Chocobos = Love
January 15, 2008 – While I have always been confident in Square-Enix’s ability to make a good Final Fantasy title, I haven’t always been so optimistic about their ability to make a valid spin off title. And while recent spin offs like Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions have been pretty good, I still remember the debacle that was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. And while a game based on the little yellow chocobos might sound a like a terrible premise for a standalone Final Fantasy spin-off title, I maintain that this one looks pretty awesome.
While some might argue that early Chocobo games like Chocobo racing and the original Chocobo dungeon weren’t so hot, there’s an unlikely gambit that factors into my high hopes for this game: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. This title was released early last year, and despite its admitted kid-friendly premise, this title delivered some of the most memorable and fun gameplay that I’ve ever experienced in a Final Fantasy spin-off. And thankfully, it looks like the newest Chocobo game will take several elements from this modestly successful DS title and make a completely new chocobo-inspired experience for the Wii.
The premise of the game involves a self-titled chocobo wandering around with Final Fantasy mainstay Cid in search of treasure. However, as they speed across the vast landscape Cid noticed a very tall tower. Once inside, the pair realizes that something is wrong with the residents of this tower. Through some mysterious and cataclysmic events, many citizens are losing parts of their memories! But lucky for them, the brave and noble chocobo is now on the case!
The gameplay looks like it will be straight up RPG dungeon-style, which will definitely be a plus for gamers like myself who love the more traditional-style RPG. You’ll mainly wander around as the cute little chocobo and fall into random battles within each dungeon and then face a boss at the end. And all the while you’ll be learning new things about your enemy and getting those very important plot points translated through your various human NPCs. Because even though chocobos are cute, it would be unrealistic for them to be able to speak (even though it’s unrealistic for them to even exist, but whatever). In addition to the classic style of battle, this title will also feature the famous class system that was such a hallmark of early Final Fantasy games. While a full list of the different classes is not yet available, early screens have confirmed the existence of the thief and scholar classes.
One thing that is very noticeable about the newest chocobo game for people who have played Chocobo Tales is the overall visual style. Aside from some very minor graphical upgrades, this game looks almost exactly the same as the DS title. I’m not quite sure if that’s a bad thing for the Wii or a good thing for the DS, but I can truthfully say that if you compared screenshots of the two games, you probably couldn’t tell the difference. That’s not to say that the game doesn’t look good, however. The overall visual style is very atmospheric, and the color palate changes to fit the action. You can see this contrast very well when you look at the opening scene of the game against some of the darker dungeon levels. The graphics look fairly good, and while they’re nothing to really stand up and shout about, I think the cutesy-style of graphics will carry this title well.
Another similarity between this game and Chocobo Tales is the returning character list. Fans will remember spunky-but-occasionally-troubled Shirma from the title and her somewhat evil counterpart, Irma, who will also be included. In addition to these two ladies, you will also be seeing anti-chocobo Volg and the mysterious Moogle X.
Control for this game uses only the Wii-mote, which can be used straight on or on its side for a more classic feel. However, the two control styles are not interchangeable as they are both quite different and must be selected at the beginning of the beginning of the game. While I’m sure both control schemes will utilize the motion sensing Wii-mote to some extent, most of the gameplay we’ve seen so far has been a strictly button mashing affair, which will probably leave RPG purists (myself included) very happy.
Overall, I really can’t wait for the localization of this game. Ever since last year’s Final Fantasy Chocobo Tales, I have rekindled my love for the yellow chicken-like creatures, and this game looks to be the next step in our burgeoning relationship. Complete with a (seemingly) touching story, classic gameplay, and everyone’s favorite Final Fantasy creature, I have my expectations set pretty high, and am pretty confident that this one will deliver.