Monday 30 January 2017

Final Fantasy XV's Moogle Chocobo Carnival - Is It Worth Playing? (Mini-Review)

While most people have finished with Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix is inviting people to come back and play in its world again with the Moogle Chocobo Carnival. The free event is a playground of Chocobo and Moogle mini-games for some good light-hearted fun, a noticeable departure from Noct’s dramatic story. It’s also totally spoiler-free, allowing players to jump in and have fun at any stage of the story.

I've technically finished Final Fantasy XV (review on its way!), but I haven't stopped questing and letting my inner completionist run loose in Eos, so I didn't hesitate to download the Holiday Pack DLC and enter the restyled version of Altissa. But I understand that other players may need a bit of a push, so here my thoughts on the DLC to help you decide whether you want to join in on the Moogle Chocobo fun!
Final Fantasy XV Carnival features the kind of minigames that took up my end game time in Final Fantasy X, X-2 and made a small return in World of Final Fantasy. There’s Chocobo racing, finding Chocobos around the city and a new real-time photo mechanic among other things. My favourite mini-game was a decoration one that involved decorating an area based on a riddle that cryptically described whether I needed to put down a Moogle or a Chocobo, which I enjoyed carefully reading again and again to find what I need. The mini-games are all totally silly and that's what’s great about them, especially since Final Fantasy XV’s core story is quite serious towards the end. I especially liked how some of the moments gave me a look at a happy Noctis, something I didn't realise was shown so little in Final Fantasy XV’s core story. With everything he goes through in the main story, it genuinely made me smile seeing him do silly things in a ridiculous costume.

Since I've finished Final Fantasy XV, I'm well past the phase of feeling disconnected between the dire feeling of the last few chapters and into the end game exploration part. But I'd be seriously concerned if someone played this Carnival through the infamous chapter 13 - I feel like it would really kill the tense vibe that should be carried through that chapter. I would exercise caution if I was someone in the last few chapters of Final Fantasy XV, but that may just be my personal preference for playing through story content.
I like Noctis, but I love the group of guys together more. As soon as I heard the words Chocobo and Carnival together, I thought of Prompto’s love of animals. And there would be so many recipes for Ignis to find there, and so many weird moments for Gladio to tease Noct about. But the event seems to understand this, so Noctis makes his own amusing jokes and is given the adorable Carbuncle as his new companion. Noctis is surprisingly hilarious when he wants to be, with his awkward dancing with Moogles and his Ignis impression (complete with spot on “recipeh”) making me genuinely laugh out loud. It's a compliment to Final Fantasy XV how much I missed the group together, but they did a pretty good job making up for it with Noctis.
There are more side quests than I could complete in my first day with the Carnival (granted I only played a couple of hours), which makes me incredibly excited. Final Fantasy XV has been a questing playground for me, so having even more to do in a limited time is slightly overwhelming but awesome and I plan to complete all the quests before the event is finished. I completed the main quest of collecting enough tokens for the nice hotel room and view of the fireworks and was rewarded with a cute cutscenes, but I get the feeling that's most of what I'll get. I'm not too bothered by this since I've finished the main story and I'm sure we’ll get more moments with the guys in their individual Episode DLCs, but if you care more about story than quests, this probably isn't the DLC for you. As for me, I'll take running around doing new quests with Noctis on top of a bird any day.
The Final Fantasy XV Carnival is an adorable tribute to two of the most well-known mascots in the Final Fantasy series. Questing fans like me will probably love the amount to do in the festive version of Altissa and meeting Noctis’ fun side is a nice cherry on top of the experience. I'm happy to have an excuse to play more Final Fantasy XV and hope Square Enix considers more of these kinds of events in the future.

To play the Moogle Chocobo Carnival, make sure to download the latest patch for Final Fantasy XV and get the free Holiday Pack (or the Holiday Pack+ if you're a season pass holder) on PSN or the Xbox store.
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Will you play the Moogle Chocobo Carnival? Are you still playing Final Fantasy XV?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Thursday 26 January 2017

3 Times Final Fantasy Played With Pop Music

When it was announced a few weeks ago that Ariana Grande was to be a character in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, I was a little confused. Since when was Ariana Grande a Final Fantasy fan? Is this a marketing move? Why can I put Ariana Grande in my party and not the pop star version of Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2? My confusion was as a Final Fantasy fan, despite the fact I'm actually a fan of Ariana Grande’s music and think she has an incredible voice. Considering she’s not a story character and I think her character design is undeniably adorable, I'll live with the choice, but I definitely think it's a bizarre choice.

Ariana Grande aside, this collaboration made me remember something about Final Fantasy and pop music - they've played together a few times. From theme songs to revamped characters, recent Final Fantasy games have seen pop music mixed in both in subtle and obvious ways. Whether you like the incorporation of pop or not, the Ariana Grande collaboration isn’t the first time Final Fantasy have played with pop music and the collaboration with Ariana suggests it’s probably not the last. So in light of Ariana's appearance in Brave Exvius, here are a few of the other times Final Fantasy played with pop music.

1) Final Fantasy X-2 - Songstress Yuna
Final Fantasy X-2 was one of Final Fantasy’s most prominent ventures into pop music, a choice made on purpose by the creators of X-2 to give a lighter feel and sound to the Final Fantasy X sequel. The opening cutscene says it all: Yuna is seen dancing and singing in the Songstress dressphere to an extremely catchy song on stage in Luca, heavily contrasting the traditional-style Yuna seen in Final Fantasy X. In spite of the heavy contrast, I really liked Yuna’s change of style in X-2, probably because I played it as a teenager that loved music and seeing that reflected in one of my favourite characters made me feel a new kind of connection to Yuna. Music is tied into X-2 in multiple ways, thanks to the nature of certain dresspheres, such as the Songstress dressphere that featured abilities such as Sing and Dance. The dressphere is a big part of X-2’s biggest story moments, with Yuna singing 1000 Words in the later chapters being one of my most memorable JRPG moments when I was getting into JRPGs.

It’s also worth noting that Real Emotion and 1000 Words were both sung by pop musicians, with the Japanese version sung by Koda Kumi and the English version by Jade from Sweetbox. At the time, neither pop artist was mainstream but this shows Final Fantasy looking outward when it comes to musical talent, a trend that would continue with Final Fantasy games to come.

2) Final Fantasy XIII - Leona Lewis’ ‘My Hands’
The US Final Fantasy XIII trailer featured a notable track from well-known X-Factor winner and the singer of ‘Bleeding Love’ Leona Lewis. Her song ‘My Hands’ was chosen for the trailer and contributed by Leona as she liked how it connected with Lightning’s character. The song received mixed reviews by critics and the Japanese audience and it's noticeably different to the Japanese track used in the Japanese trailer. Personally I like the way Leona’s song fits with the trailer and I really like the way the trailer feels like a music video.

3) Final Fantasy XV - Florence and the Machine
The most recent example of Final Fantasy using music from a big musical artist is none other than the Final Fantasy XV, the most recent addition to the main series of Final Fantasy games. During the Uncovered Final Fantasy event, it was revealed that the theme song to Final Fantasy XV would be Florence and the Machine covering ‘Stand by Me’. I really like this track as the theme song of Final Fantasy XV - it fits the tone of Final Fantasy XV’s road trip journey perfectly, along with showing the importance of Noctis’ friends for the events to come. That and the arrangement is pretty magical version of an already good song.

All console Final Fantasy games mentioned in this article are available at!
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Do you like pop music in Final Fantasy? What's your favourite track (pop or otherwise) from the Final Fantasy series?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Thursday 19 January 2017

JRPG Appreciation Post: Discovery In Final Fantasy XV's Big Open World

Once upon a time when I was getting back into video games (thanks to Persona 4 Golden), I was a big fan of Skyrim. I’m pretty sure it was my first open world game, so being able to travel across such a large map and find new quests, towns and things to do outside the main story was freeing compared to the linear worlds I was used to. This isn’t to say I dislike linear worlds; I actually like having a clear goal and a way to get to it. But playing Final Fantasy XV has reminded me that open world games can combine the main story linearity that I’m used to with a giant open world sprinkled with quests, monsters and dungeons to discover to. The world of Eos in Final Fantasy XV is a great example of this and an open new backdrop to a great new story.

Usually Final Fantasy has a very direct path to a goal, with a world that aims to take you from A to B in a fairly direct fashion. Yes there are side quests, but in recent Final Fantasy games they generally don’t stray far from pushing you towards the main goal, at least until the main story is completed. Final Fantasy XV differs from this in that it gives the ability to stray pretty much immediately and best of all, run far and wide without much stopping you. Although I didn't mind recent Final Fantasy games such as Final Fantasy XIII, I really loved this freedom. Some Final Fantasy fans may remember being annoyed by how linear XIII was and then watching Square Enix try prove in Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII that they’re not. Final Fantasy XV is open from the get-go and a world with the breadth of Eos is perfect to run around in while having the option to go back to the main story anytime.
The world of Eos isn’t just big, there is plenty to discover. My old favourite thing to do in Skyrim was to find a city I hadn’t discovered and just run to it. Being honest, I can’t do this perfectly in Final Fantasy XV thanks to some rock barriers and invisible walls that block my way but when I was trying to find a new area on the map, I discovered a bunch of element and resource farming areas, treasure and a secret dungeon with a quest inside, which is more than good enough for me. My Final Fantasy XV journey was mostly a story-driven one, but whenever I strayed from the map, I always discovered something and this discovery of random or pre-planned events made me curious to see what else I could find. I was always left with reasons to return to the area I was just in, hence why I've spent 30 hours post story completion going through the many quests and dungeons I had left to explore. I love the typical Final Fantasy experience, but having so many reasons on the map to come back to it when I'm done is really exciting.
Making the world even more fun is what happens along the way. A lot can be said for the areas inspiring the characters to react, whether it’s Prompto wanting to take a picture or Noctis finding a new fishing spot. There’s also the excitement of a huge monster appearing out of nowhere, especially at night when huge enemies tend to show up. While some landscapes tend to look very similar, I like that I remember each area by what happened or what enemies showed up there, rather than purely by the area's purpose.
I completed Final Fantasy XV recently, but I’m still not bored with everything in the world. There’s still plenty to find and discover, with unexplored quests still littering my world map. I love the linearity of Final Fantasy games like World of Final Fantasy and their story-driven nature, but having a more open JRPG is exciting too considering the amount of things JRPGs like to give players to do. It’s this big open world that encouraged me to jump into a quest every time I was told I wouldn’t be able to come back to a town for a bit, just to see what might've been out there. I look forward to the next random dungeon, picture spot or Tonberry I unexpectedly stumble upon in Eos and being engaged by the characters and the vast world they're in.

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What do you think of Final Fantasy XV's world? Do you prefer open or more linear JRPGs?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Thursday 12 January 2017

Review: World of Final Fantasy (Reviewed on PS Vita, also on PS4)

Confession time: I didn’t know if I really wanted World of Final Fantasy when it was announced. While the idea of a cute Final Fantasy aimed at a younger and broader audience sounded interesting, it didn’t appeal to me much as a fan of the main Final Fantasy games. But World of Final Fantasy's trailers and character announcements thankfully kept my curiosity, because it ended up being my favourite game from 2016 and one of the best JRPGs I’ve played in a long time. With cute and charming characters old and new, and a surprisingly complex monster-hunting system incorporating all the memorable Final Fantasy creatures fans know and love, World of Final Fantasy is a must-play for JRPG and Final Fantasy fans looking for a fun and more traditional Final Fantasy adventure.
What sets World of Final Fantasy apart from most Final Fantasy games is that it includes new characters alongside characters from other Final Fantasy games, all in the intriguing world of Grymoire. This mysterious world is full of species called Lilikins, which are ‘chibi’ humans, and monsters called Mirages. The charming twin protagonists Reynn and Lann are Jiants from another place called Nine Wood Hills that find themselves given access to Grymoire by a woman called Enna Kros after awakening with amnesia. She provides them with assistance in the form of two pixie mirages, the adorable Tama and the hilariously dry Serafie, makes them aware of their power to wield mirages and sets them on a journey through Grymoire to capture them to get back their lost memories.
Grymoire features some of my favourite characters from older Final Fantasy games, including Tidus and Yuna from Final Fantasy X, Vivi from Final Fantasy IX and more, along with characters from Final Fantasy games I haven’t played that I was meeting for the first time. There are plenty of great moments with characters I love that often had me wearing a stupid grin on my face throughout my playthrough and despite featuring so many different characters, each character fit well into the 50 hour adventure and seeing them all talk to each other was really amusing as a fan of the series. In spite of the nostalgic cast of old characters, the characters I ended up loving most were Lann, Reynn, Tama and Serafie, the fun new cast full of purpose and banter, with the four pretty much being my new favourite comedy group. I really appreciated Reynn and Lann’s constant brother and sister bickering, Tama’s oddly endearing incorrect use of articles and Serafie’s flat line of enthusiasm for everything, all complemented by fantastic voice acting. They manage to fit in with the old characters perfectly and every new character encounter was enriched by the fun new crew, making the story an enjoyable ride with well-timed emotional twists along the way.
World of Final Fantasy features more than enough Mirages for Reynn and Lann to collect and also more iconic Final Fantasy monsters than I expected before playing. There are Behemoths, Floating Eyes and Flans; a good majority of the monsters I remember grinding and fighting in main Final Fantasy games. Rather than throwing these monsters beside Reynn and Lann after imprisming them, you get to stack them on top of each other to combine stats and create a really funny-looking stack that can pack a punch in battle. The stacking and mirage systems are a great new way to create a party to battle with and the skill trees to upgrade or transfigure (evolve) these mirages into bigger ones gave the right amount of complexity to upgrading characters. Mirages are also useful outside of battle as they can fly Lann and Reynn over ledges or push down big boulders or even be ridden on, finally giving me the chance to ride a Behemoth! For a series that doesn't usually involve monster hunting, the system fit in seamlessly with the familiar with other battle elements and I appreciated the potential for variety in my party.

Speaking of battles, World of Final Fantasy features the familiar Active Time Battle system, revamped with shortcuts incorporated to make switching between each mirage's and character's abilities very easy. World of Final Fantasy is nice of enough to include various modes for the system, including Wait, Semi-Active and Active modes, with Active mode keeping things extremely fast paced and wait mode being closer to the Final Fantasy X system, which I felt most comfortable with. Even though I stuck with how I usually play JRPGs, I really appreciated having the option to change between these if I wanted a challenge and I’m sure it will help every kind of Final Fantasy player find something they’re comfortable with. The battle system doesn't stray far from what fans would expect from a Final Fantasy game, but the addition of character medals incorporating old characters and Mega Mirages (summon abilities) later in the story were some fun additions to an already solid system.
Topping off the battles and roster of characters is a Colosseum full of extra battles, hours of extra quests before and after the ending, and plenty of mirages to collect to for those like myself who want to continue playing after the credits roll. There’s a gorgeous soundtrack and all the NPCs are voiced, making the quality of World of Final Fantasy feel high. Especially on Vita, World of Final Fantasy feels like a massive JRPG for the system and I had a lot of fun playing it on the go, especially with the story split into chapters. However, if you have the choice between the PS4 or PS Vita version, I would recommend choosing the PS4 one. I played the PS Vita one in full and had a great time and thought it looked gorgeous on my Vita, but some minor issues I had were noticeable load times, especially when trying to switch out Mirages using the Prism Case. Plus since I use a 4GB memory card and my copy was digital, the file was a squeeze and I couldn’t download any of the update files because my memory card was completely full after downloading the World of Final Fantasy file and my day one DLC. I played the PS4 demo and the difference in graphics and load times fixed pretty much all of my problems with World of Final Fantasy. In saying that, I’m such a supporter of putting big games on the Vita and probably wouldn't have been able to play World of Final Fantasy as quickly as I did if I could only play at home, so it's still an incredibly high quality Vita game for those who also prefer playing on Vita.
World of Final Fantasy is the most surprising and satisfying JRPG I played in 2016, both as a monster collecting game and as a Final Fantasy game. Reynn and Lann are my favourite Final Fantasy protagonists of recent times and with so many mirages to collect, characters to meet and things to do in the world of Grymoire, World of Final Fantasy has left me with all the marks of one of my favourite JRPGs: it made me laugh and cry in a way only my absolute favourite games have and I want to max out all of my mirages and stay in the fascinating world of Grymoire just a little longer. If you’re a JRPG or Final Fantasy fan, I highly recommend World of Final Fantasy’s great new twist on monster collecting, emotional story and fun gameplay for a fantastic JRPG experience.

Score: 9.5/10
I feel like I took a long time to get this review up because I was enjoying World of Final Fantasy so much that I enjoyed taking my time to catch mirages, do quests and really enjoy the story. One of the best Final Fantasy's in the last few years and I really hope Square Enix makes this a series of its own. Sequel please!

You can pick up World of Final Fantasy for PS4 and PS Vita (and a cool limited edition World of Final Fantasy PS Vita) at!
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What did you think of World of Final Fantasy? What's your favourite of the recent Final Fantasy games?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Picture note: I got most of the photos for this review from the official World of Final Fantasy website and they are most likely from the PS4 version of the game.

Thursday 5 January 2017

3 JRPG New Year Resolutions for 2017 ~Realistic Edition~

Let’s start the New Year with some honesty - my last two gaming resolution plans haven’t been the most successful. I made resolutions then ended up becoming overwhelmed between achieving them, fulfilling my regular JRPG desires and living my everyday life, and eventually abandoned all except one or two of them. This bums me out, because I get very excited to achieve all of my goals and I set them because they’re something I actually think I should do. Not being able to do them makes me feel like something I want is missing from my JRPG life and I’d like to make my JRPG life as great as possible.

To make my gaming resolutions more achievable, I’m doing three instead of five this year. It’s a simple solution that I think will make things a lot more doable and I’m already excited about the goals I’ve chosen as they’re three things that I really wanted to do last year but I didn’t have (or give myself) the time to do. Here are my three gaming resolutions, posted with high hopes that I will stick to them!

Play an old game from a JRPG series
The one resolution I regretted not doing last year was playing another old Final Fantasy game. This was my favourite resolution to complete in 2015 when I played Final Fantasy IX as it really made me feel like I got to know the Final Fantasy series better while playing a fantastic JRPG that was totally new to me. I’d like to do this again to educate myself as a JRPG fan who mostly plays modern titles and I hope to find another great game I've missed out on.

Plan: I'd like to do this with either Final Fantasy or Persona preferably, especially since I have Persona 2: Innocent Sin (which I started a few days ago!) and Final Fantasy VIII digitally already. Some of my readers/Twitter friends have also recommended great older JRPGs such as Legend of Heroes, multiple Tales of... titles and Fire Emblem games, so I have plenty to choose from depending on my mood. Since a lot of the games I’m really hyped for have been delayed or don’t have solid dates, I’m confident I’ll achieve this goal but I'll be doing my best to start playing old titles from now on.

Finish Persona 5 in English and Japanese

I’ve talked about my journey playing Persona 5 in Japanese and it hasn’t been easy. However, I’ve probably spent 10+ hours doing this and I want to see it through to the end, even if it will take a lot of time considering it's taken this long and I'm honestly not even at the second save point. Finishing Persona 5 in English is a given considering how important Persona 4 Golden was to me, but I would love to make Persona 5 the second game I’ve completed in Japanese. When I played Final Fantasy X in Japanese, I felt like I learnt a lot and became more comfortable hearing the language for long periods of time, so playing more Persona 5 to improve my Japanese seems like a fun and productive idea, especially with a game that I still have hype for!

Plan: I already try to dedicate an hour a week minimum to playing Persona 5 and using my dictionary to understand the story. I will keep doing this with the hope that the more Japanese words I study and learn, the less I have to look up and the faster I’ll be able to get through Persona 5 in Japanese. Completing Persona 5 in English will be no problem as long as it sucks me in as much as Persona 4 Golden did, so the real challenge will be (and already is) the Japanese version!

Platinum a JRPG
Regretfully, I didn’t platinum any games in 2016. In fact, I haven’t platinumed anything since February 2015 when I platinumed Trigger Happy Havoc: Danganronpa. I love the challenge that comes with platinuming games, so I would love to get back into it. I want to play side quests, level up my party to ridiculous levels and indulge my inner completionist just a little.

Plan: To also assist my Japanese studies, every time I found a JRPG I wanted to Platinum in 2016, I internally made a note that I should buy the game in Japanese to do a platinum run. I plan to do this with a few games already, such as Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth and World of Final Fantasy, so I hope I can start buying the Japanese versions of these games and doing this soon. As I've mentioned, I already own Persona 5 in Japanese and am going through it very slowly to study from it, so it’s also a candidate as I highly enjoyed platinuming Persona 4 Golden for eight months (no sarcasm, I loved it) and I’ll have a head start from trying to complete it in Japanese.
These three JRPG resolutions I know will take time and effort to complete, but with plans in place to complete them I hope I can actually achieve them. I hope these resolutions will allow me to appreciate some 'historical' JRPGs, along with giving me a deeper appreciation of ones I already love. I also hope to open up the world of unlocalised JRPGs a little more so I can have even more games to play, with language being less of a barrier for a certain game I want to complete. Fingers crossed I can report back with success, but my track record isn’t perfect so we’ll see if my high motivation lasts. Wish me luck!

As I did last year, I invite you guys to make your own by commenting on this post or posting with #3JRPGResolutions on social media (please tag me so I can see yours! <3)

What are your JRPG New Year Resolutions? What JRPGs are you looking forward to this year?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3