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Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is the second game of the Final Fantasy Fables series, coming after the popular Chocobo Tales for the DS. Whilst it starts slow it becomes apparent to the player than there is more to the game than meets the eye, and underneath the pleasing family friendly graphics lies a technical and deep game.
Upon playing Chocobo's Dungeon the first thing you notice are the charming graphics. The characters and enemies are all well designed and of a high quality. However the best graphical point is the environments, the town of Lostime is quaint and graphically pleasing. The Fuego Mines are amazingly detailed and the water dungeon at Levia Point is beautifully mesmerising. Everything looks polished and at no point did I think the graphics were anything but top notch.
In Chocobo's Dungeon you play, unsurprisingly, a Chocobo. There is a deep and complicated story about a town whose inhabitants are losing memories. Your job is to retrieve these memories and solve the mystery over why it happened. The dungeons are randomly generated giving you fresh and interesting shaped dungeons each time. Retrieving each person's memories involves negotiating a whole dungeon just for them. There are different possible jobs for your Chocobo, such as a Dragoon, Black Mage or Ninja, each of which changes your character's stats accordingly.
There are multiple mini games in Chocobo's Dungeon, all of which can be played at will at Mog's house. Most important is the Pop-Up Duel, a card game revolving around hit points, damage caused by the card monster and crystals, which dictate which attacks you can or cannot use. This mini game is by far the most fun in my opinion, and the cards you use must be found or won from specific areas or enemies in the game
As in most Final Fantasy games, there are equipment and items that you can win in battles of purchase from shops using Gil gained through battle or selling items you found. The dungeons have a turn based system, where when you take one step or use an item you use up a turn, then the enemy visible on screen also takes a step. It is important, especially later on when enemies can attack powerfully, to try and get the first strike to minimise the damage inflicted on you, as if you die within a dungeon you lose all your current items. The gameplay is good, solid fun, however it is nothing too special and lacks the spark that has made other Final Fantasy games so successful.
The sound in Chocobo's Dungeon is, like the graphics, of a very high quality. The sound effects are clear and interesting. The soundtrack however is what puts this game ahead of many others RPG's. Alike other Final Fantasy titles, much work has been put into the soundtrack, the town itself has a catchy tune whilst the water dungeon has a dreamlike touch to it. Final fantasy fans will recognise certain tunes from earlier games, such as the music played whilst in Fuego Mines, which is a slower, more detailed version of the music in the Fire Ship in Final Fantasy V. Ultimately there is not a single fault in the sound of Chocobo's Dungeon, everything from the music to the sound effects in the menu have been refined to better the gaming experience.
The main game should take quite a while to complete, for most gamers going into 15-25 hours. Following this there are three more medium sized dungeons to complete, three hero's challenges and two very large dungeons. Croma's dungeon has ninety levels and will test you whilst Chocobo's Memories has one hundred levels and gets very difficult later on. Chocobo's Dungeon is a game that will last a long time, but when fully finished it is hard to see how the game can last any longer.
There is almost no multiplayer on Chocobo's Dungeon. The already mentioned mini game called Pop-Up Duel is available for multiplayer over Wi-Fi, either with friends or be paired with a random person who could be anywhere. The mini game is good, and it is fun to play over Wi-Fi, but it scarcely meets the definition of a multiplayer game. Whilst the choice of multiplayer games is limited to just one, it is fun and the main criticism is that there needs to be more multiplayer modes to play.
Overall, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is a very fun RPG, mostly dungeon based and with some of the classic elements from Final Fantasy series such as the equipment, great graphics and catchy soundtrack and whilst it opts for a turn based combat system it is inherently different to the Final Fantasy series. Chocobo's Dungeon is, in my opinion, far and away the best RPG game on the Wii currently and it will take something very special to top it.
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In the town of Lostime, memories are fluttering away with every toll of the local clock tower's bell. If things go on like this, the residents won't know their beaks from their bills! But who's got the pluck to peck up their missing memories, and save them from a fate worse than forgetfulness? Chocobo, that's who! With cute characters, great graphics and user-friendly controls, Chocobo's Dungeon is fully-fledged FINAL FANTASY fun for all the family!