Final Fantasy Explorers is a multiplayer oriented, hack-and-slash role playing game on the 3DS. After creating a character, you'll be plonked into the world of Amostra with just one goal - to take on a number of missions from the mission booth in the town of Libertas. With over 200 missions to complete, almost all of which revolve around either defeating a certain number of monsters, or defeating a boss, there's plenty to get stuck into - and plenty of enemies to defeat.
With little in the way of an overarching story, the gameplay here is entirely mission based. After accepting a mission from the town, it's up to you to venture out onto the fields in an attempt to complete the mission's objective, whether it's slaying X of Y monster, defeating a boss, or collecting a certain item (you guessed it - by defeating a monster). With plenty of combat, the game divides its attacks up into a standard move on the Y button, and eight special abilities, which can be accessed by holding the L or R button, and pressing either A/B/X/Y. These use Ability Points, which recharge when you're walking around the battlefield, or land a hit on an enemy. Each mission you take on has a time limit, although there's usually pretty generous (like 30 minutes)
Unlike many role playing games, Final Fantasy Explorers doesn't have a true levelling system as such - you start off with thousands of HP (hit points, or health), and you won't get any more by beating up monsters. Instead, changing character class to specialise in a certain type of combat (White Mages are good at healing magic, Beastmasters have a lot of HP), buying new weapons, or crafting to improve the ones you own are the only ways to get more health. Being defeated in battle isn't uncommon when you're facing off against bosses, and you have the option of either using an item to be revived where you stand, or reviving yourself in exchange for losing a certain amount of time off the time limit (5 or 10 minutes or so).
Despite being a multiplayer oriented game, it's worth noting that there's no option for single card download play here, so those who want to play with other people will either need friends who also own a 3DS and a copy of the game, or will have to venture online to play with strangers. That said, the game can be played and completed in single player with no ill effects, and you can add monsters you've defeated to your team, so you won't be venturing "alone" - but it's worth bearing in mind that the game is intended to be played in multiplayer.
If your child does venture online, it's keeping in mind that although there's no voice chat, so they won't be able to verbally talk to strangers, and also no "free" chat system, so you can't directly type messages to one another, there is a quick chat system that lets you choose from one of 40 pre-defined messages - which you can edit freely, leaving the potential for bad language, or inappropriate content not mentioned below to slip through the filters with creative spelling.
While Final Fantasy Explorers is certainly pick up and play, in that anyone can get started with the simple combat, the boss fights do make things a lot trickier, and mean the game tends towards a more experienced crowd. Although there isn't much in the way of punishment for dying, the time limit on each mission, and the fact you have to use that time limit to revive yourself if you're out of revival items (which will happen a lot) means that younger children may struggle. There's also a lot of reading involved, as mission briefings aren't voiced, and specific enemies you need to defeat aren't explicitly marked on the map.
Sample sentences include:
- "The mandragoras and ghosts at Lake Filouz and the Debbis Heights are interfering with the crystal-gathering operations there. Our kingdom is sending people to the scene, but we're terribly shorthanded. Any help from Amostra's Explorers would be greatly appreciated."
- "You can decide whether to focus on honin' one job or try out a bunch of different jobs."
- "We must defeat that wicked eidolon! Please lend your might to the Knights Orthodox!"
As a semi-cutesy role playing game, the violence in Final Fantasy Explorers is distinctly of the non-realistic variety, as you whack at enemies with swords, spells, and arrows, with cartoonish circles coming off enemies when you hit them, along with a number indicating how many hit points you've knocked off them. There's nothing in the way of sexual content here either, and the only real bad language is found in the name of one of the weapons in game - the "bastard sword".
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS