I’m a Final Fantasy fiend. Ever since my (now) husband moved in with his Playstation and Final Fantasy VIII, I’ve been hooked. That means I’m a sucker for almost any game with the words “Final Fantasy,” is made by Square-Enix, (I’m looking at you, Bravely Default) or, in the case of that Kickstarter, involves the composer Nobuo Uematsu. I also love rhythm/music games; I’ve owned Dance Dance Revolution (including the super-expensive RedOctane dance mats), Beatmania, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Rocksmith, even Elite Beat Agents.
Needless to say, when the second installment of Final Fantasy’s rhythm game was announced, I pounced on the collector’s edition. Extra Final Fantasy soundtrack albums? Yes, please!
I know people have had problems with Digital River, the folks who run Square-Enix’s online store, but I’ve never had an issue. Final Fantasy XIV and Lightning Returns, arrived with no issues. Despite the warning on their site that the game might not arrive by the release day of September 16, I got it on the 13th. Three days early.
Time to get a good head start on the game, right?
I actually found the timing of the notes to be more forgiving than the original game. It was a lot easier for me to get critical hits and some nice combos. It got to the point where I developed very high standards for myself; a score of A or below seemed like failure. (Note: at the end of each song, you receive a letter grade. Above A is S, SS, and SSS.)
The song selection is insane. There are apparently over 200 songs available, though they’re not all available right away. I’ve put about 20 hours into the game so far, and just hit the achievement of playing 100 songs.
Apart from the regular mode, there’s a Quest Medley mode, in which you play multiple stages, and even “fight” bosses by making critical hits (i.e., hitting the notes in time). Beating the quests helps you unlock different player characters for your kick-ass rhythm party. My only gripe is that Fang from Final Fantasy XIII isn’t available; I’ve developed a soft spot for the “Magical Lesbian Death Squad,*” and I would have rounded out the party of four with the Lightning Returns version of Lightning.
The versus mode is pretty neat; you get to face off against either AI, a Nintendo 3DS friend, or a random person online. You can narrow down the search for random people by song difficulty and location (domestic or international). Then, you get to both play a song, and whoever gets the higher score wins. However, there is a trick! You get to inflict different status effects on each other, which can change the speed or direction of the notes. One effect even makes the timing super-strict! The status effects are random, but a friendly Moogle will warn you when they’re coming.
There is also the option to get more songs through DLC (downloadable content). I caved and bought “Shuffle or Boogie” from Final Fantasy VIII, because I spent many an hour playing the Triple Triad minigame.
Initial impression: It’s a super-fun game and the awesome music makes me nostalgic for all the old games in the Final Fantasy franchise.
More to come as I progress in the game. For now, however, my thumbs are sore.
*The Magic Lesbian Death Squad consists of Lightning, Fang and Vanille (thanks, ClockworkHouse). I hope it doesn’t come across as disrespectful; all I’m implying is that the Death Squad is pretty kick-ass. Also, Fang and Vanille really love each other, and remind me of Xena and Gabrielle.