Final Fantasy Dimensions – Is Nostalgia Enough?

Final Fantasy Dimensions

Rating: 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Publisher: Square Enix
Console(s): iOS and Android
Release Date: August 2012

Final Fantasy DimensionsI don’t claim to be an “RPG expert” — I’ll leave that to our resident RPG expert, Shadow — but I do know a thing or two about roleplaying games, as these are the types of video games I almost exclusively play; and, if nothing else, I’m quite the classic Square buff, Final Fantasy games in particular. The original Final Fantasy was one of the very first console games I played, and despite it being somewhat confusing for just about anyone, let alone an eight-year-old girl, I was hooked. As years went on, I begged my grandpa for other Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy II and III when the SNES came out (which were, of course, actually IV and VI), the Final Fantasy Adventure games on the GameBoy (which were actually SaGa games, but still developed by Square), and even that US-made SNES game, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Later in life, I went back and bought the actual II and III, as well as V, and I am kind of really not ashamed to say that I own or have owned every version of Final Fantasy IV available, except for the last PSP port that came with The After Years because I have no idea what happened to my PSP when we moved from Las Vegas to DC.

So, yeah, I’m kind of a 8-slash-16 bit “classic” Final Fantasy junkie, as well as a self-proclaimed “nostalgia gamer.” As much as I love new RPGs, I live for these old games from my childhood. Last year, Square Enix published a new Final Fantasy mobile game, but I had some trepidation about playing it. Squeenix has been nothing if horrible when it comes to their mobile games. Most of them are designed specifically with the idea of sucking your bank account dry. Eventually, I decided to give Final Fantasy Dimensions a try, however, because it looked like it might be right up my alley. I mean, read this description from the iTunes store:

“Drawing upon the roots of the series with such features as beautiful 2-D pixel art, a battle system involving job change-based character growth and ability combinations, and a classic story of light, darkness, and crystals, FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS delivers the best of FINAL FANTASY, retro and fresh alike, directly to you.”

Final Fantasy DimensionsThat definitely sounds like something I’d enjoy, so I went to download it. I’m no stranger when it comes to hefty prices for classic Squeenix games ported to the iPhone. I own most of them, after all; Final Fantasy I and II were $8.99 each, III was $15.99, Tactics was $16.99, Secret of Mana was $8.99, and Chrono Trigger was $9.99 (Apparently buying classic RPGs is the reason I own an iPhone). All that said, Final Fantasy Dimensions weighs in at a lofty $28.99 for the entire game. This begs the question: is the nostalgia factor enough to justify the price?

The main reason I was ready and willing to shell out all of that money for the above-mentioned classic RPGs is because I know them well, and I love them dearly (well, except Final Fantasy III, which I had never played before until now, but I am nothing if not a completionist; how would it look if they ever port FFIV, V and VI over to the iPhone and I’m missing III?). I know for certain that these games are fun and entertaining, and full of at least 60-80+ hours of gameplay. That totally justifies the price. But Dimensions is a new game, and if games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time are any indication, Square Enix doesn’t always have the ability to recapture the essence of their older games, no matter how hard they try.

At the very least, you don’t have to shell out $28.99 immediately to play Final Fantasy Dimensions. The prologue is free to play, and the first chapter is only $2.99 if you’re still not quite sure if you want to invest nearly thirty bucks for a mobile game.

Final Fantasy DimensionsI enjoyed what I played of the game. There are a lot of familiar elements; the introductions of the characters made me think of FFVI, the music was somewhere between FFV and Chrono Trigger, and the graphics replicated classic 16-bit games – although they were obviously much smoother graphics. The default setting for the controls is somewhat haphazard, with touching anywhere on the screen bringing up the directional controls. Once I changed the controls to “fixed” so that they would stay in the bottom left corner (there’s also a “slide” control option where you move by – you guessed it – sliding your finger across the screen, but I wasn’t really a fan of this, either), the game became much easier to play. The story quickly escalates from a handful of young people spying on their master to accompanying him to check on the kingdom’s crystal, which is under attack. And at the height of the prologue, we see an old classic all-blue screen with the end-of-prologue cliffhanger: the world has been split between light and dark.

At this point, I was torn about whether or not I wanted to continue. On one hand, there were so many classic Squeenix elements, which made me giddy. But the story wasn’t anything new; it was more an amalgam of several old games. And although the gameplay relies heavily on learning skills through job classes, you can’t even change jobs until you purchase the first chapter. In the end, for $2.99, I wound up doing this because I felt like the prologue alone wasn’t enough gameplay to decide. After all, it went by very, very quickly.

Iff_dimensions03 was disappointed to find that the first chapter went almost as quickly as the prologue. You have access to jobs, but they cap at level three – which is not that high, just high enough to gain one or two skills per job. There were a few very challenging bosses, one of which wiped the floor with me before I went back and gained two more levels. But there really wasn’t a lot going on for the story, and in the end, the price of $9.99 each for the next three chapters turned me off.

I have seen a lot of reviews on iTunes talking about how fun this game is – and it’s true. What I played of it is fun. The nostalgia factor is huge, and that generally makes me very happy. However, price point is also a factor in reviewing a game. Back in 1991, a SNES game sold for around $79, but the quality and content of games like Final Fantasy II (IV) justified this cost. I’m happy to shell out $60 for modern games like Skyrim or Dragon Age because there are hours of content, and amazing, up-to-date graphics. But so far, all that Final Fantasy Dimensions has shown me is 16-bit graphics and what seems like it will be a very short, straight-forward game with nothing new to add to the Final Fantasy franchise. In this case, sadly, nostalgia is not enough to warrant the very steep price tag. B-.

Tiarra Joslyn

For more great sci-fi content, reviews, and a little bit of fun graphic design, check out Tiarra's personal blog, Geeky by Design.

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