I’ll get this out of the way: Final Fantasy Explorers is great, but only if you get to play it with a group of friends. Unfortunately, I only got a chance to experience a single-player demo at this year’s Tokyo Game Show and the only allies I had were a chocobo and a goblin.
The demo starts you off in a hub town where you can shop for items and equipment, as well as talk to various other NPCs. The shops were closed off to me in the demo, however, so I didn’t have the chance to see how deep the equipment and armor systems were as compared to other titles in the mon-hun genre. There was also an option to select your character class and these were the jobs available: knight, archer, monk, dragoon, white mage, black mage, time mage, and ninja. As I was playing alone, I decided to stick with the default knight class as I thought it would give me the best chance of survival.
After making a short run around the quaint little town, I spoke to the guild master who then assigned me a quest to take down Ifrit. Accompanying me on my journey into the volcanic dungeon were a friendly chocobo and a little goblin. The chocobo proved to be an invaluable ally because of its area-of-effect healing spell while the goblin, on the other hand, could only serve as a distraction for my enemies as its attacks were simply way too feeble.
Pressing the R button on the 3DS allows you to lock on to the closest enemy. Holding the R button will bring up a small display on the lower right corner of the screen, showing you various skills you can execute by holding R and hitting the respective face buttons. The knight had a lightning attack, as well as a move to launch foes into the sky, allowing for some variety in his gameplay.
Taking down the normal enemies in the dungeon was no problem; it was the battle with Ifrit that proved to be a real pain in the ass. The AI-controlled chocobo and goblin were almost useless in the fight with Ifrit as they didn’t bother trying to avoid his attacks and ended up getting killed, leaving my knight alone in his endeavor. The fight wasn’t difficult per se, it was just a tedious affair due to the fact that I could only wheedle Ifrit’s health down slowly as I continued to hack away at him. The fight with Ifrit was a matter of watching his attack patterns, dodging them, and getting a few pot shots in whenever I had an opening. This, of course, would have been a much quicker fight had I been given the chance to coordinate my attacks with three other allies.
Overall, Final Fantasy Explorers is a strong title to be added to the mon-hun genre of games, but I suspect it’ll only truly shine if you play with friends.
Final Fantasy Explorers to set to release on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan this December, though there is still no word on whether the game will be localized.