Square Enix’s new FInal Fantasy game is an ATB poke-fest

The RPG developer ninja-released its latest iOS game.

Earlier this week, we got a tease from Square Enix, the developer of the classic Final Fantasy franchise, that something special would be coming on January 17th.

Most assumed it would be an announcement about a major impending title, but instead they simply released an iOS game, with little announcement and no fanfare.

Final Fantasy: All the Bravest is now available for iPhones and iPads, but it’s not your traditional Final Fantasy game. An observant fan might have noticed those initials, AtB, the same initialism used to represent the classic Active Time Battle system, introduced in early Final Fantasy Games. The core of that system was the ATB timer, which represented each character’s speed. When the bar filled up, the character would carry out the action the player had assigned them.

In Final Fantasy: AtB, this idea is taken up several notches. The game takes the form of a series of large-scale battles, in which the player controls up to 40 distinct characters, each with only one ability. When each character’s ATB gauge fills, the player must merely tap on them, or swipe past them to activate the ability.

Despite being a bit simplistic, it sounds like a neat concept, and could be a lot of fun, especially with some of the crazy visuals. Some criticize a lack of any sort of plot, but these critics clearly never played the original Final Fantasy which had about as much plot as Super Mario Bros.

The key feature, of course, is nostalgia. I can’t imagine the game would be all that much fun for someone new to the Final Fantasy franchise, but for a veteran of the classic series, the game is filled to brimming with recognizable characters, monsters, abilities, classes, locales, and dialogue snippets. There is enough here to melt the brains of Chocobo lovers everywhere.

The only real criticism I levy against them is their choice to use a micro-transaction model which comes very close to p2w (pay-to-win), if not into it. I applaud that the game itself is only about $4, but then the purchase of additional unique characters (of which there are nearly 40) cost a dollar apiece, and are delivered randomly.

One can also purchase ‘hourglass’ tokens in a pack of three for the same price. These tokens allow the player to be saved from a battle they are losing. Since there seems to be little actual skill involved in the fights, I imagine these tokens will be required for progression at some point.

Final Fantasy fans with iDevices should certainly go take a look at this one, though be careful of your pocketbook. Everyone else: Not sure what to tell you…. This one’s not for you.

Final Fantasy: All the Bravest is available now on iPad and iPhone for $3.99. No word on an Android release, but historically, Square Enix has ignored Android.