Friday, December 05, 2014

Shall We Do It? (Fantasy Life, Final Fantasy Explorers Light and Solitiba)

There's a reason I haven't published one of these posts in some time. (Not since Oct. 14, in fact.) Actually, there are two reasons, with one being the North American 3DS title, Fantasy Life, and the other being the Japanese 3DS eShop title, Solitiba.

Although I've put far more time into the former than the latter in the last month and a half, I've gotten such a kick out of playing both of them that no other game has been able to steal my attention away from them.

Well, that's not completely true. I forced myself to download the Japanese demo of Square Enix's Final Fantasy Explorers (called Final Fantasy Explorers Light) a weekend or so ago, after all, and even gave it a few plays before stuffing it into a folder somewhere and moving back to Fantasy Life and Solitiba.

Anyway, keep reading if you'd like to read a few more of my thoughts on this trio of 3DS games.

Fantasy Life--You want to know how completely this recent Level-5 release has me wrapped around its finger? I've put 76 hours into it so far, that's how completely.

Actually, I probably should've said "had" rather than "has" in the sentence above, as I haven't booted up Fantasy Life since I played it for about four hours while flying from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Seattle last Friday. Don't worry, I'll get back to it shortly. After all, I've loved pretty much every minute of it so far--and I've spent a lot of minutes with it.

I've accomplished a lot during all those minutes (and hours) of play, of course, although I've yet to finish the game's main story. I believe I'm nearly there, though, so expect me to wrap it up between now and the next time I publish one of these posts.

The fact is, though, that most of what Fantasy Life has to offer people happens outside the confines of its main story--or, rather, happens while the main story is "on pause," so to speak. In my case, for instance, the majority of my experience with the game has been spent leveling up various "lives"--to the point that I've now spent a good amount of time with eight of the 12 jobs included here. (All of them have been brought up to "Hero" level except blacksmith, which is only up to "Master.") My favorites at the moment: archer and angler, I think, although I honestly get a kick out of all of them.

I still find Fantasy Life's verbose nature to be a bit annoying, by the way, but it's easy enough to skip through all of the blather, so don't worry about it too much if you're on the fence about buying the game.

Final Fantasy Explorers Light--Although I downloaded this demo of Square Enix's upcoming Final Fantasy spin-off (for the 3DS) as soon as it was uploaded to the Japanese eShop, I put off playing it until a couple of days ago due to the fact that I've been luke warm (at best) on its art style ever since I first laid eyes on it a few months back.

Which is a shame, as now that I've spent some time with the game and seen its graphics in motion, it really doesn't look all that bad. It also doesn't look stellar, mind you, but it looks better than I thought it would based on my first impressions.

As for the gameplay, all I've gathered so far is that it's quest-heavy--it's similar to the Bravely Default demo, in that regard--and vaguely Monster Hunter-esque, although I hesitate to say the latter as Final Fantasy Explorers seems a lot less strategic than Capcom's money-maker.

I'm going to play Light for a little longer before making a decision about the full game, but I've got to admit that at the moment I'm leaning toward not picking it up--assuming Square Enix even bothers to release it in North America. (Because there's no way I'm importing and playing through the Japanese release.)

In a way, I kind of hope the remainder of my time with Light prompts a change of heart, because for some weird reason I really want to like it--even with its questionable art style. Why couldn't the artist responsible for, say, the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles have worked on this sucker?

Solitiba--I actually stepped away from this (sadly) Japan-only offering after putting about 35 hours into it. Not because I was tired of it, mind you, but because my copy of Fantasy Life arrived and I was just a bit more desperate to play it than I was to continue playing Solitba.

Now that I'm taking a bit of a breather from Fantasy Life, though, I have plenty of "brain bandwidth" to devote to Solitiba again.

In case you haven't gathered already, this is one of those games that latches onto you and refuses to let go without a proper fight. I guess that could be due to the fact solitaire is such a prominent part of it--and solitaire's right up there with games like Tetris when it comes to sucking you in and wasting more of your time than you thought it would, although of course it could be argued that one is a bit less exciting than the other--but I don't think that's entirely what's going on here.

No, I think the real reason Solitiba is so easy to pick up, and so hard to put down, is that all of its elements--the solitaire portions, the horse-racing segments, the magnificent art style, Game Freak's "golden touch"--combine and conspire to produce a whole that's far more enticing than the sum of these aforementioned parts.

As a result, I really hope the folks at Game Freak--or Nintendo, or some other publisher--are toiling away on English and other language versions of Solitiba, because I honestly consider it to be a gem that people all around the world, and not just those in Japan (or those, like me, who own Japanese 3DS systems), should be given an chance to experience.

See also: previous 'Shall We Do It?' posts

9 comments: said...

Hello, Franggio! Hmmm, to be honest, I was mostly talking about the game's art style here, but I guess I was talking a bit about its graphics, too. What I mean is that although I still don't love the game's overall art style, I like it more than I thought I would when I see it in motion on my 3DS' screen. Also, I thought a lot of the screenshots of the game that were released before Light hit the eShop looked a bit rough (to put it nicely), but, again, it all looks better seeing it in motion--in my opinion, of course.

All that said, I wouldn't go so far as to say the game is gorgeous, beautiful, etc. More like "it's better than OK," which I know is hardly a ringing endorsement. I guess you could say the game's graphics are somewhere between what was produced on the DS and what is possible on the 3DS, and its art style tends toward the generic.

Personally, I would suggest giving Light a try--if you have a Japanese 3DS. And if you don't, no worries, as I'm sure the demo will hit other regions' eShops, too, should the game ever be announced for those regions. Playing it and seeing it in motion should help ease--or confirm--any of your fears.

Franggio Hogland said...

Ahh well that doesn't sound to bad :) And yes I know it's opinion but getting multiple inputs isn't a bad thing in my book :)
Sadly I do not posses a working Japanese 3DS any more. And I don't think I'll buy a new one just yet since I have way to many games to actually play and I can't in good conscience buy another 3DS when I have 2 other perfectly working systems :(
Really scratching my head on which n3DS system to buy atm :| said...

Yes, I think my overall suggestion with the FFEL portion of this post was that the game/demo "isn't all that bad," or that it's "better than I expected it to be." The only reason I'm not sure ATM if I'll go ahead and buy it (if it's brought to NA) is that I'm not sure I want another quest-heavy RPG right now. We'll see, though. Oh, and I fully understand the difficulty you're having deciding which n3DS to buy!

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

Just a warning the last chapter of Fantasy Life is just walking and talking.

While it sounds like my play time for Fantasy Life is longer being at 105 hours it sounds like you're actually farther along since so far the highest level in a life I've reached is master though my play time was bloated up by me crafting to raise skill levels and for money while I watch TV. said...

Isn't that how you could describe pretty much every chapter of Fantasy Life, Sam?

I joke, but only slightly. After all, almost all of the chatter/blather in this game takes place during the chapters/story segments.

I'm kind of surprised to hear you've *only* gotten one of your lives to Master so far. (Or have you gotten a few lives to Master?)

I have a hard time imagining getting some of my lives beyond Hero, by the way, although I know it's possible. I guess it will help to finish up the story stuff and move on to the DLC?

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

At least in most of the chapters you smack a rock, there's none pf that in the final chapter.

So far I've gotten 8 lives mastered while the other's are expert. An other thing that inflated my play time is I pick up at least most of the non ore/wood/fish items in an area every time I visit. I'm also enjoying the "parties" you get when you master a life but I wish the plushling performers would switch instruments in those scenes so they always match the song playing. said...

Ah, that's interesting. Guess I should just barrel through it then, huh? Maybe tomorrow...

I'm glad to hear you've Mastered a lot of lives so far.

Also, I'm very much like you in that I also like to pick up many of the non-essential items that are scattered about each area, although I'm not entirely sure why...

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

That's pretty much what I did when I reached expert in all lives in regards to getting through the story. said...

Yeah, I'm not sure why I've been dragging my feet RE: the game's main story. Oh, well, I'm going to push through it tomorrow or Wednesday, I think!