Thursday, September 11, 2008

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales (DS) Review

My Chocobo's Dungeon Wii review should be posted tomorrow evening. In the meantime, I thought it would be an ample opportunity to look back on the original Final Fantasy Fables known as Chocobo Tales for the Nintendo DS. This review was probably one of the first twenty I ever wrote, so you can hopefully see the difference in quality from then up to now. It's so old that the usual "SuperPhillip Says" section was simply called the boring name of "The Recap". I've taken the liberty of changing that as I posted this review today on SuperPhillip Central.


You really CAN'T judge a book by its cover.

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Deep into the world of Final Fantasy of yore and legend does Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales delve into. From the colorful cast of characters ranging from chocobos of all colors and varieties to humans such as the airship captain, the Final Fantasy universe is all accounted for. You'll meet Chocobos (of course), a black mage, a white mage, Bombs, Cactaurs, Adamantoises, summons such as Shiva and Ifrit, Iron Giants, Behemoths, and more in your journey.

The game begins with a picturesque view of Shirma, a white mage, sitting on a stump reading a fairy tale to a group of listening Chocobo. Suddenly, a black mage, Croma, enters with a mysterious book and shows it off to the watching crowd. Then the novel becomes a powerful entity known as Bebuzzu, an evil talking book. With his power, he swallows numerous Chocobo straight from the town, turning them into pages of various picture books. Now your Chocobo (which you name) must set out on an adventure to free its friends from the various books and stop the tyrant Bebuzzu.

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Right away you'll notice how beautiful this game is.

Gameplay is set up by having your Chocobo explore various environments around the town hub, entering picture books strewn across the land. These picture books tell numerous Final Fantasy takes on classic fairy tales such as The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. You then play microgames to fulfill requirements which either give you playing cards for card battles (more on that later) or unlock different endings of the stories to progress in the game. For example in one book the ending will say that Leviathan came after a little boy in a tornado, but when the little boy turned around the tornado was gone. Then in the game world a water vortex that was impeding your path will vanish without a trace. Microgames stem from dragging your Chocobo around with your stylus to avoid Ifrit's flames and Shiva's ice to guiding an Adamantoise along a raging rapid river. Your first go of these games will most likely not cause you too many problems, but later stages such as beating Chocobo rivals may have you pulling your hair out.

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One of the various microgames featured in Chocobo Tales.

I mentioned card battles earlier. These battles occur multiple times throughout the game. You'll collect cards through microgames and simply by discovering them on the overworld map. Collecting the cards is quite fun. It's very addicting at least to me. Battling is another story. You never see your opponents hand or card until after you've both selected your cards, and you never have more than three cards in hand at a time. This game is mostly luck, and there's very little strategy that you can muster. This mode is what the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is all for which is odd since it's all luck basically.

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It's time to D-D-D-D-Duel!

Aesthetically Chocobo Tales is very pleasing. The graphics will remind you of Final Fantasy III-- very nice. Musically there is a variety of Final Fantasy themes present including the Mako Reactor from FFVII to the original battle theme from the original Final Fantasy. There's a lot to call back upon, and it's a welcome addition to this game.

Overall, even though this game is decidedly geared towards the younger crowd, it's apparent that no child would have the patience to play the microgames. They can be damn difficult indeed. Those with a high level of patience, and don't mind the cutesy presentation will definitely find this game to be a novel idea.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Story: Bebuzzu has been awakened and trapped all your Chocobo friends inside various picture books. Time to hunker down and save them.

Graphics: Very nice for the DS. The worlds are colorful and crisp. It reminds me of Final Fantasy III.

Gameplay: Sometimes frustrating microgames, luck-driven card battles, while adventuring across a town, volcano, forest, ocean, and tower to discover picture books, microgames, and cards.

Sound: Remixed Final Fantasy tunes from I-VIII is always a nice touch.

Replay Value: You can beat the game in less than 8 hours if you wanted, but collecting all the cards is an added challenge.

Overall: 7/10 - Fun for the older crowd, but it is still appealing for the young'ns.

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