|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|
The story begins with Cid and Chocobo going on an adventure, just to be foiled (yet again) by Irma and Volg. However, as Cid and Chocobo confronted their enemies, they were suddenly transported to another world. In this world something strange is going on, and people are losing their memories. However, in an interesting twist, all the people in this world are happy they have lost their memories. Something terrible happened there, and although no one remembers what it is, they all agree it is best left forgotten. But the spell on the city starts to impair their memory of other things like their jobs, their families, and even their own names. But just when the situation seemed most dire, a newborn baby fell from the sky. This newborn possesses the power to unlock the citizens' repressed memories and turn them into mystery dungeons, which it will be your job to traverse.
Sure, the whole "your memories are dungeons" thing is a little hokey, but aside from that, the story is quite solid and allows for some very genuine moments (as you might expect from a Final Fantasy title). While it can feel like the story is taking a backseat to the gameplay when you're going through long and chained together dungeons, the game always brings the focus back to the characters, even if it is only briefly, which gives this game a real soul.
However, not all aspects of this title are as great as the gameplay or the story. On a visual level, this game is really hit or miss. The cinematic scenes look very polished and have very smooth animations. However, the in-game animations are extremely repetitive and substantially less smooth. Environments also have a great deal of repetitive texturing, and the whole thing is a very dramatic contrast to the cinematic scenes. Honestly, if you showed me footage from both the cinematic scenes and in-game, I wouldn't believe that you were showing me the same game.
In addition to the graphical discrepancies, another area I was somewhat disappointed in was the sound. Generally, I don't have many gripes about English voice over, but this one is pretty bad. Voices sound insincere, and the dialogue doesn't even attempt to match character mouth movement. In fact, many times you bear witness to what I call the "Kung-Fu" effect, where a character will finish speaking way before his/her mouth stops moving. This game could have definitely benefited from a Japanese voice track, and it's unfortunate it was not included. The music, however, is absolutely superb. Level music is beautifully orchestrated, and the game's title song features sweet and melodic J-Pop at its finest.
One aspect of this title that many will appreciate is the different control schemes you are able to employ. You can use either the traditional face-up Wii-mote, the Wii-mote on its side, or you can forego the Wii-mote altogether in favor of the classic controller. All these are pretty easy and intuitive to use, but I would give the control edge to the classic controller just because the analog stick makes it much easier to get around non-dungeon areas and the shortcut shoulder buttons are very easy to use in battle.
Overall, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is an excellent and surprisingly deep game. This title does an excellent job of walking the fine line between being a Final Fantasy title and a dungeon crawler and gets the formula just right. Plus, it has a cute little Chocobo as the main character, and that's certainly a plus for me!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer