Final Fantasy Legend II, or SaGa II, is a follow-up to the Nintendo Gameboy's debut role-playing game. Like its sibling SaGa Gameboy games and Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure (also for the Gameboy), SaGa 2 bears the "Final Fantasy" moniker in North America as a result of Square trying to take advantage of the recognizable branding already in place for that franchise. In 2009, to honor of the series' 20th Anniversary, a remake of SaGa II was released for the Nintendo DS titled SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu - Goddess of Destiny which featured polygonal cell-shaded graphics along with other enhancements.
The story revolves around MAGI, the shards of a shattered statue of the goddess, Isis. The Hero is awakened by his father, who explains he has to leave for a while. He then makes his way through the Hero's open window. Years later, the Hero decides to set out to find his father, and eventually joins a fight involving new gods bent on taking over the world and the Guardians, an organization dedicated to the protection of MAGI and to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. The player visits twelve distinct worlds, in addition to the Celestial World and the shrine at its center. The goal of the game is to collect the varied pieces of MAGI scattered around each of these worlds. These MAGI pieces can also be equipped by your characters to increase stats or grant special abilities.
Final Fantasy Legend II, which has very similar--almost identical--gameplay to its predecessor, plays in a traditional turn-based queue style made popular by the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series. In other words, you select a command for each of your four party members before making a final confirmation, which leads to the beginning of the "round" between player and enemy. One notable difference between Legend II's battle system and those of Dragon Quest / Final Fantasy is that each of your characters can equip multiple, distinct weapons, spells and shields -- most of which have limited uses before they break or otherwise expire. For instance, a character can carry a Rapier, Long Sword, Battle Axe and Psi Dagger, and is free to use whichever he pleases in a given round of combat. Shields similarly count as "consumable" items (i.e. use a shield for a round, and you're protected; but it'll break after multiple uses) as opposed to other armor (mail, boots, helmets), which act as one might expect (they simply buff your defense stats; they are not "used" in battle).
Your human and mutant (the "mages" in this game) characters grow based on how you use them, similar to Final Fantasy II's (Famicom, Wonderswan, Playstation, Gameboy Advance) level-up system. (Note that the human level up capabilities is a change from this game's predecessor; in Final Fantasy Legend, humans needed to drink special potions in order to improve statistics.) If a character continues to attack with a Battle Axe or other strength-based weapon, eventually his strength statistics will increase. Attack with an agility-based weapon (whips, rapiers), and his agility will increase. Similarly, use of magic and magic-imbued items will increase a character's Mana. With enough work, one could conceivably craft all-around characters -- fighters and mutants who are adept at magic and fighting, respectively, past what's expected.
Legend II does offer two unique playable classes: monsters and robots. Monsters don't level up; rather, they grow by eating the meat of stronger monsters left behind after battle. Eat the meat of a weaker monster, and your character will devolve accordingly. Robots level up based on the equipment you give them; in fact, weapons become infinitely rechargeable when equipped to robots (i.e. they don't break), though to balance this out, their maximum usages are cut in half. (E.g. A Long Sword starts out with 30 uses before it breaks; equip it to a robot, and it maxes out at 15, but can be "recharged" by healing at an inn.)
A robot's statistics increase immediately when you equip it with weapons and armor. The statistic which is upgraded is determined in a similar fashion to how humans and mutants level up: Equip a strength-based weapon, and you'll see an immediate boost in the robot's strength statistic. Stronger equipment in general boosts a robot's maximum hit point count as well. Furthermore, armor works differently for robots. Whereas human and mutant characters can only equip one each of torso armor, footwear, gauntlets and helmets, robot characters can equip as many of whatever type of armor they want. It's entirely possible for a robot to equip four gold helmets, or two bronze helmets and two silver chest plates. The robot class offers a lot of interesting experimentation in the way of finding the best combination of weapons, items and armor that maximizes all statistics to 99, as well as hit points to 999. Caveat: Robots, no matter what you do, can never be adept magic users. Thus, equipping spellbooks and magic-imbued weaponry is a waste.
Players are given a choice of how to form their party at the outset of the game. If s/he so wishes, the party can be made up entirely of robots or monsters. This bucks conventional wisdom, of course, since these parties would be too devoid of magic and too inflexible, respectively. The party of four can be accompanied by story-based "NPC's", though NPC ( non-player character) is a misnomer since you can command them in battle. These characters join and depart as dictated by the plot, and you cannot unequip anything from their person (so beware what you give them). Sometimes, the NPC's will offer powerful commands that are either likely too expensive to procure upon first meeting the character, or uncommon at that point in the game. Other times, the NPC's end up being almost useless and already obsolete upon meeting them.
Years before the events of the actual game begin, the Hero is awoken by his/her father (known throughout the game simply as "Dad"), who is about to exit through a window. Dad explains that there is something for which he must leave, and to stay home and take care of Mom. Before leaving, Dad leaves behind the Prism--a piece of MAGI--for safe keeping.
The game cuts to present day, and the Hero has decided that s/he will set out to look for Dad. After the Hero announces this decision at school, classmates clamor to join in on the adventure. The teacher, Mr. S, explains how the ancient gods made the world and left their mark in the physical form of pieces of MAGI--one of which happens to be the Prism that the Hero has kept all these years. Mr. S then suggests for the Hero to take along three friends to ensure a safe journey.
As the Hero is about to leave town, Mr. S catches up and says that he will accompany the Hero's team for a short while. He guides the party through the first cave, past a Baby Wyrm, and takes his leave of them to guard the safety of the town. The party catches up with someone who looks like Dad from behind. Their mistake is not in vain, as the man tips the party off to a cleric named Ki who might know a thing or two about MAGI. Ki, in turn, points the party to the southern ruins. But after the party witnesses the aftermath of henchmen who've raided all MAGI under the service of a wannabe God named Ashura, Ki senses great danger and joins the party to assist in the infiltration of Ashura's base to take back the stolen MAGI.
Ashura is nowhere to be found, but the party succeeds in taking back some of the MAGI stolen from the southern ruins. With the additional MAGI, passage is granted to the Celestial Plane via the Pillar of the Sky, a towering vine-like structure that serves as the central construct binding together the game's several different worlds. As the party makes its way to find Ashura in the Desert World, Ki takes her leave to protect the First World.
In the Desert World, the party makes its way through a town full of hostiles to find information on how to locate Ashura's tower, which is hidden within a massive sandstorm. While inside, they come across an imprisoned man who only calls himself "Mask" and agrees to help them take down Ashura--a shared interest for which he is there in the first place. Making their way to the top, the team and Mask manage to survive Ashura and his multiple arms, reclaiming some additional pieces of MAGI. With his dying breath, however, Ashura reveals that some of his henchmen have "micronized" themselves to a microsopic size, and are now prowling inside of Ki's body to remove pieces of MAGI that actually reside inside of her.
Mask leaves, and the party rushes back to Ki's temple, where her aide implores the team to go to the Giant's World to learn how to micronize and follow Ashura's men to protect Ki. Upon entering Giant's Town, however, the Hero spots Dad, but fails to convince him to come home. Dad needs to forge on ahead, he explains, to gather as much MAGI as he can. He leaves behind another MAGI to help his child and friends, and vanishes again.
Once the party succeeds in obtaining an item that helps them shrink down to microsopic size, they return to Ki's temple, micronize, and enter Ki's body. After gently removing the MAGI they come across within Ki's body, the party eliminates Ashura's henchmen before they can cause her any more harm. The party exits Ki's body and returns to normal size to find Ki recovering well. Though she no longer has the healing powers she once possessed due to the MAGI within her body, she is grateful for the party's help and wishes everyone a safe journey.
Moving on through the Pillar of the Sky, the party comes across the world governed by a benevolent god named Apollo. He helps the young adventurers find the MAGI in his world with cryptic hints which lead them to an underground volcano, a labyrinth illuminated blindingly by mirrors, and a large cave ruled by a being known as Dunatis. The last one of these locations lies right by a town, where a bedridden woman is distraught over her daughter, Lynn, who has ventured into Dunatis' cave to fight him. The party successfully helps Lynn defeat Dunatis, and the group takes her back home--but spot Dad talking to Lynn's mother. Overhearing her call Lynn his "daughter", the Hero makes assumptions about Dad's assumed infidelity and quietly runs off in a huff, taking the party along. The Hero then vows to continue forth with the rest of the party to collect all the MAGI on their own.
Almost by accident, after moving to the next location afforded by the Pillar in the Sky, the Hero's party stumbles across the base of The Guardians, an organization sworn to protect the pieces of MAGI from those who wish to abuse their power. Thinking them the enemy, the Guardians throw the Hero and friends into a jail cell. Who should come along to clear things up but Dad, who finally reveals himself as a Guardian. However, the base comes under attack, and the party and Dad have to concentrate on evacuating the premises--leaving no time for the Hero to confront Dad about Lynn.
Upon defeating the commando in charge of the siege against the Guardians, the party learns that others have kidnapped Lynn and dragged her to the world adjacent to the Guardian's World. Dad and the party rushes into the next world, but after Dad rushes towards the enemy to save Lynn, he doesn't end up emerging from the brawl. Lynn, however, is saved, and the party goes on to exact revenge for Dad's death. The team takes Lynn to her home, where her mother reveals that Dad was simply serving as a surrogate father after her real father died.
Stricken with guilt, the Hero continues the adventure in honor of Dad. The party's next move takes it to a world ruled by the vain goddess Venus. Here the group learns that a couple named Flora and Nils is to be wed soon, but Flora is in love with a man named Leon. Unfortunately, Leon suffered a devastating injury that crippled him, and Venus' mandate that all "ugly" people be cast out of her city--apparently a rule including crippled citizens--prevents the two lovers from marrying. Furthermore, Venus is in no rush to help the crew find any more MAGI, and when some MAGI is indeed found in the sewers under Venus' palace, she shrugs them off as "fake."
Mysteriously, a volcano rises up out of the ground in Venus' world, and after collecting all the MAGI found within, the party returns to find that Flora and Nils' wedding is about to begin. Leon crashes the party, however, and a livid Venus shows her true, oppressive colors. Feeling that justice must be served, the Hero and the party decide to stand up against Venus and engage in battle. Her defeat yields many more pieces of MAGI, which allow the party to access the next world.
Emerging from the Pillar in the Sky, the party stumbles upon a world with a large and popular dragon racing circuit. As luck would have it, it's overseen by none other than Apollo, who declares that the winner of this race will be awarded with more MAGI. The party rents a dragon and eventually wins the race, despite being tripped up by vicious monsters on the race track. Taking the MAGI grand prize, the party moves on to the next world.
The Pillar of the Sky's next open door grants the party access to Edo, a village tinged with a Japanese flavor. Here, the party stumbles across an opium-smuggling ring--which is referred to as a "banana" smuggling ring in the censored U.S. version of the game--headed up by a dirty merchant named Echigoya. It turns out that Echigoya is also rumored to have killed the father of Hana, one of the villagers in this world who has sworn to exact revenge by proving Echigoya's complicity in the smuggling operation. Hana goes onto one of Echigoya's ships alone, and though she is in danger, her friend Taro helps out and eventually ensures her safety--while also collecting the evidence needed to put Echigoya away for good. However, it's soon discovered that the Shogun of Edo himself is corrupt and is behind the operation. Defeating him simply leads the party to his "father", the Magnate, who sees fit to end the adventure. Of course, the Hero and friends, with Taro's aid, emerge victorious, and gather more MAGI with which to venture onto the next world.
After setting things right in Edo, however, the group is greeted by a world dominated by one, incredibly long cave affectionately dubbed the "Nasty Dungeon." Here, the Hero and team encounter relentless monsters and a fairy at the end with a particularly nasty attitude if she doesn't like the answer to her question, "Wasn't that dungeon nasty?" Of course, the party perseveres and leaves to the next world.
In the following world, Odin's Palace looms in the distance, and the party members finally encounter the god who has been reviving them every time they meet defeat. Understanding the importance of the party's quest, he challenges the Hero and friends in a fight to ensure that they are up to the task, willing to die to verify their strength.
When the passing Odin gives the party his blessing to finish their quest, they move onto what's dubbed simply "The Final World" where Apollo surprises them by backstabbing them with a demand: Give him all of the MAGI the party has collected, or he will destroy the party's friends (whom he's happened to teleport there so that the Hero can watch them all die). The Hero complies, but after Apollo makes off with his haul, Dad surprises the group, having not perished following the attack on the Guardian's base after all. Dad reveals that there is one more hidden MAGI t, and that should he and the party be able to defeat the powerful WarMech guarding it, they can open the final door in the Pillar in the Sky to defeat Apollo and stop him from achieving true godhood.
Defeating the WarMech proves no easy task, but the party and Dad prevail and confront Apollo in the Celestial Palace housed inside the Pillar in the Sky. Here, Apollo mutates into a formidable beast and begins lashing out with powerful physical and magical attacks. But after a lengthy struggle, Apollo--seemingly unable to harness his newfound godhood--begins to melt. Eventually he explodes, but not before Dad jumps in the way and takes the brunt of the blast himself, sacrificing his life.
While the Hero--this time seeing Dad's lifeless body on the floor--mourns, the pieces of MAGI all unite and form the goddess Isis. Isis goes on to warn the group that the security system at the center of the Celestial World--the Arsenals--have gone haywire as a result of the events that have transpired, and that she needs everyone's help to stop it from destroying the Pillar in the Sky--the foundation of all the worlds attached to it. Joining the party, Isis leads the way down into the bowels of the Celestial world. Reaching the Arsenals, Isis leaves the party to defeat one of them on her own, leaving the Hero and the three friends to destroy the other piece of machinery. Armed with a thick armored hull, high-tech weaponry and a special incendiary weapon known as The Smasher, this beholder-esque robotic weapon proves to be the toughest enemy yet--but with perseverance the party manages to fell it and save the world from destruction.
Meanwhile, Isis has wiped her hands clean, having taken care of her share of the duties handily, and declares that she must stay here at the center of the Celestial World to restore things to the way they were. There is a surprise in store for the party after Isis directs everyone to take the elevator back to the Celestial Palace; apparently restored by Isis' powers, Dad stands alive and well and accompanies the Hero and everyone else home.
References to Mythology and Lore
As was commonplace in Square RPG's and now in many videogames, there are several references made to Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythology and other cultural lore.
- Isis, a Goddess who is the living manifestation of all the pieces of magi
- Apollo, a seemingly benevolent God who initially aids you in your quest
- Venus, the vain Goddess of beauty who casts out the ugly and crippled from her city
- Ashura, an early boss and wannabe god strengthened by the power of magi
- Odin, a god who resurrects your party upon death and tests your ability to complete your task
- titan (male)/titania (female), a monster class blessed with great strength
- chimera, a monster class based on the multi-species monster of Greek mythology
- medusa, a monster class based on the Greek myth of the Gorgon Medusa, able to turn passersby into stone with a single glance
- Sleipnir, a monster class based on the eight-legged horse of Norse mythology
- mephisto, a monster class (complete with pitchfork and pointed tail) based on the Faustian demon Mephistopheles
- cocatris, a monster class based on the mythological creature, cockatrice, which possessed a petrifying glare
- hydra, a monster class based on the multi-headed repitilian creature of Greek mythology
- scylla, a monster class based on the sea monster of Greek mythology (represented in the game, oddly enough, by the medusa sprite)
- leviathn, a monster class based on the Biblical serpent Leviathan
- O-bake, a monster class that is essentially a ghost, based on the shape-shifting spirits of Japanese folklore
- Tian-lung, or tian long, translated as "divine dragon" (literally, "heaven dragon") from Chinese mythology
- Fenrir, the monstrous wolf from Norse Mythology
- Valhalla, Odin’s residence
- Edo, a world inspired by feudal Japan ("Edo" is the actual former name of the Japanese capital, "Tokyo")
- Pillar of the Sky, the central construct that holds the world together. The concept of the Pillar of the Sky bears some resemblance to the Yggdrasil, which--in Norse Mythology--is a gigantic tree (the "World Tree", as it were) and the central structure around which the nine worlds of Norse lore reside.
- Gungnir, a deadly spear that can damage multiple enemies (so long as they are in the same group) at once, named after Odin's mythical spear
- Xcalibr, one of the strongest swords in the game named after King Arthur’s legendary Excalibur
- Hermes boots, equippable boots that raises agility, named after the Greek messenger god
- Masmune, a piece of magi that is essentially a powerful katana named after the Japanese swordsmith Masamune
- Muramas, a powerful katana named after the Japanese swordsmith Muramasa
- Aegis, a piece of magi that covers the entire party in a protective shield for a single round, named after the Greek god Zeus' shield
- Pegasus, a piece of magi that can transport the party to any previously-visited locale, named after the Greek god Poseidon's winged horse
- Arthur, body armor named after King Arthur
- Hecate, footwear that increases magical potency, named after the Greek goddess of Witchcraft
- Magi, relics or stones that hold vast power and embolden those who bear them. In actuality, this is somewhat of a random and misplaced reference, as "magi" refer primarily to persons of certain ability rather than objects. Specifically, "magi" refers to those who have the ability to read and interpret the stars. In Christianity, "Magi" most commonly refers to the three Kings, or the three Wise Men.
There are a few elements scattered about the game that would likely strike a casual observer as odd or unrefined.
- The game sports martial arts attacks -- Punch and Kick -- which you equip like items, which seems to make little sense. Like items, they can only be used so many times before they "break" / disappear. Even stranger, the closer to "breaking" a Punch or Kick is, the more damage it does with each use. As a result, when you first equip a freshly bought Punch or Kick, attacking with it is pretty much useless. Of course, you kind of have to keep using it in order for it to yield any meaningful results.
- Mutants learn spells and abilities throughout the course of the game, and these take up slots in the mutants' equipment list. They can learn up to four abilities; if your wish is to have them equip more items, weapons and armor, you have to sacrifice the slots you'd use for their abilities and potentially limit them to two or three max. Further, it's possible for a mutant to learn two of the same ability. This is actually pretty neat when you learn two instances of a powerful spell (say, Flare), since that means you can use it twice as many times. The caveat, of course, is that you're out a single item slot. The stranger--and more useless--thing about this phenomenon is that you can learn two of the same inactive abilities such as a resistance to Poison. Having two equipment slots taken up just to have two instances of poison resistance, of course, is pretty pointless.
- Inns charge you based on how weakened you are--one gold piece per hit point needed to heal to full strength. If your four characters each only have one point of damage, a night at the inn only costs four gold. However, if they're severely damaged, the price skyrockets (the sum of each character's Maximum HP minus Current HP). You can abuse this system by having a mutant or monster use a natural healing ability to cure hit points until everyone's maxed out, and then stay at the inn to restore that healing ability. (This doesn't work with spellbooks since they are not "natural" abilities. Only natural monster and mutant abilities, as well as robot items, can be restored with a stay at the inn.)
- Monsters cannot equip items. However, their natural abilities--like other equippable items--have a limited number of uses. If you find yourself in a dungeon, and your monster's natural abilities have all been used up, the monster is basically a useless character who you'll have to "recharge" by trekking all the way to an inn or eating a piece of monster meat (which could potentially turn the monster into a weaker species if you're not careful).