Review by Jondy

"The best multiplayer game on Gamecube since Melee"

Opening Comments

I would like to begin by saying don't think of this as a Final Fantasy game. If you do that, you'll end up very disappointed. It would be like expecting Grand Theft Auto from a Mario game. Seriously, it's that different from other Final Fantasy's.

In addition, remember that the original intent of this game is indeed multiplayer. It wasn't designed for single player, and it shows. If you don't have any friends, this is probably not the game for you to buy. This is a very social game. If you have a few other friends with Gameboy Advances, you will have the time of your life with this game.

Story: 7/10
Unlike other Final Fantasy games, this game does not concentrate on storyline. Instead, it concentrates on gameplay. For some this is a welcome change, and for others it's blasphemy. I give it a 7 because it's not really an in depth story at all. It's maybe slightly more in depth than your typical Mario game. The reason it's as high as it is is because it's all the story needs to be. In order for a game to have a good story, it has to have specific characters with specific personalities. This was intended to be a multiplayer game in which each player can construct their own character. Therefore, personalities are forfeit. The storyline isn't exactly bad, it's just not good. It does its job. For the style of gameplay this is, it really couldn't be any better. Just don't be expecting Final Fantasy 7.

Graphics: 9/10
This is a beautiful game. The water effects are gorgeous, the character models are smooth, and the dungeons and towns are brightly colored, interesting to look at, smooth, and visually flawless. The game doesn't set any kind of graphics record with polygons are anything, but I would be hardpressed to point out any one single graphics flaw in the entrie game.

Gameplay: 10/10 for multiplayer, 6/10 for single player.
This game, as previously stated, is in my opinion the most fun multiplayer game I have experienced on Gamecube since Super Smash Bros. Melee. It's cooperative gameplay. I quite enjoy this change from ordinary multiplayer. The fun factor of a competitive multiplayer game depends almost completely on the skill levels of the different players being even producing a close, bitterly fought match. If one person sucks and always loses, it isn't really any fun at all for either person. Unless you're abusive and you just like crushing people in your way.

The gameplay elements are simple, and this is what makes it fun. You have a menu of selections to make that you can scroll through with L and R. Two initial options are attack and defend. You will rarely find yourself using defend. In fact, only use it when waiting on a friend to provide you with a cure spell when you're on the brink of death. Other options are set by yourself. You have a few other slots that you can fill either with spells or items. If you put a phoenix down in a slot, it automatically revives you upon death. In single player, you can fuse 2 spells together in your command list to obtain a higher level spell. In multiplayer, you have to cooperate with your friends and cast the two spells in the same area at the same time to yield the same effect.

You select options from your slots (like attack and spells) with A and pick up items with B. Spells require that you hold A for a few seconds to charge, then release for the cast. You can also hold A to charge for a more effective attack or defend.

With these gameplay mechanics in mind, (there is more, I'll leave it to you to find out) you run around through dungeons fighting enemies in real time, picking up items, solving extremely simple puzzles, and fighting a boss at the end. In single player, it's... well it's ok. I can't say it isn't any fun, it is. It's just nothing compared to how fun this is to do in multiplayer.

Stat Building: 10/10 in multiplayer, 6/10 for single player
There is no leveling up in this game. There is no experience. At the end of each dungeon you pick one stat to increase. There are also other bonuses you can choose from. These things you pick at the end of each dungeon are called artifacts.

Weapon building is similar to Final Fantasy VIII if you've ever played it. You can't simply go out and buy better weapons. You have to either find or buy a plan for an equipment item, find or buy materials to make it, then pay a blacksmith to forge the thing for you. This is a really fun method in multiplayer. Everyone is scrambling to pick up items and gil, whether it's something they can use or not. Then when you get to the shops you end up having to drop items to help each other out with their much needed upgrades.

Both these sytems work out great, but unfortunately for single player mode, the tiny stat boosts end up making the game extremely hard. It's just a pain to use the system in single player. Way too much fighting of the same dungeon to be able to win. Once again, the game was designed for multiplayer.

Difficulty 10/10
If you like hard games, you will LOVE this game in single player. The first year (the game is broke up into years. Play it and you will see.) is insultingly easy. The second year is slightly challenging. The third year is hell on a stick in single player if you don't replay older dungeons to boost your stats. Actually, it's still hard after that. For the stats to help you any, you have to replay the dungeon over and over and over.

Even in multiplayer, if you don't tromp through the same dungeons to get the stuff you need for equipment upgrades and stat increases, you and your friends will get slayed pitifully. For those expecting a typical Final Fantasy, this is a shock. For those who like their games challenging, it's bliss.

Connectivity=Money making scheme to sell cables: FALSE/10
Make no mistake, you HAVE to have multiple Gameboy Advances and linkup cables to play this game in multiplayer. Not just you have to because the game won't operate with controllers in multiplayer, the game just wouldn't work that way. Having an individual screen for each person is absolutely VITAL for this game. Trying to imagine playing it any other way makes me shiver. Everyone has their own set of stuff. Their own family, their own items, their own equipment, their own settings. They can change, use, equip, unequip, etc. at will at any point in the game. Imagine having to wait for each person to do what they wanted to do on the TV screen every time they want to change something makes me shiver. Let me make this clear: this is NOT just a SCAM, it is VITAL to the game.

Conclusion: 9/10
I hardly scratched the surface of everything this game has to offer. But basically, single player is mediocre, multiplayer freaking ROCKS, and if you don't have anyone to play it with I highly recommend a rental before buying. If you do have friends that would be willing to play it with you, don't even bother renting. I guarantee this game to be one of the best multiplayer experiences you will ever have.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/06/05

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