Final Fantasy Dimensions: A Half-Assed Playthrough

I have unfinished FFVII and FFX Let’s Plays, I haven’t gotten to Lightning Returns, I was wasting time playing Kingdom Hearts for the first time, and I’ve fallen hopelessly behind in Final Fantasy fan discussions and game commentary on  [community profile] moogle_university. My FFX novella, Love Her and Despair, is languishing with the last five chapters in a messy and forgotten state.

What a PERFECT time to start a new game playthrough!

FF Dimensions Title Screen

Zencribnotes on Tumblr inspired me to try Final Fantasy Dimensions again. It’s an iPad/Android native Final Fantasy game that came out in 2010.  When I last tackled it, I couldn’t fully appreciate how much it was a homage to the early FFs. Now, by golly, I’m going to play Final Fantasy Nostalgia Bingo, because that’s the main virtue of this game.

Intro: In an age long past, the world was suffering under the crushing grip of war. Only the efforts of the idealistic Avalonian Empire were enough to bring the warm embrace of peace to the land and lead it to a new age of prosperity.

Early FF scene-setting card, light text on blue field, check. Except this time our fantasy empire is idealistic. Princess Hilda and Ashelia raise their eyebrows across their martini glasses and look dubious.

A “Prologue” title screen flashes up. Ayup. Wanna take bets on how long it’ll take before we get to the real protagonist and story? Kingdom Hearts II raised the bar on that.

Then we pan to the retro world map — FFI-III style, except it’s tilted for false perspective like V-VI — with an airship flying past a ginormous tree (III, V, IX) much like the first Cid buzzing us and saying neener-neener-you-can’t-fly-yet during the early stages of FFII.

Airship on world map

Mysterious Stranger #1 complains about the airship making a racket.

Stranger says: This noise -- I can almost feel it.

Sorry, bud, I’m playing on an iPad, so there’s no vibration setting for this controller. Nice hat, though.

Mysterious Stranger #2 is chillin’ in a graveyard. If this ain’t the Dark Knight of the story, I’ll eat my controller. Which in this case is actually my finger, so maybe I’d better not make any promises.

Heavily-armored dude in graveyard says: The time has come. Sigurd, let us go.

Not shown: Sigurd.

That’s it for cryptic and incomprehensible clips of things that will become clear later. Now it’s time to meet our heroes (maybe) in your typical fantasy rural village with five houses and a generic castle to the north.

As-yet-unnamed youth says: An Avalonian airship? Man, one of these days! Just you wait!

Here’s our Butz-style hero from the small kingdom of Lux (Butz came from Lix), yearning for his own airship (XII, Vaan). Default name is Sol, which is of course Latin for Waffles. I mean Tidus (Okinawan for “Sun.”)

Sol’s buddy Glaive ambushes him (“always with your head in the clouds!” ha, nearly missed the reference) for some friendly rivalry and combat-demo.

Diana (Moon goddess) shows up to scold them. We’ve got an FFII Firion-Guy-Maria vibe going here, except that Glaive isn’t Diana’s bro. And Diana doesn’t have a bow, which is a little ironic, considering her name. (Note: I keep accidentally typing “Maria” when I mean Diana, so don’t be surprised if I slip at some point.)

Diana says: Why else, you lunkhead? You know my brother's coming back from his expedition.

Diana’s big bro is Aigis (Greek mythology, a magical shield), tutor to Glaive and Sol, and reluctant hero who claim he isn’t a hero, no really. He’s also got an 8-bit version of Auron’s scraggly haircut.

He’s doomed.

Aigis: “I’m no hero…”

Biggs says: Of course you are [a hero]. Not a man for fifty miles would deny your skill with a sword. Why, it's only a matter of time...

… before the game eliminates you so Sol can snog your sister steal your thunder.

The peppy field music stops playing suddenly for our first spot of angst. Diana’s been moping every time people mention Aigis’ heroic exploits, and here she heaves a sigh and steps away from the others, hiding her Angst ™. She and Aigis already lost their parents (of course; it’s an FF game), and now she’s sensing the Foreshadowing Hammer of Doom.

We head back to the castle with Aigis, grind a bit, find the local chocobo forest and take a spin on our favorite yellow birdy (nice music for the chocobos, as usual). WHERE IS MY HOVERCRAFT. I DEMAND A HOVERCRAFT.
Chocobo on world map: path of stones leads out into ocean, but it can't cross them.

Ahem. I still wish they’d kept whichever graphic artist did the graphics for FFI and II. FFD employed the Fisher-Price/Gumby&Pokey artist again who did the stretched people in the FFV and VI iOS remakes. At least they look a little more natural here, since the artist started with those proportions instead of stretching old sprites.

World map, more grinding. North is a you-can’t-go-that-way-yet cave. South is a you-can’t-go-that-way-yet checkpoint. It’s all fun and games until a carnivorous plant knocks out a party member.

Combat Screen with Glaive K.O.ed by Death Flower

Yep, Diana’s a chick with a stick, as well as Cure/Poisana (of course). Aigis is a Red Mage with Cure/Poisana as well, but no Life. (As do those of us who have played enough FFs to catch all the in-jokes). The other two are sword jocks. Everyone’s jobless.

Time to head back to town and sleep in Glaive’s bed without his permission. Why do innkeepers even bother to set up inns in Final Fantasy universes? Nobody’s paid them a cent since FFVIII.

In town, Aigis is summoned to the castle by the king. Sol is excited for him, burbling about how he’s going to go off to serve the empire. Diana’s less than pleased by the prospect and punches Sol with a mighty thwack before disappearing into her house to fret about her brother.

Glaive proves to be the Deadpan Snarker for this game. (Especially considering he’s currently dead, in my party.)

Glaive says: If your head was any thicker, they could use it to fortify the castle walls.

Sol wanders around town picking up backstory and snacking on the Retro Final Fantasy tropes buffet, now on sale at half price:

Villager says: Did you know that before the Empire had airships, they all rode dragons!?

Holy chocobo on a pogo stick. In one house, we find Glaive’s parents are actually still alive. And both of Sol’s parents are still alive, too. They don’t have names, but I think this may be a record for most living parental units in an FF game.

They’ve gotta be doomed. Lux is toast.

Sol grinds for gil and XP until he’s bought every piece of equipment in the armor/weapons shop eventually apologizes to Diana for being an idiot. She tells him (a) not to worry about it and (b) not to follow her, which he totally ignores. Jerk.

Rooms in house: One with weapons, supplies, the other with potions, flowers, pretty carpet.

Sigh. Three guesses which of these two rooms belongs to Aigis and which to Di. First two guesses don’t count. Final Fantasy, why are you so predictable? I am now determined to equip Diana with every battleaxe and warrior object I can find.

Diana’s  determined to go after her brother. Can we barge into the castle?

Biggs says: Not you again! How many times do I have to tell you -- the castle isn't a playground!

We’ve got to stop meeting like this, you two.

Wedge, the other guard, tells them to go back to their “mommies” before he has to kick them out. So apparently we’re back to a Final Fantasy game with Sprogs Saving the World. One matronly-looking villager calls Aigis “boy,” so apparently he’s the Obi-Wan, only a few years older than his padawans.

Glaive shows us how to sneak in through the dungeons, where we help ourselves to all our kingdom’s loot.

Popping up in the middle of the palace, we proceed past nonexistent guards to eavesdrop on Aigis’ audience with the king. We learn that the humble kingdom of Lux is respected by the empire because it possesses a Crystal. Naturally, the oracles sense that there’s some threat to the Crystal. Aigis is tapped to investigate. He proves to have a brain, detecting the eavesdroppers…

Aigus says: Playtime's over. Come on out.

…and doing some fast talking to keep them from landing in hot water with the king.

Calling them his apprentices and sister (who’s training Di?), Aigis convinces the king to let them accompany him.

Sinister Minister, who wanted to assign a troop of soldiers as Aigis’ escort, is pissed about this. Any royal advisor who prefers to send trained guards over untried teenagers on a mission vitally important to the kingdom is clearly not to be trusted; I’m sure he’s plotting against Aigis.

The King overrides him, spouting the Power of Friendship trope which trumps actual job qualifications in this franchise, and off we go. After checking with the Closet o’ Oracles…

Oracle says: The abnormalities in the Crystal have only just begun. I beg you -- protect it.

Doom, yeah. We figured.

You know, if you’d just give us some decent jobs without our having to break the Crystal Ceiling to get them, the unemployment rate in this kingdom would be a lot lower. I’m just sayin.’

Black Mage says: Did you know that without the crystal, we mages would be naught but robed scholars?

I don’t care about your pointy hat. As far as I’m concerned, the Crystals can shatter all they want, as long as we get job classes out of it.

One overworld map and cave crawl later, we catch up with Mysterious Stranger #1 and a new crimson-cloaked chap who resembles the boss monsters in I-III. MS#1 and Crimson are facing off…

Aigis pre-battle pep talk: Stay focused, everyone!

All the boys are excited, and Diana’s watching like it’s nbd. (Actually, I think her hair gets in the way of frowny-eyebrows.)

Sure enough, crimson-cloak morphs into a …manatoise, which we all know is really the Adamantoise boss at the beginning of FFIII.  Ooooh, nice boss battle music. Mysterious Stranger #1 proves to be a Red Mage with -ara spells that can be aimed at single or multiple targets. Sweet. Also, for some reason, Aigis now has a “Magic Bomb” fusion power.

Combat screen with Mysterious Stranger casting Fira

Afterwards, Mysterious Stranger #1 introduces himself as Elgo, a wandering prophet who sensed something wrong with the Crystal. I think he’s the Mysterious Stranger complaining about airship noise at the beginning of the game, although his clothing colors are more subdued in this cave.

Hey, Glaive, weren’t you the one fussing at Sol for bad manners earlier? Pot, kettle.

Glaive: A prophet, you say? Sounds just like what a snake after the Crystal would say.

Aigis is also suspicious, but says it more politely, inviting Elgo along in order to keep an eye on him.

A friendly Moogle is hanging out near the cave entrance, the usual item and cheap-equipment-that-we-already-have shop.

Onward to the Crystal Temple, which looks juuuuust like the temples in FFIII and V. Before we go inside, let’s take a quick breather. Four blokes and Diana: it’s obviously time to jam everyone into a teeny tiny tent!

World Map: Tent pitched outside Temple

Thwackity thwackity thwack up several floors to a save point…

Save Point in castle says: You must purchase chapter 1 to continue playing after prologue

Ayup. Mobile gaming. We kinda figured.

In the Crystal Room, which every good multi-story pagoda Greek-looking temple should have at the top, everybody pops out of Diana’s butt bag of holding. Sol elbows his way to the front. I’d forgotten he’s supposed to be the hero of this story, since I put Di in front as soon as I got the chance and buffed her with the best armor and swords I could find.

Hey, Twinkie, who died and made you in charge? If anyone’s going to be party leader besides Di, it should be one of the experienced blokes. Especially because you’re so observant…

Sol says: Nothin' seems out of place.

Everybody concludes that everything is perfectly fine, yessiree. Cue the Plot Hammer shaking the temple.

Another Crimson Cloak of Random Bossitude pops out.  Glaive and Diana, who have not played these games before, are less suspicious of CC than they were of Sir Elgo, even though we saw a Whatsitoise boss come flapping out of the last Crimson Cloak we spotted.

Glaive says: Wait! We're on your side!

CC zaps the Crystal with flame and starts draining it. We fight and lose this boss battle, playing with Aigis’ Magic Bomb and Elgo’s -ara spells (luckily I am too game-savvy to waste items in a losing cause. No, actually, just dumb luck).

Boss Battle with Watchbeast

The party’s knocked on its collective ass, and the giant blue beastie shrinks back into its Crimson Cloaked Chap form to continue munching on the crystal. Then it’s time for another installment of cutscene clips showing unfamiliar people saying things that won’t make sense until later.

Hey look, it’s floofball from FFIV. I mean Edward. There’s a click. I think his harpstring just broke.

Blond youth cries: My harp!

And here’s the WTF Dancer from FFI!

Wait, did that barfly just call her Matoya?! Mwahaha.

Matoya says: Unfortunately, honey, your dance is going to have to wait!

Matoya was the old crone in Final Fantasy I who needed the Warriors of Light to return her Crystal Eye to her. She was pretty charming there, too…

Matoya in FFI after receiving lost eye: Hmph! You're not even as attractive as I thought you'd be.

And I think we’ve probably found our Doctor Cid. Or Hojo. The yellowish person looks to me like another Terra-Esper type character. Its/her eyes pop open suddenly.

“Oh, my beloved Argey, you’re finally awake!” he gushes. This can’t end well.

Ack, I’m losing track of Mysterious Strangers. I think this next chap’s new. Edge, is that you? He’s running away from a bunch of guards, tossing taunts as he goes.

Ninja to pursuers: Not on your life. You gentlemane will be enjoying the thrill of the hunt a little longer.

And now we’ve reached the meaninglessly mundane, the drunkard who was harassing Matoya a moment ago storms outside and bumps into a blond hero-type. Or… not. He looks suspiciously like a Warrior of Light waiting for the Call, but for the moment he just stands there drooling and saying nothing.

Drunken man to youthful hero: Watch where you're going, fool!

Oh, yeah, speaking of WoLLies, about that crystal. Our party’s still sprawled on the floor watching Crimson Cloaked Chap have his way with our kingdom’s greatest treasure and source of power. Isn’t it time for a boss battle or something? Wait, no, scratch that, we failed abysmally.

Meanwhile, the stranger continues sucking on his crystal lollipop. (That sounds horribly wrong, sorry).

Diana says: It's cracking!

In the very first surprise of the game, four intruders burst in, much like the werewolf in FFV, and stake a claim on the crystal, too. None of these are the Mysterious Strangers we just saw in short clips, although I initially assumed Matoya was there in the back after putting her clothes on. No idea who these folks are.

Leader of strange party says: The crystal is ours.

Unfortunately, I haven’t quite gotten fired up enough to care,.This game is cute, but much like the PS1 translations of FFI-V, its script is lacking a certain pizazz, and the characters haven’t grabbed me quite yet. Then again, I fell in love with FFI despite there being absolutely no personalities to the characters (I invented my own for them).

Prologue conclusion: Fate itself brought together those whose lives were filled with hope and those whose duty sent them from the harsh north. As they locked eyes, the Crystal shed forth an immense light that filled the land, drowning everything in silence.

“And then, the world was sundered into Light and Dark.”

So what you’re telling me is that we’re playing the distant prequel to Final Fantasy III, which had Warriors of Light AND Dark.

Oh, no, what you’re telling me is, “Cross my palm with silver, and I will tell you another fortune,” to quote the terribly gauche animatronic fortuneteller on Disney Main Street an eon ago. To wit, we can pay $16.99 for chapters 1-4 of the rest of the game, or pay for them in separate $5.99 installments if we can’t do basic math.

Purchase screen

Righto. I’ll pay. It’s the cost of a good lunch, where I live. And I am determined to play as many FFs as possible, after all. Tune in next time for Chapter 1: About Time Cid Showed Up.

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One thought on “Final Fantasy Dimensions: A Half-Assed Playthrough

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    April 14, 2015 at 5:32am

    Please update more often!

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