Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales - NDS - Review
In the Final Fantasy universe, long have the winged creatures known as chocobos been a way heroes, such as Cloud Strife as well as Tidus, move around the map far more quickly than on foot. Raised on farms to be used similarly to horses, these cute creatures merely play an almost insignificant role in the epic adventures of past Final Fantasy games. Yet in Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales for the Nintendo DS, the hero of the game is none other than a young chocobo who sets out to save his friends from a mysterious evil force. Sure the game might look like a kid’s title, but this is one “book” you shouldn’t judge by its cover.
Chocobo Tales’ main hero is a cute young chocobo you get to name who is being raised in a lovely, tranquil farm with the rest of his chocobo friends. He loves his home, mainly due to the fact that the farm’s caretaker is a young white mage named Shirma who enjoys reading stories to her chocobos. One day, their black mage friend named Croma arrives with a book he purchased in the far east. The mysterious book seems to have an eye and after you’re asked to open its lock, we discover that the book is really an evil tome known as Bebuzzu. It suddenly opens a portal that traps every chocobo … until you manage to escape with your soul intact. Now it is up to you, as well as your friends Shirma and Croma, to rescue your friends from the evil clutches of Bebuzzu.
Sure, the game carries the Final Fantasy label in the title but this one isn’t a role-playing game but rather a unique, light-hearted adventure game. Unlike most adventure games, though, this one has you playing through a collection of mini-games that - when completed - reveal playing cards that represent your captured friends. Touching the card releases your captive friend and so you’ll be searching the area for more while completing mini-games and microgames. Since storytelling is the theme of the game, the mini-games themselves are a sort of retelling of familiar fables only with a Final Fantasy theme. For instance, one of the first mini-game’s you’ll encounter is The Adamantoise and the Cactuar, a take on the Tortoise and the Hare fable that will have your chocobo character riding on top of a tortoise-like adamantoise using the Stylus. There’s even a Jack and the Beanstalk tale as well as a take on the Ugly Duckling story.
Changing the outcomes of these stories, you’ll either free a friend or gain a character that introduces card battles. Much like a Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh card battle, the Pop-Up Battles allow you to pick three cards from your deck of 15 cards and a battle ensues using your selected cards. The participant that selects a card first deals the first damage and the game continues until an opponent’s hit points reaches zero. You’ll often go up against villains like Irma (the exact opposite of the good Shirma) and her Jailbird (chocobos raised to do evil) minions. These card battles are not only inventive and easy to learn but actually fun to play to the point that you won’t mind when a rival pops up to battle you.
There are also microgames you’ll encounter along the way that are short, fun and some of them make great use of the Nintendo DS technology. There’s a microgame called Job Juggler where a character will appear on the screen briefly and you’re suppose to tap the same character from a list of characters on the bottom screen. Another one has you blowing on the microphone to make your character float but carefully avoiding passing enemies and a game called Malboro Masher that’s similar to Wack-A-Mole only you have to avoid tapping on a bomb monster. These are but a small taste of the microgames you’ll encounter and while not all of them are brilliant, the majority of them are definitely pleasing and some you’ll be glad to replay in Quick Play mode (a game mode that allows you to play any game you unlock during the Story Mode).
With more than 100 cards to collect and plenty of mini and microgames to play, the game’s story will not fail to hook you. Thankfully, as I mentioned, you can replay a favorite game in the Quick Play mode and you can even share them with a friend through the single-card wireless download function. What also keeps you playing this game long after you finish the single-player mode is the fact that you can challenge a friend to a card battle online or offline. Using the Wi-Fi connection, playing online is just as good as it is offline only here you can request duels with players from all over and you can even add new friends to a friend roster.
Chocobo Tales is also a visually impressive game with a unique visual style that looks great on the Nintendo DS. Oftentimes the characters you’ll encounter look like cutouts that appear on the screen along your beautifully detailed character. The environments also leap off the screen and when it comes to visual effects the game will not fail to impress. There are also some decent sound effects in this game and while there’s no voice acting to be heard here the music - most of it taken from past Final Fantasy games - works perfectly in this game.
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales for the Nintendo DS is a charming, surprisingly fun and satisfying adventure game for gamers of all ages. You don’t even have to be a fan of the Final Fantasy series to like this game but for those who are you’re in for a rare treat. Yes, it’s way too cute at times and yes, just a small portion of the mini-games aren’t brilliant, but with an endearing story and some fun battles to participate in this is one portable adventure you will not want to miss. This is a real 'Must Have' Nintendo DS title.
Review Scoring Details for Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales
Despite the fact that the game looks like a children’s title, the game never talks down to the gamer when it tells its tale and there’s plenty to do in the game’s Story Mode. The various mini and micro games are actually fun and so are the card battles. There’s also multiplayer action that can be played online or offline.
Chocobo Tales’ graphics can be best described as a colorful pop-up book come to life and with unique art design, you’ll be glad that Square Enix made good use of the Nintendo DS graphics capabilities. Even the visual effects seem to leap out of the dual screens. This is great stuff, indeed.
The game’s music takes samples from familiar Final Fantasy themes including the recognizable music whenever a chocobo appears in a Final Fantasy game. There’s no voice acting to be found in this game but at least the sound effects are nicely detailed.
While some aspects of the game are really challenging, there’s nothing in this game that will have you stumped whether you’re a young gamer or an older one. The puzzles in the game aren’t hard to figure out although the ones that require a sharp eye and quick reaction will keep you busy.
The chocobos are so darn cute in this game and you’ll encounter a number of Final Fantasy creatures that have once had small roles to play in the major console games. There are mini-games that retell familiar fables (only adding a Final Fantasy twist to them) and the game’s main story is actually good. You can also challenge players online and send a microgame to a friend wirelessly.
Taking on four players online via the DS Wi-Fi connection makes for some great Pop-Up Duels that run smoothly online as well as offline. You can send a friend a microgame via the single-card download feature or add a friend to your “buddy list” and have them join you online.
Don’t let its kiddy appearance fool you. Chocobo Tales for the Nintendo DS is a fun, endearing and a wonderfully creative game that will not only appeal to Final Fantasy fans but gamers of all ages. With a wealth of mini-games and a story that is actually appealing, this is one Nintendo DS game you should not miss.