Final Fantasy Explorers Review
Final Fantasy Explorers Box Art
System: 3DS
Dev: Square Enix
Pub: Square Enix
Release: January 26, 2016
Players: 1-4
Screen Resolution: N/A Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

Taking up arms with a trio a friends or strangers is by far the most ideal way to tackle the wilderness. With a quartet of complementary job classes, even nasty missions such as taking down ten dragons can be a breeze. The only downside is that the framerate slows to a crawl with a full team crammed into tight combat zones with giant monsters roaming around. Also, despite it being more pleasurable taking on missions cooperatively, the “co-op” aspect is rather superfluous in the strategic sense. With virtually every mission requirement delegated to defeating monsters, every player can simply focus on spamming their own abilities rather than working in tandem, and the monsters will easily fall.

Taking care of those abilities, however, is a deep and rewarding system. Using abilities in combat builds Resonance, which eventually allows you to trigger a Crystal Surge, a powerful state that can give subsequently used abilities a chance to mutate with specific buffs. These mutations can then be permanently fused to the ability by spending CP (crystal points) back in town. Many different upgrades can be attached to a single ability, and each specific buff can also stack in intensity. With each class sporting a variety of unique abilities, as well as exclusive weapons that can also be forged and upgraded with collected materials, plenty of hours can be dipped into creating a truly epic array of heroes.

It’s unfortunate, then, that the island world you explore is not as exciting. The zones are either moderate sized arenas or a series of randomly generated short and narrow pathways connecting the arenas. Yet traveling from one location to another with very few shortcuts can be a tedious endeavor. The island features beaches, meadows, mountains, magma filled caverns, and various other landscapes, but none of them show any notable detailing, and are rather bland on the eyes. I’m also shocked that a game of this nature fails to incorporate the system’s 3D functionality. With Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, the 3D effect is a great tool to gauge the distance between yourself and the monsters, and grants a tactical edge in the real-time combat. This is surprisingly absent in Final Fantasy Explorers, a game exclusive to the 3DS, which I can only imagine did not get incorporated due to Square Enix wanting to push the game out the door quickly rather than investing extra resources to add it in. Disappointing.

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Thankfully, one hallmark of Square Enix games remains praiseworthy here, and that is the music. Apart from the battle victory fanfare, the score is completely original, though everything immediately fits into the Final Fantasy musical compendium. Heavy on synthesized strings and woodwind instruments, it mixes beautifully with the environments and distress of each situation. Voices are limited to grunts and sighs, but at least the sound effects are as varied as the abilities and weapon strikes they are paired with.

Monster Hunter is a unique action-RPG series that has benefited by not having many comparable games encroach on its turf. Final Fantasy Explorers is a blatant attempt to seize some of that territory by tapping into the extensive lore of its franchise. It certainly succeeds in providing a forum for building personalized heroes to show off in cooperative missions, and has enough content to supply hundreds of hours to those interested. It doesn't, however, have the strategic girth, the environmental depth and detail, nor the quirky and engaging story and characters that Capcom has perfected with its series.

By
Sean Engemann
Contributing Writer
Date: January 26, 2016

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.2
Graphics
Though the characters are shaped with ever-changing detail, the rest of the world is bland with flat textures. The game at least has some nice environmental and combat animations.
4.3
Control
Camera controls and sifting through menus are both pleasantly easy affairs.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is all synthesized, but the orchestrations are all well crafted. There are a multitude of sound effects, though nothing that audibly impresses.
3.5
Play Value
There is easily over a hundred hours of content, but simply isn't enough strategic variety to captivate most players for that long.
3.7
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • 4-Player Adventure – Band together with up to four players to form strategies and take on challenging dungeons and powerful bosses via the Nintendo 3DS local wireless connection or online.
  • Over 20 Jobs to Explore and Master – Players can play as their favorite FINAL FANTASY roles, from series classics including Dragoon, Bard and Black Mage, to the highly specialized Samurai, Time Mage and Dark Knight.
  • Trance Mode – Wield the power of eidolons, such as Ifrit and Bahamut, and transform into legendary FINAL FANTASY characters, including Cloud, Squall and Lightning.
  • Classic FINAL FANTASY Monsters – Recruit, level up, and fight alongside classic monsters from the series.
  • Over 100 Hours of Gameplay – With over 200 quests, over 20 jobs and endless party configurations to discover, players have a myriad of ways to enjoy the game.

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