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When the first Final Fantasy game for the Wii was released, a lot of fans were disappointed because it was a downloadable kingdom-building sim set in the Crystal Chronicles universe and not a more traditional or flagship title in the popular RPG series. Then, when Square Enix announced that their next Final Fantasy Wii title would be yet another spinoff title -- a mystery dungeon style roleplaying game starring their little yellow bird-like mascot Chocobo -- well, you can imagine the grumbling that ensued. Don't write this one off so fast, though, RPG fans. Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is actually a pretty good game.
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Chocobo and Cid, a pair of adventurers, are out in the desert looking for something called the Timeless Power when they get sucked through a vortex. They wind up in the town of Losttime, a place where every time a bell rings, the citizens of the town lose their memories. So it falls to Chocobo and a mysterious child named Raffaello to open a portal into their minds, explore the labyrinth-like recesses of their psyche and help them recall their lost memories as they ultimately work to find out the truth behind the village, the bell and the evil forces behind it. For what many might dismiss as a too-cute game aimed for the younger set, Chocobo's Dungeon features a surprisingly deep and intriguing storyline, although it does have it's silly moments, too. For example, tutorials are given to you by Dungeon Hero X, a masked moogle in a superhero style get-up. All told, though, this is about as epic a plotline as a game starring a fuzzy little yellow bird that says "Kweh!" all the time can possibly be.
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As mentioned above, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is a mystery dungeon game, similar in nature to what people refer to as a Rogue-like in honor of one this RPG subgenre's innovators. The audience for these types of games tends to be fairly limited, so for the high percentage of folks that have no idea what I'm on about, the basic rundown is that they are turn-based games that feel real-time in nature. Every step and every attack counts as a turn, and enemies will not move unless you do first. Also, the dungeon levels tend to be elementally themed and randomly generated. Healing occurs naturally as you step, though you can rest or use healing items as well. Often times, there are stiff penalties for dying, but thankfully Chocobo's Dungeon is a lot more forgiving than most, making it more accessible to the less hardcore out there. Clearly, this type of gameplay won't appeal to everyone, but those willing to take the plunge should find it to be quite enjoyable. To add depth to things, Chocobo can learn and master 10 different jobs, including such Final Fantasy standbys as the Black Mage, and to top it all off, there are multiple minigames and even multiplayer online battles using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
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Graphics and Sound
This is without a doubt the best looking mystery dungeon style game I've ever seen. The visuals, music and sound effects are all typical Square Enix quality. Don't expect a realistic style here, though, as Chocobo's Dungeon sports a rather cute, super-deformed style of character design. Spell effects are impressive and even the dungeon designs are a notch above most games in this RPG subgenre. Furthermore, there is a lot of spoken dialogue within the game, and on the whole it is pretty good. On the whole, the production values are absolutely outstanding, which is no surprise considering the expert craftsmen behind this game's development.
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IGN.com named this title the best Wii RPG of 2008, and it's not hard to see why. Granted, unless you're absolutely a hardcore fan of mystery dungeon games, the gameplay can get a little dull and repetitive at times. However, with the game's beautiful graphics, high sound quality and surprisingly good storyline, this is a game that will keep you coming back for more. This isn't the epic roleplaying classic that Wii owners have been hoping for from Square Enix, but it is a fun little diversion that's definitely worth playing until that game comes.
A collection of reviews for various Final Fantasy games.