|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: h.a.n.d Inc.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 8, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
It's a little bit strange how the dungeon crawling genre has been mashed up with all things cute. It's a strange combination, because memories of the intense difficulty of older dungeon crawlers like Shiren the Wanderer and Dragon Quest send shivers right up my spine. But for whatever reason, the dungeon crawling genre has come back, and while this new breed of rogue-like dungeon crawler doesn't have the same blistering difficulty die-hard fans may recall, it nonetheless offers some fun and memorable gameplay.
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon definitely represents a member of this new breed of dungeon crawler, but despite its warm and fluffy (not to mention yellow) exterior, this title offers quite a bit more depth and difficulty than what you might expect.
For all intents and purposes, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon operates the same way you might expect from a traditional dungeon crawler. There is a central hub from which you can buy equipment, store items, and other miscellaneous preparatory functions.
From there, you are able to go on to your next dungeon, which is generally dictated by the story (although replay is an essential component of dungeon crawling and is available). While inside the dungeon, essentially everything you see is randomly generated and turn based. Every step you take, item you use, or attack you execute counts as a turn, and in this sense, the game is very traditional. But one thing that sets this Roguelike apart (and makes it uniquely Final Fantasy) is the implementation of the job system.
At first, you won't have access to any jobs and will only be able to level up the "Natural" class, which is essentially just basic attacks. But after a few missions you will unlock the trademark Job Change ability and from there will be able to unlock classes like Black Mage, Thief, and Knight. You are only able to change jobs at the beginning of every dungeon. This gives the dungeons a very high amount of replay value, as some will no doubt want to keep all their jobs at a high level instead of specializing in only one.
Another aspect of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon that gives it tremendous replay value is the return of the pop-up card battle. Those who played last year's Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales probably have fond memories of the pop-up card-based battle system and will be happy to hear it has been replicated here almost exactly. But this time, instead of using the pop-up battles to fight enemies, the battles are found in Mog's arcade and are completely extraneous to the dungeon crawling aspect of the game, save for the fact the cards are hidden throughout the dungeons. This adds quite a bit of replay value to this title because you may find yourself trolling through bonus dungeons or beating special bosses in order to get special cards to beef up your deck. Once you've got the perfect deck, you can take your deck online and play against friends or random players.
This game is really easy to get lost in mostly because of the exhilarating gameplay, but the story is not too shabby either. As you might expect from a title revolving around Chocobo's, the story is filled with many warm and tender moments but is surprisingly serious at times.