Well, I downloaded Final Fantasy Explorers (FFEX) onto my original 3DS a little around an hour ago. I dunno how to feel yet. I am not making any sort of final verdict on the game, since I probably only put ~30 minutes into it, but my experience so far has been mixed.
Before starting anything, you get to make a custom character. It is nothing too fancy and there are very few options to choose from as far as gender, skin, face, eye color, and hair. Luckily, you aren't locked to this since you can change your appearance at any time in the main game, which is pretty nice. The bulk of the face and hair options are throwbacks to other Final Fantasy characters I believe. The lack of more options is kind of annoying, but then again your character is relatively small on the field so it doesn't really matter.
The start up sequence is nothing too fancy, but it isn't terribly over done or anything either. You wind up in a fight against Bahamut and are saved by a mysterious girl. It's here that you learn simple things like moving around, dashing and interacting. No combat is actually fought during this. You can try to damage Bahamut but it's pointless as he's really powerful. I don't know if you can get a game over at this point, but you can suffer damage.
One thing that immediately stuck out to me was the lack of a "dodge" button. It was a problem I had when I first played Dragon's Dogma and it is a problem I have here too. Dashing is nice and welcome, don't get me wrong. But dodging is something I would think of as essential when it comes to a MonHun like game. I will likely get used to just running, but I feel like that is a bit inneffective.
The hub town seems nice and simple, and very reminicent of the Monster Hunter games. There is nothing wrong with that since it is a formula that is fine as is. Once you roam around and talk to a few people, you figure out that you must complete a series of tutorial missions in order to get a "liscense" as an explorer. None of the shops will do business with you until you are liscensed, which makes sense since I am sure armor and items change based on class and whatnot.
Which is another thing to mention; the class system. I have not gotten to the part in the game where you choose a class yet, but from what I have read online it sounds promising. My only hope is that each class is fairly balanced.
When actually on the field fighting monsters, gameplay and controls are simple. They are similar to Kingdom Hearts 358/2 on the original DS, except with the camera controls. The L and R buttons are used to bring up commands when held, and the X button brings up an item menu. Y is your attack button, B is the run button, and A is the interact button. Tapping L recenters the camera and likewise, tapping R locks on to the nearest enemy. I was playing the game on my original 3DS, so I didn't get to try the Circle Pad Pro style controls, but I would imagine that they feel better than the default configuration. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate honestly feels so much better when using the C-stick on the N3DS, so I would think FFEX would as well.
On another note, a lot of people expect this game to be very similar to Monster Hunter, and I get that. It is within the "hunting" genre of games, so it makes sense. However, it is quite a bit different in my opinion. Things are faster and there is more reliance on items and skills as opposed to various physical attacks and careful dodging. I could be proven wrong further into the game, but so far it feels different. That isn't bad, and I definitely thing that the game shouldn't be held up to the same standards a Monster Hunter title is because it is bringing it's own stuff to the table. Every hunting game doesn't have to be identical to Monster Hunter itself, and honestly it is alright for what it is (so far).
I'll continue playing the game and once I've done more stuff I will post a review hopefully!
- Why are the chibi models so freaking buff?
- I miss the older art style of FF games... Toshiyuki Itahana has a nice art style, but it pales in comparison to Tatsuya Nomura's trademark style.
- I think it's kinda weird that there is no "light" and "heavy" attack variations...
- The graphics are pretty nice
- Jury's still out on the music