use in The Elder Scrolls, later used in the SaGa series), also known as Stat Grinding. A character that cast magic a lot increased their magical abilities, a character that got hit a lot increased their hit points and defence, et cetera. The way the original Stat Grinding system was designed, it basically meant that the most efficient way to level up your party's stats was to order them to ignore the monsters and smack each other around for a while because you were practicing more of your characters' stats that way.

Despite the frustrating nature of the gameplay, it started many FF staples such as Chocobos, Dragoons, the recurring character named Cid and the Non-Linear Sequel concept. It also got remade on the Wonder Swan, Playstation, Game Boy Advance, PSP, and iPhone, later versions also tweaking the stat increases system to make it more manageable.


Tropes used in Final Fantasy II include:
  • Action Girl: Maria and Leila.
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Scott initially asks the heroes to tell Hilda he loves her, but then orders them not to, saying that she would only be pained to hear that from a dying man.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Weapon and Spell proficiencies max at Level 16. Unless you do a lot of level grinding for the PSP Bonus Dungeons, odds are by the end of the game most of your skills will be no higher than level 10, if you spam them relentlessly the entire game. Of course, the only spells you need to buff to 16 are Aura (a buff spell with stacking abilities for every level) and Ultima (which uses the levels of all equipped spells-including itself-for attack power), as most spells are quite formidable by level 10.
  • All There in the Manual: Although the game is story driven and has a complex plot for being made in 1988, character development is minimal, and most details about your party, their personalities, and the people they work for and fight against are derived from the novelization of the story that was published shortly after the game launched. In Japan, naturally.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Leon to Maria
  • Anticlimax Boss: Borghen, the foul arch-traitor who assisted the Empire in taking the heroes' hometown and thereby resulting in the deaths of their parents, turns out to be the weakest boss in the game by a mile. Moreover, after his death he sets off a trap that causes the death of Josef, meaning that this wimp also gets the honor of being the first Final Fantasy bad guy to kill off a playable character. The Emperor also fits this trope when you fight him in the Cyclone, where he's a pushover (though he turns into a killing machine for his turn as the final boss.)
  • Anyone Can Die: Hell, you start off the game dead. This doesn't seem to affect the Emperor much, however. Or you, for that matter—Imperial soldiers kill you at the beginning of the game, but succeed only in pissing you off.
  • Attack Backfire: In this game, attacking enemies with the wrong spell (eg Ice monsters with Ice magic, Undead with Drain and Osmose or Blob Monster with Poison) will actually heal the monster. In case of Drain or the Blood Swords results will be ugly.
    • In fact, all Final Fantasy games after the first one have a system of elemental absorb.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Revive and Destroy spells from the PSP version-- the first will revive and completely heal everyone in the fight, including the enemies. Destroy will kill everything on the screen (including your allies), except the caster, who will be left with 1 HP.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Minwu uses up all his life energy to break the seal on Ultima, but is surprisingly nonchalant about his own death, saying that it's his destiny.
  • Beef Gate: The world map is wide open, designed in a way so as to not even so much as suggest a way you should go, with featureless plans and forests in all four directions being the norm. Of course, you will be annihilated if you go the wrong way.
  • Big Bad: The Emperor.
  • Bigger Bad: Satan. He's only mentioned in the novel, where he actually becomes the Big Bad after the Emperor is taken out. In the game, Mateus presumably kills him to take his throne.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Soul of Rebirth in the GBA remake. The PSP release added the Arcane Labyrinth and Arcane Sanctuary on top of this.
  • Bishonen: Firion to some extent, but Emperor Mateus is the first Bishonen villain in the series, thus setting the trend for many more to come.
  • Black Magician Girl: Odd example, while any of the party members can be made into Black Mages, Maria's starting stats are best suited for the role.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: An English translation was actually produced for a North American NES release that never happened. Which is just as well, considering that the resulting translation, just to start with, consistently spelled "pirates" as "piretes," turned Beelzebub into "Beelzlbl," and had the boss Gottos shriek "Rebellions!" when confronted by the rebels.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The PSP version adds the Revive and Destroy tomes. They can only be gotten by completing the entire Arcane Labyrinth sequence, Arcane Sanctuary, and then defeating Bonus Boss Deumion, who can't be fought until you've done everything except beating the game's final boss. You can only pick one of the two tomes, and each one is an Awesome but Impractical spell.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Maria believes Leon to be this, but after the party kills the Emperor the first time, he doesn't turn back. Instead, he hops on the throne himself and tries to set himself up as the new Emperor. He does turn back when the party goes to confront him and the Emperor returns, though.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Guy's artwork and his PSP sprite has him wearing a breastplate that bares his midriff, some shoulder pads, a cape, and a pair of briefs. He pretty much pioneered the standard outfits for SNES-era Final Fantasy heroines. He has a more forgivable outfit in the Origins and Dawn of Souls versions.
  • Continuity Nod: Asking Gordon about mythril will have him note that Scott had a prized sword made of the material. Guess what Scott's default weapon in Soul of Rebirth is.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Averted, because every single boss in the game is vulnerable to instant-death spells. The only ones it doesn't really work on are the Dark and Light Emperors, and Zombie Borghen, who are technically vulnerable to the spells but have high enough magic defense stats to ensure that the spells have pretty much zero chance of hitting them.
  • Crutch Character: Minwu. Although his stats are very high when you first obtain them, he leaves before he gets to become useful. When you play as him in Soul of Rebirth, he becomes normalized, since he is the main character. Interestingly, this can be inverted if you grind your main three characters a lot, giving them at least twice as much HP as the fourth character when they join.
  • Darker and Edgier: You start off the game getting your head handed to you, many of your allies quickly die, and many towns in the game world get destroyed twice.
  • Degraded Boss: Lots. In fact, it's probably easier to list the bosses who don't go on later to become standard monster encounters. Even Gottos, the imperial commander at Fynn Castle, inexplicably ends up with clones of himself overrunning later dungeons.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Played with and subverted. You confront and kill the Emperor in a disappointingly underwhelming boss fight. Everyone begins to celebrate, when the Emperor's Dark Knight reappears to take the reins of the empire. Our heroes go to Castle Palamicia to confront him, but as soon as they do, guess who's back...
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: The Cyclone and later Castle Palamecia.
  • Disk One Nuke: First thing in the game you can travel north to Fynn and fight Captains roaming the streets. Due to their high level you'll need to do a TON of grinding to beat them, but you can net Curse and Toad Tomes from them, as well as Flame Bows and Golden Armor, all high level spells/equipment. You can also win a fair bit of money.
    • With a bit of Sequence Breaking, you can head to Salamand and spend 1000 gil to acquire the Teleport spell first thing in the game and begin leveling it up immediately--at higher levels Teleport is a One Hit KO to most enemies. Good-bye, difficulty.
    • To elaborate, Toad, rather than being the Baleful Polymorph spell it is in most games, functions as an instant death spell when used against enemies. Most enemies in the game are not immune to this, including bosses. That means, spend a little time leveling this spell up, and you can pretty much one-shot just about anything in the game.
  • Doomed Hometown: Inverted; nearly every goddamn city in the game except the player's hometown is wiped out by the Empire. The outright destruction doesn't happen until near the end, however, as the Dreadnought doesn't completely ruin everything in the towns it attacks.
  • Downer Beginning: The protagonists narrowly escape the razing of the kingdom of Flynn in the wake of the Palamecian army, only to be immediately ambushed in a Hopeless Boss Fight. It clearly sets the tone for this game.
  • Dual-Wielding: Everyone can do this with any weapon except bows, if you're willing to forgo shields.
    • One uncommon strategy for turning Firion immortal from the beginning involves doing a small amount of grinding, just to get some money and then as soon as possible, buying 6 shields and having everyone Dual-Wield shields for about an hour. Since nobody has a weapon nor are unarmed, they will just stand in battle and block all attacks, causing evasion and shield level to increase tremendously.
  • Dumb Muscle: Guy is one of the most pronounced examples in Final Fantasy history. He's so slow, he's barely capable of speech (except with animals because it's All There In The Japan-exclusive Novelization that he's a Wild Child.) Then again, it might just be a language barrier, rather than outright stupidity—he (along with everyone else) can use magic, after all.
  • Empty Room Psych: LOTS. You will grow to hate random doors in walls. And they all have ridiculously high encounter rates and place you away from their entrance--you're lucky to get out of them without at least one random battle. Adding insult to injury, some of what look like doors to yet more empty rooms turn out to actually contain valuable treasure or lead further into the dungeon. These rooms are excellent places for grinding in the remake versions, however.
  • Everyone Calls Him The Emperor: The Emperor, who is only ever referred to in the game (and in Dissidia Final Fantasy) by his title. His actual name, Mateus Palamecia, only appears in the Japanese novelization of the game.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Hilda of Fynn is a surprisingly proactive example for an early FF game. She does get kidnapped once, but for the majority of the game, she's the main strategist behind the rebel forces, which she takes over from her father after he's injured in battle, and even joins the army when they're camped outside of Fynn preparing to retake it from the empire's soldiers.
  • Evil Laugh: Minor villain Borghen has one, though for some reason in the Game Boy Advance and Play Station Portable remakes it sounds like the gobbling of a male turkey (odd, considering what was pulled off with Kefka in Final Fantasy VI on older hardware).
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Emperor
  • Evolving Attack: Spell animations become longer and cooler-looking as they grow in level.
  • Face Heel Turn: Leon after his disappearance.
  • Fission Mailed: The first battle is extremely one-sided, and ends with the entire party being beaten... then revived in a nearby castle, which kickstarts the plot.
  • Five-Man Band: Technically only 4 party members at any given time, but we obviously have Firion as The Hero, Maria as The Chick, Guy as The Strong Guy, and the last party member is the sixth (technically fourth) column. The Fourth Column also usually plays Lancer to Firion, such as Leon's reserved nature and heavy cynicism, or Leila's being a cunning thief to his Straight Arrow. Richard is a literal lancer. The pattern is less pronounced and more open to interpretation in Soul of Rebirth.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Considering the huge casualty count in the game, it's practically inevitable. Two particularly Egregious examples that stand out are the fact that while you can show any item in your inventory to the King of Fynn, you can't ever get him to use any of your healing items; also, in the room where Scott dies, there are three treasure chests containing Potions. It doesn't matter whether you take them or not; he dies anyway.
    • Not only that, but Minwu is tending to the King for quite some time before he dies; a White Wizard who knows almost every curative magic in the game. It never occurred to him to cast a high-level Cure on him, apparently, although Minwu mentions that there's only so much his spells can do.
    • It's not the body that was dying…
  • Global Airship: The first to be owned by someone named "Cid"
  • A God I Am Not: The emperor.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Your fourth slot is always filled with one of these. The Soul of Rebirth epilogue lets you play with the ones that die during the game.
  • Heel Face Turn: Leon.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Most of your fourth party members.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The black knights at the beginning.
  • Hulk Speak: Guy; apparently this somehow allows him to speak with Beavers all animals.
  • Icon of Rebellion: The Wild Rose of the Wild Rose Rebellion
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Not in game, but an official Amano illustration featured in the novelization is this all over.
  • Kicked Upstairs: The Emperor gets killed by the heroes... he can't do any harm dead, right? Well, actually, you kicked him upstairs to becoming the ruler of the entire afterlife (since the Emperor's soul split into two for some reason and ruled Heaven and Hell, respectively).
  • Level Map Display: Pressing a combination of buttons on the World Map displays its zoomed-out version.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Light Emperor. Enough said.
  • Like a Badass Out of Hell: The Emperor. Guess what he did after death?
  • Loveable Rogue: Leila. She tries to hold you up when you first meet her, but once she joins the team, she apparently loses her every villainous desire and proves herself to be a trustworthy ally. She even briefly leads the rebel army while Princess Hilda is imprisoned and Prince Gordon joins the heroes to rescue her.
    • Paul is this as well; while an admitted thief, he claims to only steal from the Empire and helps you out a few times in your quest.
  • Magic Knight and Squishy Wizard: while in the original, leveling up weapon abilities drained your magic abilities and vice versa, the remakes do away with this, making everyone able to be a Magic Knight.
  • Meaningful Name: Borghen's name likely comes from the blatantly corrupt House of Borgia.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: The Emperor, again. Arguably, his plan was to let himself be killed by the heroes when he's in the Cyclone, since after his death, he takes over the entire afterlife and comes back stronger.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: If you have not read the manual, Guy, who speaks only a few times in the entire game, will suddenly and conveniently reveal his ability to speak beaver at a critical juncture.
  • Nintendo Hard: Hardcore Gaming 101 states as such.
  • No Export for You: This originally applied to the game until the Playstation port. The Japanese novelization of the game will most likely always fall into this category.
    • Official reasons for the original localization ("Dark Shadow Over Palakia") being canceled were given as Final Fantasy IV being released right around the corner, and NES development was drying up in the west. However, the likely real reason the game sat in Japan for so long is the fact that the game carries a heavy death theme and the endgame involves a trip to Hell, which would have been impossible to alter for or dodge by Nintendo's Censorship Bureau.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: What reportedly happens if you beat the Elite Mook Hopeless Boss Fight in the opening sequence.
  • North Is Cold South Is Hot: Played straight. The world map has a vast snowfield stretching on the northern part, while the southern part has two deserts and a tropical island.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Additional information states that Firion is Maria and Leon's adoptive brother.
  • Not the Intended Use: Using the Swap spell to turn you into a statistical Physical God. Its intended use was likely for emergency HP/MP refill purposes.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Emperor Palamecia goes from wanting to rule the world in life to wanting to destroy it after coming back from Hell.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Emperor, twice if you count Soul of Rebirth.
  • Pirates: Leila and her crew. Granted, the fight against them is one of the easiest in the game, so they're probably not very good pirates, but at least they're nice enough to join up with you and let you use their ship after you beat them. (Leila herself seems to be the spiritual predecessor to another purple-haired female pirate captain, Faris of Final Fantasy V.)
  • Plotline Death: No less than three player characters bite it during the course of the game - Josef is the first to go, getting crushed to death by a boulder after the party takes care of Borghen. Next is Minwu, who has to sacrifice all his life energy to give the party access to Ultima. Finally, Ricard sticks around Palamecia Castle for a few fatal minutes in order to allow the party time to escape while the resurrected Emperor is busy tearing the place apart. In the GBA remake, the Soul of Rebirth mode has you play as those three characters, plus Scott to take out a strange being who's taken over the afterlife.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake begins playing during a particularly dramatic sequence
  • Retroactive Legacy: Originally, Kain from FFIV was named after Ricard as an in-joke/ShoutOut. The GBA remake of II continued the injoke by giving its resident dragoon the surname Highwind.
    • And one of the game manuals to IV (Final Fantasy IV Settei Shiryou Hen, for those curious) says that Leon/Leonheart is the one who left Deathbringer with King Fabul and that after the events of the game, Leon renounced his status as a Dark Knight and became a priest, an obvious parallel to Cecil's own atonement quest (and eventual class change to a Paladin).
  • Rare Candy: The orbs at the top of Mysidia Tower which increase a specific stat on a random party member by 10 points.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Hilda who leads the rebellion and Gordon who teams up with your party on occasion.
  • Scratch Damage: Averted, at least in the remake. If you buy all the best armor before the first dungeon, some enemy attacks will hit some characters for 0 damage, even without level grinding.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Hell and its demons from Ultima, until The Emperor somehow undoes that.
  • Sequence Breaking: The dungeons can only be visited in the order the game lets you due to such locations being inaccessible until you acquire the next MacGuffin or a new mode of transportation. The towns however, can be visited in any order you like because right as you start the game you're free to wander the world as you wish. Beef Gates will hamper your efforts, but if you want you can head to Mysidia the second you leave Altair and, with enough level grinding to earn the cash, purchase some of the best spells and equipment in the game there.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The story falls pretty close into cynicism, although Firion and Maria are 100% dedicated to the cause. They overcome the Emperor's oppression and save the world... what's left of it, anyway.
  • So Long and Thanks For All the Gear: Every fourth party member who leaves your party permanently will take their weapons and armor with them forever. This actually serves a purpose in Soul of Rebirth, though, where three of your four player characters were playable in the main game, so it'll be easier if you left their equipment on them. However, you're out of luck if one of your party members leaves without dying, since you won't be using them in Soul of Rebirth.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Played with. You can freely roam the map, but if you visit the locations in sequential order, the enemies' ranks rise by 1 or 2 every few areas. About halfway through the game, the random encounters all get replaced to compete with your newfound power. Sometimes justified by how important the area is to the Emperor or, occasionally, a third party.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Frioniel was changed to Firion in the English translation for name-space restrictions; Leonhart to Leon for the same reason. Guy was named Gus in the PSX translation, but then renamed to Guy for the GBA.
    • Mr. Highwind is a particularly Egregious example. He was called Edward in the translation of the prototype English version for the NES, Gareth in the PSX translation, and Ricard on the GBA and PSP versions, which is most likely supposed to be Richard, based off his name in Japan, but is over the letter limit. In Dissidia Final Fantasy, his name on the Player Icons of him is Richard.
    • Thunder and Blizzard in the original were changed to Lit-x and Ice-x respectively, where 'x' is the spell's level. In the Origins version, a certain White Magic was named 'Life'. In the European version of the GBA port, this became Raise.
  • Spiritual Sequel: As noted in the intro text, this game begat the SaGa series. The gameplay is the same (albeit with improvements,) they share the same "go anywhere" philosophy usually utilized in WRPGs, and Everybody's Dead, Dave tends to be a driving force in both games' themes, especially in the Romancing sequels.
  • Stripperiffic: Maria wears half a shirt with a metal pastie covering one breast, being the first heroine in a long line of these in the series. Her appearance in the Origins and PSP FMV cutscene shows her wearing a completely different outfit with more to it.
    • Not to be outdone, Guy wears a chestplate that bares his midriff and what can only be described as bikini briefs in his artwork. Most versions of the game have him wearing modest green clothing, but in the PSP version, his battle sprite is faithful to his artwork.
  • Stat Grinding, One of the first games to do this.
  • Taking You with Me: Borghen springs a boulder trap just before his death to kill the heroes, succeeding in killing Josef.
  • Technicolor Death
  • The Dragon: Leon.
  • The Atoner: Leon, again. In the ending, he leaves to parts unknown over the guilt he still has about his actions as the Dark Knight.
  • The Legions of Hell: According to the opening, the monsters roaming the land were summoned from the underworld by the Emperor, to help him in Taking Over The World.
  • The Medic: As above, the lead Firion starts out with the best stats for white magic.
    • Minwu is a better example. He joins your party with excellent magic attributes and has nearly every White Magic spell learned and at high levels.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Pandaemonium, after not one but two Disc One Final Dungeons, and a grueling cave you have to slog through in order to reach the dungeon itself.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Ricard tells the Emperor that he "might have some trouble slaying the last of the Dragoons." The Emperor's response? He blows up the entire castle that they're standing in. Admittedly, he needed to do that anyway to raise Pandaemonium in its place, but it just goes to show that the resurrected Emperor doesn't screw around.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Mostly subverted. While the game has its share of useless spells, Teleport is stupidly easy to max the level out for, allowing you to survive in some high level areas to Sequence Break and gain good equipment. Leveling up Toad to max also allows end game equipment to be easily obtained.
    • Oddly enough, Ultima. When you get it, three quarters of the way through the game, you will enthusiastically go around using it...only to realize that, thanks to a glitch that makes it so that it never gains any power, it's actually a pretty weak spell. Even in versions of the game where this glitch is fixed, the spell's extremely unusual way of powering up (its power increases depending on all the other spells and weapons that you've leveled up) means it takes exponentially more grinding to be powerful, compared to usual spells. On the other hand, though, if you do trick Ultima out fully, you've got pretty much guaranteed 9000+ damage for 16MP a pop, elemental resistances and magic defense/evasion be damned.
    • Arguably EVERY spell in the game (except Cure, Life, and Esuna) can be seen as this; level 1 spells are insanely weak, even by the standards at the start of the game. Attack spells do pathetic damage, status and buff spells miss constantly, the only way for them to become actually usefull is to level them up with constant use. But the amount of time needed to level up all these spells is INSANE and physical attack power increases MUCH quicker, especially with all the loot you can get in dungeons, so many players may find themselves simply relying on Cure, Life, Esuna, and nothing else.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Firion subverts it by being the hero. Mateus plays it straight by being the villain, though he's more platinum-blond than white or silver.
  • White Mage: This game bucks the trend somewhat with Minwu, who is the only male in FF history to canonically be a White Mage.
  • Wild Child: Guy. According to the All There in the Manual backstory, this is the official explanation for his being able to talk with animals, as well as his somewhat lacking grammar.
  • Womb Level: Leviathan. Apparently his first appearance before he shows up as a summon in later FF games, he's a dungeon in this one, and you're walking around in his guts.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Ricard gets to do this in Castle Palamecia, when he takes on the resurrected Emperor, who's now wielding the powers of Hell, to buy the rest of your party time to escape.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: At one point in the game, Princess Hilda, the leader of the rebel force, gets kidnapped. You have to sneak onto the Empire's warship, where she's being held, and break her out. It turns out that the Hilda you rescued isn't the real princess, but a Lamia Queen disguised as her, sent by the Emperor as part of a plot to kill you. Said plot involves the Lamia Queen, as Hilda, getting Firion alone and trying to seduce him. And although he's flustered at first, he almost falls for it. The only thing that saves him is Leila kicking the door in at the last minute, right as the Lamia Queen turns into her actual monstrous form, so the party can team up to kill her.
    • Kansas City Shuffle: Building off of the above, when they go to rescue the real princess, the Emperor turns out to have faked an entire gladitorial match just to set a trap for them. And the original airship? Turns out it wasn't his only idea for an aerial super weapon, or even the most dangerous. His friggin' castle has a booby trap on its top floor that drops down several floors, apparently just so it's impossible for anyone to land on his roof and assassinate him with a sneak attack.

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