Final Fantasy Fables
Chocobo Tales

Format: Nintendo DS
Square Enix

5 060121 821897
Age Restrictions: 3+
25 May 2007

Once upon a time there was a small, peaceful island protected by the crystals of fire, earth, water and light. On this island lived a white mage named Shirma, a black mage named Croma and a farm full of cheerful chocobos. Just when it looked like everybody was going to live happily ever after, Croma bought back a mysterious book from his latest journey. Without thinking twice, he opened the dark tome and inadvertently invited misfortune upon the island. Every nearby chocobo was sucked into the magical pages of the wicked book. Unbeknownst to all, Darkmaster Bebuzzu, who had once laid waste to nearly the entire world, had been sealed inside the pages of the book. Luckily for the good guys, his strength was not fully restored. You take the role of an unlikely hero, a chocobo, who must rescue his friends while stopping Darkmaster Bebuzzu from regaining his lexicon of devastating powers...

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales mixes an adventure story with mini games, micro games and an interesting card battle game called Pop-Up. The result is an engaging offering that will have you glued to your DS for quite some time.

You play the game as a chocobo (which are the Final Fantasy equivalent of horses. These cute little creatures look like birds, but are used by people to travel long distances), who has to rescue his/her friends who are trapped inside picture books. You also have to stop Bebuzzu from regaining his power. There are four different coloured crystals to find and collect if you want to complete the game and restore peace to your village.

There are over 40 mini and micro games ranging in difficulty from simple to challenging. Thankfully the developers have not centred too much on one style of game. The Pop-Up card game is only used when totally necessary (to beat bosses) and the mini and micro games are all so varied that you won't get bored with them.

The mini/micro games use all of the gadgets that the DS has to offer - although only one micro game actually uses the microphone (you have to blow into it to fire darts which burst bubbles). It even uses the touch screen in imaginative ways. For example, in the Pop-Up segments of the game, by holding the stylus over your card and quickly moving it upwards it shoots the card to the top screen to be used in your battle. This is so much cooler than just tapping on it.

And even when you've completed the entire game (it took us just one day) there is still plenty of replay value in the mini games and there's also a great multi-player option which will have you battling against your friends at either mini games, micro games or a round of Pop-Up. You can also keep playing in order to rescue all of the trapped chocobos as well as finding the missing cards to complete your deck.

While the level of difficulty is not that challenging for the Pop-Up segments (you can pretty much beat any of the bosses with the most basic of cards - it's more about luck than anything) playing against friends (or over Wi-Fi against strangers) is incredibly challenging.

If you are looking for an engaging and addictive game to keep you amused over the summer months you've found it in Chocobo Tales. While, as I mentioned earlier, most seasoned gamers will be able to complete the story mode in a day of intense playing, there is plenty of additional challenges to keep you going back for more.

Nick Smithson

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