Hands-On Preview: Adorable. Just completely FREAKING adorable!
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light is adorable. THERE. I said it. I got it off my chest. The first time I watched the trailer, I squeaked. I really did. It looked so much like the Final Fantasy III remake I'd played on the DS, of which I have fond memories. Of course, as soon as we got to the Square Enix booth at E3, I made a beeline over to the XL DSes and had a go at it.
This spin-off to the main series is being helmed by the same minds behind the remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV for the DS. Unsurprisingly, there are four adorable main characters ? two boys named Brandt and Jusqua and two girls named Unita and Aire. We begin with the four of them in the Kingdom of Horne, in the town outside of the castle. I walked around for a little while, talking to townspeople and trying it all on for size. One of the employees came over and asked how I was doing, to which I replied that things were OK so far, but that I was sort of just wandering around the town. He told me to keep in mind that I now had AP (Action Points) instead of magic, and also reminded me about the Crown job system. ?You know the phrase ?wear many hats'? Well, that's literally what's happening here,? he said.
I put the headphones back on, opened up the Crowns menu, and got completely sucked into it. The Crowns are adorable hats that can be worn by the characters to switch their jobs, similar and yet different to so many other job systems in previous Final Fantasy games. You choose a Crown for each character (or, as always, leave them as Freelancers if you so desire), but in this situation, you also get to choose from several abilities. This gives you some freedom to customize your character. Your stats also change, but there is no accompanying job sickness. I mixed and matched a bit and then ended up with a Black Mage, White Mage, Wayfarer, and Bandit.
The Black Mage and White Mage use black and white magic, respectively, and their AP cost for each is reduced by one. The Wayfarer improves the usefulness of recovery items, and with the Bandit, monsters will drop better items. I adjusted all of their abilities and then decided I was ready to go outside and try out the new battle system.
I enjoyed the battle system so much that I ended up getting lost in it for a while. Dubbed the ?new Action Point battle system,? it revolves around ? you guessed it ? Action Points. Each character has four Action Points, and each action ? fighting, magic, or using an item ? takes up an Action Point depending on their class and what the action is. You can ?store? the Action Points, basically sitting out for a turn and allowing them to regenerate, and if you keep doing that, you'll be able to keep them built up. But if you run out, you might find yourself in a sticky situation. I walked around for a little while, fighting battle after battle and just sort of testing out how I felt about this whole new system in general.
In battle, you choose what each character will do ? but you don't choose who they will do it to. So you choose melee fighting for one, healing for another, fire for a third, and say another melee battle ? and the game chooses the rest for you. It's the same sort of ?let us do the thinking? that can happen in Final Fantasy XIII, where the system ends up taking over for the sake of convenience. I like it, but I could definitely see how there will be RPG fans out there who may not.
After fighting for a while, I went back into the town and headed towards the castle to speak to the king, but at that point, I'd hogged the game for nearly half an hour, and I wanted to let someone else have a try. I tried to get the nice employee to let me take it home with me, but he didn't think that was the best idea. I was glad to have gotten the chance to play it ? the new Crown System has a lot of great potential to be fun and keep things from getting boring, and I really enjoyed what I saw of the combat. October 5th is a long way off, though, so I'm going to get my cute on with some Final Fantasy III in the meantime.