The sequel to Final Fantasy was released in 1988 for the Famicom. Initially Final Fantasy II was released exclusively in Japan. It did not come to North America until it was re-released for the PlayStation, and it later came to Game Boy Advance, PlayStation Portable and mobile phones.
Firion, the main protagonist and friendly resident of the country of Fynn.
Maria, the quiet but tough archer and fierce opponent of the empire.
Guy, the gentle monk who communicates with wild life.
Leon, the enigmatic dark knight.
One day this band of adventurers is attacked by Black Knight soldiers under command of the evil Emperor Palamecia and are left for dead. Leon disappeared, but Firion, Maria and Guy are rescued by the princess of Fynn, Princess Hilda, who established a rebel base in the town of Altair when her kingdom was invaded by the emperor.
Firion, Maria and Guy want to join the rebel army, but Hilda deems them too young and inexperienced, so instead they go off to Fynn in search of their missing comrade Leon.
They do not find Leon, but they do find Princess Hilda’s fiancé Prince Scott of the kingdom of Kas’ion dying as he informs the trio that a former nobleman of Kas’ion named Boghen betrayed the rebellion and became a general in the imperial army.
After reporting this news to Hilda, she allows the three to join the rebel army and tasks them with finding a special metal called Mythril, which can be used to create powerful weapons. The trio of warriors finds the Mythril in the mines near the village of Salamand, after they kill Borghen and save all the villagers who were forced to work in the mines (Borghen was evidently also interested in finding Mythril).
Next, Hilda tasks you to go to the city of Bafsk to stop the construction of an airship called the Dreadnought, but as soon as you arrive there, you are too late to stop the ship from taking off and it soon attacks Princess Hilda’s own airship while she is on board, abducting her in the process.
However, when the Dreadnought lands to stock up on supplies, the heroes use the opportunity to rescue Hilda and throw a weapon called the Sunfire into the Dreadnought’s engines, causing it to blow up (oddly, Maria thought she spotted Leon right before they escape the explosion).
Their last task is ordered by the king of Fynn while he is on his deathbed: seek the help of the dragoons of Deist.
When you reach Deist, you find only a mother and her son. You learn that the empire poisoned the dragoons and that only one is still alive, along with the egg of a creature called a wyvern (a dragon-like biped), which the heroes hide in a cave for protection.
A time later as you progress through the game and gain more strength, the evil emperor who has taken over Fynn summons a destructive cyclone to guard his castle from you, but the newly born wyvern you hid in that cave helps you get through the cyclone and reach the inside of the castle, allowing you to kill the emperor.
When you defeat Emperor Palamecia, everyone celebrates the fall of the evil empire, until a wounded soldier reveals that their missing fourth companion Leon has taken the throne and plans to destroy the rebels.
The party enters the castle to confront Leon, but in the middle of the drama, the defeated emperor reappears in a new demonic form and he reveals that he “returned from Hell to destroy the world.” Everyone including Leon escapes the castle with the wyvern as the castle transforms into Pandaemonium, the Palace of Hell.
Leon helps you find a portal that leads inside Pandaemonium in the underground passage to the underworld called Jade Passage and you eventually defeat the emperor for real.
After restoring the kingdom to normal, Leon decides to take leave out of guilt for betraying you, but the forgiving Firion says he is always welcome back if he wishes to return.
Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi assumed the role of director to accommodate the larger development team for FFII. Just like with the first game, he came up with the story (this time it was crafted before development began), and all the key members of the first team returned here: Kenji Terada wrote the scenario, Nobuo Uematsu composed the music and Yoshitaka Amano again provided concept art (which I have been sharing throughout this article).
This game was the first to introduce the flightless bird-like Chocobos, which are able to be ridden by humans and are now common species in most Final Fantasy games. And it was the first to introduce a character with the name Cid. Different people mysteriously all named Cid have been known to aid you in several Final Fantasy games and this is where the tradition began.
Another thing introduced in this game was the Activity-Based Progression system, which replaced experience points as the primary way of gaining strength. The increased and exercised use of certain activities increased your skills in performing said activity, such as the increased use of jumping gradually improving your acrobatic skills. Versions of this system have been used in the Elder Scrolls series as well.
The game was well-received, although the elimination of the leveling system got mixed reactions. Some people thought it was more convenient than constantly fighting enemies to gain experience but traditionalists think otherwise. The story was seen as much more deep and emotional than in the first game, especially for a Famicom game. The series was now dealing with themes like romance and death, and this was a sneak peak of what was to come.