Level-5’s newest and cutest JRPG is also one of the best around for the 3DS!
Written by: Tim “Blunder” Redd
While waiting for Pokemon Omega Red/Alpha Sapphire to come out, I went out and bought Fantasy Life, the new JRPG from Level-5. These are the same guys who have brought us the Professor Layton series, a select few Dragon Quest games, and a personal hidden gem I discovered this summer during the World Cup madness, the soccer JRPG Inazuma Eleven. They specialize in simple controls, extremely funny and smart dialogue, and a very cute— yet cool— anime-styled aesthetic.
Their latest, Fantasy Life, takes players on an adventure through a mystical land that encourages people to choose a Life— otherwise known as a job in other JRPG’s— to dictate what their role is in society. Bored fighting monsters? Pick up an axe and become a Woodcutter. Bored of that too? Make those logs you just chopped down into furniture. The possibilities are endless, the fun to be had is insurmountable, so I’ve taken it upon myself to bring you the top 5 reasons — in no particular order— to pick up and love Fantasy Life.
Putting Yourself in the Game
I am a very fickle creature when it comes to my JRPG’s, and this is primarily due to my obsession with looking cool. I can’t rightly enjoy a game if my character doesn’t have the right look and feel that I want him to have. Fantasy Life has this in spades. The character customization process is similar to creating a Mii for Wii, Wii U, or 3/DS. You’re given hair, skin color, body type, the staples of character customization. The customization screens also include sliders for optimized detail, but they are kept hidden behind a button that keeps the player from being overwhelmed by slides and knobs. This adds a sweet spot of depth in the process that sets the stage for the story to come: it’ll be a modern JRPG experience with a simplistic style ensuring you relax and enjoy the ride.
Getting a Life
The Final Fantasy series has been praised for its mastery and creativity with job systems in video games, but Fantasy Life meshes this craft with an Animal Crossing/Harvest Moon twist and just a dash of MMO flavoring. Players can choose from one of 12 Lives: 4 fighter classes, 4 gathering classes, and 4 crafting classes. Each Life has its own storyline, its own ranks to ascend in, its own benefits as far as gameplay goes.
Lives build into the next because they each need items or armor or experience from another. Woodcutters can earn spare cash with the Carpentry life. Blacksmiths can double as Paladins with self-made armor. Mercenaries can gather animal tons of animal hides for Tailors to make cool outfits. The best part here? You can pick up any Life at any point in the game after the brief prologue missions. All 12 are yours so you can live your Life(s) however you like!
Every line in this game oozes with wit. As expected from Level-5, the personality in each character leaps off of the screen through their dialogue. Between an oblivious king, overprotective landlord, and a wisecracking butterfly, the cast of characters to meet and talk to is seemingly endless. Help out with dates, talk to crazy Life masters (lookin’ at you, Woody the Woodcutter), and even meet some of the animals in the area. No matter who you talk to, expect a fun conversation that takes traditional JRPG’s and gives them a light-hearted twist.
Tons of Sidequests
The amount of sidequests and objectives to reach can easily give a person upwards of 100+ hours of gameplay. Each of the 12 Lives has ranks that you must ascend in order to make or use greater weapons and armor. You earn ranks by passing certain milestones and markers as you play the game. As with all other JRPG’s, there are also random sidequests that can pop up as you talk to people in the world. The story missions are fun and plentiful as well, but there’s so much to do that a player could easily forget about those. Playing the game how you feel like is a major plus.
Playing Well With Others
Playing with friends makes this Final Fantasy/Animal Crossing hybrid feel like a Monster Hunter title with crafting specializations. Players can have up to three friends join their party. Nearly every aspect of the main game is available during multiplayer, allowing friends to join locally or via the internet to craft and hunt together. With plenty of tough monsters, it’s a great way to level up and decimate tough enemies together. Trading of custom items is also available. This lends well to players who prefer crafting and would like to share some with friends. It helps create a place for people to enjoy their favorite aspects of the game together in a meaningful way.
Fantasy Life isn’t your average JRPG. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, there isn’t a grandiose storyline that plays like a Hollywood movie, and there isn’t a great focus on stat-grinding. Instead the game plays like a kid decided to take all of the fun parts of JRPG’s and toss them together with some funny lines and cutesy animations. It all blends to make a pretty awesome experience.
Fantasy Life came out October 24th for the Nintendo 3DS. I’ve been playing it for almost 15 hours now and will have a full review up later this week so look forward to that!