Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon review
A New Feel
-Size of the Town
Final Fantasy is a series known for it's turn-based gameplay, excellent music, and die-hard fanboys. Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon does it differently. Chocobo's Dungeon modifies the turn-based gameplay that fans of FF have loved for years, and remixes its music for a fresh experience.
First, let's start with the story. You play as the treasure hunter Chocobo, who is a sidekick to Cid. They appear in a desert, in search for the Timeless Treasure, which is a gem that can power anything, which they want to use for Cid's grandfathers flying machine. They find themselves in the Tower in the Sands, were the Timeless Power is. This is where you come in. This Tower is a tutorial for the game.
The gameplay in this game is a mix of real-time and turn-based, and it serves the game incredibly well. Every time Chocobo does something; weather it be move, heal, attack, or pick something up, a turn passes. When he is done, the enemy moves, attacks, etc. It seems it may move slow, but it is very fluent, because most of the time, you don't know where the enemy is, and the game moves fast enough that you don't notice.
The dungeons are set up the same, a few floors of enemies, and then either a miniboss, or the boss. There are only four dungeons in the game that have real final bosses, meaning, that the bosses aren't just enemies you encounter later, just enlarged. After you beat one of the real bosses, you get an item that allows you to use a special attack that they actually use.
During the gameplay, you can collect weapons, which are Talons, and defensive items, which are Saddles, and you can equip them to make your attack and defense better. These items can't be used up, and are able to be upgraded, with honing from the forge, or fusing them with different talons/saddles that have special properties, such as never rusting, protection from elements, or being able to regain hp faster. Another way to make your Chocob batter is by leveling up. After you get a certain amount of experience points, you are able to increase your HP, Attack, Defense, Magic, and Phsyche.
In the dungeon, you can use abilities, which are powerful attacks, healing HP, increasing attack, etc., and using it is determined by SP. SP is the determination in which every special ability is able to be used. The gauge is made of several SP points, and ever other turn, you gain a little of it back. You can use Ethers to recover it faster. Another thing that is needed to be kept an eye on, the Food Percentage. After several turns in the dungeon, the number goes down by one, and if it reaches zero, then Chocobo loses one HP every turn, and it can add up after a while. To keep it up, you must feed Chocobo food, which can be found, or bought.
Another thing that can slow Chocobo down in dungeons are traps. Most traps are hidden, and some can actually be helpful. The helpful traps can restore HP, make you less hungry, or transport you to a different spot on the floor. Most traps are hurtful though. They can be uncovered by attacking an empty space near Chocobo. If you step on a trap, then several things can happen to you. You can be poisoned, can be halted on spot, can be silenced, which means you are not able to use your abilities, or many other things can happen. Sometimes in dungeons, there are these glowing white traps with an elaborate design in the middle. These can be one of two things, either a dueling room, where you can win Pop Up Cards, or Job Points, or they can be a Moogle store, where you can buy items you may need, or sell them for more money than usual. In the dueling rooms, you can either face an enlarged and more powerful regular enemy, or face an actual miniboss, whom can be challenging.
After you are done with the tutorial, the game launches you into another beautiful cutscene, where you meet some old friends, Irma and Volg. But, oh no! They got the Timeless Power, and after you see them, there's a giant energy blast-thing, and you are launched into the game! After the opening, you land in a piazza, near a bell-tower. But Irma and Volg aren't anywhere near by, they got away. When Cid and Chocobo get up, they see they're in a town. And shortly after, a man comes and greets them as Mayor Gale. He explains that this town is called Lost Time, and it has been there forever. Then another comes, a girl named Shirma, who says that this town steals the memories of the people when they hear the Bell of Oblivion ring. And it happens then, the bell rings. Shirma gets Cid and Chocobo away from the town, to her Aunt Stella's farm, where the bell can't be heard. Well Cid heard it, and it stole some of his memories. Shirma goes to show Chocobo the town while Cid rests, and in the same piazza that they came through, a meteor falls out of the sky to there, only it's not a meteor, it's an egg, and inside the egg is a baby, whom, is named Raffaelleo, since Mayor Gale seems to know. The baby goes inside Mayor Gale's mind, and Chocobo is able to follow.It is a dungeon, and after Chocobo beats it, Mayor Gale is able to remember everything he forgot, thanks to that bell. Now Chocobo is able to go into anyones mind. The boy named Raffaelleo comes out, and it able to talk all of a sudden. They go back to the farm, and Cid seems to be in trouble. Well, the same thing that happened for Gale happens for Cid, but Chocobo is able to go into his mind. After he recovers Cid's memory, Cid is fine. The next day, Chocobo is able to explore the town.
This is the main hub for all of the dungeons you encounter in the game. You can buy items, store them, complete new memories, hone your weapons, check your jobs, remove curses from weapons, replay dungeons, continue the story, and even play minigames.
The minigames in this game are pretty good, and the standout is the card battles, called "Pop-Up Duels". Throughout the game, you can collect the cards, by defeating minibosses, decoding the letters you receive, and finding them in dungeons. The duels are simple, you go, your opponent goes, rinse and repeat. Each of you receives 20 hp to start out the battle, and before each turn, you are able to pick one card out of the three that are randomly chosen from the deck you create. Some cards are simple to use, you pick it, and it attacks and defends. Some require crystal power, or CP, which is determined by the color of the cards you have played. If you have the right kind and quantity, them you are able to do either extra damage, or a special effect, whether it may be change all of your remaining CPs to a certain color, destroy your opponents CPs, or heal yourself. You can either play against the computer, or against a friend via WiFi. The WiFi works well, but there is no voice chat, and is there are friendcodes.
The additional minigames are used to acquire more cards. There are only two after the duels, and they are a shooting gallery with enemies you encounter throughout the game, and kick darts, which is regular darts. If you get bored after the minigames, there isn't much to do other than dungeons, plant flowers which can help you in battle, fish, which you can sell for money, or give to the Chocobo in the bank for more storage space, or you can give passwords to the Moogle in the Silo on the farm. You can acquire more cards, or you can get a new job.
Jobs return from past installments of the series. After you complete the Pastor at the churches memory, you are able to use them. There are nine in total, and each have eight different levels. Each one has different characteristics from one-another, and each have different stats from the natural job.
Now, after you complete the barman's memory, you are able to listen to the game's music at will. This is one of the best points of the game. Almost the entire library of music in this game are remixes of songs from the past FF games. The other ones are originals from the past. The remixes are incredibly well done.
Now to as low point, the graphics. If I knew better, I would have guessed this were intended for the Gamecube, but was ported. They are bad. Up close, you can see how uneven the terrain is, and even how ugly the characters are. The animations are as bad, if not worse. Everytime a character tries to move in a cutscene, they have one very slow running animation, and it looks like they are gliding on the horrible looking ground. The mouths for the characters follows one line of dialogue, and then repeats it, no matter what the character is actually saying.
That brings me to the actual voice acting. It isn't as bad as the graphics, not nearly as bad as the animations, but it doesn't have the quality that a "next gen" game should.
All in all, this is a great RPG, where veterans or newcomers alike can play and have a very enjoyable experience.
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