FF2j is regarded by many as the black sheep of the Final Fantasy franchise. Whether that label is fair or not we will explore together over the next few weeks. But before we dive into my play-by-play, I wanted to first provide a little primer on the game, to get everyone up to speed.
So, why is FF2 often referred to as FF2j? Glad you asked!
The first Final Fantasy was released in Japan, and translated into English for the US. But FF2 and FF3 weren’t released in the US – they remained Japan-only titles. When FF4 rolled around, it did receive an English translation and was released in both countries, like the first game. But since it was only the second Final Fantasy game release in America, in the US it was renamed FF2, to not confuse American gamers.
So, for this reason, the game we’re currently playing is sometimes referred to in conversation as FF2j, to ensure it isn’t confused with the game US players knew as FF2.
This is less common nomenclature these days, since all future remakes and ports have used the proper numbering, with FF IV again referred to properly as FF IV in all regions.
Then how are you playing it in English?
Excellent question! Since FF2j and FF3j weren’t ever released in English for the NES, a lot of US RPG fans were very curious about them. Some superfans actually translated the game’s entire script from Japanese to English – dialogue, items, spells… everything! The actual game files themselves (the game’s ROM) was then modified to display this English text instead of the original Japanese.
In this way, US gamers can experience FF2j on the NES or on their PC, with the full English fan translation.
Why not just play one of the ports?
Although FF2 was never released in the US on the NES, it has since made it stateside numerous times. There is a GBA version, a PS1 version, and even a release for the iPhone. But, I’m playing on the NES because one of the key goals of this project is to see how the Final Fantasy franchise grew and evolved from entry to entry.
If I played FF1 on the NES, but skipped to FF2 on the GBA or PSP, I wouldn’t be able to clearly see the evolution of the series. Besides the enhanced graphics and sound, these remakes adopt more modern gameplay conventions, and even add entirely new weapons, items, enemies, and scenarios.
It is true that to play on the NES I have to use a fan translation and not an official one, but I don’t consider this a major loss. Square’s English translations aren’t generally highly praised. I trust the fans to be faithful to the original Japanese.
A word on the play-through blog
The blog posts for FF2j (and indeed all subsequent FF play-throughs) are not going to be as all-encompassing as the posts I made for FF1. FF1 contains a “story” in only the loosest terms. So it was easy for me to recap literally every single event I experienced. But, this simply isn’t possible with FF2 or the rest of the franchise. There are pages of dialogue just within the first ten minutes of play, for example.
The updates will be just as frequent and just as thorough, but they will not be exact 1:1 coverage of my play through.
Next: Meet Our Heroes