Final Fantasy II Impressions

We play the Famicom classic on mobile at the Tokyo Game Show.

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TOKYO--Square Enix has not been idle in the Japanese mobile gaming market. They're already selling the original Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest preinstalled on some NTT DoCoMo handsets; they just released Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, which may be the most important mobile game since Snake; and they're already moving on to Final Fantasy II, which will be widely available in the next week. This flurry of activity is a mystery to many American mobile gamers who can't understand why Square Enix Mobile (the Square Enix subsidiary dedicated to the American mobile content market) hasn't released anything more ambitious than a wallpaper collection. Simply put, the fault lies not with the content provider, but in our handsets. This truism has been shorn up by Square Enix's picture-perfect mobile rendition of Final Fantasy II, which would run about as well on mainstream American phones as Quake would on a cash register.

Final Fantasy II is a complete port of the Famicom game that was released exclusively in Japan, so those who are expecting Cecil, Kain, Yang, and the Four Fiends to make an appearance will be sorely disappointed. In fact, the game that Square sold as Final Fantasy II in the West was actually the fourth game in the series in Japan. This was the game that introduced dialogue and storytelling as integral components of the Final Fantasy gameplay experience. Fortunately, the mobile version of the game appears to be a very comprehensive copy of the original, down to the copious amounts of conversation. Most impressively, Final Fantasy II seems to run at a Famicom-like speed on NTT DoCoMo's FOMA phones. These handsets also feature sharp QVGA displays, which allow for an amount of visual detail exceeding that of the Famicom. It's great fun to traipse about the world map, tackling goblins and werewolves--and reveling in the experience of playing one of Japan's golden oldies more or less verbatim on a phone.

Final Fantasy II is currently only available on NTT DoCoMo's i-mode service, and Square Enix has not yet disclosed any plans to bring the game to America.

For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of the Tokyo Game Show 2004.

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