Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon – Staff Review

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon concerns the efforts of Cid and his partner chocobo, aptly named Chocobo, adventurers who are seeking the assistance of Timeless Power, a gem that they plan to use to build an airship. Along the way, the heroes find themselves thrown into another world, Memoria, where those who listen to the bell of the clock tower will begin to lose their memories. Chocobo gains the ability to enter dungeons created by the memory loss phenomenon and restore the forgotten memories, though many of the townspeople are reluctant to remember at first. In this way, Chocobo can help revive the town.

Chocobo’s Dungeon‘s story, as with many dungeon crawlers, isn’t particularly strong. It manages to go the extra mile beyond simply providing a reason for exploring dungeons and add in a bit of character development and simple story twists, but the story is still nowhere near as deep as those of the main Final Fantasy series. How long the story takes to get through will depend largely on how cautious the player is and how many optional dungeons they explore, but it’s likely to take most between twenty and thirty hours to complete.

Since most residents have forgotten their occupations, the town is rather barren at first, but its functionality increases significantly as Chocobo helps the villagers. New shops open up, as does the ability to farm, forge and customize weapons and armor, and even change classes, among other things. Though helping many of the villagers is optional, doing so can add a bit of extra depth to the game and make life in the dungeons a bit easier.

Given that the game’s title is Chocobo’s Dungeon, Chocobo will be spending the vast majority of his time in one dungeon or another. Since these dungeons are of the tactical variety, they’re laid out on a grid and time only passes when Chocobo makes a move. Most floors are random and are filled with a maze of rooms and hallways, enemies, and traps. The game makes good use of the tactical format thanks to a variety of ranged attacks, enemies with various rates of movement and attack, and choke points that can be used for an advantage against multiple foes. In order to help mix things up a bit, a number of classes can be unlocked as Chocobo’s quest progresses. Most of them are similar enough that they don’t greatly alter the play experience, especially since SP regenerates very slowly, but they do provide enough tweaks in playstyle to help prevent dungeons from becoming especially repetitive. Weapon and armor customization offers some variety as well.

These dungeons are split into two categories. Traditional story dungeons involve traversing several dungeon floors, defeating enemies and collecting items along the way in order to restore memory or complete some other objective. Story dungeons are typically quite easy so long as the player proceeds with caution and makes good use of careful tactics. Optional challenge dungeons, on the other hand, build on this formula by setting level caps and additional rules on top of not allowing items and equipment to be taken in from the outside. Unlike the story dungeons, these vary in difficulty depending on the added rules. Most aren’t too difficult, but others such as the one that sets everyone’s maximum HP to one will require additional caution. Though these are optional, the rewards are typically pretty good, and they also serve as a good way to add some extra variety to the game.

The interface is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the game’s controls and shortcut keys are easy to learn and begin to feel natural pretty quickly, but the game is not without a few problems. The largest of these is that most optional dungeons require Chocobo to go in without anything in his inventory, but rather than store these items in a separate place for automatic pickup when he leaves the dungeon, they must be put into storage. While this is more of a minor annoyance, it can become an involved task if storage would become full with the entire inventory dumped in.

Perhaps one of the best parts of the game is its soundtrack, which features a large assortment of remixed Final Fantasy tunes. These tracks are both well-done and nostalgic, and there are enough of them to prevent any from becoming particularly repetitive as the adventure progresses. The sound effects, on the other hand, aren’t anything special, but they don’t detract from the experience either.

Though it doesn’t have the best visuals out there, Chocobo’s Dungeon does compliment the soundtrack with a variety of backgrounds. Some of these are far more impressive than others, and the same can be said for enemies and bosses, the real star of the show is Chocobo. A lot of effort has clearly been put into making him look good both in-game and in the few FMVs. There are even a few scenes that have been thrown in for the sole purpose of making Chocobo look cute.

As far as tactical dungeon crawlers are concerned, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon is a good one. The required dungeons are easy, making it accessible to newcomers, but the optional dungeons add a bit more for those seeking an additional challenge. The story is on the weak side, though it’s better than that of many similar dungeon exploration games, but what really helps set Chocobo’s Dungeon apart is the variety in the environments, classes, and special dungeon rules. While none of these factors alter the core of the game, their combined effort helps prevent gameplay from getting stale as quickly as it can in certain similar titles, giving it a bit of an edge on the competition.

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