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Video Game / Final Fantasy II

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For the SNES game originally released as Final Fantasy II in North America, see Final Fantasy IV.

A long-lived peace...
is at an end.
Opening Lines

Final Fantasy II is the second entry in the bone-shatteringly popular Final Fantasy series, released on the Famicom in 1988. The game would initially fail to reach western shores, though this was an error eventually rectified in the 2000s.

In the flight from the occupied city of Fynn, four orphans are ensnared by imperial troops and left for dead. Three of the survivors are recovered by a mystic working for the Wild Rose Rebellion and taken to a nearby stronghold. Upon being revived, the group is enlisted to — what else? — help stop The Empire from taking over the world. Emperor Mateus, a pretty boy with megalomaniacal designs (hey, that sounds kind of familiar), has a slight advantage in this contest being that he's opened the gates of Hell to enlist an army of demons.

Squaresoft were beginning to experiment with larger, more epic storylines with a memorable supporting cast. Indeed, the heroes have personalities, names, and a dynamic with each other, unlike in the first game where they were simply cutouts. It's also the first FF to include guest characters who rotate out of the party at regular intervals. Three of these fellas even got their adventure in the Dawn of Souls remake, joined by the previously-unplayable Prince Scott to round out their party of four.

Final Fantasy II adopted a 'learn by doing' growth system that has since come to be more commonly associated with SaGa—since both were developed by Akitoshi Kawazu (the brains behind Square's more open-ended JRPGs)—and The Elder Scrolls: Casting magic increases your Mana pool and magical power, getting hit a lot increases your Hit Points and Defense, et cetera. Characters must also train in weapons: Josef starts out as a Bare-Fisted Monk, but if you switch him to a lance, you'll notice he isn't hitting as hard or as frequently. However, after using it in a few battles, he'll gain proficiency and return to his level of comfort.

Like Final Fantasy, you teach magic by buying scrolls from shops. However, unlike I, any character can learn any variety of spells, up to a maximum of 16. If you run out of space, just drop a spell from your menu. Magic tiers are back as well, although each character must level up spells (in a faint precursor to Secret of Mana) to cast their Fira/Firaga equivalents. One of the biggest blunders a player can make is failing to use their Esuna spell to remove negative status effects; if an enemy uses a level 8 status effect and your Esuna is only level 4, you may not be able to fix it during battles.

One oddity is the inclusion of Keywords in dialog, never seen before or since in Final Fantasy. It's a bit superfluous for the most part, though the Anniversary Edition's Arcane Labyrinth Bonus Dungeon (see below) makes more meaningful use of it.

This game is where many FF staples began: Dragoons, the ultimate magic spell Ultima, the recurring character named Cid and his affinity for Airships,note  and too many iconic creatures to count: Chocobos, Behemoths, Bombs, and more. Characters can also be shifted between the front and back row for the first time, as well as target any combatant with any action, or choose whether to hit one or all targets of a given affiliation with any spell. This game also introduces the iconic battle interface with two blue boxes on the lower half of the screen (as opposed to the mass of boxes in the previous game): Enemies and their quantity on the left, your party's names, HP, and MP on the right, and ability names in a pop-up box at the top; most 2D Final Fantasy games going forward use some variant of this interface (including remakes of Final Fantasy I).

It initially got remade on the WonderSwan, and later the PlayStation as part of the Compilation Re-release Final Fantasy Origins, which added some FMV cutscenes. The aforementioned Dawn of Souls is another dual release for the Game Boy Advance; it came with an expansion designed with veterans in mind. A hi-def remake came out for the PlayStation Portable and iOS; it rolled out the Arcane Labyrinth, a set of bonus dungeons that will appeal only to the hardcore. It also added in a new "Guard" command so you can defend yourself for half damage. In 2021, this game was remastered as a part of the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, which was released on PC via Steam and mobile devices. 2023 saw the Pixel Remaster version brought over to the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

This game provides examples of:

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  • Action Girl: Maria and Leila.
  • Aborted Arc: A major subplot is the party unsealing the bindings on the forbidden Ultima Tome which teaches you Ultima, and the Mysidian library mentions Ultima was originally crafted to destroy the risen palace of Hell, Pandaemonium. Once you acquire it, Ultima has no storyline relevance and usage of it is left entirely up to the player's discretion.
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Scott initially asks the heroes to tell Hilda he loves her, but then orders them not to, saying that she would only be pained to hear that from a dying man.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Weapon and Spell proficiency maxes at Level 16. Odds are, by the end of the game, most of your skills will be no higher than level 10, if they're commonly-used skills. Because of the Anti-Grinding rank system, actually getting a skill to Level 16 practically requires either hunting down random-encounter Bosses in Mook Clothing or prolonging fights to absurd degrees.
  • Aerith and Bob: Maria, Guy, Leon, Scott, Gordon, Leila, and Ricard are all fairly ordinary names that wouldn't be too surprising to run into in real life. Firion and Minwu, however, are not.
  • Afterlife Avenger: Emperor Mateus managed to conquer Heaven AND Hell after splitting his soul into its purest and darkest halves and defeating the respective rulers of both realms. This achievement had effectively made him to ruler of the afterlife itself. Realizing things won't improve unless he's wiped out for good, the heroes who died and the ones left alive split up to destroy the Emperor's respective Hell and Heaven aspects to make him Deader than Dead.
  • All for Nothing: A large chunk of the game revolves around getting the spell, Ultima. You go through four whole dungeons just to get to Ultima's resting place, Mysidian Tower, which itself is the fifth and longest dungeon in this arc, containing Demonic Spiders, hazards you must walk through, and four bosses. And when you finally reach the end, in order to get Ultima, Minwu sacrifices himself to break the seal. Turns out, Ultima is pretty weak (unlike in other games). Subverted in the remakes, but only if Ultima is trained until level 16.
  • All There in the Manual: Although the game is story driven and has a complex plot for being made in 1988, character development is minimal, and most details about your party, their personalities, and the people they work for and fight against are derived from the novelization of the story that was published shortly after the game launched. In Japan only, naturally.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • Fynn falls to the Emperor's forces, and remains under occupation until the game's second half.
    • Altair is among the towns obliterated by the Cyclone. Happily, Hilda and her royal court move into Fynn Castle.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Two, in fact, at various points in the game: Prince Scott of Kashuan in Fynn near the start of the game, and the last wyvern in Deist.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Leon to Maria.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The reasons for Leon's betrayal and continued loyalty to the Empire. The Empire is capable of brainwashing, and Maria firmly believes Leon to be a victim of it. However, Leon remains as the Dark Knight and makes a One World Order speech even after the Emperor's temporary demise, when he presumably wouldn't be under anyone's control. It's never made clear whether his initial defection was brainwashing, conversion, some sort of Starscream gambit, or what, although the novel suggests the former.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Soul of Rebirth has Minwu as the central protagonist, taking place right after he dies.
  • Anyone Can Die: You gain a few party members and meet several characters over the course of the game. A large portion of these characters end up dead by endgame, including a full third of the game's playable roster. This doesn't seem to affect the Emperor much, however.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Cid has one for Minwu in Soul of Rebirth to help them figure out where they are: "If this is the entrance to Hell, what are innocent little kids doing here?"
  • Ascended Glitch: The Ultima spell in the original version was bugged and wouldn't power up as it's supposed to. This left it doing a measly 500 damage. Director Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted it fixed, but a programmer insisted on leaving the bug in, justifying it as Ultima being an outdated spell overshadowed by newer and improved ones, mirroring real life. Sakaguchi then tried to fix the problem himself, but the programmer ciphered the code's source. As such the bug remained. Fortunately Sakaguchi looks back at it more fondly these days.
  • The Atoner: Leon. In the ending, he leaves to parts unknown over the guilt he still has about his actions as the Dark Knight.
  • Attack Backfire:
    • This is the first game in the series with elemental absorption — attacking an ice monster with Blizzard spells will heal it, for example. Notably, this applies to status-inflicting spells, as they have their own elements.
    • Using Drain spells or the Blood Sword against undead enemies will heal them and damage the user.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Revive and Destroy spells from the PSP and iOS versions. The first will revive and completely heal everyone in the fight, including the enemies. Destroy will kill everything on the screen (including your allies), except the caster, who will be left with 1 HP.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Minwu uses up all his life energy to break the seal on Ultima, but is surprisingly nonchalant about his own death, saying that it's his destiny.
  • Beef Gate: The world map is mostly one giant continent, and it is possible to wander too far if you're not careful and end up being curb-stomped by high-level random encounters. Hopping off a Chocobo in the wrong area can especially screw you over. This is also problematic in early part of the game when the protagonists don't have a map yet and have to discover a safe route by relying on trials and errors.
  • Big Bad: The Emperor, and how very bad he is.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Leon, who took control of the empire after the Emperor's death. When the party confronts him, the Emperor waltzes in to remind everyone who the real Big Bad still is before an actual fight can break out.
  • Big Good: Princess Hilda.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Emperor is defeated and the world is saved, but much of the world has been devasted by the Cyclone, Leon leaves the group in order to find atonement for his crimes as the Black Knight, and the remaining heroes grimly acknowledge that they can never truly return to a normal life after having experienced the horrors of war.
  • Bonus Dungeon:
    • Soul of Rebirth, added in the GBA remake, is a bonus quest unlocked after the Final Boss is defeated.
    • The Arcane Labyrinth and Arcane Sanctuary, added in the PSP version, only need to be visited in order to obtain the various ultimate weapons in the main storyline.
  • Black Magician Girl: While any of the party members can be made into Black Mages, Maria's starting stats are best suited for the role.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: An English translation was actually produced for a North American NES release that never happened. Which is just as well, considering that the resulting translation, just to start with, consistently spelled "pirates" as "piretes," turned Beelzebub into "Beelzlbl," and had the boss Gottos shriek "Rebellions!" when confronted by the rebels.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Revive and Destroy tomes can only be gotten by completing the entire Arcane Labyrinth sequence (and defeating Super Boss Deumion, in case of the latter), which can't be done until you've done everything except beating the game's final boss. You can only pick one of the two tomes, and each one is an Awesome, but Impractical spell.
  • Brainwashing: If you visit Bafsk before you make contact with Josef and obtain the Mythril, none of the townspeople will be able to talk to you. You can talk to the Dark Knight in the town square, but he tells you to get back to work. Afterwards, Borghen takes over and the townspeople implore you to stop the Dreadnought while saying that they feel like they were in a trance.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Maria believes Leon to be this, but after the party kills the Emperor the first time, he doesn't turn back. Instead, he hops on the throne himself and tries to set himself up as the new Emperor. He does turn back when the party goes to confront him and the Emperor returns, though.
  • Brutal Bonus Level:
    • Soul of Rebirth is a short postgame bonus campaign starring four of the major characters who don't survive the main story. However, two of them (Minwu and Josef) are playable early in the game and retain whatever equipment, skills, and stats they were given before they leave, rendering them underdeveloped and easy to kill if you did not take the extra time to Level Grind them. Even if Ricard has end-game stats and/or is tricked out with potent equipment like the Blood Sword, it still doesn't make Soul of Rebirth all that much less difficult.
    • The Arcane Labyrinth, while much more merciful than the Labyrinth of Time, still have some annoying floors, like Palamecia, which is full of Trap Doors that teleport you back to the start.
  • Climax Boss: The Emperor appears to be the final boss, and he is, but there's still two more dungeons after the first fight with him.
  • Continuity Nod: Asking Gordon about mythril will have him note that Scott had a prized sword made of the material. Guess what Scott's default weapon in Soul of Rebirth is.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Played with. Different bosses have different resistances, but many don't resist the Matter element, which includes several instant-death spells. The only ones it doesn't really work on are the Dark and Light Emperors, and Zombie Borghen, the last of which is technically vulnerable to the spells but has high enough magic defense stats to ensure that the spells have pretty much zero chance of hitting him, and the other two of which are flat-out immune. In the Famicom version it's possible to take out the Dark Emperor with Matter spells by exploiting a glitch, but it takes longer than just killing him with the Blood Sword, and said glitch is removed from later versions.
  • Crutch Character: Minwu. Although his stats are very high when you first recruit him, they're mostly geared towards support, and he doesn't stick around that long, anyway. When you play as him in Soul of Rebirth, the "early-game" is designed around his power level as a baseline, narrowing the power gulf between him and his own companions. Interestingly, this can easily end up inverted if you grind your main three characters a lot, giving them at least twice as much HP as the fourth character when they join, and nigh-invariably higher spell proficiencies.
  • Darker and Edgier: ...than the first game, big time. The first game features a group of four young adventurers who already know how to fight from the beginning when they are assigned with proper equipment and allowed to learn some magic, and will grow stronger with experience. Meanwhile, this game features a group of war orphans who wield battle gears despite having very low starting skills and learn magic from scratch. Also, a full third of this game's playable cast wind up dead by the end of the game, joined by the countless NPCs populating the towns and cities the Emperor wipes clean off the map by the end. That the game opens with a Hopeless Boss Fight is very apt in setting the tone.
  • Deader than Dead: Both the Emperor and Borghen are re-fought in hell's castle Pandaemonium after their first deaths, the former in a demon form (though not classified as undead), having raised Pandaemonium himself after his return, and the latter in zombie form, having been inside Pandaemonium when it was summoned. Both are re-killed, presumably erasing them from existence. Further implied if you go by Soul of Rebirth which says the Emperor's soul was split in two, and his light half, who took over Heaven, is killed as well.
  • Degraded Boss: Quite literally every mandatory boss who isn't a named story character reappears as a standard enemy later on. Even Gottos, the imperial commander at Fynn Castle, inexplicably ends up with clones of himself overrunning later dungeons.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Averted in the original Famicom version. You can try to defeat the Black Knights in the beginning with cheats so you can obtain absurd amount of money and if you're lucky, some item drops as well. The game will continue normally after that.
    • Played straight in the remake versions. If you defeat the Black Knights in the beginning by using third party resources, the game will know that you cheated and sends you back to the title screen.
    • In all version, talking to Princess Hilda with different Guest Star Party Members will have her say different things. Having Minwu in the party will have Hilda say that she trusts Minwu to help Firion and friends complete their missions; if Josef is in your party, she says that she is pleased to have him assist the rebels in finding the Goddess Bell, while having Gordon in the party before obtaining Sunfire will make her chew out Gordon for suddenly disappearing and blame him for Josef's death in Snow Cavern.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Played with and subverted. You confront and kill the Emperor in a disappointingly underwhelming boss fight. Everyone begins to celebrate, when the Emperor's Dark Knight reappears to take the reins of the empire. Our heroes go to Castle Palamecia to confront him, but as soon as they do, guess who's back...
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: The Cyclone and later Castle Palamecia.
  • Disc-One Nuke: There are all sorts of ways to go about getting one of these before the first dungeon. A few of the simplest approaches:
    • Unarmed attacks. Their attack power rises with each level, and unarmed power scales faster than weapon upgrades early on. Their effectiveness falters later on, when shields become much more useful and vital to survival.
    • Grind until you can defeat the Captains roaming the streets of Fynn. They don't disappear when beaten and they drop Curse and Toad Tomes, as well as Flame Bows and Golden Armor, all of which aren't normally available until quite a bit later, as well as a fair bit of money. The Toad spell, in contrast to its normal usage, is only a Forced Transformation when used on your party members, while against enemies it functions as a One-Hit Kill. Only a few enemies are resistant to it and almost nothing is immune, not even most bosses, so with a few levels in it, that spell and the gear from the Captains can carry you through the whole game.
    • After the first few Fetch Quests, Minwu joins, and he has the Teleport spell. In addition to its traditional use of escaping dungeons, this is also a One-Hit Kill against almost anything, and with a little grinding it can work just as well as toad mentioned above. Of course, Minwu won't stay with you for long, so to make use of this you'll have to either use him on the Captains mentioned above or...
    • Reach Mysidia. The land route is inhabited by some of the most dangerous monsters in the overworld, or you can reach it as soon as you get a ship. The shops in Mysidia have the best purchasable gear in the game, giving you a large step up.
    • In all versions of the game starting with the PS1 release, there is a Concentration minigame that can be accessed while riding the Snowcraft, by holding one button (either "Accept" or "Cancel"), and hitting the other a certain number of times. Normally, the prizes aren't really worth too much of your time (up to 40,000 gil and a varying-per-platform disposable prize for no mistakes). However, by leveling up Toad to L.16, you change the game and the prizes. For 0 mistakes, no matter the version, you get the Masamune, the most powerful sword in the game.
  • Doomed Hometown: Played straight, but later inverted. Fynn falls to the Empire in the opening cutscene, and the heroes spend approximately half the game fighting to liberate it. They eventually succeed, but the rebel stronghold of Altair is destroyed in the wake of the Emperor's Cyclone. The Emperor is an equal-opportunity maniac: In fact, nearly every goddamn city in the game except the player's hometown is wiped out by either the Cyclone or the Dreadnought. There will be much rebuilding to come in the story's aftermath.
  • Downer Beginning: The protagonists narrowly escape the razing of the kingdom of Fynn in the wake of the Palamecian army, only to be immediately ambushed in a Hopeless Boss Fight. It clearly sets the tone for this game.
  • Dual Wielding: Everyone can do this with any weapon, save for bows. It can even be done with shields, sacrificing the ability to attack for increased Evasion.
  • Dumb Muscle: Guy is one of the most pronounced examples in Final Fantasy history. He's barely capable of speech (except with animals because it's All There In The Japan-exclusive Novelization that he's a Wild Child.) Then again, it might just be a language barrier, rather than outright stupidity—he (along with everyone else) can use magic, after all.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: A considerable amount, which is certainly saying something when the game in question belongs to a series practically known for soft-reinventing itself with every installment.
    • This entry in the series was enormously experimental - character advancement worked differently, conversations worked differently, plot progression worked differently, you get the idea. Very few of the mechanical changes carried on to future titles, though some of the ideas later branched off into the Romancing Saga series.
    • Chocobo's Theme is shorter in this game, the full version of the song only appearing from Final Fantasy III onwards.
    • Ricard, the first dragoon, can't use the "Jump" command.
    • The spell Ultima makes its first appearance in the series. However, it is a white magic spell instead of black magic.
  • Empty Room Psych: LOTS. You will grow to hate random doors in walls. And they all have ridiculously high encounter rates and place you away from their entrance—you're lucky to get out of them without at least one random battle. Adding insult to injury, some of what look like doors to yet more empty rooms turn out to actually contain valuable treasure or lead further into the dungeon. These rooms are excellent places for grinding in the remake versions, however.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: When the Cyclone strikes, a good number of the towns on the map are utterly destroyed. After things like the Dreadnought, you could still go in to buy potions and hear the shellshocked survivors say that their friends and family were killed. Not so here—there is simply a grey patch of ruins on the map that you cannot enter, because no one has survived. The only places spared are Fynn and far distant towns like Salamand.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Emperor is only ever referred to in the game (and in Dissidia Final Fantasy) by his title. His actual name, Mateus, only appears in the Japanese novelization of the game.
  • Evil Laugh: Minor villain Borghen has one, though for some reason in the Game Boy Advance and PSP remakes it sounds like the gobbling of a male turkey (odd, considering what was pulled off with Kefka in Final Fantasy VI on older hardware). This might be intentional, since while Kefka was an Ax-Crazy Omnicidal Maniac with the power to back it up, Borghen is a Small Name, Big Ego villain with little real power whose "boss fight" is a complete joke.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Emperor.
  • Evolving Attack: Weapon and spell skill levels. Weapons get more hits (with unarmed attacks doing more damage), while spells get stronger and have flashier animations.

  • Face–Heel Turn: Leon after his disappearance.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Even if the party somehow wins the first battle the game continues as though they lost. In the remakes, it returns to the title screen instead.
  • Fake Difficulty: In very high amounts in the beginning of both regular or Soul of Rebirth:
    • During the original's beginnings, you may face enemies that are a lot stronger than you by chance and you could either perish or defeat the opposing battle with very low HP and MP. This is taken worse when the cost of inns in the game depend on your HP, MP, and status effects, so items are a cheaper alternative at this point in the game.
    • Around the midpoint of the game, you'll encounter enemies whose normal attacks can inflict status ailments, including Confusion, Sleep, and Paralyze. Against such enemies your best option is to try and run immediately, or else they will chainstun your party for turns on end and there is little you can do but watch as they slowly kill you. Later on you'll encounter enemies whose attacks can inflict Petrify and Death, too.
    • Soul of Rebirth is no joke either, especially when you being that quest with just 2 underleveled characters. You are very likely to run from all your battles (if even allowed) until you retrieve the other 2 characters and reach a "town" to reassemble your team and equipment. The better way to minimize trouble is to overly level those characters before completing the main game.
  • Fission Mailed: The first battle is extremely one-sided, and ends with the entire party being beaten... then revived in a nearby castle, which kickstarts the plot.
  • Fragile Speedster: Equipping light armor and a shield turns a character into one of these. With high Agility and 99% evasion, most enemies can't hit the character even if they get a turn, but any physical attack that bypasses evasion may be a one-hit kill.
  • From Bad to Worse: Any time you think things are looking up, you're only setting yourself up to be proven wrong. The game is pretty much an escalation of the Emperor one-upping every move you make against him and destroying a couple towns or killing an important ally in the process.
  • Funnel Cloud Journey: After the destruction of his airship, the Emperor summons a cyclone with a castle riding on top of it to destroy every city that stands against him. You need to summon a hiryuu/wyvern to fly into the tornado and reach his castle.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: As in many Final Fantasy games, there are plenty of deaths, and no amount of Life spells will bring them back. This is also the last game to actually call defeated characters "dead" instead of "KO", so it's even more obvious. This is especially egregious when the king dies while being treated by Minwu, despite earlier having saved the main characters from their near-deaths in the first battle and knowing the Life spell as a party member.
  • Game Mod: The Mod of Balance for the GBA Dawn of Souls version. While it mainly overhauls I, does include some rebalancing for II to "'unbreak' the character development mechanics" (weapon/melee skills rank slower, magic ranks faster, stats grow more "naturally" and don't need as much grinding), weapons/armor/spells were rebalanced, enemies and bosses got reworked a bit, and the timing for obtaining certain spells was tweaked.
  • Global Airship: The first to be owned by someone named "Cid".
  • A God Am I: The Emperor.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: The fourth party slot is largely dedicated to the temporary allies who join up with the heroes over the course of the story. The Soul of Rebirth epilogue lets you play with the ones that die during the game.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Adding to the difficulty of the weird leveling system, the game never tells you several important things, making it seem even harder. Although it was removed in the remakes, the Famicom version gives almost every piece of equipment a spellcasting penalty, in the vein of D&D. The penalty for non-damage spells makes them nearly useless if your mage isn't stark naked, at least until you find some mage robes in a late dungeon.
    • Obtaining the Revive Tome in the 20th Anniversary release requires you to find Deumion before the guards on the "Guardian" floor of the Arcane Labyrinth. You can't simply walk to his home though, even if you know which one it is, you have to speak to the guards, then you have to follow them through town via the back alleys, heading them off several times. The trick is that only a certain path to try and head them off will succeed, fail and they make it to Deumion instantly. And contrary to the hint given, no you do not take the shortest path, in fact some of the paths you take are closer to the longest path. In the final segment, the guards walk straight to Deumion's house, and in a manner that defies all logic, you have to head up and trace Deumion's steps through an alley and south to his home in order to beat them there, just following them again has them get there first, but somehow taking the long way around gets you there first.
    • The world map in this game is one big continent with few small islands. Accidentally wandering off too far will result in getting ambushed by high-level monsters and unless you have done some rigorous Stat Grinding and possessing rare weapons/spells, you won't be able to walk out alive. While there are vague hints from some NPCs which you may have talked to or not, nothing in this game tells you about which place is safe to go and which place is not safe other than first-hand experience of crushing defeat during random encounters. This becomes problematic in the early part of the adventure when your party don't have a map yet and don't know where to go to advance the storyline. Read Beef Gate trope above for further explanation.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: While most of the dungeons are punishingly difficult thanks to their lack of save points, item chests being few and far between, and random encounter rates that can be extremely high, most of the actual bosses can be obliterated in just a few turns once you get your hands on some powered-up Matter elemental spells and/or the Blood Sword.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Leila accepts the party's offer to join the Rebellion after they deal with her pirates.
    • Leon, after the Emperor returns from Hell.
  • Heroes Fight Barehanded: You can focus on the barehanded fight and obtain good results.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Although any character can equip and train with any weapon, Firion starts off with a sword and his Infinity +1 Sword in the PSP version is the sword Ragnarok. Scott in Soul of Rebirth specializes in swords.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Enough for an entire second party:
    • Scott holds off the Imperial forces attacking Fynn, and is mortally wounded as a result.
    • Josef holds back a boulder loosed by Borghen to allow Firion, Maria, and Guy to escape.
    • Minwu gives his life to break the seal on the Ultima magic.
    • Ricard pulls a You Shall Not Pass! on the risen-from-Hell Emperor to allow the others to escape.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The Black Knights at the beginning are too powerful for the player characters to defeat. It is possible to win if you use cheat devices, though. While the Famicom version allows you to continue as if you had lost (albeit with whatever items and money you got from the battle), the remakes send you straight back to the title screen.
  • Hulk Speak: Guy; justified because he was raised by animals and later on adopted by humans.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: It's a safe bet that "Pandaemonium" isn't a health spa.
  • Icon of Rebellion: The Wild Rose of the Wild Rose Rebellion.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Not in game, but an official Amano illustration featured in the novelization is this all over.
  • Imposed Handicap Training: Can be Invoked by the player in combat. Your party members are fully capable of attacking or casting offensive spells on each other, which can be used to increase their stats as per the game's Stat Grinding system. In short, your party gains experience by switching the fight from "kill the goblins" to "kill the goblins while the party's fighter takes swings at you and the mage steals away your mana".
  • Inconsistent Spelling:
    • Frioniel was changed to Firion in the English translation for name-space restrictions; Leonhart to Leon for the same reason. Guy was named Gus in the PSX translation, but then renamed to Guy for the GBA. Same goes for Minwu (renamed "Mindu" in the PSX version).
    • Mr. Highwind is a particularly egregious example. He was called Edward in the translation of the prototype English version for the NES, Gareth in the PSX translation, and Ricard on the GBA and PSP versions. The latter is the most faithful to his original Japanese name, Richard, but the strict six-letter limit for party member names required it be trimmed down to a variation of the name, instead. In Dissidia Final Fantasy, his name on the Player Icons of him is translated faithfully as "Richard", in all the name's seven-letter glory.
    • Thunder and Blizzard in the original were changed to Lit-x and Ice-x respectively, where 'x' is the spell's level. In the Origins version, a certain White Magic was named 'Life'. In the European version of the GBA port, this became Raise.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Excalibur, as well as the strongest weapons of each non-sword weapon type.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Masamune. The GBA version gives each of the characters in Soul of Rebirth their own exclusive ultimate weapon (save for Josef, who instead gets an exclusive piece of armor) and the PSP version gives every character in the main game a unique ultimate weapon from the Bonus Dungeon.
  • Interface Spoiler: There is a cape east of Mysidia that is about a quarter of the length of the world map, but is completely empty. Guess where the Jade Passage opens up at the end of the game?
  • Kansas City Shuffle: When they go to rescue the real princess, the Emperor turns out to have faked an entire gladiatorial match just to set a trap for them. And the original airship? Turns out it wasn't his only idea for an aerial super weapon, or even the most dangerous. His friggin' castle has a booby trap on its top floor that drops down several floors, apparently just so it's impossible for anyone to land on his roof and assassinate him with a sneak attack.
  • Keywords Conversation: The game is the only entry in the series to use these.
  • Kicked Upstairs: The Emperor gets killed by the heroes... he can't do any harm dead, right? Well, actually, you kicked him upstairs to becoming the ruler of the entire afterlife (since the Emperor's soul split into two for some reason and ruled Heaven and Hell, respectively).
  • The Legions of Hell: According to the opening, the monsters roaming the land were summoned from the underworld by the Emperor, to help him in Taking Over The World.
  • Level-Map Display: Pressing a combination of buttons on the Overworld Not to Scale displays its zoomed-out version.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Light Emperor.
  • Loveable Rogue:
    • Leila. She tries to hold you up when you first meet her, but once she joins the team, she apparently loses her every villainous desire and proves herself to be a trustworthy ally. She even briefly leads the rebel army while Princess Hilda is imprisoned and Prince Gordon joins the heroes to rescue her.
    • Paul is this as well; while an admitted thief, he claims to only steal from the Empire and helps you out a few times in your quest.
  • Mage Tower: The Mysidian Tower, where the Infinity +1 Spell Ultima is sealed away.
  • Magic Knight: A possible way to build your characters. In the older versions, physical and magical stats would sometimes lower when using the other, though there is a net gain. The remakes remove lowering stats, making this much easier.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Status-affecting spells. At low levels, they're likely to miss entirely. Once you level them up a bit, they can greatly improve your stats or devastate enemies.
    • Gordon. He starts with the lowest HP of any Guest-Star Party Member, but his high base stats allow him to catch up quickly and fit any role the player wishes to build him in.
    • Even in versions of the game where it works properly, Ultima is this. The spell calculates its damage based on every single spell and weapon skill level the caster has and not just its own, giving it a spectacularly high damage ceiling... but also making it weaker than average if you didn't go around Level Grinding your spellcaster's entire arsenal.
  • Meaningful Name: Borghen's name likely comes from the blatantly corrupt House of Borgia.
  • The Medic: Minwu. He joins your party with excellent magic attributes and has nearly every White Magic spell learned and at high levels.
  • Metal Slime: Iron Giants appear only rarely on one specific floor of the final dungeon, and they have a habit of running away as their HP starts to run low. If you do manage to bring one down, though, there's a good chance you'll be rewarded with additional copies of the game's otherwise-unique Infinity Plus or Minus One Gear for your trouble.
  • Mighty Glacier: Guy starts with the highest power and the most HP but the lowest agility of the main characters.
  • Mordor: Palamecia lies nestled in an impenetrable mountain range surrounded by the largest desert in the world.
  • Mugging the Monster: Leila first meets your party when she gets nine of her crew to attack you. After a rather effortless battle, she wisely switches sides.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: The Emperor again. It's very possible his plan was to let himself be killed by the heroes when he's in the Cyclone, since after his death, he takes over the entire afterlife and comes back stronger.
  • Mythology Gag: You need to defeat a group of pirates in order to get the captain to give you their ship. There’s also a familiar looking multi-headed dragon boss to fight in Pandaemonium.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: If you have not read the manual, Guy, who speaks only a few times in the entire game, will suddenly and conveniently reveal his ability to speak beaver at a critical juncture.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: What reportedly happens in remakes if you beat the Elite Mook Hopeless Boss Fight in the opening sequence. It's not a Game Over per se, but it does take you back to the title screen as a Game Over would, instead of continuing the game.
  • North Is Cold, South Is Hot: Played straight. The world map has a vast snowfield stretching on the northern part, while the southern part has two deserts and a tropical island.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Additional information states that Firion is Maria and Leon's adoptive brother. This works out well for Maria, since canonically she's in love with him, and the novel makes them an Official Couple.
  • Not the Intended Use:
    • Using the Swap spell to turn you into a statistical Physical God. Its intended use was likely for emergency HP/MP refill purposes.
    • Due to the way character advancement work in this game, it is possible (and in fact recommendable) to have each character start each battle early on with 2 shields, and just run around slaying hornets and goblins. The reason for this is that when you have shields in both hands, the characters cannot attack, but they will grow proficient with shields really fast. Later on in the game, when shields are practically necessary for survival, it pays off to have increased this skill early on.
    • It is possible to raise Esuna and Basuna proficiency level quickly by using them on your party and enemies alike in midst of battles even when no one suffers any ailment status, as this game counts every usage of magic, including the "missed" ones. Low proficiency of Esuna magic can only heal Poison and Darkness, while decent proficiency of Esuna magic can heal Amnesia and Curse, and higher proficiency of Esuna magic can heal more severe ailment status such as Toad and Stone. Likewise with Basuna which cures temporary status ailment, on high proficiency it can heal Paralysis and even Confusion.
  • Oddball in the Series: Compared to other Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy II is among the most experimental and a good number of the new elements it introduces haven't seen hardly any in subsequent games:
    • Getting stronger uses a "learn/grow by doing" system where getting stronger with specific weapons or spells requires using them over and over. Instead of getting stronger versions of spells with different names (Fire, Fira, and Firaga for example), you'd power up a single spell up to sixteen levels. Likewise, raising your stats also requires grinding, such as getting hit (foe or friend) to raise your HP. Other games would stick to the traditional leveling and gear system, though the Job system introduced in Final Fantasy III could be considered an evolution of II's leveling system.
    • The overworld leans more towards Wide-Open Sandbox where you can almost go anywhere at the risk of running into a Beef Gate if you're not careful.
    • Keywords would be highlighted when talking to certain NPCs and you could learn them to ask a different NPC about them if they knew about the subject.
    • Ultima, despite being touted as the ultimate destructive magic, is actually extremely weak, even if you level it up (subverted in the remakes). Ultima would live up to its name in future titles.
    • The majority of the settlements get completely wrecked by the Big Bad and they don't start recovering until after his demise. No other Final Fantasy pulls off the same kind of destruction that affects the gameplay, though some certainly come close.
  • Older Is Better: In the Famicom version, this is actually averted with Ultima, the legendary ancient magic, which turns out to be useless when you finally get it. This was originally a bug, but the lead programmer refused to fix it specifically because he liked the idea of averting this trope and felt it made more sense for the ancient magic to be completely obsolete. Even in later versions, Ultima is... impractical, to say the least.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Emperor Mateus goes from wanting to rule the world in life to wanting to destroy it after coming back from Hell.
  • Ominous Floating Castle:
    • The Cyclone is a flying fortress which generates an artificial tornado around itself.
    • Once the Emperor returns from Hell, the imperial palace is transmogrified into Pandaemonium.
  • One-Time Dungeon: The Dreadnought, the Cyclone, and Palamecia castle cannot be re-entered after the party exits them.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Emperor, twice if you count Soul of Rebirth.
  • Pirates: Leila and her crew. Granted, the fight against them is one of the easiest in the game, so they're probably not very good pirates, but at least they're nice enough to join up with you and let you use their ship after you beat them. (Leila herself seems to be the spiritual predecessor to another purple-haired female pirate captain, Faris of Final Fantasy V.)
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • Just to the south of Altair, the city you start in, is a peninsula that features enemies normally found across the water,note  which can be fought to increase party members' stats to a greater degree than with the enemies normally found in the area. However, once you get the canoe, you can walk anywhere in the game world, where there are plenty of extremely powerful enemies to pummel, in contrast to how the original "Peninsula of Power" from Final Fantasy was one of a kind.
    • While trying to fight the captains in imperial-occupied Fynn, there is an exercise in futility when you first arrive, once you return with Minwu (and thus a backrow caster with access to hundreds of castings of area Life), beating them becomes trivial as long as you keep reviving your teammates. Thus, you have a region of high-level, instantly-respawning enemies with good loot just a hop, skip, and a canoe ride away from a convenient city. Since Minwu (temporarily) joins the party just after the first visit to Fynn, this technique can easily produce a Disk One Nuke.
  • Percent Damage Attack: The Blood Sword drains 1/16 of the target's max HP per hit. This can also be used against you by certain enemies whose basic physical attacks have Blood Sword-like properties. As well, the Sap spell is an interesting example of this being applied to a Mana Burn ability, dividing the target's MP based on the caster's Sap proficiency level.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Keyword "Ultima Tome" (or Ultima Scroll) can only be obtained by talking to Prince Gordon after the party reclaim Fynn and then learn about the keyword "Mysidia" from Princess Hilda. Obtaining the keyword "Ultima Tome", while not mandatory, will make the adventure much easier because the player can ask various NPCs about it and can even look for information about it at Mysidia library. Remember that once the party successfully obtain the White Mask from Castle Fynn's secret basement, the party will lose the chance to get the keyword.
    • Treasure chests in certain areas (namely Dreadnought, Leviathan, Cyclone, and Castle Palamecia) that were left unopened will be lost because once you finish what you have to do there, you can never visit those places again.
    • Desert monsters "Land Ray" (or Sand Ray) and "Antlion" in the original game, PlayStation remake, and Dawn of Souls version can only be fought on World Map random encounters around the Beef Gate desert area near Colosseum and Palamecia castle. If the party completes Ultima Tome quest before defeating at least one Land Ray and one Antlion, the Emperor will call upon Cyclone which rearranges most of the World Map monsters' placement; Land Ray will disappear completely from the game while Antlion will be replaced by Scissorjaws.
    • "Phorusrhacos" monster in the original game, PlayStation remake, and Dawn of Souls version can only be fought on World Map random encounters around the Beef Gate northern area of Fynn. If the party completes Ultima Tome quest before defeating at least one Phorusrhacos, the Emperor will call upon Cyclone which rearranges most of the World Map monsters' placement and Phorusracos will disappear completely from the game, leaving one empty space in the player's bestiary files. Averted in the Anniversary Version, where Phorusrhacos can be encountered again if the player choose to take Arcane Labyrinth challenge.
    • Undead monster "Skull" (or Death Mask) in the original game, PlayStation remake, and Dawn of Souls version can only be fought on random encounters in Palamecia Castle. After the party completes Palamecia Castle quest, the revived Demon Emperor will destroy the whole castle, making it unvisitable. If the party fail to defeat at least one Skull while still inside the castle, the player will have no other chance to fight them again, leaving one empty space in the player's bestiary files. Averted in the Anniversary Version, where Skull can be encountered again if the player choose to take Arcane Labyrinth challenge.
  • Plotline Death:
    • No less than three player characters bite it during the course of the game - Josef is the first to go, getting crushed to death by a boulder after the party takes care of Borghen. Next is Minwu, who has to sacrifice all his life energy to give the party access to Ultima. Finally, Ricard sticks around Palamecia Castle for a few fatal minutes in order to allow the party time to escape while the resurrected Emperor is busy tearing the place apart.
    • Cid perishes from his wounds after his airship is clipped by the Cyclone. It's the first (but by no means the last) time his namesake has died in Final Fantasy.
    • In the GBA remake, the Soul of Rebirth mode has you play as those three characters, plus Scott to take out a strange being who's taken over the afterlife. Cid's soul also appears in this realm.
  • Post-End Game Content: Beating the game unlocks Soul of Rebirth, and also access to the Arcane Labyrinth in the PSP version.
  • Power Up Letdown: A bestiary example; Pit Fiend is supposed to be a stronger Palette Swap of Imp, with the former having higher HP and MP than the latter. Pit Fiend has powerful offensive spells such as Fire XVI and Stun XVI which can cause trouble to the player, but it cannot cast Confusion like its weaker counterpart. As elemental-based spells are much easier to defend against compared to mind-based spells, the player's party would be strong enough to resist Pit Fiend at the point they reach Jade's Passage.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake begins playing during a particularly dramatic sequence.
    • After the first defeat of the Emperor, the entire kingdom dances to Johann Strauss' (ironically titled) Emperor Waltz.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: By the time the party finally defeats the Emperor for good, half the game's towns have been reduced to wreckage you can't even enter anymore, and at least half the world's population is killed, including a full third of the playable characters. It may be a victory, but at one hell of a cost.
  • Rare Candy: The orbs at the top of Mysidia Tower increase a specific stat on a random party member by 10 points.
  • Recurring Boss: Phrekyos can be fought as many times as the player wants, and must be fought several times throughout the game to get all characters' ultimate weapons. Phrekyos' stats and abilities depend on the number of main story Key Terms the party has learnt.
  • Retroactive Legacy:
    • Originally, the dragoon Kain from FFIV shared Ricard Highwind's surname as a Call-Back. The GBA remake of II brings things full-circle by giving the little boy who survived the poisoning of their homeland Deist the name Kain.
    • And one of the game manuals to IV (Final Fantasy IV Settei Shiryou Hen, for those curious) says that the person who left the Deathbringer sword with King Fabul was named Leon, and that after the events of the game, Leon renounced his status as a Dark Knight and became a priest, an obvious parallel to Cecil's own atonement quest (and eventual class change to a Paladin).
  • Revive Kills Zombie: The first Final Fantasy game to utilize it.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Fynn has Princess Hilda who leads the Wild Rose rebellion force as the strategist and gives various tips to Firion's party. The King of Fynn also counts as this, as he was the original leader of Wild Rose rebellion force before he got injured by an imperial archer and was replaced by Hilda.
    • Kashuan has Prince Scott who got severely wounded by imperial soldiers and was forced to hide in the secret room of Fynn's bar, and eventually succumbs to his Owound after talking to Firion's party. There is also Prince Gordon who teams up with Firion's party on several occasions, and despite his flaws, he is proven to be pretty knowledgeable about Ultima, something Hilda doesn't know.

  • Scenery Dissonance: Type 1. Hell looks like a pink and green crystalline palace.
  • Scratch Damage: Averted. It is entirely possible for attacks to do zero damage if the target's Defense is high enough.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The portal to Hell was closed in the distant past using Ultima, until the Emperor somehow breaks the seal and brings Pandaemonium back into the world.
  • See You in Hell: When Borghen triggers a boulder trap in his final moments, he says "I'll be waiting for you in Hell!" The trope becomes quite literal when you do, in fact, see Borghen again in Hell. He even challenges you to a rematch, although he's still not an especially dangerous combatant.
  • Sequence Breaking: The dungeons can only be visited in the order the game lets you due to such locations being inaccessible until you acquire the next MacGuffin or a new mode of transportation. The towns however, can be visited in any order you like because right as you start the game you're free to wander the world as you wish. Beef Gates will hamper your efforts, but if you don't mind grinding for both battle proficiency and money (and testing your party's luck), you can head to Mysidia the second you leave Altair. Shops in Mysidia sell some of the best magic tomes, gears and weapons in the game. Obtaining some of those magic tomes and learning it as soon as possible will make later part of the game more tolerable.
  • Shmuck Bait: Your first major destination has Empire soldiers raiding a town as you search for Leon. All the soldiers going around can be talked to like anyone else — at which point you're put into a battle that, at that point of the game short of extreme overgrinding, is going to wipe you out. You've got to entirely ignore and not bump into them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the re-release, Cid's tiny airship is gobbled up by the Dreadnought in another homage to Square's favorite film, A New Hope.
    • This game has the series’ first appearance of the Coeurl as an enemy type.
    • After Firion and his allies defeat the Lamia Queen, he has this to say to Leila.
    Firion: Leila...just how much of that did you see?
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The story falls pretty close into cynicism, although Firion, Maria, and Guy are 100% dedicated to the cause. They overcome the Emperor's oppression and save the world... what's left of it, anyway.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Every fourth party member who leaves your party permanently will take their weapons and armor with them forever. This actually serves a purpose in Soul of Rebirth, though, where three of your four player characters were playable in the main game, so it'll be easier if you left good equipment on them. However, you're out of luck if one of your party members leaves without dying, since you won't be using them in Soul of Rebirth.
  • So Proud of You: In the Soul of Rebirth ending, the deceased party expresses this towards the main party and their loved ones.
    Minwu: If anyone can change our legacy of violence, they can.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Played with. You can freely roam the map, but if you visit the locations in sequential order, the enemies' ranks rise by 1 or 2 every few areas. About halfway through the game, the random encounters all get replaced to compete with your newfound power. Sometimes justified by how important the area is to the Emperor or, occasionally, a third party.
  • Special Ability Shield: in this game engine, shields work by increasing the wielder's evasion rate. But this has the side-effect of characters becoming faster when equipping shields.
  • Stripperiffic:
    • Maria wears half a shirt with a metal cup covering one breast, being the first heroine in a long line of these in the series. Her appearance in the Origins and PSP FMV cutscene shows her wearing a completely different outfit with more to it.
    • Not to be outdone, Guy wears a chestplate that bares his midriff and what can only be described as bikini briefs in his artwork. Most versions of the game have him wearing modest green clothing, but in the PSP version, his battle sprite is faithful to his artwork.
  • Stat Grinding: One of the first games to do this.
  • Superboss: A sort of primitive example, crossed with Metal Slime and Boss in Mook Clothing, in the form of the Iron Giants in the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Like the first game's WarMECH enemy, Iron Giants are rare, but powerful, encounters who only show up in one specific room. Remakes add more modern examples in the forms of Phrekyos and Deumion.
  • Suspend Save: Added to the handheld ports and Final Fantasy Origins.
  • Taking You with Me: Borghen springs a boulder trap just before his death to kill the heroes, succeeding in killing Josef.
  • Thematic Sequel Logo Change: The game's original logo was written in italics in purple and light blue, with golden edges. The letters vaguely look like a dragon. As with the first game, when it was redone for the 20th anniversary, the standard font was added along with a drawing of The Emperor (the antagonist of the game) in pink.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Ricard tells the Emperor that he "might have some trouble slaying the last of the Dragoons." The Emperor's response? He blows up the entire castle that they're standing in. Admittedly, he needed to do that anyway to raise Pandaemonium in its place, but it just goes to show that the Emperor doesn't screw around any more in undeath than in life.
  • This Isn't Heaven: Inverted. In Soul of Rebirth, Cid is the first to realize that the setting isn't Hell.
  • Throne Room Throwdown: In the GBA and PSP remakes only, the Final Boss of both the main game and Soul of Rebirth are seated on a crystal throne before and during the fight, fitting for the Emperor of Hell and Heaven respectively. Averted for the original Famicom release, in which the final boss is fought in a featureless void.
  • Unbuilt Trope:
    • Between its unreasonable difficulty level and brutal death count, this 1988 game takes the usually cheerful standard 90s JRPG story of La Résistance out to fight The Empire and makes it as gritty as the NES allows for. Your plucky orphans are traumatized young adults who have nowhere else to go, no idea what they're doing, and admit it, while the other resistance members insult your characters for it. The heroes win many important victories against the Empire, but once The Emperor gets his hands on the Cyclone, he devastates much of the world before the heroes can stop him, unlike other main antagonists, who might be thwarted before they do any significant damage. Even at the end of the game, Maria fails to reunite with her brother, and Firion, rather than trying to stop Leon from leaving, says the war has changed him, although he holds out hope for Leon's return. This was the first Final Fantasy game that had a proper plot and defined characters.
    • Note also that the Final Fantasy gender roles appear subversive here, with a male White Mage (who's even given a plot about sacrificing himself to unseal a spell that would be later associated with romantic heroines like Aerith and Yuna), and Maria, a warrior with the kind of subplot about her evil brother that would later be exclusively associated with Mangsty male heroes like Cecil and Basch - but only because the gender roles hadn't been written yet.
    • Mechanically, this is one of the first games with "improve by doing" system. So how do you improve your HP? By hitting each other.
    • Everyone knows you're supposed to Talk to Everyone in a JRPG. Not so much in FFII, where most early areas are populated by genuinely dangerous guard enemies who will slaughter you for talking to them.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Leila mysteriously disappears in the middle of the sea when the ship is swallowed by the Leviathan, then reappears in Altair's Castle with no explanation.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • The Ultima spell. Intended to gain power based on all of its caster's spell levels rather than just its own, the implementation of this scaling was deliberately bugged and non-functional in the original Famicom versions. The spell still manages to be decent enough if leveled up, but it's hardly worth it so late in the game. While the remakes fix the bug that disabled Ultima's intended power scaling mechanics, it still requires a lot of high-level spells and time grinding up its own level for it to catch up with the other spells you'll likely have honed by that point.
    • The Fear spell, which usage is to frighten enemies into fleeing from battles so you won't have to risk your lives. While this looks good on paper, unfortunately, Boss monsters are immune against this spell. This spell also tends to miss a lot of times before you properly level it up, and even if the spell does its job, fleeing enemies don't give you any money, item drop, or even experiences (since technically you never beat them in a battle), meaning your magician uses their MP for nothing. The Pixel Remaster doubled down on making the Fear spell useless, giving all enemies a set chance at fleeing from battle.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Pandaemonium, after not one but two Disc One Final Dungeons, and a grueling cave you have to slog through in order to reach the dungeon itself.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Grinding your characters faster by forcing them into attacking themselves.
    • In the Anniversary Edition, you can fight and kill Deumion, the non-villainous guardian of the Arcane Labyrinth, for the Destroy Tome (not long after befriending him and restoring his faith in humanity).
  • Violation of Common Sense: Due to how each stat is leveled (through use), you get some very gimmicky ways of leveling up certain ones.
    • HP is most easily leveled by either repeatedly hitting yourself, or by using Swap to knock your HP down to low levels, and then healing yourself back up.
    • Similarly, MP is leveled with use, so the easiest way to increase MP is to use Sap on yourself over and over again to get it to low levels, finish the battle to register the leveling, and then sleep at an inn to restore it all for cheap.
    • Shield can be easily leveled by equipping two shields on everyone, going into an encounter and tanking hit after hit, and then winning the battle with some low level magic.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Firion averts it by being the hero. Mateus plays it straight by being the villain, though he's more platinum-blond than white or silver.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To Star Wars, especially A New Hope. Princess Hilda = Princess Leia, Dreadnaught and Cyclone = Death Star, Dark Knight / Leon = Vader / Anakin, The Emperor = The Emperor, Empire = Empire, Rebels = Rebels. Rebels being chased and overtaken by The Empire at the start of the game? Check. The heroes seeking the aid of a pilot with a form of fast transportation? Check. A party member making a Heroic Sacrifice (and being completely calm and accepting of it) to motivate the heroes to fight on? Check. A huge doomsday weapon that threatens the world/galaxy? Check. A family member of the heroes becoming The Dragon to the Big Bad? Check. Said Dragon having a Heel Realization near the end? Check. The Big Bad himself being the Emperor? Check. The Big Bad having plans for a second doomsday weapon? Check.
  • White Mage: This game bucks the trend somewhat with Minwu, who is one of the rare males in FF history to canonically be a White Mage.
  • Wild Child: Guy. According to the All There in the Manual backstory, this is the official explanation for his being able to talk with animals, as well as his somewhat lacking grammar.
  • Womb Level: Leviathan. Apparently his first appearance before he shows up as a summon in later FF games, he's a dungeon in this one, and you're walking around in his guts.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: A story regarding Ultima suggests one programmer chose not to fix the bug that made it nearly useless in the original Famicon version (and even prevented others from fixing it) because he thought it was funny that an ancient technique would logically be unimpressive compared to spells developed later on.
  • You Bastard!: Choosing to kill Deumion in the latter remakes does not cast you in a positive light.
  • You Rebel Scum!: "Rebel curs!" is the last thing you will hear before a brutal ass-whooping.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Ricard gets to do this in Palamecia Castle, when he takes on the resurrected Emperor, who's now wielding the powers of Hell, to buy the rest of your party time to escape.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: At one point in the game, Princess Hilda, the leader of the rebel force, gets kidnapped. You have to sneak onto the Empire's warship, where she's being held, and break her out. It turns out that the Hilda you rescued isn't the real princess, but a Lamia Queen disguised as her, sent by the Emperor as part of a plot to kill you. Said plot involves the Lamia Queen, as Hilda, getting Firion alone and trying to seduce him. And although he's flustered at first, he almost falls for it. The only thing that saves him is Leila kicking the door in at the last minute, right as the Lamia Queen turns into her actual monstrous form, so the party can team up to kill her.

"Rebel curs!"
The party was defeated.

Alternative Title(s): Final Fantasy 2