So have you played the newest Square Enix mobile game?
Although it’s been out in Japan for months now, this wasn’t on my radar until just before its US release. When I first saw the title, I thought this was going to be an app for keeping track of appointments, or maybe doing taxes. Moogle pocket calculator? Uh…cool?
Having now played the game, the title makes sense, though it’s a bit on the unimaginitive side. But then, Japanese games get a lot of weird (un)localized names, so I suppose it could have been worse. Most of us don’t really notice when game titles don’t obey the conventions of natural English anymore anyway (if we ever did).
About the game
This was a smart move on their part. I’m not overly fond of freemium games, but some companies know how to do it right. You have to know how to properly regulate the amount of fun dispensed, providing whatever the in-game currency may be like a steady IV drip. Gamers who get really into it or lack for patience will then buy periodic hits, justifying such purchases to themselves as “supporting the makers of a game I’m enjoying.” To each his own; I just find these revenue models greedy. If the game is crafted so as to be playable without paying, there’s not really anything outright unfair or sleazy about this approach, I suppose. I just have trouble making my peace with a game that can accept hundreds of dollars from a player and still keep on selling him digital pez tablets.
That said, I am playing FF:RK. The game implements enough interesting mechanics (gear upgrading, ability crafting, synergies, etc) to hold one’s attention without being overwhelmingly complicated. And it is pretty cool to build a party with your favorite characters from across titles. Or in my case to have Dark Knight Cecil and Paladin Cecil stomping bad guys together.
Square-Enix’s freemium model comes into play in two main ways. First, there’s the standard timer model. You possess a limited amount of stamina, which you must expend to progress through dungeons. While the stamina costs ramp up as you get to more difficult content and you won’t have enough to play for long periods of time, I’ve definitely encountered more oppressive timers in other games. It’s also possible to build up your max stamina, and that’s a plus. If you like, you can buy “gems” to replenish your stamina or heal your party when they’re between stages inside a dungeon. The other main use for gems is to play the equipment lotto. Gear plays an important role in the game, but at least you can get some decent stuff without paying for it.
Haters gonna hate, I suppose
I have two grievances to air, however.
Unfortunately, FF:RK requires a persistent connection. That means you most likely won’t be able to play it on the subway, on a train/plane/other fast-moving vehicle, in your underground bunker, or anywhere else with shaky or nonexistent internet access. Otherwise the loading screens don’t seem to linger for too long, but they are constant.
Also, there are too many characters. Wait – let me qualify that! There are too many characters that don’t deserve to be in your party. I realize that for many gamers around my age, Final Fantasy VII was inexplicably their first RPG, and therefore many harbor tender feelings and soft fuzzies for the FFVII lot. For my part, I thought it was a solid game, but nothing after FFVI really held any magic for me. Still, I was tickled to see Cloud as a FFVI-style sprite. Tifa, I was ok with. Then came Sephiroth.
Yes, probably the most undeservedly popular video game villain of our time. I can understand that a lot of gamers think FFVII is the bees knee of the series. Nostalgia counts for a lot, so I can dig it. But now we’re adding one-dimensional villains to our party. Granted, there isn’t really any party interaction to speak of, but having Sephiroth standing in line next to Cloud and the girl he straight up murdered (yes, the current event is for Aeris) just doesn’t sit right with me. I mean, mortal enemies fighting side-by-side…awkward, right?
Quick aside – am I metagaming on this, or am I the only one not doing so?
Golbez has come out in the J-version, but he turned out to be a good guy who fell prey to evil and then redeemed himself in the end. And he was pretty badass. What other villains turned themselves into a hand?
I only pray they don’t release Kefka as a party member. Good grief.
+ All your favorite Final Fantasy characters can party up (especially if you’re a FFVII fanboy)
+ Deep enough to keep your attention without being a very complex game
+ Not too difficult to play for free
– No real party interaction; minimal story
– Characters are released over time, so you may not see the ones you like for a while
– Persistent connection requirement may be a nonstarter for some