I have played just over 60 hours of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. I’ve previously stated my like for Final Fantasy XII so I assumed playing this handheld version would be fun.
I was pleased when I got my DSi for Christmas (yes I knew the DSi XL was coming out). I loved the idea of being able to play Final Fantasy and Disgaea on the move and in bite-size chunks. Levelling up would be a pleasure because the images and the music would be familiar and enjoyable although reduced.
I had a fun time playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance so it should be the same on the DS with other RPGs, right? Right?
How naive I was.
I have two missions to go after over 60 hours. I figure the only way I’ll do those last two missions is if each character is around level 99 – battling enemies 5 to 10 levels higher can turn into hour long slug-fests as I spend more time summoning, healing and reviving downed units/characters and running away than fighting. A very demoralising position to be in. I have actually spent the last 20+ hours doing one mission Midlight’s Deep – Well of Silent Oaths, a level that offers the largest amount of experience in the quickest amount of time.
In other words, I have stripped the gloss off the game to and started to exploit the mechanics. In the most cynical terms I am grinding through it by spamming the cheapest, fastest unit – Chocobos’ in this case – and rushing to the objective. As much as I liked Final Fantasy XII on the Playstation 2, even with the music and the vivid, varied battlefields and the cute animations, I am having trouble grinding through the levels.
I won’t go into the simplified combination of RTS/RPG game mechanics. It’s a nice looking game but the fundamental problem I have, and perhaps this is a format problem, but the story pacing has broken down and even then, the story doesn’t feel epic enough, it doesn’t hook me, and without the epic, that leaves the drudge that all RPGs are built on – levelling up.
Home console versions can create spectacle in a way no handheld can. What remains is the story and this game’s story, although initially strong, now feels like a missing part of the Playstation 2 incarnation. The characterisation captures the characters but it all feels like it is lacking the drive of something like Phoenix Wright, a game that suits the handheld format perfectly.
60 hours on a game isn’t that much (I clocked in over 300 in Morrowind) but Revenant Wings sure as hell feels longer without something driving me along. That said, I can see the end in sight and after this, I’m going to try another RPG on the DSi (Valkyrie Profile) and see how that goes. I think I’ll stick to visual novels and point and click adventures on the format. Miles Edgeworth and Disgaea 2 arrived yesterday so I haven’t given up hope on the format yet!