World of Final Fantasy
Square Enix loves their Final Fantasy franchise, don’t they? They live it, breath it, and develop it in any which way possible. Are you aware that there have been 43 games produced, not counting the I-XV series? That is astounding. What’s even more astounding than that number is just how successful they’ve been with the franchise. It says something about the longevity of a series when you can produce 40+ games and still generate enough sales to warrant more. This brings us to the 44th game, World of Final Fantasy. Where does it stand up to the rest of the non-main series games?
In World of Final Fantasy, you play as siblings Lann and Reynn, who hold mysterious markings on their arms. They wake up in an abandoned town where time has stopped. Making things stranger is that they own a coffee shop, for some reason. Nevertheless, things get interesting the day that a strange fox and a mysterious woman appear. They inform Lann and Reynn that they are not from that world and they’ve lost their memories, through an incredibly powerful event. In fact in the world they are from, they’re known as Mirage Keepers. These are powerful magic users who capture beasts, known as mirages, to battle and share powers with. In order to capture these mirages, they have to enter the realm of Grymoire, a vast and dangerous land in turmoil. Lann and Reynn embark on this lofty quest to capture these mirages and reclaim their lost memories.
In terms of gaming mechanics and overall premise, World of Final Fantasy is Square Enix’s version of Pokemon. You’re in this world filled with random beasts you encounter in the wild. You have to do different actions, most of them being physical in nature, to allow them to be captured. Once you’ve done that, instead of Pokeballs, you use these cubes called Prismariums to encase these beasts. Then, they you have the ability to rename them and they go into a catalog. Plus, after you’ve fought with them and leveled them up, most have the ability to perform a transfiguration (evolve). They even have a version of Bill’s PC, it’s a fairy with a vault. Is this sounding familiar?
While it may seem like I’m describing a Pokemon rip-off, it does differentiate itself from the Game Freak product. For instance, the battle mechanics are more of that speed/turn-based RPG, from past Final Fantasies. Basically, it’s a meter at the side that shows the speed of the fight and who’s turn will be next. Furthermore, the battle system isn’t quite a carbon-copy of Pokemon. In World of Final Fantasy, you don’t just fight mirage v mirage. Lann and Reynn fight with them. In fact, a big part of the game requires stacking. Believe it or not, stacking is just what it sounds like. You place the proper mirages on top of Lann and Reynn and it makes for stronger attacks and magic. Stacks can be broken with strong attacks, which momentarily stun your party, separate your stack, and make for easy pickings with weaker HP. Additionally, if you make your stack strong enough, it’s harder to bring down and you can use more powerful abilities.
Other ways World of Final Fantasy is different include using the sphere level system, similar to Final Fantasy X. With each level gained, a point is awarded to the mirage to access new abilities and strengths with the sphere system. It can also allow for certain mirages to walk around with Lann and Reynn or give them a joyride on their backs. The former helps find hidden items, the latter makes for easier travel. The sphere system is also what is used to access transfigurations, allowing mirages to become bigger and much more powerful.
There is more of a story in World of Final Fantasy than in Pokemon, as well. Pokemon was mainly about catching Pokemon and becoming the very best through various gym battles. World of Final Fantasy pits you in a land where time is just starting to turn again, after years of slumber. Lann and Reynn have to cross the spliced together lands, from various Final Fantasy games, to reach the dreaded warlords that are causing chaos for the Lilikins. The Lilikins are the race of people, also known as, Chibis. Their counterparts are the Jiants, normal sized people; mostly evil. Throughout the journey, you also discover what happened to the world, how Lann and Reynn came to be, and meet the stalwarts from the Final Fantasy series. They end up being able to help you on your journey.
While all this may sound pretty cool, World of Final Fantasy isn’t entirely serious. In fact, it plays kind of like an anime would. The situations are serious and the battles can be epic but there’s the doofus characters, that are used for comic relief, with a cute art style to keep it from getting too dark. For the average adult, this style of storytelling can be pretty draining, at first. In fact, I found myself getting exhausted from the start, mainly because of the blatant amount of fan service they started everything off with. I didn’t quite understand what I was about to be in for. In the beginning, the level of in-your-face cuteness is so much, it winds up feeling over-the-top and nauseating. There are even moments that don’t make a lick of sense. For instance, Lann goes all morning with a Fox named Tama on his head, without noticing it. Then, of course, he freaks out when Tama makes herself known. They try to excuse it off as Lann being dense, which he is, but it comes off strange. You have to get out of the tutorial before you can really enjoy World of Final Fantasy. Once you get out of the tutorial is when all the ridiculousness starts to ease off, and it hits its stride. Either that or I just got so used it. Nevertheless, if given the chance, the story and mirage-catching can get to be pretty addicting. It’s the mystery that makes you want to come back and it’s the addictive Pokemon style of catching and leveling up that makes you want to stay. I would find myself sneaking out of bed to play more, not because I needed more information for this review, but because I just wanted to continue playing. I’d eventually get caught by my wife, who coincidentally owns the record for lightest sleeper in the world.
Square Enix does get an A for the amount of forethought they had in World of Final Fantasy. As gamers, we aren’t patient. It’s just true. You can slice it up in whatever ways you want to but, at the end of the day, we want instant gratification. Knowing this, Square Enix allowed for players to speed up through dialogue and even battles, in order to move things along. It becomes a handy tool, especially in battle when you want to get in and out quick. You’re able to go at your own pace, making for a more satisfying experience.
Overall, I enjoyed World of Final Fantasy. It’s a little too cute for my liking but the fact that it’s in the same format as an anime makes it work. I’ve been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series, since the beginning. It’s had a lot of makeovers, over the years. Some good and some bad, but I still keep coming back because of the beautiful artwork and the compelling storyline. While World of Final Fantasy isn’t necessarily a compelling storyline nor is it ground-breaking artwork, it isn’t meant to be that. They mean for Final Fantasy XV to be that. No, World of Final Fantasy is a Throwback RPG meant to be a mash-up of Pokemon, Final Fantasy’s past, and run like a Japanese anime. By all accounts, it shouldn’t work and yet it does. It’s not a game I’d urge everyone to go buy but it is an interesting enough title that I’d recommend Final Fantasy fans try out. It does require patience and an open-mind, but if you have both, you may just find yourself enjoying it or maybe even addicted to it.
Final Fantasy Takes On Pokemon
There's a lot to like about World of Final Fantasy. It's old school throwback RPG style, the missing memory mystery, the blatant Pokemon inspiration, what's not to like? Although, it's game that needs some understanding before diving into. Otherwise, the amount of fan service and cuteness can be a bit off-putting. If you can get passed all that, it's a really fun game. The story is still rather basic but it's enough to keep you coming back for more. What sets it apart from other games is that it's also run like an anime would be. Certain plots, roles, themes, etc. It doesn't even apologize or try to hide it because they made an anime open for the game! I still maintain, though, that it's not for everyone. If you're not familiar with these types of games or even the series, you may not enjoy it. However, for all those who do know Final Fantasy, it's definitely a fun version on Pokemon and a nice stopgap until XV eventually comes out.