"Old School Final Fantasy for a New Generation"
Having gotten my start as a young gamer on the Nintendo 64, I ended up missing most of the vintage games that were made for the consoles released before. That includes all of the 8/16-bit Final Fantasy games (you know, the ones without the spiky-haired emo heroes). Sure, there are remakes aplenty of most of these games, but my generation has never had an original old-school-style Final Fantasy to call its own.
Enter Final Fantasy Dimensions. Originally released in Japan in episodic installments over the span of a year, this original iOS / Android exclusive has finally been translated into English. After my time with it, I can definitely say that that is good news for fans of the series' earlier days.
I may not have played the classic Final Fantasy games, but I know of their stories, and Dimensions carries on the series' grand tradition of epic storytelling. What begins as simply four warriors' mission to check up on the state of their small kingdom's crystal becomes something much grander as a tyrannical empire, an all-consuming darkness, and another quartet enters the mix. This is FFD's first strength, its story, which bounces back and forth between the two groups of four, growing more intriguing with each character introduction and plot development.
Playing Final Fantasy Dimensions, it becomes apparent that many of the RPGs of recent years have either borrowed from or been inspired by Square Enix's franchise, in that many of the elements of the gameplay – the exploration of the over-world, the safety of towns, the pursuit of ever more power equipment, the team-based, turn-based battles – should be easy to grasp for those who've played any number of role-players. That's not a bad thing, though, since the game executes these elements with a skill worthy of its predecessors' legacy.
The combat especially shines, with a variety of enemies and challenging bosses to fight, and a variety of attacks and spells to use against them. Battles in Final Fantasy Dimensions make use of the series' well-known Active Time Battle system, which, in short, allows enemies to strike while a party is preparing its attacks. This system brings a nice level of tension to even the most trivial of battles, though being able to take damage at any time during battle will require some getting used to for newcomers.
Another well-known Final Fantasy mechanic that makes its way here is the Jobs system, which allows players to endow their characters with the unique traits of a certain class (Warrior, Thief, White / Black / Red Mage, etc.). Equipping these jobs allows characters to gain these traits, which are made stronger through victory in battle, as well as through the use of Job Points gained throughout the story, allowing players to increase the level cap of each job (therefore making them even stronger).
Unlike other Final Fantasy games, in which job selections were permanent, FFD lets players assign any party member to any job at any time, giving them the freedom to experiment with a multitude of job combinations. This also makes it possible to enable party members to use the traits of multiple classes, so if players want, say, a Warrior with the healing powers of a White Mage and the attack skills of a Dragoon, they can have such a character with a little time and patience.
While the gameplay is without a doubt old-school, Final Fantasy Dimensions manages to subtly squeeze in modern-day features. The most noticeable of these is the digital D-pad used to navigate the overworld, as it can appear wherever one touches the screen, meaning one does not have to work around a static-D-pad that may be placed in an awkward spot. Touch-screen controls also help in battle, as commands can be selected and put into action with just a simple series of taps. And a nod goes out to a small but helpful feature: the 'Auto Mode', which sets the characters to attack automatically and doubles the speed of the battle, considerably taking the edge off of level grinding.
There are a few nitpicky things that get in the way of the experience, such as the occasional difficulty with the D-pad (maneuvering around obstacles can be more of a hassle than it ought to be) and the linearity of the game most of the time. Like I said, though, the complaints are mainly nitpicky, and do little to detract from the game.
No, the real problem with Final Fantasy Dimensions, the one that stands the greatest chance of getting people not to play it, is the price. While pricing begins decently enough, with a free prologue and a $2.99 first chapter, the remaining three chapters are each priced at $9.99, which brings the grand total to around 33 dollars (29 if you buy it all in one shot). To put it all in perspective, it's not a bad price, considering that FFD is pretty much the size of a console RPG. But compared to other RPGs on mobile devices, (you can almost buy three whole FF games on the App Store for less) the cost is alarmingly high.
In the end though, that may hardly matter, as Final Fantasy Dimensions is easily worth the console price. Once again, Square Enix has provided longtime Final Fantasy fans with another worthy installment, while giving newbies and more recent fans an original old-school adventure to get lost in. Not to mention, chilling with moogles, kupo.
GameDynamo's Score for Final Fantasy Dimensions (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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