Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy Articles RSS Feed | Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network 9 Final Fantasy Spin-offs You May Have Forgotten About Completely Sun, 15 Dec 2019 10:51:07 -0500 Josh Broadwell


Final Fantasy: Type-0


School stories have been A Thing in Japanese games since Persona 3 launched the sub-genre into the stratosphere. Some are good, some suck big time, but they all usually center around creating characters and a world you want to interact with, letting you interact with it all. Type-0 is Final Fantasy’s school game and does all that, before killing everything and making you watch it die. It’s definitely not a happy school story.


But it is an ambitious one, re-using themes like the invading evil empire and moody students and placing them in a much more intricate and detailed world. You’re rewarded for investing your time exploring this doomed kingdom and the people who live in it. The same goes for your classmates.


The combat system, though a bit herky-jerky with its camera antics, is a fantastic blend of strategy and action that keeps you on your toes and requires a balanced team at all times. Since it’s HD release on PS4, though, Square Enix hasn’t really done anything like it and might not do so again either, though it’s pretty clear the action focus inspired the likes of FFXV and probably even FFVII R.




That's it for our forgotten Final Fantasy spin-offs picks. Got any that are so forgotten even we forgot them? Sound off in the comments and let us know.


Chocobo's Dungeon


Chocobo’s Dungeon — a spinoff series in another series — is another story, one that’s at least achieved longevity, if not notoriety. It’s part of the long-running Mystery Dungeon series (which is to say, it’s as old as gaming itself), though the pack-in demo we got with Chocobo Racing was for the second Chocobo’s Dungeon game.


The first remained a Japan-only release, but either way this was one of the first big franchise ventures into Mystery Dungeon, long before Pokemon spawned its own mini-series in the Mystery Dungeon series. 


Chocobo’s Dungeon 2, and the other Chocobo games, really, are all about Chocobo trying to help out people in need. It’s cute, it’s bright and colorful — and it’ll grind your very soul into oblivion if you aren’t careful.


These games are hard, much more challenging than their candy-coated exteriors would suggest. That’s part of the charm, though, toughing it out with Chocobo, probably a White Mage, a snotty Moogle, and definitely someone named Cid ready to drag your battered feathers out of the dungeon before it’s too late.


Chocobo Racing


For a while, it seemed like every franchise had to have a kart racer game, thanks to a certain red-hatted plumber. Chocobo Racing was that experiment for Square, and it received lukewarm to terrible critical reception when it first launched. Granted, part of that could have been down to timing. Square’s success with Final Fantasy VII set a tone for other games both in the series and on the PSX in general. 


Yes, the controls are crappy, and the tracks are bland (as are Mario Kart 64’s) but the feathered racer still left treadmarks on many people’s hearts, this writer’s included. It’s got the kind of fluffy and warm story that would come to be synonymous with Chocobo games, the powerups were something new and different from Mario Kart, and it was an excuse to listen to classic Final Fantasy tracks remixed.


Sadly, the 3DS remake was not to be. Had it come to pass, though, more than one heart might have exploded into feathery clouds, so maybe it’s okay after all.


Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings


This one breaks the rules a bit because it’s technically a numbered Final Fantasy game. Unlike X-2 and all 25 FF XIII games, though, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings doesn’t quite count as a full-on sequel. You play as Vaan and Penelo, among others, and scour the skies for treasure as sky pirates, eventually encountering other characters from the original FFXII and some villains who want to destroy the world (of course).


However, Final Fantasy meets Star Wars, this is not, for the narrative never reaches the same heights as its source.


What really makes Revenant Wings stand out is the gameplay, which makes it more like a Heroes of Mana spinoff with Final Fantasy paint. Revenant Wings is a real-time strategy game, where you command hordes of monsters and allies in battle.


Heroes have gambit skills that can offer benefits, though it does sometimes devolve into making mobs collide and seeing who comes out alive. Still, you visit a huge variety of locations, and the graphics are lovely, especially for the DS era.


World of Final Fantasy


We’ll forgive you if you did actually forget about World of Final Fantasy. Outside of this year’s Maxima update, with some new endgame content among other things, Square Enix seems to have forgotten it as well and shows no signs of going back.


And that’s a bit of a shame. The spinoff might have some issues with characterization (Hi, I’m Lann and I’m dumb! Don’t worry, I’ll remind you later. A lot.). What it doesn’t have, though, is a lack of heart and charm.


This Pokemon mashup is a love letter to the entire franchise that even newbies can play and enjoy. Even though the story and cameos are essentially Final Fan-fiction, it’s excellent to see Square Enix willing to take liberties with their beloved properties and try something completely new and the-bonkers.


Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII


Back during the first peak of Final Fantasy VII fever, Square Enix envisioned an entire saga centered around Cloud and his companions. Dirge of Cerberus was part of that plan in the PS2 era. Though it was later overshadowed by the admittedly better realized Crisis Core prequel, Dirge was a step into the wild side.


Rather than sticking with the traditional turn-based formula, Square Enix decided this story would be much better if it were told through insane bouts of gunslinging action. It might seem strange, were it not for the action emphasis in the new Final Fantasy VII Remake, which in hindsight shows Dirge was actually a step towards a future innovation.


Unlike Crisis Core, Dirge also ditched the biggest protagonists in favor of eccentric Vincent Valentine and Yuffie, though that probably wasn’t a bad move. FFVII’s cast is pretty big, and not everyone gets the screen time they should. How much of this plot might be retconned back into FFVII R remains to be seen, though it’s possible we might just see more of Vincent and Yuffie soon.


Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King


Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was a spinoff that sparked a number of spinoffs, one of them being Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King on WiiWare.


You play as King Leo, a chibi-dorable young monarch trying to rebuild a kingdom after the miasma destroyed it — just like it destroyed the Crystal Chronicles Remastered release date (ba-dum-tissss). 


Part town-building simulator, part traditional turn-based RPG, you’ll help King Leo assemble teams of adventurers to gather materials and explore dungeons while also creating and maintaining facilities to keep your subjects happy. Naturally, it’s not as deep in either respect as it could be. However, it’s fun, it’s cute, it was popular, and now it’s gone forever with the end of WiiWare.


Final Fantasy Dimensions


Final Fantasy Dimensions was one of the earlier FF mobile attempts, and it was pretty darn good as well. Think episodic Final Fantasy with traditional deep FF job system, no gacha, decent enough narrative — especially for a mobile game at that time — and you’ve got FF Dimensions.


Basically, it’s Brave Exvius, but without cameos of fan-favorite characters. 


Dimensions combined themes, jobs, and story beats from throughout the series, and between that and the brand-new cast, it really felt like a completely new FF game.


More importantly, even when the narrative was at its worst, it didn’t feel like an unnecessary bit of fan-fiction, like The After Years (fight me), which the same team also developed.


Dimensions was successful too, enough that Square Enix continued supplying episodes for a while before, sadly, discontinuing the game.


The Final Fantasy Legend


The Final Fantasy Legend is only a Final Fantasy spinoff in the West. That’s because it’s actually the first SaGa game, which Square ported to the US on the Game Boy under the Final Fantasy moniker to help encourage sales.


The difference between the two franchises was pretty easy to spot, whatever the game might be called.


Legend has some familiar FF material, like the job system, light versus dark, and so on. However, the class system was completely changed.


It also gives you humans, mutants, and monsters as your potential allies. Gender and type determine stats, but these can sometimes be altered depending on items you use or acquire.


Equipment can break, some races are limited with how much they can equip — in short, it’s a SaGa game through and through, which makes Legend all the more impressive for being a Game Boy game.


Final Fantasy is almost as old as home console gaming, boasting a great many games under the umbrella of its storied name. Many of these are mainline games, though "mainline" is a bit of a stretch for a series with few direct sequels.


A whole slew of others are full-fledged spin-offs, though — games that experiment wildly with traditional mechanics, try a completely new setting, fuse genres, or all of the above and then some.


Square Enix gives some of these love from time to time, like remastering Crystal Chronicles, but others aren't so lucky and gradually fade away or get discontinued altogether. So, we put together a list of nine Final Fantasy spin-offs that don't get too much attention or easily get lost in the shuffle. Proper sequels and non-Final Fantasy games are excluded.


Let's get started.

Mystery Dungeon is a Criminally Underrated Series — And That's a Shame Sun, 31 Mar 2019 13:03:36 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Square Enix released Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy recently, and to some, it might seem an odd game out. Mystery Dungeon games are roguelikes and previous Chocobo-related outings didn't attract as much attention in the West as they did overseas.

They're known for brutal difficulty and roguelike elements most of all. But underneath the randomly generated dungeons and turn-based combat is a series with huge variety and deep connections to gaming history. Certain outings, including Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon, also go beyond the teeth-grinding difficulty and offer compelling fanservice whose charm alone helps make the entire package worthwhile.

How It Started

In general, the Mystery Dungeon games share a few core things in common with roguelikes.

They revolve around exploring one or multiple dungeons, usually with a variety of randomly generated floors or sections themed around a specific gimmick. Each floor’s layout is randomly generated. That’s where part of the appeal is, too, since the dungeon changes every time you enter.

Movement is grid-based, and each step you take causes time to move forward on that floor. Of course, enemies and other environmental facets take place as you (and time) move.

Combat is turn based and often relies on your character facing the right direction so it can actually land a hit. Many Mystery Dungeon games will include a variation of the class system common to RPGs, letting you change up how you approach each obstacle.

These all stretch back to the game that’s one of the grandfathers (grand-game?) of all RPGs: Wizardry.

Wizardry was the first dungeon crawler video game with mass appeal and was based heavily on the likes of Dungeons and Dragons and created by Robert Woodhead and Andrew Greenberg in the late 1970s, though it didn’t hit many people’s radars until 1980.

Wizardry built on other, similar games with exploration elements and first-person mechanics to create a unique experience. Dungeon exploration and incredible detail (for the time) were coupled with party-based combat and a deep experience that could change depending on how you approached it.

It also existed in a pre-map era, which meant players resorted to the tabletop feature of developing their own maps (hello Etrian Odysseys ancestor).

Wizardry was a success in the West, but success doesn’t even begin to describe the phenomenon it created in Japan. It, along with Ultima, developed a huge following that still exists and sparked the modern RPG as we know it.

How Dungeon Crawlers Gave Birth to the RPG

Apart from introducing staple RPG mechanics like fantasy, exploration, and party combat to broader audiences, Wizardry caught the imaginations of Koichi Nakamura and Yuuji Horii during their earlier days at Enix.

Wizardry didn’t release in Japan until 1985, but the two programmers experienced it firsthand at Applefest in 1983. The design and mechanics struck a chord in them, and they combined Wizardry gameplay with the Ultima map as the foundation for what became Dragon Quest.

That game ended up spawning Final Fantasy, and the genealogy of RPGs is well-known enough from there. It is worth noting, though, that Nakamura would go on to work on the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, along with acting as producer for many, many other Mystery Dungeon spinoffs.

Around the time Dragon Quest made its debut, Wizardry and the dungeon crawler were fading from the public eye in the West. Greenberg and Woodhead had achieved cult following status in Japan, though, and could hardly walk around without being mobbed by adoring fans.

As roguelikes and dungeon crawlers gradually fell out of favor this side of the Pacific, Japan started seeing more mainstream games with Wizardry’s DNA, like Shin Megami Tensei, along with a host of lesser known titles, such as Dragon Slayer, to say nothing of the countless Wizardry sequels and spinoffs still being made.

How the RPG Gave Birth to Mystery Dungeon

The genre changed again, though. In 1993, the first Mystery Dungeon game was released, Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon. It featured a side character from Dragon Warrior IV and was basically a console roguelikes that used familiar characters from well-known RPGs to draw people in.

But it spawned a series that would include countless spinoffs from multiple well-known franchises.

Take Final Fantasy for example. In 1997, doubtlessly riding off FFVII’s success, Square released Chocobo Fushigi na Dungeon (what would end up being translated as Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon for the sequel).

It borrowed elements of Final Fantasy and mashed them with Wizardry-style dungeon exploration and rougelike elements to create a successful spinoff—successful enough to warrant a sequel only a year later.

Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon 2 wasn’t a major hit in the West, but it developed a loyal following. Part of the appeal in Japan and the West was that the Chocobo offshoot tames some of the bone-grinding difficulty and made the series more accessible.

Other franchises would follow suit, but apart from the joy of seeing your favorite characters — or character classes, in the case of something like Etrian Mystery Dungeon — there's a special something about playing a game that has such strong roots to modern RPG gaming and was ultimately responsible for some of the biggest names in the gaming industry.

The Core: Strategy, Heartache, Rinse, and Repeat

But before Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and the Final Fantasy Fables games that tried to be more accessible, there were other entries in the Mystery Dungeon series designed for the hardcore gamer.

The Shiren the Wanderer games are some of the better known spinoffs in the Mystery Dungeon series, with releases on the Wii (Shiren the Wanderer), DS (Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer) and Vita (Shiren the Wanderer: the Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate).

The Shiren games are not for the faint of heart. They'll take your time, make you think you're doing well, and then crush you with a smile before sending you back to square one.

These hardcore Mystery Dungeon games are the epitome of roguelike. But that's also part of what makes them popular, popular enough to warrant additional entries in the West, including a newer mobile release as well. Shiren games force you to literally think out every step, planning ahead so even if the RNG gods do spit on you, there's still a chance of survival.

Like the best roguelikes, its design is effective enough to keep you trying again and again, regardless of how many times it kicks you down — even if you do need a break first. Since layouts are always different, it means your strategy has to change every time too.

It helps that these mechanics are wrapped around a charming graphics style, with some addictive item management and combination elements as well, making the frustrations more than worthwhile.

That goes double for Etrian Mystery Dungeon, the peculiar one-off Mystery Dungeon entry using Etrian Odyssey concepts. It's as incredibly difficult and "figure it out yourself" as the core EO games (well, most of them), but it combines exploration and class experimentation with the Mystery Dungeon format.

The result is an engrossing game on par with Shiren for both difficulty and reward, though surpassing it in terms of playability.

Each Mystery Dungeon game is bursting with replay value and keeps players engaged for long periods of time with its variety of mechanics and almost infinite ways you can approach it. Of course, the difficulty means it isn't for everyone. Outside of dedicated fans, you won't likely find many people who talk about Shiren in the West or Etrian Mystery Dungeon.

The Rest of Us

The Mystery Dungeon series is nothing if not flexible, though. While the core games like Shiren continued being made, the series fared better when it continued in the tradition of the original: combining well-known RPGs with the more unforgiving Mystery Dungeon formula.

Still, the series didn't really hit its stride in the West until Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team launched.

There were other attempts to make the series popular, like Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. But these lacked the staying power of a big franchise, while Pokemon was capable of bringing in a new and sizeable audience and easing them into the established gameplay formula.

Now, instead of the quirkiness of Shiren and the exotic dungeons, players could take a personality test and become one of their favorite Pokemon for the duration of the game.

The stories, while not astounding, at least provided context for the many, many trips into the dungeons. Plus the exploration used well-known Pokemon mechanics like elemental attack types and leveling up to make the huge change in gameplay styles easier to tolerate.

After the initial pairing's success, the Pokemon offshoot spawned regular new entries. While these might not be "true" Mystery Dungeon games, in the sense that they lack some of the risk-reward element and the harsher roguelike mechanics, they represent something important.

For franchises where experimentation either never happens, like Pokemon, or comes under heavy fire when it does, like Final Fantasy, the Mystery Dungeon series is a creative outlet that lets developers do something different with their established creations that fans can enjoy for a long time.

Who wouldn't want to run around a dungeon with Mog as a sidekick or turn into a Pokemon for a few hours, after all?

Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Everybuddy is out and about, and with it fans are getting the best of both Mystery Dungeon worlds. It has all the charm and appeal of a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game, but with Final Fantasy themes and cameos. What's not to love?

The Mystery Dungeon series ticks on as the primary roguelike series on console and handheld for a good reason, and it comes as no surprise with history in mind.