We’ve been calling World of Final Fantasy just a cute and chibi spin-off for so long that we forgot to make the most obvious connection of them all: this is a Pokémon game all the way to its very core.
What do I mean by that? Well, in this demo at least, our playable characters toured the world with a few starter monsters riding on their heads. From there, they got into random fights with other iconic Final Fantasy beasts, and once their enemies had been sufficiently weakened, the characters could catch them in a ball and add them to the party.
From there, these new monsters fight other new monsters, weakening them to be captured by the use of a ball. It’s a cycle with a very obvious endpoint. Collect then, train them, trade them, battle with them. Pokémon.
There are differences of course. Monsters don’t fight individually in battle but rather stacked on the heroes’ heads. There, they grant stat boosts and magic spells, powering up the character as a single unit rather than as individual monsters.
There’s a lot to it, balancing stats and knowing how and when to use stronger monsters. Weakening monsters is also hard since my characters got to the point of one-hit kills. And then there is understanding how to use the heroes’ chibi forms for catching and normal forms for battling bosses. These normal forms can equip more monsters, meaning better stats.
I don’t need to explain the combat, really. It’s about as simple as a JRPG gets. Line up, attack, magic, item, run!
I couldn’t take it all in with the 15 minutes I had, but this is a deep game that’s clearly much much more than just cute graphics. Not to say they aren’t cute, though. I bumped into chibi Yuna in my demo, and my heart just melted.
I even got a happy reaction out of Lightning, whom I usually loathe.
If I had any complaints, it would be in the sputtering cutscenes, which did not run optimally. Maybe the final build deals with that.
This is a happy game that is light and will make you smile, but it will also provide a full experience, one worthy of the Final Fantasy name. Just be sure to expect a Pokémon game when it launches on Nov. 25 for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.