In 2012, Square Enix and Matrix Software released a mobile Final Fantasy that harkened back to the heydays of the 16-bit processor. How successful was it?
Two empires are at war, and each send groups of four people on missions to deal with it. The world fractures, and those eight people are forced to work together as two groups, chosen by the crystals. Four are the Warriors of Light, while the other four are the Warriors of Dark. As they learn to trust each other and strive to be reunited, they learn that they have all been deceived by those who wish to destroy the world if they cannot rule it.
This is a love letter to the SNES era of JRPGs in general and Final Fantasy V in particular. In fact, I think it’s now my second favourite Final Fantasy game of all time!
Controls for a SNES-style game are awkward on a touch screen.
This is as original as you can get within the franchise. Yes, there are callbacks, including familiar summons, an engineer named Cid, chocobos, crystals, Warriors of Light, etc. Hardly any games even mention Warriors of Dark, yet they get equal screen time here. The job system as a “Fusion Ability” mechanic which is new and fun, and the story goes in new directions at times. There is more character development here than most of the 16 bit era that it’s throwing back to. I give it 4 out of 6, with the mechanics boosting the archetypal story outline.
The story is huge. For context, when I play a SNES-era game, I grind for EXP until all characters are at level 99 long before tackling the final dungeon. (And by “long before” I mean that, when I play Final Fantasy IV, Rydia has learned Fire2 and, rarely, Fire3 before the story gives her access to Fire1.) I often finish with the game clock in the 70-80 hour range, which is about double the GameFAQs.com average play time for each game. In this game, the story is divided into four chapters (which must be purchased after the prologue, but it’s $13.99Can or $9.99US for the entire game in a bundle, which is a bargain) and I maxed out the clock at 99 hours 59 minutes before I had finished chapter 3. There is a lot of story to get through. In previous SNES-era games (IV-VI), you had 12, 5, or 14 playable characters, and this has 20. Each of those characters has their own character arc, personality, and plot. It’s a fully realized cast, including characters with arcs that are never playable. The Warriors of Light and Warriors of Dark, who are out of contact with each other for most of the game, sometimes end up aiding mortal enemies to further their goals, which leads to interesting interactions later. I give it 6 out of 6.
The graphics are as good as sprite-based graphics get. This is meant to harken back to the SNES era, so we have sprite animation instead of 3D models, and so forth. The designs are great, and there is never ambiguity about what you are looking at. I give it 5 out of 6.
The sound is similarly dated by design. Any of the sounds and music would feel right at home on the SNES or Sega Genesis, but they are also clear and varied. I give it 5 out of 6.
The playability is generally good. The controls, with an on-screen D-Pad for motions and the like, do take some getting used to. The mechanics, particularly the fusion system (where using an ability from Job A while equipped with Job B creates a new ability that incorporates both and can be used with any job) are fun and innovative, helping to up the play value. I found it highly addictive. The fact that you cannot master every job with every character until you are in the post-game also adds a level of strategic development that other job-based games don’t seem to have. I give it 6 out of 6.
The immersion is good. Playing a top-down view on a phone or tablet will never be as immersive as playing a first-person perspective game on a huge monitor, but the story is compelling enough to keep me wanting more, and the fusion abilities are fun to find and use. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, this has leaped to second place in my list of all-time favourite Final Fantasy games, second only to Final Fantasy V. It’s readily available and very cheap to find, so I strongly recommend doing so if you have even the slightest interest. I give it 6 out of 6.
In total, Final Fantasy: Dimensions scores 37 out of 42.