What better way to usher in the era of handheld RPGs than with another installment from the massive Final Fantasy franchise. Once again the four party system is used but the character classes are quite different than those found in FF1 or FF2. There are three main choices: human, mutant, and monster. Humans and mutants are further distinguished by having a selectable gender. I think the only difference in genders is that males are predisposed to strength and females to agility. There are no strict class definitions; instead, each type gains stats and abilities in a different way. Humans require gold to purchase stat-boosting items and have eight slots for weapons and armour. Mutants gain stats randomly and have four slots available for special abilities and four slots for equipment. Monsters take on different forms if they eat the flesh of a defeated enemy and have no slots available for anything other than innate abilities.
|Does it come with wafers?|
I initially had a group of two humans, a mutant, and a monster but humans are boring and take too much golds so I switched to a single human, two mutants (one of each gender), and a pet monster. So far, mutants are by far the most fun to have in the party. They gain and lose abilities like mad and that unpredictability is keeping me on my toes. It's awesome when they gain group-damaging spells such as flame and ice but one never knows how long they'll have them. This erratic behaviour also helps to generate personality for the characters. For example, the screenshots below show two very different characters; one is kick-ass and useful and the other is worthless garbage.
|Group protection, major group damage x2,|
and paralysis abilities.
|Weakness to fire; ability which does|
nothing; ability which probably
does nothing; and nothing.
Though their sprites remain static, I can't help but see the mutants more like writhing masses of organic flesh, constantly e- and de-volving new appendages (Tetsuoooooo!). So much for having Pris as a female love interest for Shen. Although... hmmm... naw, still gross. So how has the monster class been performing? He can do a few tricks but has been pretty disappointing so far. He likes to stay at about half to a quarter of the stats of the others and that's in the better forms. Occasionally he also likes to transform back into some of the earliest and weakest forms, just to make himself extra unuseful. But I still love him; he's just relegated to the bottom of the party order.
|How could I stay mad at a face like that?|
The story thus far has been underwhelming. It's a very disjointed affair with each "chapter" having little to do with one another. Our main objective is to open the door on the huge tower we start near so that we can reach Paradise. We need a magic sphere to open it but where could it be? Before we have a chance to look into that, we get involved in a quest to retrieve three pieces of equipment to put on some naked statue in the first town. Each piece is held by a different king, all of whom are located in convenient, nearby castles.
|"Now to begin our epic quest to seek|
the first of the — Hey, there it is!"
Each of the king's quests are straightforward and must be done in a certain order (the above castle is actually done last). The first king wants to be able to wed his girlfriend but the leader of a group of bandits wants her as well and is threatening her village. To solve this delicate love triangle, our heroes do what fantasy heroes everywhere do — murder the most obtuse one to get the reward we want.
|Sorry dude, but we REALLY|
want to dress up that statue.
The next king does not have such deep and complex quest storyline; he just foolishly challenges all four of us to a fight and is simultaneously burnt and frozen to death by the mutants.
|Blasted the armour right off that moron.|
The last king is murdered by his right-hand man who is then murderized by us. With all three pieces in our possession, it's time to pretty up that statue and probably something will happen. Of course the sphere pops out and just as we are leaving we are assaulted by a guardian named Gen-Bu.
|We gots this, Food. You can|
go get us coffees or sumthin'.
Once the tower is opened, it's a short trip up into Paradise where there are no shops because nobody has to work. Instead, they spend all day wandering in a random direction every two seconds.
|Paradise apparently being a small square|
plot of nothing but palm trees.
With absolutely nothing happening in Paradise, the next floor up held a purgatory, where also nothing else happened. Now we're in a water world of some kind, driving islands around and fighting werewolves out in the middle of the ocean.
|This actually makes the most sense so far.|
Okay. Game? Come on over here. At the beginning, you said that we were seeking Paradise through that tower. We achieved that. So now why are we in this aqua wonderland doing quests for no reason? Why are there even other worlds above Paradise? Can we pretty much expect earth, wind, and fire worlds as well? Are you going to try harder to tie these worlds together, game? Look at me, game. Are you? Aaaarrrre yooouuuu? Keep in mind that Story & World is worth 20% of your final mark. Alright, now off you go and I hope we'll see a better effort from you in the near future.