Joystiq impressions: Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings

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Joystiq impressions: Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings
revenant wings
Since its April debut in Japan, Revenant Wings has been playfully called "My First Final Fantasy," owing to the game's elementary difficulty. Square Enix promises that the difficulty has been tweaked for its November release in North America -- and we believe it, having been beat down by the E3 demo after a careless bum rush. Most sources liken Revenant Wings to real-time strategy, but Square Enix wants us to see it as a true RPG.

The game is directed by Motomu Toriyama, who handled Final Fantasy X & X-2, and who is currently directing Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XII's executive producer and composer are also on board. The team has created a spin-off sequel to XII that focuses on Vaan and Penelo, now deeper in the game (of sky pirating). The action is pint-sized and crowded, as your party alone can reach numbers of 15 characters on screen, but distinct CG cut scenes help to enhance the emo-narrative. Still, the relatively tiny dual-screens make it difficult to be lulled by the sentimentalism.

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Revenant Wings is divided into simple missions (mini-areas in the game world), and players are able to configure their parties before beginning each mission and preview stats of the enemy types they'll face. This is where the majority of strategy comes into play, and it's not unlike any other Final Fantasy game in which the most successful player constantly tweaks the party outfitting. The action itself is rudimentary, but suits the DS. The stylus is used to guide your entire party and its various sub-groups, and to select enemies to attack (and occasionally an un-automated skill/spell). There are similarities to the RTS genre in this aspect of the gameplay, and despite sounding overly-simplistic, it's a refreshing fit for Nintendo's handheld.

Some have already written off Revenant Wings as shovelware -- further exploitation of the Final Fantasy brand -- but we were surprised to discover a title that has been uniquely designed for DS. It's a test run (much like Dragon Quest Monsters Joker) for Dragon Quest IX. But even as a first-try of sorts, Revenant Wings offers compelling evidence that DS is capable of handling new and satisfying RPG experiences. There's hope for Square Enix and Final Fantasy beyond console-bound XIII.
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