Okay before I get started it has occurred to me recently that when you read portable gaming reviews, that not many of them take into account that these games should be on paper, designed to be played on the go, many reviews don't take into account things that mass transit users care about. like save systems, especially when you may need to save quickly, instead focusing on something like say.... Online... Which is fine for platforms like the iPhone but not so useful when your talking about the Nintendo DS which requires a Wifi Connection which isn't reliable when driving down a road at 35 miles per hour.
So here's the point of this series, I take a portable game, for now limited to DS games since I still have to pay for these things, and review them, but rather than focus on graphics and game-play, I strictly review how mass transit friendly these so called portable games really are.
So here's how this works, I play the games on my bus route to and from work, which is roughly 90 minutes, which between 1 and 2 transfers. I play the game, takes notes and write it the review once I have either beaten the game or got far enough to get an impression of if it is a good game for your mass transit needs. All reviews are written before I look at the Metacritic score to compare my score to.
So Final Fantasy: Echos of Time for those of you not in the know, or really don't care, is part of the Square-Enix Series that Debut on the Gamecube often remembered as that one Final Fantasy game that required 1 or more GBA's to play multi-play. Incidentally this game was billed for having the ability to Wifi Multi-play with the Wii version of the same game which should be a bit of a clue as to where I'm going with this.
See the first problem is that this game feels like it was designed with Multi-play at it's core, Many of the games puzzles are far more tedious than they have to be because of this design and thus something as simple as hitting a switch and dragging a block out of a box before the time runs out is a chore that takes at least two or more attempts, and one quickly begins to wish for a second person for there help.
But this is MTG so the common assumption that Multi-play is going to be unlikely, not having online play as an option to you, you have to rely on the possibly of a second person to be riding ones mass transit option of choice to help out out, otherwise your doing this all alone. This has the effect of increasing the amount of time your in a dungeon which could be up 90 minutes in length if your going through your first time.
This leads to the second major problem with this game, the save system. In this day in age we have the technology to get away from save points. They either lead to back tracking, or rushing ahead possibly trying to get to the next save point just to keep from losing progress, and if you consider that "The World Ends With You" also by Square Enix, Had the ability to save anywhere, a full year before this game came out, one really has to ask why this game still requires it besides it being a relic from the older Final Fantasy games from the SNES days.
The major issue with the use of save points is made worse by their locations, you only find Save points in town, and no you can't save on the world map, and just before a boss in a dungeon. So lets assume your playing a dungeon for the first time, you can't quite solve all the puzzles in a particular dungeon before your reach the boss checkpoint because you reached your destination, what are your options, well you can quit back to the map screen run back to town and save and pick up the game later on.
Or can you? You see dungeons reset when you leave them, monsters reappear, Puzzles unsolve themselves, you have to start the dungeon all over again from the start, so your time, and battery life, were wasted, and that is the very essence of frustration.
So to summarize for those who saw this and said TL:DR Your fighting the double team of a Multi-play focus and Poor Save system for a game that is fun while at home, but a exercise in frustration in Mass Transit.
Mass Transit Gamer Score: 45
Metacritic Score: 75
So there you go, if you feel like I have slighted your personal honor for giving a Square-Enix game a poor shake, or if you agree with what I said, or if you think this is a waste of our finite internet resource, drop a comment, and stay tune till next time, probably in about a week or so when I MTG review the next Game on my list, the DS game Draglade read