Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chocobo and the Magic Picture Book - Witch - review




Sigh. A few months ago, I bought a used Gameboy DS to replace the previous one because the top screen had stopped working. Unfortunately, the touch panel of the replacement DS was misaligned and I couldn't recalibrate it. For most games, this hasn't been a problem, but I decided to get a new Chocobo game that depends very heavily on the stylus and touch panel, and I couldn't play it on the second machine. I spent a few days debating whether to trade up to a 3DS, on the assumption that it was backward compatible for DS game cartridges. Since neither Bic Camera nor Book Off had any more used DS's, and Book Off had a couple used 3DS LL's in the 8500 to 9500 yen range (Bic Camera was generally 1000-2000 yen more expensive), I broke down and bought the one with the red case. I had to get the power adapter separately for another 950 yen, so the total came to about $85 USD. The start up screen is clunkier to use than the DS, and the controls are laid out differently, but it does play DS games (the 3D effect doesn't apply to DS games), and I've been able to progress a lot farther in Chocobo since the touch screen is lined up right. Now I get to see how long this machine will last before breaking down...


(The main difference from the DS is the location and shape of the Power button...)


Chocobo to Mahou no Ehon: Majo to Shoujo to 5nin no Yuusha (2008)
(Chocobo and the Magic Picture Book: The Witch, the Girl and the 5 Heroes)


(Part of the game's opening credits.)

Like the previous Magic Picture Book game, Witch is all mini-games. The over-arching storyline is that Cid is on an island, living in a big castle where he paints pictures. Some enemy has decided to subvert the stories in the pop-up picture books that he's painted, and this has caused him to fall ill. Chocobo stows away on a ship to the island, and finds himself having to save Cid and everyone else. There are two halves to progressing the story - playing a mini-game (i.e. - Frogger, dodge falling objects, curling, blowing into the microphone to push balloons around, etc.) or playing a pull-back duel. I have no idea how many mini-games there are, but it's at least 30. They all have 3 point target levels - Silver, Gold and Platinum. Silver unlocks the next part of the game and gives you a Pop-Up Duel card. Gold and Platinum give you coins that can be spent on ability upgrades for the pull-back duels (PBD). PBDs are 1-on-1 fights between you and an enemy. You drag Chocobo backwards and let him go like a wind-up car. There are four picture books you have to enter, and each book has its own PBD playing field and rules. In the first 3 fields, healing spots appear occasionally, which restore HP and give you some SP. SP are used to activate abilities (throwing bombs, using a wall of fire, attacking with swords or spears). You can use gold and platinum coins to upgrade each ability three times, which can reduce the SP needed to use it, or increase the damage delivered. The idea is to damage the opponent and bring their HP to 0 before they zero you. And then, Pop-up Duels are the same as in the other 2 Chocobo games (Cid's Dungeons and Magic Picture Book), where you use Yu-gi-oh-like cards to play games against the computer or your friends. Pop-up duels contribute nothing to the outcome of the Witch game.


(Part of the pop-up picture book storyline. There are 4 picture books total. When you fix the problems in one book you can move on to the next one.)

The artwork is good, the music is great, and the story is interesting. The character names are the same as in Magic Picture Book, but some of the designs have been completely reworked. The Pop-up Duel cards are exactly the same, while the Pull-back Duels are new. The main reason for getting Witch is to play the mini-games (which I still don't like). Some of the mini-games are minor tweaks from those in MPB, while others are either inspired by a MPB game, or are completely new. Most of the mini-games have minimal instructions and have taken a while to figure out how to play them. The one game that I still don't understand is the timed water slide and I've given up on it. I've been able to get Silver level on all the others, and a few I've been able to clear Platinum. Regardless, I don't like playing mini-games and have no interest in replaying any of them just to get higher scores.


(Chocobo boulder avoidance mini-game. You have to put the stylus over Chocobo to stop him from walking into the boulders. Crossing the red goal line on the right is worth 1 point. You need 10 points to clear Platinum level.)

I just don't like mini-games, but I got Witch because I like the Chocobo character, and it was 500 yen used ($4 USD). Not really sure if it was a good deal, buying a $90 USD Nintendo 3DS used just to play a $4 game, especially since I'm still not inclined to keep going until the end of the storyline. But, if the new machine stays good long enough, I hope eventually to find and buy a used copy of the latest Detune Korg synthesizer emulator that came out last year for the 3DS, and that WOULD be a good thing.

1 comment:

TSOTE said...

Follow-up:
I finished the final boss two days after posting this review, and I might as well add a couple comments here. While clearing Silver level on the mini-games is required to move to the next part of the story, the only real point to playing them is to amass about 200 gold and 5 platinum coins, and to get each of Chocobo's 12 abilities per field for the pull-back games. The PBGs are also required to progress the story, but there are maybe 3 abilities per field that are really vital to winning the pull-back games. You only need enough coins to upgrade these few abilities, and that's it.

There are 48 mini-games, and 46 of them can be unlocked before reaching the final boss. One is only available if you play wireless games with your friends, and the other is the "Credits Scroll", which is unlocked in the +Game. (During the end credits, Cid gets frustrated with his drawings, and his thought balloons are filled with black scribbles. The mini-game is to rub the stylus over the scribbles to make them disappear before the credits finish. It's probably the easiest mini-game of the 47.)

As for the final boss battle, that's a rip-off of the boss battle in Tron, where you have to attack a spinning barrier surrounding the boss and hit the one weak panel to cause damage. Each time you hit it, the barrier spins faster. It was really hard for me to time the last few attacks right, and I kept dying too fast. In my opinion, the end of the battle is more about luck than anything else, and I hated it.

Again, I like playing the Chocobo character, but I'd be a lot happier if it was in an FF-style RPG, without any of the mini-games...

One last note: There's a jukebox in Cid's house that unlocks in the +Game. It gives you access to 43 BGMs and 189 sound effects. The BGMs are from many of the other Final Fantasy titles, plus the other Magic Picture Book game. If you like the FF music, this is probably the only reason you need to get this game, if you can find it used, cheap.