Final Fantasy ATB: Expensive Nostalgia

I bought Final Fantasy All the Bravest out of curiosity. It truly should have been freemium or at least a goddamn 99-cent game. Square’s been pretty outrageous with their pricing strategies so it’s not a surprise that they’d tack on in-app purchases on top of the amount you have to pay up front.

Here’s my no frills look at the game. I’m not going to talk about the visuals or music since I imagine most reviews around the Web already do:

Mindlessly Tap or Swipe Your Way to Victory

The gameplay is like a much more interactive version of many RPG-themed Japanese waiting games (see Hunt the Monsters! and Hunt the Hero! I should mention that you can at least make use of the virtual money gained in those titles. The currency in All the Bravest is just number on the screen). Incidentally, I pretty much only make the comparison to point out how insanely effortless and inane this game is. Oh, plus there’s the whole character, weapon and monster collecting bit too. With that out of the way, I’ll just get back on track about the gameplay — In FF ATB, you just get a bunch of randomly selected generic 16-bit heroes based on various job classes found in various FF games and tap on them or swipe across them to trigger attacks. They’ll attack on their own and you have absolutely no control over which enemy they target, nor get a say in what attacks they should use. As far as I can tell, each character only has one type of attack anyway. The speed at which they’ll throw themselves at an enemy is dependent on how quickly their Active Time Battle meters fills.

You start off with a microscopic number of characters. However, after some hours of levelling (or some hefty investments in Premium Characters), you’ll be travelling around with a party of a maximum of 40 units. To speed up the process, you also have the option of getting 1 additional party slot by helping SE promote the game through the wonders of social networking; you can either spam the Facebook time line or Twitter feed of your friends. To ensure that your followers won’t defriend you or physically come to your home to punch you in the face, you’re limited to 1 status update/tweet per 24 hours. Of course, they may still perform either action once they learn that you actually bought FF ATB.

Most battles will cause your pixel party to dwindle in size as enemies can take out party members in one hit. Once your group is reduced to 0, you have to wait for the party meter to replenish which goes at the rate of 1 character per 3 minutes. There’s an hourglass icon next to the meter though which will allow you to bring back everyone in an instant. Square gives you 3 complimentary hourglasses but if you require more, you’ll have to toss money at them. Such gimmicks are typical of freemium titles but sadly, this game isn’t freemium.

You will navigate the world map by a pre-determined route. Enemy encounters and bosses are in fixed locations but with the exception of boss monsters, they’re randomly generated from a pool that’s specific to the spot your party avatar is standing on. Speaking about bosses, there’s a good chance they’ll wipe out your party on a first try. If you happen to have a Fever saved up, this would be one of the best times to trigger it.  (A Fever simply gives you a brief moment, free of ATB meters, where you can swipe or tap your screen like mad to try and get in as much damage as you can. It also only pops up once every three hours.)

OCD + In-App Purchases = Lots of Money Down the Drain

Every single enemy in the game has a weapon spoil but the drop rate isn’t very high which means obsessive-compulsive players will have to repeat battles over and over until they get it. Of course, it’s most likely dependent on the enemy as well since I’ve gotten a few drops from later enemies but I’m still working on the damn Cockatrice from the first map. There are also rare monsters too such as the Cactuar and Tonberry which means more rounds of visiting areas you’ve already conquered. Joy.

Square Enix had it in their heart to exploit fans right from the start since there’s actually a Catalog that records all the job types unlocked, Premium Characters bought, weapons found, and enemies encountered. Really, it’s obvious it’s a game made for people that obsess over collecting everything in a game. What these kinds of players should realize, however, is that FF ATB is a very costly game as there are 35 Premium Characters to collect that cost 99 cents each and 3 different Premium areas, each with a price tag of $3.99 (for some unfathomable reason). If you add everything up, you’re looking at just over $50 US/CAD for the game which is bloody expensive given the lack of content and substance. In fact, you can probably buy 1 or 2 FF mobile games at full price and get a ton more out of them than you ever could with Final Fantasy All the Bravest. I would definitely recommend waiting for this title to go on sale before taking the plunge.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that while you can obtain Gil in the game, there’s no way to spend it. However, there is a Game Center leaderboard based on how much wealth you’ve racked up.

Anyway, here’s a gallery of some screenshots I took while playing FF ATB.

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