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Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales Review

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Developer: Square-Enix Publisher: Square-Enix
Release Date: April 3, 2007 Also On: None

As the Final Fantasy series is sucked of all its worth by Square-Enix, gamers can expect a lot of spin-offs and distractions. Perhaps fans can trust Square-Enix’s DS efforts, though; Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime was a great game that ran for Best DS Game of 2006 last year, and upon us now is another great Nintendo DS game: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales. Although it relies more on association to the series than anything, Chocobo Tales is a fun title that is worth a look.

The story here finds you playing the role of a chocobo whose friends are magically trapped inside of picture books scattered across the land by an evil devil named Bebezu. As the player interacts with other characters in the game and these picture books, mini-games are initiated. These mini-games are the beef of Chocobo Tales, and for the most part, they succeed as quick distractions. You have to understand, a game like Chocobo Tales isn’t to be played constantly. Its thrills are offered best in spurts, so sitting down and playing Chocobo Tales on a quick ride or during a short break is how it will be most enjoyed.

The mini-games are simple enough, and varied to the point that they don’t ever get boring. Almost all of them exclusively use touch-screen controls. Examples of some of the games include a Minesweeper-esque grid game where you begin on a spot on the grid and follow instructions until you reach a crown, and a race-to-the-finish up a mountain on the back of an adamantoise. There are a few annoying mini-games; I found the one where Leviathan chases you through underwater tunnels to be incredibly annoying.

Perhaps the best part of Chocobo Tales is its trading card game side quest. As you go along completing chapters in the picture books, you’ll unlock and earn trading cards that can be thrown into a deck and used against other players in the game. Sometimes card battles are mandatory, so the game guides you into the card game and requires that you learn it. The card battles can become quite deep; each card has four slots that can contain a sword or a shield. Depending on the attacks on the card, and the required swords or shields needed to use an attack, cards can be really helpful or completely useless. For example, if the attack you are trying to use requires you to have a sword in one of the slots, and your enemy’s card on the same turn has a shield in that spot, your attack will be blocked. If a sword was in the spot, your attack’s damage is halved. It is complicated at first, but gets simpler as you play along. Also, more powerful attacks are used by gathering and using CP. CP is earned by using cards, and the type of CP earned is the same as the color of the card you used. After defeating your enemy with attacks from your cards (this can take a surprising amount of time), you win battles and earn more cards and other goodies. As I said, the card battling is complicated on paper, but simple and fun in execution.

Visually, Chocobo Tales has a crayon and paper cut-out look that is pleasant on the eyes. Final Fantasy characters like Ifrit and Bahamut are recreated nicely with these cut-outs, and the cut-outs animate like they would if they were made from paper. Overall, the presentation is quite nice. There was a little too much reading for my liking, but the fairy tale preface to each of the mini-games wouldn’t interest anyone outside of a younger audience anyway.

Overall, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales is a great youngster’s alternative to Wario Ware: Touched!, Feel The Magic XX/XY, or Rub Rabbids. It is filled with mini-games that are deeper than the hyperactive Wario Ware’s and a storyline that is more familiar to kids than that in Feel The Magic and Rub Rabbits. Chocobo Tales doesn’t last forever, and is only its best in spurts, but is a decent package for younger Final Fantasy fans to try.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.7
Written by Cliff Review Guide