Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon Hands-On

We sink our talons into some light dungeon-crawling action with Chocobo and friends.

When you set off on a treasure hunt with a giant yellow bird, you can hardly be surprised when you're transported to a legendary town that exists in a realm apart from your own. This is the predicament in which we find Cid and Chocobo at the beginning of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon. We recently played the first few levels of the game, getting a glimpse of the mysteries surrounding the town and a taste of what it's like to dungeon-crawl with a big, adorable avian.

The only thing better than a Chocobo is a cosplaying Chocobo.

At the outset of the game we join Cid and Chocobo as they race across the desert toward a tall, ominous tower. Cid is searching for an artifact called Timeless Power, which he hopes to use to power his airship, and Chocobo is apparently along for the ride as his bodyguard. The interior of the tower serves as a brief learning dungeon that introduces the concepts of movement, basic combat, and use of special abilities. Whether you hold the Wii Remote either face-up or sideways, the D pad allows you to maneuver through the grid-based levels. You play as Chocobo, and with every attack you make small chirping noises that emanate from the TV and the Wii Remote speaker. This was the most irksome part of the game's pervasive and otherwise inoffensive dedication to presenting a cute, family-friendly package.

This dedication manifests itself in the gameplay as simplicity and accessibility. Your combat options in a given turn are limited to a basic attack, item use, or one of the special attacks you gain as you level up. Combat is turn-based but progresses at a brisk clip, so battling the regularly respawning enemies doesn't feel like much of a chore. The dungeons will often change shape when you enter them again, which means there's no mapping them out to avoid the many traps that are strewn about. This shifting will sometimes mean you enter a level right near the exit (a boon for those unconcerned with loading up on items or grinding experience points), and for the most part every level feels the same as the last, with a few different hallway patterns. Health boosts are available as items or as glowing circles on the dungeon floor, and enemies don't provide much of a challenge until a ways into the game.

The classic Final Fantasy job system is present here as well, and by changing your job at the beginning of a dungeon you tailor your attributes to your style of play. Players who dive into combat headfirst might prefer the robust Knight, while the White Mage and its healing power might appeal to a less gung-ho player. As you search for the citizens' memories, you'll also find job memories that unlock new jobs and abilities.

The simplified combat goes a long way toward giving Chocobo's Dungeon a very accessible, very novice feel. Later dungeons provide stiffer challenges by limiting you (and all your foes) to one health point, or by restricting your field of view so you can't see enemies until they are right on top of you. Still, the game could easily be marketed as My First Dungeon Crawler and serve as a light, yet well-featured introduction to the genre.

The town that plays host to your adventuring is called Lostime, an apt name for a place where the citizens regularly have their memories erased by the tolling of the Bell of Oblivion. The mayor espouses the benefits of forgetting past worries and heartaches, but your conversations with the townsfolk quickly reveal that not everyone is buying it. Enter Raffaello, a strange green-haired baby who falls from the sky in an egg, wears a winged diaper, and has the uncanny ability to create dungeons in people's minds. At the end of these dungeons lie the memories that the ringing bell has hidden, and by unlocking these memories one by one Chocobo begins to find out more about the history of Memoria, the region that encompasses Lostime. Early memories we unlocked hinted at a catastrophic event in the town's history, and later memories will no doubt reveal more. There's also the matter of your rival treasure hunters and fellow recurring Final Fantasy characters, Irma and Volg, who were transported to Memoria along with Cid and Chocobo.

The clocktower that houses the Bell of Oblivion towers over Lostime.

Beyond the dungeon exploration sections there are a few other ways to occupy your time in Lostime. There are item shops and places to upgrade your weapons, as well as animals and people to chat with. The local Mog House, run by a friendly Moogle, has a number of minigames on offer to your enjoyment. These games (darts, shooting gallery, an unlockable mystery game, and Pop-Up Duel, a card battle game) are a light diversion, and you can earn new cards for Pop-Up Duel by getting high scores in the other two games. Pop-Up Duels can also be played against friends or random opponents over the Nintendo WFC. These games are really the only part of Chocobo's Dungeon where Wii Remote pointing and motion controls are required, so there's some novelty to them as a contrast to your dungeon excursions.

The world of Memoria is bright, colorful, and a great place for some light adventuring and exploratory fun. Though we only played through the early levels, there were hints of complexity and challenge that could provide more of a substantive challenge later on in the game. Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is scheduled for a July 8 release, so look for our full review right around then.

Written By

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

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Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon

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Discussion

41 comments
tebian
tebian

Loved this game, I finished it in like 40 hours of play, taking my time and just enjoying a fun romp through totally Square heaven.

brackamation
brackamation

Who else but nintendo and square enix XD

brackamation
brackamation

Who else but nintendo and square enix XD

mOnKiLaiON
mOnKiLaiON

sounds good..but kind stupid, dont it? x)

jjr10
jjr10

Sounds interesting. i don't like the whole d-pad thing though.. then again, it worked great in Super Paper Mario, so we'll just have to see.

Myriam_D
Myriam_D

Bah. Still don't have a Wii. A Wal-Mart in Gatineau had two of them, but I can't have. (Darn money.) Still, this seems like a great improvement over their opinion of the PS version, so I hope it goes well. (I'll get my wii-owning buddies to buy it. :P)

mne635
mne635

wow a full game based on chocobo's how the mighty ff series has fallen

Sunrie
Sunrie

Seems like maybe a remake of the original. The appears to be a little too cutesy for my taste. @FallenAngelXBL Actually, the FF series went downhill after six, picked up very slightly at nine, and then dropped again until FF12.

Serbine
Serbine

This game will definitely be awesome as It have both Chocobo's and Moogle's(what more can you ask for), also Dzimm Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles play sort of like a Baldur Gate's game as they both have the same play styIe.

pitchan
pitchan

Quote:ADJ209 Sadly nintendo fans I dont think youll see a real FF title maybe in a distant future though.. I've heard that a new FFCC game is coming out soon for the wii thats kind of like a real FF title and has magic and everything that normal FF games have except the sephiroth storyline (when will he die for good?)

Cajun_Catfish
Cajun_Catfish

Hell yeah, World Ends With You 2 for wii.... sexcii!

lionheart234
lionheart234

chocobo power.....!!! xD finally a chocobo dungeon game is being release in the uk, since the original didnt .... go chocobo...!!!

FallenAngelXBL
FallenAngelXBL

ADJ209, tbh, i couldnt care less if nintendo doesnt get a REAL FF game, because the series went down hill after about 9, and 12 was one of the worst FF games iv played...unless they really get there act together, im not buying 13. This however looks pretty fun, might get it.

BontraXenderKyl
BontraXenderKyl

@Dragonmxz . Yes, lately there're so many great games that releasing so it might hard to choose between them but anyway I wouldn't think that I go on this game while the other ones are better.

Dragonmxz
Dragonmxz

Uhh.. why do i never have any money to buy games? I want this but there are also so many others i want....Darn.

ADJ209
ADJ209

Sadly nintendo fans I dont think youll see a real FF title maybe in a distant future though..

meluvulongtime8
meluvulongtime8

I sure hope that there is some challenge to this game, because to me the preview came across as the game being mediocre and focusing on being cute and easily accessible

ultra-chidori
ultra-chidori

Well um didn't Nintendo say the wii wasn't capable to run a rpg?

Platyphyllum
Platyphyllum

Why are people mentioning the fact that it looks childish? I mean, Chocobo's Dungeon on the PS looked childish so what else can you expect from a sequel? And it's based on the Chocobo, the overly cute mascot of Final Fantasy, what else can you expect?

Rhen_Var
Rhen_Var

This sucks, it's for WII. I loved the first one but man...*Sigh* Good news for WIi owners :roll:

combatsoldier
combatsoldier

i am a huge fan of final fantasy since it first was released on nes years ago but im not to sure about this one. it looks kinda childish but thats just my opinion. im going to wait and see about this one.

RossGould
RossGould

This does look kind of childish, however square-enix do have a natural talent of making well polished games. I'm sure they'll put in as much time as possible in order to make it the best of its' ability

CheddarLimbo
CheddarLimbo

Every game is not going to appeal to all gamers on equal levels. Chocobo Fables for the DS was a great game - if you went into it expecting a light and fun experience. It's not for the hardcore group, and the same seems to be true of this title. I think Chocobo Dungeon will do what it's intended to do, and do it well, but it's always going to be a casual experience. You just have to be prepared for that, or just don't pick up the game.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

"The World Ends With You 2" for the Wii please. Oh yeah!

chrisPperson
chrisPperson

Uh... Um... Might wanna add some better stuff to this game...

CVM_123
CVM_123

personally this is not looking good

dzimm
dzimm

This is funny. We have some people saying, "I hope it's like the PS1 version! That was awesome!" and others saying, "I hope it's not like the PS1 version! That was awful!" Anyway, since this is a Square Enix title then it's definitely one to keep an eye on, though what I wouldn't give for a proper Baulder's Gate style RPG on a console.

senjutsu
senjutsu

Chocobo's Dungeon on the PS1 was really bad. I hope this one will be better. I won't buy since I don't have a wii (right now), but maybe later (when I'll have one)

jeremiah06
jeremiah06

too bad the ps2 wont get a Chocobo's Dungeon i remember when i first got Chocobo's Dungeon 2 on the ps1 it was soo fun but i was not skilled enough back then to finish it as i was only like 9 or 10

kos1085
kos1085

This could be interesting.

ff_medo_lp
ff_medo_lp

i love chocobos they are AWESOME :D

Evanescent_Love
Evanescent_Love

Here's hoping it'll be like Chocobo's Dungeon on PS1. That would mean its awesome :D

brawlzelda123
brawlzelda123

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

chickenmonkey
chickenmonkey

I just want to know if it's better than Dragon Quest Swords. (Please be yes.)