So, I have all these fancy, not eight-bit-style games I could be playing. Like Dragon Age II, in which I still have not moved on. Like Diablo 3, which I’ve at least considered moving on in. Like the co-op games we got recently. Like Final Fantasy XIII-2, which I have still not actually beaten myself.
But no, I’ve been obsessed with Final Fantasy Dimensions. Over 60 hours now. I’ve talked about it before, mentioning it as a new game I had picked up. I’ve enjoyed the gameplay, as an RPG player. I think they did a great job of fitting in with the platform they are on, with mobile devices, and matching their sales model with it. And the story and writing are great – with references to such a point that I wonder if it was originally written in English, and not Japanese.
So let’s look a bit more about what I love, so you can think about whether it’s worth a little time and money for you!
A job system where choices matter
I am the sort of person who, with a job system, or classes you can change in general, where I will try to master everything. And if you’re locked into these things with a character, I often restart and create tons of new characters to try all the combos out.
So I started playing Final Fantasy Dimensions expecting to do lots of job mastering. When you unlock jobs, you get the starter set, and can go up to level 3. I was kind of expecting these levels to all go up as I progressed in the plot, so I started changing around, learning them all.
No no no. You get Job Points, a finite set of them, to increase job levels. They go up to level 20 for each job, and there are good abilities and reasons to go with just about every job. However, you can’t master all of them, so you have to get strategic, and start to build your characters.
And there are advantages to what you learn and master, because you can equip the abilities in other jobs. Seems pretty standard. Except there are also abilities you can learn that you don’t have to equip – Fusion Abilities which require you to know and have available two specific abilities. Then, randomly in battle when you use one of those abilities, you unlock the fusion – and can use it again during any battle, as any class. Some of the abilities are upgraded versions of class abilities, some are combinations of multiple effects, some are multi-target versions of single-target abilities – and most of them are worth knowing. But you can’t learn them all! And certainly not on one person.
So the strategizing aspect of this game is great, and has put a lot more weight into the job choices than in other job-system Final Fantasy games – without having to invent new jobs to do it.
Great Job on the Episodic Nature, and on Being Mobile
Final Fantasy Dimensions is sold as an episodic game, with a free prologue, and four chapters after that which can be bought individually or together (which I talk about more here). The first three chapters, then, are broken into four parts each, two each for the Warriors of Light and the Warriors of Darkness. You switch back and forth, between these two groups, for three chapters. And while starting over each section at the power level you were when you started the previous section got a little frustrating, story-wise, it told a lot of story and kept me wanting to know what would happen.
They had these great intros to each of the sections, where the screen would go to the Final Fantasy Dimensions page, and it felt like it was trying to say, “You’re watching Final Fantasy Dimensions.” Episodic, like a show. They pulled it off nicely.
And for being mobile, as well, there was one feature in particular which was a new function and which I found myself using a lot: Auto Battle. Navigating the menus with a touch screen is great and all, but in basic battles against random monsters, well, clicking attack over and over can get tedious.
Enter here Auto Battle! You just click auto, and the computer takes over. It goes with your base command, either attack if you have it reset, or you can have it save a position in the menu to reuse an ability over and over (which I have not actually used, and probably should). Suddenly the tedious battles I could wade through, no problem. I could play while watching TV. I could play on a plane. I could play and eat. Auto Battle made this game not only a Final Fantasy game, but one that was clearly born mobile.
Oh, and not only does it auto-select commands… it cranks up the battle speed. So you can power through leveling up, or dungeons, or whatever. But when you need control, it’s a tap away, and the speed returns to your preset speed.
But Really… It’s the Humor
Rather than tell you about the story, which I think you ought to play, I am going to tell you about the writing by telling you about the humor. There are tons of pop-culture references, like song titles, or this excellent one:
Of course, for me, better than that was referencing another Final Fantasy game. I liked the sputtering response of the NPC, as well, so I screen-captured that too:
Really, Final Fantasy Dimensions just kept me laughing, made me want to go around and talk to all of the NPCs, made me explore, and rewarded me for exploring. It told stories of heroism, bravery, and in different ways through the various episodes within the chapters. With two parties of protagonists, eight characters, plus party-joining NPCs that help drive the plot and save the parties over and over… it was a new Final Fantasy game, wrapped up in the old shell, giving us fan service, while also being immensely playable. I highly recommend this game, and am probably going to play some here once I get this posted. I’m on Chapter 4 now, after all!