Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales DS


Developer: H.A.N.D
Publisher: Square-Enix
Released: April 2007
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Multiplayer: Yes & WiFi
Genre: Adventure

[Edit: After reading the review in the April edition of EGM they mention the lack of "download play" for multiplayer, so I'll have to check on that when my friend comes back in May, we'll try out the multiplayer option and see if it's true.]

[Edit: 06/05/07 Well, I tried to play multiplayer with my friend when we went to NYC and it didn't work.

Official Website - An interactive 2D website with information on all aspects of the game. Has movie clips of gameplay and shows how you interact with the game.

Hours played: Approx. 6 hours, reached the tree in the forest and unlocked all but a few of the challenges in two of the books and three of the minigames.

Synopsis: You play as a chocobo who must save your friends from an
evil book that imprisoned them. Through a series of card battles and mini-games you have to find and save all the chocobos in the chocobo farm. The books consist of common fairy tales like "The Admantoise and the Cactuar" in place of "The Tortoise and the Hare" or "Titan and the Beanstalk" instead of "Jack and the Beanstalk".

Tutorial: None, they have instructions integrated into the gameplay, which is a staple with most Final Fantasy games. The beginning of the mini-games also have instructions on how to play, although they can be misinterpreted at times resulting in frustration. The card battling is also explained with terms and examples and you're able to practice with other characters.

Story/Characters: The story is simple, and appropriate for this game, you have to save your friends from bad guys through playing mini-games in enchanted books. You also see familiar characters like Cid and Shirma the white mage.

Graphics/Cinematics: 3D top down view, I immediately thought of Final Fantasy III when I started playing. It even has the drop down menu on the right side of the screen. No cut scenes, the whole story is in-game.

Interface: Clean, simple, and similar to the "blue FF7" screens. What I liked about it was it wasn't overly crowded, everything was visible. My only gripe would be in the card screen, selecting and creating new decks were troublesome at first.

Sound/Audio/Voice Acting: If you are a fan of the series you'll recognize many of the songs in the game. Both sound effects and songs has been sampled from previous FF games. There was no voice acting in the game.

Gameplay/Controls: Very good, the game is entirely by stylus. I didn't have any trouble with sensitivity or accuracy. I find it interesting though with the level of difficulty, this should not be marketed towards a younger audience, some of the mini-games are hard to accomplish (they are more complicated than Wario Ware, I'll have to check if they're more difficult than Raving Rabbids for DS later). I've also seen a lot of reviews complaining about the difficulty which causes a dilemma because to get better cards you have to unlock them in the harder versions of the mini-games.

Replay value: Medium, depending on if you unlock everything first, it will make you want to go back and unlock everything to get all the cards. The multiplayer also encourages replay through playing with friends.

Learning Curve: Easy-Moderate

+ Uses many great Final Fantasy songs
+ Many different mini-games and ranging difficulties
+ Great interface and use of top screen (for maps, in-game cinematics)
+ Great graphics identical to Final Fantasy III for DS

- Some mini-games are pretty demanding for the casual gamer
- Confusing instructions for the games & takes multiple tries to figure out
- Card battling system can be hard to get used to
- The card battles can get tedious

Summary: Hardcore fans of Final Fantasy who like mini-games will love this, I know it sounds obvious but you really do have to love challenging mini-games because that and card battling make up the entire game.

Score: 7/10

Some screens from the website