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Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon Review

We feel like chicken tonight

It's fair to say that Chocobo's Dungeon, at first glance, seems to be a game suffering from an identity crisis. On the one hand you have its rather twee pastoral setting, its squeaky-voiced characters and its cute-as-a-button protagonist. On the other you have core gameplay which is loosely based on an ancient PC game called Rogue, which was renowned for its punishing difficulty.

The 'roguelike' genre still has a cult following, but its games are generally extremely niche, attracting only the hardest of the hardcore. The sort of people who are happy to put up with often infuriating difficulty curves and dull, featureless random dungeons for the satisfaction of simply getting through alive. Yet the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, essentially hugely simplified roguelikes, have achieved plenty of success, so perhaps Square-Enix still feels that there's an audience out there for such a game. Fortunately for the publisher, that audience includes us, because Chocobo's Dungeon - despite plenty of hair-tearing moments - is a superior example

of the genre.

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As you'd probably anticipate for a game with such an unusual mix of presentation and gameplay, the story is fittingly strange. The titular bird and his treasure-hunting comrade Cid are magically transported to a curious village named Lostime, where all the residents seem to be suffering from amnesia. It turns out that their memories are wiped whenever the town's clock tower bell chimes.

Handily, Chocobo's arrival coincides with the appearance of a green-haired infant named Raffaello, who, as luck would have it, carries the power to transport Chocobo into the minds of the afflicted townsfolk, which form the dungeons you'll have to traverse to complete your quest. Reach the bottom and beat the boss within and you'll discover a jigsaw piece representing the missing part of their fractured mind. Collect this, and the villager will magically recover his or her memory, and then you can move onto the next.

Loveable Rogue

The randomised labyrinths are generally far more interesting than those in your average dungeon-crawler, mainly thanks to the introduction of some delightful graphical effects, and the extremely well-designed denizens from the mind of Crystal Chronicles' Toshiyuki Itahana. Battling monsters is remarkably simple, almost worryingly so to begin with, as for the most part it's just a case of pressing the attack button repeatedly.

Yet this hybrid of turn-based fighting and the immediacy of real-time combat works beautifully. For tougher foes you'll appreciate the time to consider your options, and decide whether you want to use more powerful attacks - which deplete Chocobo's SP gauge - or to use certain items, or simply to flee. While the fact that you can grind through the earlier dungeons simply by tapping the attack button rapidly, as Chocobo and his opponent take it in turns to whack each other rather swiftly is a godsend.

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And believe us, you will need to return to earlier sections to level up, because Chocobo's Dungeon, after lulling you into a false sense of security with a couple of easy openers, can be as brutal as the likes of DS rage-inducer Shiren The Wanderer. Yet the hard edge is softened slightly by the game allowing you to keep all equipped items and experience when you die. Sure, you might have to start the dungeon again with no money and very few of your items, but then that's the risk you take when you're battling away with a full wallet and a bag crammed with items.

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11 comments so far...
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  1. Ubahquiet Thursday 6th Nov 2008 at 16:57

    I'll be looking into this, Mystery Dungeon style games are cool, in my opinion.

  2. Dark Bryne Thursday 6th Nov 2008 at 18:57

    I was really interested in this when I first heard of it. It looks great. I love FF games so I'm sure I'll like it, and i'm up for some hardcore gaming.

  3. Kolo67 Friday 7th Nov 2008 at 20:12

    My friend has this, and I was really looking at it carefully.

    My points:


    Great graphics, soundtrack, and game design.
    Deungeons are really ingenius
    It's cute
    And It has a Chocobo in it; so therefore it is cool

    Bad points:

    Not much, but when you go up some stairs out of dongeons, it lookes "judderey"

    That's, more good than bad, but should get at least 89%

  4. Nintenrule Saturday 8th Nov 2008 at 10:10

    It's a shame not more people are interested in this. I love the look and feel of this game, and I'll get it once the whole Christmas rush is over.

    And positive reviews make me want this even more :)

  5. Super_Sonic96 Saturday 8th Nov 2008 at 20:16


  6. gamingprincess Sunday 9th Nov 2008 at 14:31

    This looks good anyone know when its out :?:

  7. bart95 Monday 10th Nov 2008 at 17:43

    looked for this in GAME, said they didnt have it :( , Maybe this game will last more than 2 days :twisted: (easiest/quickest game completion:TMNT on ds, time:2 hours :evil: )

  8. Xexix Saturday 31st Jan 2009 at 16:12

    Genuine brilliance, shame the market it's aimed at is so niche.

  9. Erdogan44 Saturday 20th Jun 2009 at 15:12

    I bought this game along with No More Heroes for Ł20.

    I found this game irritating, maybe though i'm in Shirleys Nightmare. >_>

    I'll start playing again.

  10. Joey788 Tuesday 11th Aug 2009 at 12:37

    This Game was all right for a final fantasy but I hate the dugeon idea why not just have a FF Xll sort of battle system or Kingdom Hearts battle system

  11. wewantkirby Tuesday 20th Jul 2010 at 10:37

    i might get this seeing as its only Ł4 in CEX :D

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