It’s time to look at a recent Final Fantasy spinoff I got to play. This game has been sitting on the back burner for a very long time at this point. It always looked pretty fun, but I figured it would be pretty long so shorter games kept jumping it in line. Well, no more! I finally took the plunge and it’s definitely a fun game. While I’m not a fan of all the mechanics, I can say that the game was pretty well made. It certainly does the Chocobo character justice.
The game starts with Chocobo and Cid trying to grab the Timeless Power stone from some kind of ruins. Unfortunately Cid’s rival shows up and nabs it first. Before she can gloat, the whole group is transported to another dimension and the rival vanishes. This town is a little odd as nobody remembers anything including what their names are. A bell rings every few hours which makes the memory loss even worse. Fortunately, Chocobo seems to have the ability to go inside someone’s mind which allows him to restore their memories. There is also a baby named Rafaello who seems to have something to do with it. Chocobo starts on his mission to get everyone’s memories back, but everyone keeps telling him that this is a bad idea. Even the gods of the world tell him that he will only bring despair. Is this really the right thing to do?
Chocobo’s Dungeon is the kind of game where a large part of the story doesn’t really seem to have much of a plot. You go around restoring memories, but beyond that nothing much happens. Still, it’s a pleasant enough game. Right away you can see how much content is here as there are a bunch of side missions and sub quests to fulfill. The towns people seem nice enough as well. Still, you get the sense that something isn’t right since as I mentioned everyone is against Chocobo. The bosses you have to defeat in order to save the memories are also characters like the guardians of Light and Flame. Are they really villains or are you the villain?
All of these questions are answered in the climax which is definitely intense. It’s a climax that wouldn’t feel out of place in a main installment like Final Fantasy VII. The Destroyer, who is the final boss even looks a little like Sephiroth. We get a nice cutscene towards the end where this character even takes on Chroma and I wasn’t expecting such a fight. It was cool and I’d be up for seeing this game get a remake or be turned into a movie. I know there is a sequel for the DS so maybe I’ll get that one pretty soon.
Now lets talk about the gameplay as that is the bulk of the game. It’s a 3D turn based dungeon explorer type game where you have to navigate through the many floors until you get to the boss. Each step you take counts as a turn so you will have to quickly decide whether you want to move, attack, or use an item. I do really enjoy the strategy here. Most dungeons are only 8-10 floors while the larger ones are around 20. The final dungeon is 50 floors so get ready for that. Fortunately there is a check point every 10 floors so you don’t have to worry about starting all the way from the beginning. That would have been annoying.
The game does add in some stakes here though. For one, if you die you lose all of your money and all non equipped items. This encourages you not to take unrealistic risks. Make sure you have an exit strategy in mind or at least store your money in the bank before going on a tough quest. You’ll definitely want to do some leveling up before you get to the end of the game since the final bosses see a considerable increase in difficulty. Don’t underestimate them or your items will be sorry. When going into a dungeon you also have to choose what class you want to play as. Each new dungeon unlocks a new form for you. I highly recommend the Knight and White Mage forms. The Knight has great special attacks and gives you extra defense which is always good. I used him for the first 3 and a half chapters. However, eventually he simply wasn’t cutting it so I switched to the White Mage and never looked back. This form has a lot of great healing abilities so you no longer have to worry about carrying potions. Then he also has the best ability in the game which is the fact that he can cast a revive on himself. You can also use the escape ability to just get out of the dungeon if things look impossible. The Dark Knight is typically considered to be the best, but by the time I unlocked him the game was almost over so I couldn’t really verify that.
Now, I mentioned that not all of the mechanics were my favorite. In particular I am referring to the fact that enemies can rot your weapons. It works like in Breath of the Wild where your weapons just get weaker as you use them. They don’t actually break in this version but they do get weaker which is annoying since the only way to power them up further is to spend more money. What you want to do is find a weapon with an anti rust upgrade and then fuse that to your main weapon to ensure that nobody can weaken it. At that point you are all set. There are others for extra EXP and money, but I never found the former. It would have certainly come in handy though.
The graphics are pretty decent. It’s certainly a step below most of the other Final Fantasy games, but it still looks pretty good I’d say. It’s just using a different style. It’s sort of like World of Final Fantasy but not quite as polished. It does have each character keep up a motion throughout the game which is cool though like Chocobo’s power squats. He is doing squats during the entire game which is pretty impressive. Then we have the soundtrack which is pretty ordinary for the most part, but I do like the Chrome boss theme. That one’s definitely hype and will pump you up for the actual battle. It’s just that kind of high energy theme. So this game ultimately definitely delivered when it counted.
Overall, I’d recommend checking this game out. It’s a pretty fun RPG and one where you really feel like you got a lot of value for the price. The story took me 18 hours and that’s certainly a good amount of time. As I mentioned, the plot does take a while to get going, but as long as you’re fine with that then this is a slam dunk. With this game gone now I’ll be eagerly awaiting the Spyro trilogy. In the meanwhile I’ll work on Ridge Racer, but those turns are definitely real tough. I need some more training before I can be a master at the game like Chocobo. They always start out tough, but get enough level up and any RPG is cake. Sadly there are no level ups in something like Ridge Racer.