If you were a Final Fantasy fan and owned a Nintendo Wii, you were treated to some of the most interesting spinoffs in the long-running JRPG franchise’s history. From reverse tower defense games where you play as an evil princess stopping heroes from reaching her throne room, to an action-adventure story where you play as a blonde boy with telekinetic powers. Heck, there was even a playable White Mage in a Mario sports game. There were a lot of eclectic experiences for Final Fantasy fans back on the Wii, and now, one of them is coming back on the Nintendo Switch thanks to the new remaster, Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy!.
Originally released as Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon back on the Wii in 2007, Chocobo’s Dungeon was a classic roguelike dungeon experience. If you’re familiar with games like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or Shiren the Wanderer, you know what to expect from this. You navigate randomly generated grid-like dungeons where every move and action you take causes the monsters around you to move and act as well.
When you start playing Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy!, you’re introduced to treasure hunter Cid and his plucky baby chocobo companion. The two of them are searching for a mysterious treasure at the bottom of a dungeon, but when they find it in the hands of another pair of scavengers, the gem creates a giant portal that sucks all of them in. Cid and Chocobo land in a mysterious town called Lostime, where a giant clock tower has been wiping the memories of the townsfolk every time it chimes. It’s up to Chocobo to team up with the townsfolk, restore their memories, and uncover the truth behind the Bell of Oblivion.
Admittedly, the story isn’t the strongest part of Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon. It has some intriguing developments throughout, but it’s mostly a pretty simple narrative that relies on a few too many familiar ideas. What I came to love, though, were the characters who populated that story. Almost every character in the game oozes charm, with utterly unique designs and constantly entertaining dialogue that made me smile on multiple occasions.
Of course, none of that is where the meat of Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon lies. The real meat of the game is the beefy, content-rich mystery dungeon gameplay. The core action will be familiar to anyone who’s played a roguelike mystery dungeon game before. There are a lot of quality-of-life bits that help make the experience as smooth as possible, though, from diagonal movement to mid-dungeon saving, and even the useful ability to change the direction you’re facing without wasting a turn.
Of course, you aren’t just mashing A to attack enemies and picking up potions. There’s a bevy of systems and mechanics in the game that let you really customize the experience and play how you want to play. For starters, there’s a job system that lets you suit up your chocobo as any of the iconic jobs from Final Fantasy history and use unique abilities and skills exclusive to each class. Wanna stomp on the heads of Cactuar as an adorable chocobo Dragoon? This game has got you covered.
Unfortunately, the job system is marred a bit by the random nature of how you level up your jobs. You gain general experience for every enemy you defeat, but you only gain job points as random enemy drops, and the amount of points you get is also totally randomized. This isn’t a huge issue in the first few hours of the game, but as you get deeper into it, the grind to get all of your jobs properly leveled becomes a bit of a nightmare.
Enemies also randomly drop buddy points, which allow you to unlock those specific enemies as companions to bring into the dungeon with you. You can furthermore befriend unique characters and bring them into battle as buddies, too! With over 100 monsters and 20 characters to unlock, it’s a great feature that adds a lot of replayability to the game.
If you’re a fan of mystery dungeon games, I can’t recommend Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! enough. It’s got a few issues with dated visuals and the way you gain job experience, but it’s still a gem of a game. Final Fantasy fans and newcomers alike should treat themselves to this adorable experience.
A review code was provided by the publisher.