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