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World of Final Fantasy is a labor of love from a team that clearly cares about the franchise as much as longtime Square fans do. It is a saccharine love letter to a nearly thirty-year-old gaming behemoth that could use a step in the right direction. The attention to detail is staggering. Every area feels familiar, every song has honeyed notes of nostalgic twang that will tug at one’s heart and the gamut of characters is immense. However, this approach leads to a game that will seem rather incomprehensible to those not intimately familiar with three decades worth of Final Fantasy. Those who have stuck with the series will find many reasons to stick around World of Final Fantasy‘ notably long runtime, even after looking past the decided lack of a quality narrative.

World of Final Fantasy

The juxtaposition of the classic Final Fantasy with the chibi is ridiculous.

The game’s marketing didn’t do the best job in actually hinting at what the heck World of Final Fantasy is actually about. It is an intravenous injection of nostalgia sure, but more importantly, it’s a cross of Final Fantasy and Pokémon that just works. The notion of collecting the very monsters that long-time fans have seen across so many entries and rostering them is engaging enough but then the wonderfully simple Stacking mechanic comes into play. All monsters (known as Mirages in-game) come in small, medium, large and extra large, which then feeds into the idea of literally stacking units on top of each other to combine health, abilities, strengths and weaknesses together. It is a unique twist on the classic party system that early Final Fantasy titles helped to make mainstream that possesses a deceptive level of depth. The flow of combat will also appeal to veterans of the franchise as classic ATB (Active-Time-Battle) system where players will be waiting for action gauges to fill up before making their next move.

World of Final Fantasy

ATB Battle? Smells like classic Final Fantasy to me.

Every new area the player encounters offers more Mirages to capture, ranging from Marlboros and Chocobos all the way to Ifrit, Bahamut and Shiva. Certain conditions have to be met to allow for captures, starting off simple enough with dealing a certain amount of damage. Deeper into the game, the capture conditions elevates dramatically including certain status effects, specific sequences of abilities and more. Customization of Mirages can be done via the Mirage Board which works similarly to the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X. This allows for passive and active abilities to be tacked onto would-be teammates but it also allows for evolutions of particular Mirages. There is, thankfully, an option to move back and forth between evolved states at Save Points throughout the game.

World of Final Fantasy

Sphere Grid? Dress Grid? Materia? Who needs ’em? My Chocobo Chick is demi-god now.

What about all of those screenshots of hyper-deformed Lightning or Cloud coming in to save the day? This shows up in the form of Champion Medals.  Normally, players would summon Bahamut or Titan, but prior protagonists from entries past fill that role in World of Final Fantasy. Champion Medals allow once per battle summons to take place where The Warrior of Light or Bartz might swoop in, attack the enemy and also grant some sort of buff for the player’s party. A remixed version of the character’s theme or a main theme from the game they represent will begin to play and remain so for a few minutes after. Square-Enix is making no attempt to back away from the fanservice and, in fact, doubles and possibly triples down as far as Champion Medals are concerned. It is pure uncut JRPG goodness for fans to ingest that works tremendously well.

World of Final Fantasy

Cloud? Okay. Lightning? Sure. But what about Vivi? HUH?!

All of this talk of rose-colored glasses and remembering the good ol’ days of Final Fantasy also brings with it the reality of what many of the game’s core entries are plagued by. Genre clichés stacked on top of one another along with writing that is sometimes very hit and miss. There are really two ways to view World of Final Fantasy‘s story. One is to enjoy the ride, not worry about the specifics and enjoy the steady thump of the Final Fantasy “Remember This” drum that bangs away for the duration. The other is that the game is rife with horrible dialogue and overlong cutscenes that overexplain game mechanics (followed by information windows saying the same thing) and a contrivance to explain why all the former FF heroes are assembled here in chibi-form that is downright abysmal. Much of the game’s writing is comedic and when the melodrama comes, it’s as thick as molasses yet unfulfilling. That comedic tilt of the writing comes down to “Gee! Lann sure is an idiot!” more often than not. Add Tama into the mix who is adorable visually but grating in regards to EVERYTHING it says and you’ve got a recipe for dialog that misses the mark fairly often. The localization team clearly had a blast bringing this game stateside and it shows in character descriptions, flavor text and so forth. If only they’d done a better job of sprucing up the script as it ranges from bad to teeth-about-to-break cringeworthy moments at times.

World of Final Fantasy

The game’s main characters are two twins by the name of Lann and Reynn. The eldest, Reynn, is the analytical one who has to put up with her lughead of a brother, Lann. So, of course, they have amnesia. Why wouldn’t they? If we’re going to traffic in core Final Fantasy then we’re going to stick to the classics right? They need to get their memories back so they travel through a portal to Grymoire where, conveniently, all of the prior kingdoms/lands of Final Fantasy games past are all sandwiched together. So that means the kingdom of Cornelia (Final Fantasy) is located right next to Saronia (Final Fantasy III) and so forth. It gets a bit more ridiculous from there but that’s the gist of things. There’s a thread that starts to form in the early stages of the game regarding all of these universes somehow tied together into one that is largely ignored by the end, leaving the plot to devolve into the usual JRPG shenanigans.

World of Final Fantasy

Cactuar Conductor. You’re kind of a jerk.

So, depending on how much Final Fantasy one wants injected directly into their veins, this game will either be an absolute delight to play through or a slog. It doesn’t help that the game feels like it overstays its welcome in the latter half, padding out for time a touch here and there to make it a “respectable” length for a JRPG. Genre veterans likely won’t have too much issue with this, but newcomers to turn-based RPGs might lose their way after twenty or so hours. However, the target audience of World of Final Fantasy isn’t newcomers. The combat is certainly accessible enough and deep enough to encourage newbies to dive in but the real star of the show is Final Fantasy itself. This is an unabashed tribute to any and all things Final Fantasy. If you don’t feel a rush of glee hearing a new arrangement of the Zanarkand theme (Final Fantasy X) or grin like a lunatic upon seeing the words “spoony bard” then this particular Final Fantasy game might not be the best place to start.

World of Final Fantasy was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by Square-Enix. It is also available on PlayStation Vita.

More About This Game

7.5
 

Very Good

Summary

World of Final Fantasy is a love-letter to the entire Final Fantasy franchise and its diehard fans. This is pure uncut Final Fantasy directly injected into your veins. Newcomers to the franchise will find an accessible battle system to work with but a completely convoluted and, frankly, bad story to deal with. The soundtrack is worth sticking around for, though.

Pros

  • Stellar Visuals and Cute Characters
  • Amazing Soundtrack with Remixed Classics
  • Great Combat Mechanics.
  • Final Fantasy Fan Service Overdrive

Cons

  • Weak Story
  • Tama
  • Terrible Voice Acting

Jeff Pannell

Staff Writer

Defender of waifus. Fighting game aficionado. Nearly 100% anime nonsense at this point. IT Specialist for the US Government by day but by night? JRPG/MMORPG addicted, constantly grinding in the lab to get better at Street Fighter and spending his time thinking critically about the medium he adores so.



  • MusouTensei

    “The localization team clearly had a blast bringing this game stateside
    and it shows in character descriptions, flavor text and so forth. If
    only they’d done a better job of sprucing up the script as it ranges
    from bad to teeth-about-to-break cringeworthy moments at times.”
    Uh no, it shouldn’t even be the right of localizers to change things, fortunately I played the german translation with JP voices which is closer to the original script, renaming an enemy into MEMEcolous should already be grounds for a law suit, screw that http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/193/305/06b.png
    (US, it’s mostly the american ones, I mean Zelda Triforce Heroes got a seperate UK translation without the stupid memes the US version has) Localizers need to be stripped off a lot of their freedoms and be hold on a much tighter leash.

    Playing the german translation with JP voices though, I really loved the game, I even platinum’d it.

  • LimmyWinks

    Was it censored any? I can usually deal with shitty localization inserts compared to censorship. Though this is definitely now a “buy when it’s cheaper” game.

  • ASCHGRAU_SEE

    Why shouldn’t translators be allowed to change things? Woolsey did a pretty good job of it on VI (when it was still III in the US).

  • euphio

    This the game gets the on my the nerves.

  • MusouTensei

    Not that I’m aware of.

  • MusouTensei

    Because it’s not their creation, their job is to translate it so interested people who can’t read japanese can play it too. This is why I’m against localization as a whole, translate and put annotations for things westerners might not understand, like fansubs sometimes do, that way you learn something new insted having your own culture forced into another culture’s creation just so you feel comfortable with it and don’t have to think too much.

  • LimmyWinks

    Good to know.

  • ASCHGRAU_SEE

    I suppose that is a good point, but Woolsey-style translations don’t require a culture course to enjoy.

  • ElKonsolero

    I highly enjoy the game – i think it´s ok to do a complete fanservice game with 30 years anniversary on the horizon. I pretty much agree with everything you said in the article Jeff. Yeah Square really did a poor job explaining what kind of game this is. Sure i was seeing the stacks in the trailers but i didn´t really think about it much, then i got the game (preordered the CE – yeah i know preorder …) on launch day and my genuine reaction was: “Oh it´s pokemon, nice!”

    The story is weak but honestly a lof of FF stories are (at least the early ones and the later ones starting at X). Final Fantasy Xs story isnt´t really deep either though more emotional than that of WoF.

    I LOVE the return of ATB, the battle system is really one of the highlights for the game. What you didn´t mention in the review is that after getting the medals to summon the heroes you can use their music instead of the original battle music via selecting the theme you want in the options segment (i chose FF VIII Battle thing remix).

    Played the game with the japanese original synchro with subs so the voiceacting wasn´t that much of a problem, though i can see hearing a few lines very early in the game in english how it can be a downside. Tama grew on me from being very annoying to kind of charming (the japanese synchro really helps with it, imo).

    Lann and Reynn were alright though they could´ve downplayed Lanns stupidity a little bit more imo and both aren´t deep characters. Until the end when you know more about their pasts and they turn from pretty blank slates to ok-ish characters in my eyes. I would´ve liked if they threw in more memories during the game even maybe with Lann and Reynn thinking they are false to give us something to be invested in them.

    Credit to Square for the absolutly fantastic 2D animated cutscenes, some of the best animation work i´ve ever seen and although Square has an animationstudio under their wing this was not just thrown together.

    Overall well written review and great game for longtime fans!

  • Astral Darkstar

    I like how Tama is listed as a Con. If you don’t mind Japanese voices, that’s definitely the way to go. SE obviously knew how bad the Voice Acting was, and that’s why they planned on you to buy it to get Japanese voices. And now there’s $25-ish worth of DLC out, that only gives you different colored Mirages that you already have. It has blurry visuals on a PS4 Pro with a fix not in sight for those outside of Japan.

    I greatly enjoyed the game. But SE didn’t give it the marketing and support it deserved. Hoping the support gets better. I just want to play with crisp visuals.

  • Feniks

    Meh if I’m nostalgic for the old FF games I’ll just play those instead.

  • ElKonsolero

    Yeah the marketing from SE was really like: ( [quietly] here we have world of final fantasy ….) AND HERE´S FINAL FANTASY 15 THE GAME YOU´VE BEEN WAITING FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS LOOK HOW SHINY IT IS!

    It´s a shame haven´t played XV yet but from all i read about it i gather that World of might actually be the better FF release. It´s certainly one of the better Final Fantasy in recent years if not the best since X.

  • Andrew Stretch

    I really enjoyed playing the game on my Vita and I’m honestly not ashamed to say I thought this was the better Final Fantasy of 2016.

  • Neither do normal translations.

  • ASCHGRAU_SEE

    That’s not necessarily true. The reason I brought up Woolsey’s translation of Final Fantasy VI (back when it was Final Fantasy III) is because many Japanese games, even those not set in some facsimile of Japan, will almost certainly include a bunch of cultural in-jokes that will only make sense if you understand the culture they come from. Japan is particularly notorious for this, being a.) very socially insular and b.) being influential worldwide despite that. Even people from other Asian nations can’t always track with Japanese in-jokes; one particular light novel series that is quite popular in Japan is largely untranslatable (in the sense of people being able to understand all the jokes in them) even for cultures that share a cultural history with Japan (like China, or maybe Korea).

  • “is because many Japanese games, even those not set in some facsimile of Japan, will almost certainly include a bunch of cultural in-jokes that will only make sense if you understand the culture they come from.”

    As usual, bullshit.

    “one particular light novel series that is quite popular in Japan is largely untranslatable (in the sense of people being able to understand all the jokes in them) even for cultures that share a cultural history with Japan (like China, or maybe Korea).”

    One.

    Light novel.

    Not games.

    You do know that you can have a proper translation, give out the same meaning and have people understand it too, right?

  • ASCHGRAU_SEE

    Okay.
    #1. Not sure why you’re getting so hostile over this.

    #2. ‘As usual, bullshit.’
    If you would like me to provide examples, I could, but it would take me some time. But the problem is here that I shouldn’t need to provide proof… *every* culture has this sort of in-joke mentality that people from other culture find difficult to understand, because it differs from the way that their own culture does it. Someone who’s experienced only their own culture would not see this, but I, as a person who has immersively experienced (though not to the same depth as others with more immersive experiences) cultures other than my own, see that this is the truth.
    Again, if you have to have me assemble examples, I could, but I would rather not.

    #3. I’m not advocating the sort of translation that completely removes all aspects of the culture. I’m advocating the sort of translation that replaces the more obtuse aspects of the culture that cannot be explained in around a sentence. That may seem arbitrary, but it’s related to that culture course statement I made earlier; it’s difficult to justify making people sit through a load of text so that they understand the context, when they could be playing the game. It seems so much easier, and it can get meaning across in *almost* the same way, when an in-joke from one culture is replaced with one from the target culture with similar meaning. That’s sort of what Woolsey did in his translation of FF VI.

    I hope that clarifies my position on this.

  • RocKM001 .

    I believe the term you are looking for is “Idiomatic Expressions”

    Every language has one. It’s usually a phrase, word, saying, joke that has a different level of contextual meaning that is hard to actually capture with a literal translation =P

  • ASCHGRAU_SEE

    Yeah, that would be a better description.