Final Fantasy Legend II begins, much like its predecessor, with a legend to get your wheels turning: a statue of the goddess Isis was broken into a series of 77 relics called “MAGI” that are blessed with such innate power, that people have begun to use them to become “New Gods” to fill the void left by the creator gods. This is one of my favourite premises, it really appeals to my inner munchkin.
Full disclosure: this is a game I’ve played in the past, and so, like FFLI, this Journal is being written from an informed position instead of the first-timer position that normally defines the Journals. Like FFLI, I was never able to beat this game, though I did make it all the way to the final boss once. The entire game was new to Kyle.
After creating your lead character (we recreated Kyle from FFI and FFLI), we see that character in their childhood (or at least young teenhood) being woken by their father in the middle of the night. The character’s father is simply called “Dad,” throughout the game. Dad explains that he’s going out, and that Kyle is to look after his mom. Sadly, little Kyle doesn’t understand the permanence of what Dad is saying, assuming that he’ll be back soon. Dad slips his son one of the MAGI before going: Prism, a MAGI with the power to locate the other MAGI (though don’t get too excited: Prism only tells you how many of the things are hanging out in the current world). Having now handed his son the key to unprecedented, god-like power to gather more unprecedented god-like powers, Dad leaves his kid completely unprotected for many years.
Finally, Kyle has grown up, and announces his plans to go find his father. Several of his classmates ask to go with him, and his teacher, a slime Monster named Mr. S, tells him to select three, because there’s no possible advantage that could be had in four or five. We started by reuniting most of the team from FFLI: Liz the Mutant/Esper and Rei the Monster, currently a Baby Dragon. However, we retired Sara the Human from FFLI in favour of the game’s new fourth class: Robot. I didn’t mention it much in FFLI, but SaGa is happy to intermix fantasy, contemporary and sci-fi elements almost at random. It makes for some curious world-building. After some careful, emotional deliberation, we decided to call him “Kill Bot,” found there weren’t enough letters, and went with “KilB” instead. We would later regret this when he ended up with the highest defence in the party, which meant we wanted him in the first party slot so he could soak up the damage. As an unfortunate side effect, FFLII assigns much of its dialogue based on current party slot. This meant our Robot did most of the talking, and we had to stare the word “KilB” in the face during almost every conversation.
Some things have changed with the classes in this game. Mutants now actually train their stats by using said stats, instead of the randomness and lies of FFLI. Humans also work on this system, though Humans favour Strength and gain it more often, while Mutants favour Mana and for some reason also Defence. This is probably to make up for their few inventory slots (and thus so few armours), but it’s still not what you associate with the spellcaster class, you know? Training for both is now much more clear-cut (check out AMuseum’s famous site for the mechanics), though I’d say some of that hurts the game, as it exposes the fact that a lot of the mechanics… don’t make sense. For example: only the item or ability your Humans and Mutants used last in a combat influence the stats that boost at the end of the combat, and not the item or ability you used most, like you might expect. On the plus side, stats are more likely to rise against stronger enemies (and with a more consistent curve than FFII), so the game follows a more logical sense of game progression. Mutants abilities are now more predictable, thank goodness. You can now only lose the last ability in your list when they gain a new one, and you can switch them around to control which one that is.
Monster advancement is less predictable and even more complicated than in FFLI, definitely a downside in my mind. They were probably trying to prevent you from getting a supermonster in world 1 again, which I can respect, but it made the system so much more frustrating and opaque even though Humans and Mutants became more transparent! AMuseum has a handy online tool that will limit any uncomfortable surprises.
The new Robot class is simple enough to understand. Their stats are based entirely on what items are equipped in their seven equipment slots (the last slot is taken up by an ability that makes them immune to Sleep and Charm). Robots outright gain stats from each piece of equipment, like Agility for light weapons or Strength for heavy weapons. Weapons in FFL normally increase your range of damage, not your Strength or Agility, but for Robots they do both! Even if the item normally gives stat ups, like armour, Robots don’t necessarily get the same a Human or Mutant would, often to your benefit. Because of this feature, Robots can stack identical, cheap items of armour to get huge defence boosts. Where Humans or Mutants would only gain a small amount of defence from a Bronze Gauntlet, Robots will gain the same boost they would have gotten from a Bronze Breastplate at a fraction of the cost. Robots can quickly outclass the others if only you have the cash to pay for it.
Robots also regenerate item durability at inns, in the same way Mutant or Monsters restore abilities, except for weapons. But don’t get crafty: when they equip an item, its durability is automatically cut by half to limit your advantage (the game also halves items’ durability each time a Robot equips and unequips items to keep you from restoring your teammate’s weapons for cheap, but if you get it back on the Robot, it can be restored back to the original half mark). The biggest downside to Robots is their lack of magic: not only can they barely use magic related items, but because of the way the game’s math works, they take more damage from enemy spells and don’t heal as much from friendly magic either (the target’s Mana is taken into consideration for healing as well as the caster’s)! Humans have a similar problem, but unlike FFLI, you can train a Human’s magic as they can use spellbooks and gain magic from experience with those spellbooks, it’s just very expensive and time consuming.
We gathered up some parting gift items from our party’s family members (nice touch, Square) and Mr. S joined the party as a Guest member at the village gates. We much appreciated his heartfelt goodbye to his beloved students in how he would jump on wandering monsters and dissolve their flesh and bone into sustenance. The party passed through a cave system to the north, which I supposed must have been what had protected Kyle from MAGI-hunting bandits in the past, but at the end of the cave, what should we find but a Wyrm sent by some bad guys to take your MAGI specifically? Looks like you left just in time, kid. Mr. S ate that guy too. He even seemed enthused about it if you talked to him after the battle! Sadly, Mr. S left the party at the exit.
Now left on our own, we spent our luckily-not-dissolved cash on upgrades, and headed west to the Temple of one of the Old Gods, run by a priestess named Ki. Despite being a Human (not a Mutant), Ki was nevertheless blessed with healing powers. Working off the advice of a man who resembled Kyle’s Dad, we asked Ki about the “Relics of the Ancients,” a location that might house some MAGI. She tried to work out our intentions, as she seemed kind of pissed at the New Gods for their use of MAGI, but ultimately told us where to find the place in the forest to the south. We headed off, getting more than a few ugly vibes from how much this section of the game resembled King Sword’s territory from FFLI, what with the mountain pass at the west end of the map and all.
Having found the “Relics” (the dungeon, that is), we searched them from top to bottom and finally found two men had already seized some of the MAGI. In their haste to escape, they missed three entire chests of the stuff, and ran smack into some baddies sent by the first of the New Gods: our old buddy Ashura in an new incarnation. The men explained that they were “Guardians,” tasked to defend the MAGI to keep people from using them, and begged us to get the MAGI back from Ashura’s thugs. We respected their dying wishes by starting to use the MAGI. MAGI can be assigned to each permanent party member, but can only be assigned in a full set (by type). That is to say: all Agility-boosting MAGI has to go to a single party member, regardless of if you have 0 or 9. That’s a shame, as it would have probably been more wrenching and strategic to split them up across the party! We gave the Mana-boosting MAGI to Liz, the Power to Kyle, the Agility to KilB and, later, once we had found some more MAGI, the Defence to Rei. The game is full of elementally themed MAGI as well (indeed, the Mana MAGI is secretly one of them, being aligned to Cure rather than to the Mana stat, which for all I know might be a localization flub), but we were never so specialized as to require the (other) elementally-themed MAGI.
Returning to Ki with the bad news, she decided to go all badass on us, and announced that she was tired of Ashura and his meddling in this world’s politics. She told us that Ashura was from another World, connected to this one via a strange vine-like structure called The Pillar of Sky to the north. Ashura had seized the Pillar in this world by constructing “a Ashura’s Base” in the pass (yes, “a Ashura’s Base,” or more often, “the Ashura’s Base”: it’s never referred to without the article). Ki joined up to help smash the thing.
The Ashura’s Base wasn’t that complicated a third dungeon (sadly, many of the dungeons in this game are ultra-short, I imagine thanks to the limitations of the Game Boy). It was guarded by wandering monsters, as well as a few on-screen Zombies patrolling as guards that would engage you if you touched them. They walked around a lot more than FFLI’s guards, making them a real hassle, even though I managed to make it through the Ashura’s Base while only touching one.
Through to the other side of the Ashura’s Base (helped along by Liz and Rei’s group-hitting Flame attacks), we found a boss guarding the MAGI: a Rhino monster, who told Ki that leaving her temple was the last mistake she’d ever make. She killed him in a single turn. In his defence, he kill Rei in that same turn, and then brought down the whole Ashura’s Base in his death throes, but the poor bastard still died thanks to a so-called white mage’s black magic, and that’s gotta be embarrassing. Actually, his tearing down the Ashura’s Base was a poor strategic move on his part, since we could move through the canyon with ease now!
We retrieved the MAGI before leaving (you didn’t expect us to loot the ruins just because of a silly cave-in, did you?) and carried on to the Pillar of Sky, now carrying 7 of the MAGI. As it happens, that’s almost as many MAGI as most of the New Gods are carrying! If we weren’t splitting them between party members and were willing to abuse their power somehow, we’d be Gods already! Lazy! Don’t you people know you’re in a Marathon?
Going straight to the Pillar without asking Ki’s go-ahead (like that would have mattered in a portable game from 1990), Ki left the party and we carried on without her, carrying the fight to Ashura’s homeworld. The Celestial World beyond the Pillar was made of crystal and interconnected the various worlds, though it was never as complex as the Tower from FFLI, being mostly linear passageways and having no enemies. The second world was a desert one being constantly buffeted by sandstorm. We took shelter in the first town, which was being patrolled by Ashura’s wandering monster goons, though it took them a while to find us! We almost didn’t realize there were wandering monsters in town until we were on our way out!
Seeking advice from an adventurer’s best friend, the bartender (oh, pardon me: the barista. The game turned all the pubs into coffee shops), we were told how to locate Ashura’s tower in the sandstorm to the south. We were eager to move on, as we were having really bad luck experimenting with Meat on Rei, and the sooner we got to stronger monsters, the sooner we would find better Meat. With the help of some walkthrough advice and a lot of luck, we turned him into a Sprite and headed into the sandstorm. Following the barista’s directions, we located the tower alongside a small town constructed at its base, where everyone was surprised to see us, but not enough to actually report us to the authorities or… you know… not sell us goods and weaponry. There, we learned that Ashura was once an ordinary Goblin before finding the MAGI and becoming the mirror image of his FFLI self. Well. There’s potential for you. Are you four sure you don’t want to abuse the power of the MAGI?
Breaking into the tower, we found that Ashura was lazily stocking the place with the same enemies we had seen on the overworld (I admit, if you don’t wander off the barista’s course, you won’t have been in the overworld for very long and so wouldn’t have run into many enemies, but this stank of laziness). After several rooms, we found the tower’s prisons, which were of course on the main route where every one of Ashura’s guests would have to visit them. They were guarded by “WoodMan,” causing horrible Mega Man Marathon flashbacks for the both of us, but by the time we had recovered from our in-jokes, the jerkbot had been destroyed for a fourth time.
Inside the cells, we found another Dad lookalike, this one called “Mask,” presumably because he likes to apply foundation makeup. More seriously, I’m not sure why the party never brought up why this masked gentleman resembled Dad. Did it not occur to them to ask “By the way sir, are you my father under that getup?” For now, we recovered Mask’s stuff, and not a moment too soon, as we were attacked on-route to the box with his equipment! While Mask was armed only with a Hammer, the game’s worst Strength-based weapon, he had Strength of his own to spare, and we clubbed our way to the top of the tower to go visit our old rival from FFLI.
Ashura’s biggest strength was an resistance/immunity to most magic. We didn’t know how strong it was, as we had been warned against it by an NPC and simply didn’t bother to cast spells, but we also knew that he was weak against Sleep, thanks to that walkthrough. Hitting him with Sprite-Rei’s Sleep Powder (that’s what I’m calling it and you can’t stop me), we let Mask and KilB do the real heavy clubbing.
Soon Ashura was dead, but not before laughing at us, as one of his final plans was still underway: an attempt to assassinate Ki. Just a scene of petty revenge? Not quite: it seems Ki had been born with MAGI in her body, and that it was the source of her healing power. I’m really impressed by how this game interconnects its worlds instead of leaving them isolated like in FFLI. Ashura explained that he had somehow “micronized” a strike force to retrieve the MAGI (which I suppose explains why his tower has been left as a nest for the native vultures). With this crisis on hand, Mask left before duty could call him too. I respect your sloth, sir. We followed his example by ripping chunks out of a dead supergoblin to add his godlike powers to add to our own, like heroes.
This journal’s screenshots come from me! Me, I say!