Unleash The Chibi Amnesiacs!
HIGH Hee hee hee! Look at Rikku’s chubby little face! Ha ha!
LOW So… many… random… encounters.
WTF What the honk? Really?
The setup for World of Final Fantasy is a weird one.
After hopping off a building for some reason or another, super amnesiac wonder twins Lann and Reynn wake up to find that their hometown is completely deserted. Following a quick visit from a mysterious stranger at a nearby coffee shop, it turns out that they’re both supremely powerful Mirage Keepers with the ability to trap wandering monsters.
Of course they’re still amnesiacs, so before long it’s off to the world of Grymoire to recover their missing faculties and find out just who they really are. Unfortunately, Grymoire also happens to be under attack by an oppressive empire intent on world domination and, coincidentally, home to the Lillikin — super-deformed cutesy humans, including tiny versions of the Final Fantasy series’ most recognizable heroes all living together on the same planet. Ever wanted to see a micro version of Squall and Lightning team up to murder their enemies? Who hasn’t? Well, it’s a thing now.
It should be noted that World of Final Fantasy is clearly aiming for a younger audience with its cutesy characters, slapstick writing and cartoonish portrayals of even the most vicious FF enemies, so it’s also added some weird personality quirks to its leads. There’s a pretty good chance that anyone over the age of two will want to drown Lann in a bucket due to his ceaseless outbursts, terrible jokes and puns. Reynn’s generally okay, other than loudly and repeatedly treating Lann like an unwanted, bumbling incompetent throughout. Another character has a bizarre propensity for sticking the word ‘the’ onto random words — it wasn’t the-long before I wanted her to the-die gruesomely in a the-horrific accident.
These slightly annoying quibbles aside, our protagonists aren’t terrible — just slightly bland, everyday JRPG heroes bumbling through an unexpected adventure in a foreign world. Their storyline doesn’t really matter until the back end of the game, and before that it’s all about bumping into familiar faces from times gone by and helping them out for fun and profit.
The gameplay is, appropriately enough, a turn-based affair based on the classic Final Fantasy Active Time Battle system. A timer ticks away during each encounter before each character gets their turn. When the timer’s up, they’re allowed to smack the enemy in the teeth, whip out a healing item or cast some magic. The twist here is that many of the enemies can be captured after meeting certain requirements — dropping their health, afflicting status ailments upon them and the like — and once caught, they’re added to the player’s arsenal and literally stacked atop one another to bolster their abilities in towers which grant bonuses to hit points, action speed and other attributes.
These captured enemies can also be powered up with new abilities and passive strengths via experience that they’ve accumulated, but when screwing around with dozens of minions coming and going in and out of the party, it gets tiresome quickly. Thankfully, many of these captured monsters are basically interchangeable, so it’s easy to just bag them and file them away without ever bothering to delve into their peculiarities or spend time leveling up ones that don’t fit the party.
It must be mentioned that battles generally dance on the precipice of taking way too long for their own good given how often they crop up. Sometimes it feels like every three steps leads to another inevitable battle, and waiting for the ATB gauge to do its thing sometimes feels like forever. Thankfully, most of the game can be fast-forwarded by holding down the R1 button. This allows fights to speed along, and many fights can be won using little more than standard attacks and some occasional healing.
While I’m personally familiar with Final Fantasy as a franchise, it’s tough to tell how much World would appeal to newcomers. A lot of the early highlights come from recognizing characters that are coming and going — without prior knowledge of who they are, their appearances won’t mean much when they show up and randomly do something awesome. Given that World seems especialy inviting towards younger players and that many of these characters are decades old at this point, it’s a curiously conflicting approach.
All told, World of Final Fantasy is a great-looking game with charm to spare and quite a few cool ideas under its belt, but it never quite nails the pacing and the excellent localization can’t save it from a pedestrian storyline jaunt through linear dungeons. It’s a reasonable option for anyone hankering for some Final Fantasy nostalgia or anyone who wants to overdose on cute and the colorful, but for everyone else it’s merely a decent JRPG with a few too many irritating lows.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Tose/SquareEnix and published by SquareEnix. It is currently available on Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 35 hours of play were devoted to the singleplayer mode, and the game was completed. 1 hour of play was spent in multiplayer modes, a strange online battle thing that’s easily ignored.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Everyone E10+ and contains alcohol reference, fantasy violence, mild language and mild suggestive themes. Kids will undoubtedly do fine with this, it’s clearly aimed at them – though when Lann screams ‘what the honking honk’, I have to admit that my brain automatically overwrote it with something else.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: No problems here, the game is fully subtitled and doesn’t rely on audio cues for success.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. I had a pretty good look, and couldn’t find any such option.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
The chance discovery of a muddy, burnt out copy of '50 Shades of Grey' in a hunting pit gave him an appreciation for complex plots, characters and overarching narrative, and the unexpected gift of a Spectrum 48k allowed him to indulge in these newfound sensibilities with intelligent, highbrow games such as 'flee from the badly animated spinning turquoise dolphins' or 'avoid the deadly glowing bricks of doom'.
The fusion of both these interests finally culminated with Darren teaching himself how to write by basically guessing at what words might look like when jotted down on paper as opposed to being howled inarticulately at the skies.
Now others occasionally get to read his scribblings. Lucky them.