Game Title: World of Final Fantasy Maxima
Company: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 4 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 10.7 GB

What’s the best way to prepare for the Pokemon games coming up this month? Playing Final Fantasy Pokemon, of course! While I impatiently play Pokemon Go in my nostalgic hype for the Let’s Go games, Square Enix re-released their Final Fantasy take on the Monster-Catching formula and it’s been a recently-requested game I play through and review.

This is more about Pokemon and requests, though. I played through WoFF when it came out on the Vita way back when and was really sore that Square decided to block PSTV Support for the game. With no PSTV Support, of course, I had no way of doing video content on the game. With the Switch, that all changes and I’m that much happier about it.

Here is my review of World of Final Fantasy Maxima for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

world 2 - story

WoFF is centered around two siblings that awaken one day to find their memories erased. They are told they used to be “Mirage Keepers”, collectors of monsters from a world called Grymoire. After being granted the ability to change their size to blend in with the chibi “Lilikin” residents of Grymoire, they journey through to recollect Mirages and reclaim their memories.

The overall plot of this game isn’t all that bad. It’s got a lot of serious tones along with humor on the side. The fanservice factor is also shot through the roof with tons of Final Fantasy characters showing up in each chapter of the story.

However, there are 2 things that bring the story down from being truly great. First, the two protagonists interact with the other characters very strangely and they very easily derail serious events and conversations into sibling bickering that goes on for far too long. When there’s a boss right behind you, it’s hard to take the story seriously when that boss is ignored for an argument about trivia.

Second, the voice-acting for the English dub is very inconsistent. Some VAs do a bang-up job with their lines while others having random pauses in mid-sentence that lead to very awkward listening. Thankfully for Japanese fans, the Japan Voice-Overs are built into the Switch version, unlike the Vita version that required a separate download for the other voice pack.

Gameplay

world 3 - gameplay

World of Final Fantasy Maxima, like its original version, is a turn-based RPG with a lot of monster-collecting elements thrown into the mix. It’s like a cross between Pokemon and a traditional Final Fantasy RPG.

Firstly, this is Maxima which is an enhanced port of the original WoFF that released on the PS4 and PS Vita. It comes with most of the original’s DLC (Sephiroth and Balthier Champion Medals). New content includes new story chapters, intervention quests, Mirages, Bosses, and most notably the Avatar System, which I’ll explain more later.

Progression is traditional, yet not. You move from area to dungeon to town to area in typical RPG fashion, but you don’t have a giant overworld map you explore. Instead you have a hub town and a World Map Fast Travel menu to instantly travel to previously-explored locations. You can move from area to area manually, but you don’t need to when going back to previous areas.

world 4 - encounters

As you’re traversing around, you’ll have random encounters with monsters. Combat is mostly the same as traditional FF games. You have an Active Time Battle gauge and you take turns inputting commands like using items, attacking, or casting spells. This game has no MP pool, though. You have Action Points (AP) that each skill uses up and getting kills and taking turns nets you AP, giving you the ability to continually regenerate AP as you go through battle, letting you bide your time and redo your big spells without needing to use Ethers/Elixirs.

What makes this game different is that all of the monsters you fight can be captured and added into your own party of characters. Every mirage has conditions where they will start to spark, showcasing they’re ready to be caught. At that point, you can throw “prisms” at them and have a chance of catching them. There is a way to stack some conditions to make it easier but every attempt is fair game for catching.

Once you have them caught, you can add them to your “Stacks”, or party member slots. Each Stack can have up to three characters, one of each of three sizes. All monsters have specific sizes, so you can make up your stack of any monsters with the correct sizes to fit into the slots. The two main characters can also switch between Medium and Large sizes, letting you try out different combinations to get the ability and stat combos that you want.

world 5 - stacks

The stacking system also comes into play in battle. Not only do the stats and abilities of each Mirage in a stack combine, but your enemies can do it, too and stacks only stay stacked as long as they are stable. Each attack has a certain level of damage it does to the stability of what it’s attacking, so you can start to wobble and eventually topple so it’s important to not only watch your own stability but the enemy’s as each individual character is significantly weaker when attacked than the combined stack.

This catching system can be a huge time-sink in the game because you can enhance your Mirages with Skill Points they earn as they level and they can almost all evolve into larger, more powerful forms. They change Sizes throughout this, too, so you’ll find yourself constantly re-arranging your stacks when your Small Sylph because a Large Siren and you want to keep her in your party.

The final aspect of combat is the Champion Medals. As you progress the story, Final Fantasy characters can be unlocked and equipped as Champion Medals, which are used to do flashy, dramatic summons to do massive damage to enemies. These are very reminescent to how summons worked in Final Fantasies VII, VIII, and IX.

world 6 - champs

However, Maxima enhances this system even further by giving each Champion a Jewel you can equip to transform you into that character. Instead of summoning a character, you can play as them and gain a couple signature moves for permanent use. I found this incredibly useful for repeating their skills and for the fanservice factor of having character combinations like Lightning riding on top of Magitek armor fighting alongside Squall as he is being carried around by Shiva.

All of this comes together pretty well. There are lots of elemental weaknesses to exploit via stack combos and the game adds onto side content past Mirage Management with all of the side missions you can do for unlocking specific Mirages, both from the original release and brand new to Maxima.

As far as content goes, the original World of FF took me around 43 hours to complete. The Main Quest of Maxima took me a around 35 hours. Considering the amount of content here and the fact that I already knew the game, I wouldn’t expect you to spend anything less than 40 hours or more on the game if you’re experiencing it for the first time.

Controls

Controlling the game isn’t too tough. All the controls are shown to you pretty well and a lot of functions have on-screen prompts so you never forget what does what.

Moving around the field is done with the Left Analog Stick and the Right Stick doesn’t really do anything since the camera is always fixed. The D-Pad is used for Mirage Field abilities, like having a Chocobo stroll next to you or riding in Magitek Armor. The four triggers are mostly used target selection in combat, though the L and R triggers are also used in the field to swap the leader character.

Then come the face buttons. A is used for selecting and interacting with NPCs while B is used to cancel menu options. X is used to open the customization menu and Y is used for quick travel in the hub town.

Presentation

world 7 - presy

With presentation and performance, I think I should applaud Square Enix, but at the same time, I’m not really sure. Graphically, the game looks just like the original PS4 release when docked. The main difference is that it has a blurring effect that goes over each screen for a moment before disappearing to show the pristine near-flawless graphics of the game. It really does look beautiful on a TV.

In handheld mode, there is the same blurring effect, though it never goes away. There is a constant slight blur going on, though admittedly it does still look better than the Vita version did.

Performance is something odd, though. In docked mode, the frame-rate is flawless. In handheld mode, you do get some choppy frame drops during combat. On top of that, the game makes the Switch’s OS chug, lag, and freeze. Almost everything you do on the Switch’s home screen while WoFF is running lags really hard and almost every time I minimized the game to do something, my entire system froze on me, forced to do a restart.

This is a very strange occurence. I’ve seen the eShop lag before when games are running, but not everything from the photos menu to settings.

Battery Life

I was hoping to have a decent amount of Battery here, and we pretty much got it. Here are my battery times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 58 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 19 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 41 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 47 minutes

I’m glad more games are starting to go into the 3-4 hours range. Keep em coming, devs!

In conclusion, World of Final Fantasy Maxima is an adorable fanservice title for FF fans that are into monster-collecting. Although the story does get a bit off-track and we’ve got a strange assortment of technical problems, the game looks beautiful on a TV and is a welcome addition to the Final Fantasy library on the Switch.

Final Score: 7/10