Upon entering Nibelheim, memories of city lost rushed back to me. The epic battle between Cloud and the Guard Scorpion that introduced us to the world of Final Fantasy VI, reminded me of sitting on my play chair with an oversized PlayStation controller in my hands. This all at the age of seven, trying to figure out just what in the world was going on. Entering the World of Final Fantasy is no different, meeting the two lovable main characters Reynn and Lann, and setting off on our adventure through the land of Grymoire, to meet a cast of unexpected Final Fantasy characters. Along the way I have met Lightning, Cloud, entered the Mako Reactor, and sailed across a deadly lake on top of an Adamantoise. My adventures have been nothing short of remarkable, and it was thanks to the 'personality' within World of Final Fantasy, that made adventures so memorable.
Neatly tucked in under the adorable Pop Figurine-inspired characters, and the blissful lands of World of Final Fantasy, is a true JRPG. Organizing my collection of Mirages that I have caught, cute little Pokemon-like monsters I collected to use in battle against other enemy Mirages. I have trained hard, grinding through areas, and faced off against countless enemies. Each with his own strength and weakness, my Mirages are now well-rounded, with a fair share of fire spells, water, and an odd healing ability.
Knowing I stand here in front of a disgusting Molboro, ready to face off against it, I prepare my fire Mirages to burn off his eyeballs off one by one. Summoning my XL Mirage, the Cerberus, to help along the way with its high defense, to all finish it off with Snow leaping across the battlefield with help from his Shiva summon. Shiva slowly blows ice across the Malboro, and then with a click of a finger it explodes, dealing a tremendous amount of damage.
My team have now leveled up and it means I can adjust their abilities. Chocochick can transfigure into a full-fledged Chocobo, as it has reached the right level. Zapt can now leave his Black Mage outfit behind him, as he slowly transforms into a human, hopefully becoming an all-mighty Rumah Mirage one day. The way the Mirages have become part of my life, has slowly taken my focus away from Reynn and Lann. They are not as important as they were in the first few hours of the game, but they are still loveable, and every cutscenes is all fully voiced, so I never read anything, just keep my ear out for what is going on. Reynn and Lann lack the ability to be improved. Other than an odd Miragejewel that lets them benefit from a spell, they rely on the Mirages stacked with them to gain strength, defence, and higher HP
The challenges of the world have been tough, luckily the diverse team that have I built, has let me switch between two combat layouts. The one stack I keep on hand, has a powerful Behemoth which I sit on, with a Flan on top of my head. It is effective as the Behemoth has the damage I need to topple enemies that have decided to stack themselves atop each other too. When that strategy fails, I can then change to a backup stack in which I act as the large Mirage, and a medium one sits on top of my head, with smaller one above that.
Every stack I change to, totals the amount of HP, strength, defence, magic, and abilities across the two mirages and Reynn and Lann. Everything I decide to level up across the Mirage board, impacts my stack in some way or another. Reynn learnt Thundara using a Mirajewel she found, so when Zapt transfigured into Zaphr, that Thundara he learnt, combined with Reynn’s, and became Thundaga. I made sure they were stacked together, and the abilities sorted themselves out. The system works well, and although it can be hard to figure out just what Mirage will impact what ability, when I have the right setup, it is worth navigating through the clunky meneus.
While I am not exploring the vast world of Grymoire, I often pop in to visit Chocolatte, who is just as annoying as she was in Final Fantasy XIII-2. I only deal with her because I need to buy potions and stock up on Phoenix Downs. Secretly I want to put a sock in it as no one should have that much energy, but I need the items, so putting up with her screaming at me, is worth it.
Nine Hills also has a place for me to rest my head in the Twin’s Room, and a place to manage my Prism Case, the case that holds all my Mirages. The most mysterious part of the town must be the Tea Room that houses a strange girl. She lets me replay certain story scenarios that surround the loveable characters I met in the game. Rikku’s run in with Mommy Mimic, and Refia’s fight with a psycho witch.
All these memories add a little extra Final Fantasy love to a journey already packed with lore and references.
Sure, the dungeons I must explore might get a bit dull after a while, as they are linear and lack a wide variety of puzzles, but the battles, and the ability to fast forward through them at double the speed, makes the walk through them. The odd treasure chest sometimes keeps me on a determined path to get it. I get all my Mirages together, and place them on a pressure plate with specific elemental resistance and a weight count.
This then activates a bridge leading to the treasure chest. I often need to make sure that I have specific Mirages with me to fly across a gap to reach a rare Mirage, or blow fire at an icicle blocking my path. These Mirages are worth the trip as they can be caught and sometimes have the upper hand above my other collection of Mirages.
While the dungeons might be bland, the story has kept me captivated. The mystery surrounding the twins and their ability to switch between a Jiant and an adorable smaller version of themselves. Not to mention the ability to summon champions that I have collected along the way. There are dark forces at work, that caused the twins to lose their memories. Along the way we have be able to recover them, but why is the Bahamut Army attacking the land, and what is the true intentions of the Paladin Knight? All this often crossed my mind as I mindlessly fought through battles in the coliseum to imprison rare Mirages. The story has been gripping, and the characters are oozing with charm.
50 hours in and the game’s post game content now awaits me. I need to head back to all the lands I have explored to catch all the Mirages I missed because I didn't yet have the specific ability needed to initiate imprisonment.
If anything, World of Final Fantasy took me back to my roots, with all the characters and charm that came with the world and story. The combat music that mixes the classic battle themes from six different games into one, and the background music in some areas that takes notes directly from the best musical keys from classic games.
This love letter has been carefully written on scented paper, sealed with utmost care, and delivered in a Final Fantasy package that has been sorely missing for years.