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“The following is a guest post by the Brave Blue Mage.”
Long before my first RPG I would watch my older cousins diligently as they quested through Breath of Fire, Chrono Trigger, and the Final Fantasy series. So eventually saving up birthday and holiday money I finally purchased my PlayStation and Final Fantasy VII, but no memory card. That summer I attempted the impossible working my way through each disc without saving, leaving that trusted PlayStation on for over a month. Descending down the meteor crater towards the epic final confrontation with Sephiroth, I was ambushed by a Zombie Dragon who brutally executed a lethal Pandora’s Box extinguishing my dreams with it. From that point I vowed to never be defeated by an enemy skill again and so the Brave Blue Mage was born. “I study my enemies, to protect my friends.”
Every Epic Fantasy has to start somewhere. A homage takes its roots from our shared collective consciousness. In the contemporary world of gaming, developers often take inspiration from their most cherished gaming memories. Epic Battle Fantasy is the lovechild of Matt Roszak aka KUPO707. With 1,367,280 plays and counting, this Free-to-play saga sets the stage for some retro nostalgia.
After choosing the desired level of difficulty, players are thrown straight into the action, no exposition or cut scenes here, folks. What is noticeable is the great descriptions of the numerable skills at your disposal. Unlike most RPGs, all skills, abilities, and spells are available right off the bat, with some trial and error it is quick to see how the various mechanics work. What comes next is finding your groove. Admittedly 90% of games take cues from their predecessor, and innovation happens across multiple installments of a franchise. Epic Battle Fantasy stays true to the formula.
Matt and Natz (along with trusty sidekick Mog) embark on their epic adventure evoking a paired-down mega team-up of Cloud and Aeris, or even Tidus and Yuna headed towards their final confrontation with Sin. This time there is no need for a strategy guide, the outing is pretty much similar to the experience of running down one long corridor in Final Fantasy XIII.
Staying true to tradition, Matt the sword-wielding weapons master has more than enough tricks up his sleeve. Natz is a magic caster with both healing and elemental spells, with powerful summons at her disposal. The duo complement each other well, and it is clear they have what it takes to vanquish their foes. With 7 swords at your disposal, equipping Devil’s Sunrise turns Matt into a powerful Mana Battery, enabling players to experiment with his bushido skills and special abilities.
The game does master the turn based combat system pretty well, with humor, mini cut-scenes and some charming comedic emotes. It is just the exploration and leveling components that are amiss. All in all, for a Free-to-play adventure designed to pay homage (with a little plagiarism), what else would you expect when the game designer imagines himself as a digital pirate? Epic Battle Fantasy is a sweet little adventure to immerse yourself in a familiar environment, evoke those deep feelings of youthful nostalgia, or just to pass a few hours with some classic side-scrolling RPG action.
Players have the option of stocking up on potions during the brief intermissions at the item shop. Alternatively you can leave empty handed, putting to use the fantastic if a little random skills of your trusty Mog (at 5 MP you just can’t beat that type of value). Have no fear, there are plenty of item drops from vanquished enemies along the way, but having a few key items just in case is preferable. Each stage gets progressively difficult with the mini-bosses proving much more oppressive.
Epic Battle Fantasy plays more like a three act demo, rather than a fully fleshed out game, giving players a taste, getting them prepared for future installments of the franchise. This outing doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes the game a whole lot more fun, and with over 1 million plays so far, it successfully paves the way for more developments to come. If you have a few hours to spare and looking for some straightforward free-to-play fun, this is definitely worth checking out!
No downloads or logins are necessary, just a good old bare bones RPG. For someone wanting a quick Final Fantasy fix without having to pay for a pricey subscription, or wait 10 years for the next game (cough cough FFXV), this series is worth a try for newbies and Final Fantasy diehards alike.
Arriving at our final destination, we were shocked and pleasantly surprised to see everyone’s favorite undead Super Saiyan. Matt was quickly incapacitated, so it was up to Natz to step up and shine. Just like in Final Fantasy VII, Aeris was the REAL hero of the epic, as the levels progress Natz gets more and more powerful. In the face of such a brutal final boss her expertise in holy magic makes her one adversary not to underestimate. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, it is always hope that can be the heroes greatest source of strength against insurmountable odds!
The 8-bit Review
For a game designed and animated by one person, Epic Battle Fantasy is an accomplishment. It has well-rendered components with articulated characters, plus a variety of gorgeous backgrounds. The cut scenes are evocative with just enough variation to keep players interested and engaged. The art style definitely inspired by classic anime of the 90’s but doesn’t enter chibi territory. The monsters are threatening without being over the top or grotesque. The visual balance is right on point.
The middle score on the scale, while not bad by any stretch of the imagination, the soundtrack did leave us wanting more. The soundtrack changes with each passing area, but after a few minutes the mute button was pressed and playing our trusted Final Fantasy VII soundtrack picked up the slack.
For such a straightforward game the combat system had enough bells and whistles to play with, with different combos and abilities to experiment with. True to any Final Fantasy game the grind is a core element of the gaming experience. The intermissions were well-placed which gave time to recuperate and stock up with items before heading on to the next area in the adventure. The whole experience is packaged into a fun and easily digestible format, like any good three act play.
For characters that we have all come to know and love, Matt and Natz immediately feel like vaguely familiar second cousins without coming across as total doppelgangers. The addition of Mog and Pichu to the team are like icing on the cake that evoke that sweet sense of childhood nostalgia.
The accessibility also gets top marks. Each skill and ability is clearly defined, and with access to them all with plenty of MP to spare, players are encouraged to experiment and try everything to their heart’s content. The money granted from the start is more than sufficient to stockpile essential items, and Mog is more than happy to help out for 5 MP when needed, no purchases necessary.
With varying levels of difficulty right off the bat, the choice is yours how challenging your adventure will be. The difficulty increases considerably through the game, and as you can see we barely made it out alive without the amazing Natz to vanquish the final boss. This is a great game to introduce someone to the world of RPGs without the convoluted components. It is just enough to grasp the concepts and spend a few hours on sword and sorcery shenanigans. Sometimes less is more.
Epic Battle Fantasy is a straightforward game that players can easily get a couple runs out of. Once a player has grasped the mechanics it is always fun to attempt the game on the hardest setting. This first episode plays more like a demo tutorial, which is fine. Like any gaming series it is smart to start at the beginning to truly appreciate the hard work that goes into creating such a labor of love.
My Personal Grade: 7/10
For a Free-to-Play adventure Epic Battle Fantasy checks enough boxes to leave a lasting impression, and the desire to see what comes next in the series. It could be argued that 1997 was the dawn of the next generation in contemporary gaming, so to have so many references in one place (Final Fantasy, Pokémon, and Dragon Ball Z) the nostalgia factor of this homage really hits home. The variation of emotes and tongue-in-cheek humor let players know that this game doesn’t take itself too seriously. For a simple game imagined and created by ONE PERSON it is hard to compare to the numerous franchises of clones that have hundreds or even thousands of employees working in house on a derivative product. Epic Battle Fantasy is a labor of love from a fanboy and it shows.
Aggregated Score: 7.4
The Brave Blue Mage is the globetrotting creative director at large for the 924COLLECTIVE who tirelessly ventures off the beaten path in search of all things weird, wild, and wonderful.
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