I know Final Fantasy doesn't exactly count as a "niche" series, but I've been playing it for the first time recently and just marveling at what a weird, weird game it is. It's a pretty clear forerunner to the SaGa series, and IIRC it was even directed by the person who would go on to create the SaGa games.
First of all, the straight-up leveling system from the first game is gone, replaced with a "use certain attacks to power them up" system. This is cool if you want your characters to be equally good at everything, since you can just slap whatever weapons on them and fight a few battles to level up their axe/sword/dagger/etc skills, but unfortunately the same thing happens with magic. So as a result, ALL of your magic starts out really weak. I tried to use Esuna in battle to cure a status effect and it ended up missing because I rarely used it in the first place :'^)
It's a real shame that the game is so mechanically lopsided and grindy, because I really like the story so far. It's one of those "rebels fight against the evil empire" stories, except you actually do clash with the Empire at nearly every turn, infiltrating their warships and falling into their traps. It feels way more tight-knot and intimate in that way than, like, FF6 does, since 6 has a much bigger world and you're constantly exploring little tangential stories in it.
Anyway, I very rarely hear anyone talk about FF2, so I was wondering if anyone else here has played it. (For the record, I'm playing the Dawn of Souls version on the GBA.)