A couple of nuisances with items and saving, but none the less the best RPG for the DS
Although the story immediately throws you into the game with no more flashy sequences, the first thing you’ll see is that Luneth, a youth from the village of Ur has fallen down a fall in the ground into an underground cave, followed by the option to rename him to your desire if you so choose. In this initial start, you’ll navigate yourself round the cave, battling really weak enemies, collecting treasure and reaching the boss towards the back of the cave. This section eases you into gameplay without a lot of boring story to read through. It turns out Luneth is one of the four chosen ones as told by a magical crystal. He has the task of finding the other 3 characters and journey to save the world from darkness. You’ll recognise the story from the other early Final Fantasies that shared similar themes of “Light Warriors” and “Magic Crystals” so don’t expect an epic story twisting plot like FFVII, but none the less it’s fun and creative without being dull. Unlike FFI the characters do display some personality even though it is minimal.
As you explore the game more, you’ll enter various towns each with its own dilemma or story to it, for example the town Kazus’s inhabitants are cursed by an evil entity, some other towns are really cool such as the “Mini Village” which can only be entered by casting Mini on the whole party. You can see where Zelda: Minish Cap took inspiration from this game. A lot of the towns do have a lot of character, each with secret passageways and shops, inns and so on. The world map is similarly structured as in other FF games. With mountains, rivers, forests to traverse, you’ll find modes of transports from Chocobo’s to Airships and Canoes. The battle system is familiar too; taking turns in battle to defeat the enemy or enemies, and once you’ve unlocked the job feature about an hour in the game you can assign specific jobs to deploy different skills in battle. The expected jobs are all here to anyone familiar with the series, from Warriors to Black Mages and Thieves, however each job has a job level separate from your own characters level that makes the job better in time and improve battle stats like Strength and Agility. Different jobs enable you to equip certain equipment; Knights can equip excellent armour whereas Mages can only equip staffs and things, but the effects of magic are better. Magic itself consists of Black (Attacking Magic) and White (Healing Magic) and the limits of this is used through MP which the maximum is increased by levelling up, A really annoying problem is when you switch jobs from say a warrior to a black mage, your MP is 0 and your stats are lowered for a set battle number for some stupid reason. And with no Ethers in the game, restoring MP is a rare opportunity halfway in a dungeon, which also has no save points before crucial boss battles. Just these little details let the game down in terms of frustration especially with venturing in a cave that took a good 20 minutes and to lose to the boss only to have to go through the area again. Healing is also annoying, Phoenix Downs cant be bought in shops and you have to find them in treasure chests, The only real way of healing is potions, Inns, white magic and the off the chance heal spring located around. The games difficulty starts off nice and easy but gradually the monsters and boss get tougher in the 10th hour. Another factor in battle is generally luck as seeing as agility doesn’t really count for nothing as your team randomly operates in a random order, which has the major drawback of one character wasting the Hi-potion you were going to use before the other character was to use a Phoenix Down on the Fallen character. Even with these drawbacks, battling is as fun as the other Final Fantasies are, and without being too complicated to operate: its fairly simple to first time FF players.
The DS nicely covers the game with two screens, although you’ll be watching the game mostly on the bottom screen, the touch system can move you around but its more convenient to use the Dpad, and gone is the ancient programming of walking along squares, the game really is 3D which lets you go in any direction you choose. Also a new option that allows you to zoom into the area and detect any sparkling items that contain potions and the like to triggering secret passageways lets you also focus on the detail in characters more, although this neglects your view on the area so you’ll be zooming in and out a lot, but there aren’t any real camera problems at all. Even with one or two minor problems, this is without doubt the best RPG for the DS, graphically and gameplay wise. The only real flaw to be had with this game is really the difficultly due to stupid lack of healing points in dungeons. Brilliant for FF fans to complete the series and amazing for DS owners wanting a decent RPG to play on.