Title: Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every buddy!
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: March 20, 2019
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Dungeon Crawling
The dungeon crawling genre has been something that I have grown quite fond of over the years. I enjoy its simple yet difficult design, but I can also understand how it might not be for everyone. When Square Enix released Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon on Wii in 2008, I felt that it released at the perfect time in the west as it introduced new fans to the genre who just came because of “Final Fantasy” in the title.
Now, Square Enix has returned to the spin-off title with a remake titled Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! Thankfully, the timing of the release was perfect yet again as we are in a bit of low point for dungeon crawling games in the west. However, while there were some changes were made to this new version, I still found fun in its new offerings, which makes this game a perfect fit for anyone curious about the genre.
Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! introduces players to Cid, a researcher out to find clues to power his airship, and Chocobo, his partner. The two have followed a lead to discovering more about the airship when they get sucked into a vortex that spits them out in a town known as Lostime. After meeting the citizens, it’s evident that some things are off about this town and it seems to be stemming from the clocktower. Every time the clock chimes, the memories of the town’s people are erased and they don’t have to worry about any of their troubles any longer because they can’t remember them. Thankfully, Chocobo doesn’t seem to be affected by the ringing and a strange baby with green hair appears who might be able to unlock the town’s memories and restore balance to the region.
What’s great about the story is that many of the town’s people have voiced audio tracks which add a nice layer of quality to the game’s playful design. While exploring the town, players will need to talk to the citizens in order to figure out the services that they provide. However, at first, the citizens need to remember what they do, but we’ll get into that more a little later. Chocobo is joined by a young white mage named Shirma who seems to point him in the right direction and together they try work towards helping the townspeople and learn more about this weird green haired baby.
I really liked the story of Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy!. The writers kept the story straight forward and easy to understand, even when explaining lore and backstory. While there is plenty of story and character depth to find, it’s up to the player to look for it and some events are even kept to finding secret notes hidden throughout the town. This game is not directed towards hardcore gamers based on the visual style and mechanics, but there are higher difficulties and plenty of systems that will satisfy longtime fans of this genre. The story is corny and light-hearted, but there are some moments of real tension when looking into the citizens’ minds and unlocking their memories. In this regard, each NPC is unique and has their own story to tell which makes conversations with them weigh a little heavier and mean a little more.
During the game, players will encounter citizens that can’t seem to remember something crucial about themselves. It’s up to Chocobo to dive into their mind and unlock these memories. These mind dungeons specifically are a little different than story-based missions because special rules are placed on them. The rules in these dungeons range from things like no healing every step, limited vision, or even turning off the buddy feature. On top of that, they have a level cap so level grinding won’t really do much, but it does ensure that each of the dungeons provides a nice layer of challenge and it keeps them from becoming repetitive.
After unlocking a citizen’s memories, players are able to access their store to buy goods or upgrade materials. Furthermore, mini-games like a fishing mini-game. With the fishing mini-game, it breaks up the dungeon grind, it isn’t that difficult, and it comes with its share of benefits. Similarly, the developers included cute events that Chocobo can take part in, like playing in a bed or swimming in a pond that can make a genre as stressful as this one be a little more relaxing.
The main story missions have Chocobo diving into deep dungeons 20+ levels down with checkpoints every 10 levels or so. These missions can get pretty difficult at times, but I felt that the boss encounters at the end of the dungeon added greatly to the mission’s overall difficulty. Many times I would make it to the boss only to be wiped out after a special attack. After a death, the player loses all unequipped items and money so it’s important to upgrade your gear and deposit any gold into the bank before going into these missions. With that said, Chocobo’s level, job level, and rank level don’t reset so every playthrough gets easier based on this alone. Chocobo has access to a handful of different job classes for players to choose from, but I found a strong liking with the Black Mage Chocobo. However, there are plenty of skills and classes to unlock by completing the mind dungeons, which also unlocks new buddies.
One thing that makes Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! unique is the feature that allows players to bring a second player into the dungeon, who can also be controlled by the CPU. During the game, certain main characters and all monsters defeated in the dungeons can be added controlled by a second player. I was interested to see how this works because I’ve never played a game like this with two people. Since the game is turn-based, each move that Chocobo makes is followed up by an enemy turn. However, the second player can move freely around the map, but still, only take an attack action once until Chocobo takes his move. This ends up making tough bosses and enemy encounters a little easier because player two can attack an enemy and then run away from it if done before player one makes their move. I ended up using this tactic a lot during boss fights because some can get pretty difficult if not carefully planned out with a good amount of items at the player’s disposal.
Dungeon designs vary, but they’re all mostly the same. With that said, the mind dungeons do have some unique designs such as a line of enemies that need to be drafted in order to get to the exit. Other than that, they aren’t totally special, but I don’t think they really need to be since you don’t typically spend too long on dungeon floors. Gimmicks and traps that litter the dungeon floors can either benefit or hurt the player which makes for some surprising moments while trying to find an exit.
The soundtrack in Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! is taken directly from some of the best Final Fantasy games, which had me humming along constantly throughout the game. I really enjoyed what the developers put together here to really tap into my nostalgia for the series, which really benefited from the colorful and childlike character designs.
Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! offers a lot to fans of the series, but some things have been removed in this version, such as the card game. However, while playing through the game again, I didn’t really miss the card game too much and instead, found plenty of enjoyment in just going through the story. In addition to the card game being removed, though, a lot of audio scenes have been removed or altered for this new release, which was strange to me because some of the changes like scenes taking place in the night or day time didn’t really make sense to me, but again, I don’t think this affects the game’s core systems too much and I still had a good time with the game and the characters.
As for graphical updates, I think that the quality of the dungeons are drastically better and look crisp when compared to the original release. Enemies designs have also been improved and Chocobo is as cute as he’s ever been. The game definitely runs more smoothly during boss fights that have a lot of moving parts, but the load times in the game did feel a bit lengthy.
Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! is an adorable turn-based dungeon crawler that is great for anyone who hasn’t played a Mystery Dungeon game before. The mechanics are kept simple from beginning to end of this 25-hour adventure, even things like fusing weapons or figuring out where to go next are kept extremely straight forward to make this the perfect game for younger players to pick up and discover a light-hearted adventure that will test them at times, but is still easy to get the hang of and progress.
While the two-player feature is great for cheesing through some difficult battles, there isn’t much for the second player to do outside of swinging a weapon, which puts a lot of responsibility on player one. However, I’ve got to say that I had a wonderful time playing through this adventure again and I hope that anyone interested in this genre picks it up as their first venture into the Mystery Dungeon franchise. Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! is a charming, adorable, and addictive game, and with its remaster improvements of the original, it’s now more accessible than ever before.
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