2016’s Pokémon-inspired romp through the Square Enix universe aptly titled World of Final Fantasy has found its way onto the Nintendo Switch to satisfy the demand for monster-collecting RPGs mere days before the Pokémon: Let’s Go games are unleashed. This definitive edition offers a 50+ hour journey through terrain fans of the series will be all too familiar with, battling and capturing chibi versions of all your favorite creatures from across Final Fantasy lore. There’s a lot to like here and it’s great to see the Final Fantasy series, albeit an offshoot, make it back onto a Nintendo console.
In World of Final Fantasy Maxima you take on the role of siblings Lann & Reynn, who wake up one day to find that all signs of life have vanished without a trace, along with their memories (ah, the good old JRPG trope). Through the guidance of the mysterious goddess Enna Kros and a talking mirage named Tama, the brother & sister duo venture into the world of Grymoire looking for both their memories and the missing civilians.
Along the way you’re tasked with battling, and then capturing, mirages, which are the monsters you encounter as you progress through Grymoire. Small, cartoony, chibified versions of all your favorite Final Fantasy characters make an appearance throughout the campaign, all with the opportunity to battle and then catch to have them join your party. This is where the similarities to Pokémon end and the game takes on a much more traditional Final Fantasy tone, although a bit more accessible and with a thousand times more fan-service.
World of Final Fantasy is very much a love letter to the previous games in the series as every nook and cranny of Maxima‘s story is loaded to the brim with references, in-jokes, and even recurring characters from previous Final Fantasy titles. The battle system itself plays like a mix between VII and X’s fighting, though the system can tweaked to your liking if you prefer shorter action-focused battles or longer traditional bouts. In another nod to fans I really enjoyed you can toggle the display at any time to give the HUD a more retro aesthetic because it’s just not a Final Fantasy game without blue boxes and white text for days.
One battle mechanic unique to World of Fantasy however is called Stacking. Mirages you capture can combine with (or in this case, literally be placed on top of) other characters in your party, leveraging their strengths and weaknesses for some really unique power and stat combinations. You are encouraged throughout the game to capture more and more different kinds of mirages to mix and match together for use in battle. Having the strengths and weakness be independently impacted by each additional mirage forces you to implement a surprising amount of strategy, instead of just of just stacking your party to the heavens with a mirage that even sneezes in your direction.
Purists of the series will champion this game’s pacing and intuitive turn-based combat as they definitely reflect the more methodical pacing of earlier entries in the series. But what if you’re a more recent convert to the series and prefer the real-time gameplay of later entries? This game definitely would make a good launching pad for someone who maybe wanted to try a more traditional Final Fantasy experience, but might have been intimidated by the massive, complex stories of previous games. While a large chunk of the story context might go over newcomers’ heads, the chibi art style, charming story, and colorful characters easily make this one of the most accessible titles in the Final Fantasy franchise. At the same time it’s a celebration of everything fans have come to love about the series.
World of Final Fantasy Maxima Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Whether you’re a newcomer in need of a Final Fantasy crash course, a veteran looking to tread their favorite environments once again, or you just want a light yet solid RPG to waste away the time, World of Final Fantasy Maxima checks all those boxes and then some. Switch owners who pick up this title will no doubt fall for its clever gameplay, over the top charm, and array of adorable monsters to collect.