Matrix studio has proven time again that they can make a Final Fantasy game and that they can make it on the DS. In the past they have been forced to prove themselves with pre-existing titles like Final Fantasy 3 and 4, and with the sequel entitled Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, but now, after paying their dues, they are getting to build a Final Fantasy on their own.
Four Warriors of Light: Final Fantasy Gaiden is a new spin-off game that goes back the original roots of the series. The story begins with a fourteen-year old boy named Brandt who, on his 14th birthday, is recruited by King Horne to save his daughter, the Princess Carino, from the Witch of the North. During his travels, he joins up with three other adventurers, all of whom are roughly the same age as he is, and together, they fulfill the traditional requirements for the “Warriors of Light”.
As illustrated in the picture, the four main characters have been shown riding a dragon. The one in front holding the sword is Brandt; the blonde girl behind him is Princess Carino’s younger sister, Aire; the brunette soldier with a ponytail is Unita; and Jusqua is the last child, holding the staff.
The gameplay is traditional with a few changes, MP being replaces by ability points that refill one each turn and changing equipment will change the characters’ appearance. Returning are the random encounters (thank you) and a turn-based battle system which reminds us of the early games in the series.
The job system returns in a new variation, similar to Final Fantasy X-2, in a system called “Crown System.” Each Job, which is linked to the hat they wear, contains four skills and various bonus attributes, but it still allows magic spells to be used by all Jobs. The known Jobs include Warrior, White Mage, Black Mage, Thief, Knight, Beastmaster, Ninja, and Bard, and new additions Hero, Taoist, Vagabond, Chronicler, Playboy, Seamstress, and Poet. Each hat also has gem slots, where you can use the stylus to drag and drop gems until its filled. What this does, we aren’t sure, but we’re guessing it will enhance the hat stats immensely.
The game, which starts in a fairytale-like village, holds many caves and forest and a variety of monster including hostile mushrooms, and a giant Minotaur wielding a large hammer. Unlike other RPGs, where an enemy attacks but all the animation shows is a monster swiping at nothing, this minotaur reaches out and actually swings at your party. Gamer are so used to the same camera angles in each game that it’s refreshing and stunning to see these turn-based battles unfold from a different angle.