I had to go into this game with a fresh and unbiased outlook to be honest, since I have been a hardcore final fantasy fan since the beginning of my days and liked any instalment that they have released no matter what (bar dirge of cerberus, euggghhh mucky!) So, I went in prepared to play and review this as a unique game with no prior love of final fantasy to come to it's aid...
Thing is, I'm quite pleasently surprised with this. For those of you who are used to final fantasy games, it's a different show entirely, more similar to Crystal chronicles on GC. You play as a squad of 4, one from each of the CC's predominant tribes. Each have a unique ability and attributes, Yuri the main dude is a Clavat...avid swordsman, balanced all round. Al is a Yuke, specialises in magic, Gnash the selkie, loves his bow and double jumping all over the place like a madman, and Meeth a lilty, makes lots of potions and magicite and stuff. Characters are controlled using the D-Pad in real time combat, which is played out in FULL 3D Dungeons. Yup, no pseudo 3D...FULL ON, FULL FAT, 3D...and it looks absolutely gorgeous. Scrap that, these are the best graphics I've seen on DS so far. Okay, straying from the point a bit here, back to gameplay...by using the 'A' button, your character can attack enemies and holding it down lets you charge a power attack. Defense comes in the form of hopping around with 'B', and you can take this further with jumping slashes, and downward thrusts. You can even jump on an enemies head and stomp on it a bit, which is quite good fun. 'Y' button allows you to grab and enemy and smash them against the wall real brawl style. You select your magicite or item to use on the touch screen, then use it by holding 'X' and guiding the ring to where or who you want to use it. Overall, for one person, the system works fine, but that's where the problem lies.
In single player, the game just isn't user friendly to you, and asks far too much of you. If you want to for instance make a firaga spell, you have to use one characters fire with 'X', switch to another using the stylus, line up another fire with 'X', and do it again with the third...all the time while an enemy bashes your face in. Since your allies are usually too thick to do this themselves, it becomes your job to 'be' a four man army! AI doesn't improve throughout the game, as they stand blitheringly obtuse to your suffered beatings, too busy admiring those gorgeously landscaped graphics.
Ok, that's the bad bit out of the way. The combat is generally solid, and the range of moves and elemental weakness/strength adds some nice spice to the mix. The bosses are superb (as always), and if you can get your allies to actually help you, they are strategic and generally quite fun.
The game is of a moderate length, but hey it's quality we're looking at here, and you do get that in spades. The graphics as I've mentioned are incredible, with good sound, and the voice acting is (ashamedly so) better than most next-gen console games. The story is nice too, and generally dark despite the game's cute appearance. So overall, it's a fairly solid package that does something new with Final fantasy, and for the most part, succeeds.
The other thing I would be tempted (almost) to dock this another star for was Square Enix's lack of including Wi-Fi multiplayer...there really is no excuse for it, and this game screams for multiplayer online. You can play with friends, but try finding 3 mates who have this game? Yeah, exactly.
So overall, it's a solid little title, but it comes with warning.
This game has it's faults, and could have been much better. Look past these and you'll enjoy the loveable little game that's on offer.