Square Enix's latest iOS release is out, hot, and confusing the crap out of people. Final Fantasy Dimensions [Free] is a free download, but unlocking the full game will cost you more than Final Fantasy Tactics [$13.99] and Chrono Trigger [$9.99] combined. This is Dimensions' English-language debut, but it's not an iOS original. Oh, and you can get the free part now, but you can't buy it yet due to some strange App Store SNAFU where Dimension's in-game store shows no available chapters for purchase.

Phew!

So, what is Dimensions, really? It's an update of a chapter game released in Japan as Final Fantasy Legends over late 2010 and 2011, so it's still basically a new game. It's also distinctly 16-bit in style, and uses a job system similar to that in Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy Tactics, so it's old-school. It's full of NES and SNES era Final Fantasy references, including the "crystal theme" scales and the blue screen of introduction. If you've ever wished that there were more pre-VII Final Fantasy games, you're the target audience.

I currently have a piece of Final Fantasy VI fan art (by the incomparable Zac Gorman) as my wallpaper, so I can't claim to be unbiased.

The Prologue of Dimensions clearly isn't intended to sell you on the game's system: the job system doesn't unlock on this side of the paywall, and the combat ramps up just enough to make you pay attention without ever becoming a real challenge. It also won't sell you on the originality of the story or characters - both are more comfortably familiar than refreshing, with a plot that begins like a benign mashup of Final Fantasies I and IV, and the characters like the childhood friends of Chrono Trigger, though less immediately distinctive.

Instead, the game is going to pitch itself to you on it's nostalgia value, its implementation in iOS, and the sense that things are really going to pick up from here.

The nostalgia value is the most subjective. I found it pleasantly familiar, but others will find it dull or cloying.

The implementation is superb, and it may have helped that this game was originally designed for mobile gaming. There are three different control schemes: fixed virtual controls, a slide-to-move mechanic similar to the much-maligned default controls of Cthulhu Saves the World [$1.99], and the game's default controls, a "best of both" interface that pops up a d-pad wherever you touch which can then be used as a virtual controller or the compass rose (center point) for swipe-to-move. The d-pad is a bit large, and cannot be resized or made invisible, but otherwise should accommodate nearly every gamer's preferences.

Menus are also multi-control, including the combat menus, where you can touch the monster you want to attack or select the box with it's name on the right hand side of the screen. Contextually appropriate controls, like a "target all" button, pop up when appropriate, and tapping them a second time toggles them back off. To equip different characters, you can go into their equip menu then back to the main menu, or you can speed things up by tapping on other characters' portraits or cycling though your ranks by tapping the left or right sides of the item information window (tiny arrows cue you in to this option, but the sensitive area itself is generous).

With Dimensions' large party cap (5) and all the ability and equipment swapping the jobs system will require, this should really make quick-changes a breeze. If you get tired of the default chiptunes, you can select other tracks (though this is part of the IAP) or adjust the game's music volume (controllable separately from sound effects) and put on your favorite playlist. The game's sped-up autobattle mode makes hash of weak enemies, and turns off at a tap if you get into trouble.

The effort put into the UI, and the plot twist at the end of the Prologue (spoiler: the world gets split into light and dark parallel worlds, and you'll control a party in each one) suggest that Dimensions quickly expands from a tightly-constrained and simple retro title into something much larger and more interesting, with a large cast, lots of combinations of equipment and abilities, and maybe even a different take on the "light v.s. dark" stories of the early Final Fantasy titles.

I just wish I was more invested in the characters at this point. With the lack of available of launch day IAP unlocks, Dimension's pay structure could backfire on Square. The first part of the game is free, but with the strongest elements of gameplay (and, hopefully story) hidden behind the broken paywall, some players will have moved on by time the patch comes out.

After the patch is out, we'll review the rest of the game.


Editor Note: This game has us in a strange position in that people are hungry for a review of it (and we're anxious to provide one) but the inability of the IAP unlocks hasn't allowed us to scratch the surface of anything other than the free prologue portion. Going into a holiday weekend, it seems to make sense to just review what we can play, and we'll revisit the game in the future once we're allowed access to the rest of it which hopefully happens pretty soon. The three star score is based on what we can play, and the overall score for Final Fantasy Dimensions likely will fluctuate either up or down once we get through the rest of its content, explore the job system, and experience everything else it has to offer.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Superatomic

    I wonder how soon they will fix the IAP so we can get on with playing the rest of the game...

    • bramblett05

      Next year after final fantasy IIIX-50 comes out.

      • http://twitter.com/deathfisaro Ken Lee

        Lol people like FF7 so much that they have re-defined how to write Roman numerals.

        I'm actually looking forward to this game as FFV has been the most fun FF to play to date.

      • MrAlbum

        Or Final Fantasy XXVII, as seen on a poster in Deus Ex: Human Revolution XD

      • WarMachine

        It's fixed now

      • http://www.facebook.com/8thRann Rican Rann

        hahahahaha

    • Optic-9

      Its the only way they are making money on this game so I assume it will be soon!

      • bramblett05

        I'm not gonna lie I like the game but to release it flawed and play only an hour is pathetic now we got to wait a day or more and I'm leaning towards more. This will make people move on plus labor day weekend they lost lot of money there. I like them but they are now acting like EA in means of screw ups.i won't pay the full price now I prefer episodic anyway.

      • bramblett05

        Update is up.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZKNW6GCJT2MXZZDICD3CUNVVAU j

       It already has

  • Tuff Tiger

    Final fantasy xxx

    • bramblett05

      Not working it says can't connect to iTunes

      • bramblett05

        Got the same problem as the walking dead server overload.

  • http://twitter.com/Cooltendo Philip Armstrong

    The game isn't without its flaws, but the interface is surprisingly usable, and by the end I wanted to keep playing. If nothing else that's a testament to its quality. It's only going to get better from here what with jobs and challenge dungeons and party builds and so on.

  • HelperMonkey

    "The nostalgia value is the most subjective. I found it pleasantly familiar, but others will find it dull or cloying."

    Can we pin this phrase to every review of a old school re-port or retro-styled game? With Hodapp and company being such retro junkies I never thought "nostalgia value" was even an open question.

  • http://twitter.com/spacecowgoesmoo Taylor Calderone

    Oh FFS. Why would you spoil a plot twist for us like that? Thanks a lot.

  • http://twitter.com/deathfisaro Ken Lee

    The IAP was fixed by the time I played through the Prologue. It was an easy choice for me, got the entire bundle.

    This game pays so much homage to the SNES FF's and does it predictably and well. While trying to avoid spoilers, at the beginning I was thinking "Hmm... maybe an airship would fly over like FF4..." then there it was. At the crystal... Hey, is that you Ex-Death? And then the scene after reminded me a lot of the fire crystal and the wolf while I kind of automatically assumed that it is the wind crystal.

    I hated the default d-pad, changed to fixed after a bit. Battle and menu interface works really well whether you touch or slide. I wish the dungeon design was a bit more linear and getting a taste of the job system in the prologue would have been great but regardless I'm overall satisfied so far.

  • l_23mer

    The IAP is fixed now

  • l_23mer

    This game is great the huge d pad is the only I do not care for I guess I am going to be putting up with it until and if it get fixed!! Buying all episodes save a dollar or two!!

  • Benjamin Rodriguez

    Completely in  love with the music. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paddy-Grant-Sullivan/733511665 Paddy Grant Sullivan

    Am I the only one that thinks 25 bucks for a 16 bit rpg seems a tiny bit too much? I could probably get just about any of the non MMO 3D games from the series for less than that. Call me a skeptic but I can't imagine it being worth that much.

    • http://twitter.com/Cooltendo Philip Armstrong

      What no you're crazy where did you get such a silly idea.

      It's 30 bucks, not 25.

      • KusanagiShiro

        Well if you think about it, back in the SNES days... I remember FFIV, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, AND FFVI all being about $30. EACH.

        (NOTE: I purposely did not mention FF: Mysric Quest and Secret of Evermore they are Square's black sheep.)

  • The#1

    I bought it and the game rocks! TA u need to play through the whole game and then review it. This game as a 5 star winner for sure!

  • jaykeeley

    where's the Android version? I don't seem to be able to find it in the market and can't find any stories about a delay?

  • Bryan Campbell

    -double post-

  • Bryan Campbell

    Incredibly good game! Really picks up at chapter 1. Please re-review the game soon! Music is just awesome, especially chapter 1 battle music wow

  • NPeart

    Music is pretty good. Especially arrangement wise. Compositions are not particularly strong for a FF game, but I like it thus far more, than j-rpgs generally, and can't wait to hear more.

    Story seems lovely, although bit corny, same goes for characters.

    I'm not much of a graphics person(I love 16-bit style, although this represents the early, rather barren 16-bit style; its more like FF4 than 6), but the price splits me into two persons; on one hand I'd like to support more expensive developement of phone games to finally be able to see as touching and memorable experiences as on DS, but on other hand, I also want to send a message, that although I love to see more expensive games, this low investment from the developement doesn't justify the price at all. Its rather low quality $5 game.

  • Endless Mode

    I found this too irritating, specifically the controls (in all configurations), the number of fights (too frequent) and the endless tapping to move the dialogue along. Ended up deleting it.

    • Endless Mode

      Oh and I thought it was lame that the music would sometimes stop. It's not hard to write the code so that background music is always present.

  • http://twitter.com/Cooltendo Philip Armstrong

    The further I get into the game, the more the price seems justified. There's a lot of content here. It really is a full-fledged Final Fantasy game.

  • ElPumo

    Enjoying this one more than FF3. Would love to see more classic FF on iOS.

  • TJF588

    For those who've only read this prologue review, SQEX has dropped the IAP prices.

    The full chapter set is now $19.99, Chapter 1 is $2.99, Chapters 2-4 are $6.99 each, and the musical pack is also $6.99 (prices in USD).

    So, is twenty bucks more palatable for a full JRPG of olden forge?

    • KusanagiShiro

      Well as I said $30-ish for a game was the norm in days of yore.

FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS Reviewed by Tof Eklund on . Rating: 3