Why the new Final Fantasy social game might actually be worth playing

Why should you pay attention to the Final Fantasy social title Square Enix and mobile-game giant Gree first announced last week? Because, as director Yuichi Itakura puts it, it's got pretty much everything.

"One of the main concepts here lies in the graphics," he said in an interview published in Famitsu magazine this week. "We're using the original visuals [on the cards], which I think helps rekindle users' memories. I think that helps make the game fun in terms of collecting the cards, which is important in social games. The other concept is gameplay. I wanted to make this the epitome of social games; I wanted to take Gree's knowledge and really create the ultimate in this genre. Plus, you've got the ATB system, you've got the abilities and classic weapons and armor... This is something that's got as many FF features in it as we could pack in."

The new game, tentatively titled Final Fantasy X Gree for now, takes what's now become the standard approach for social RPGs. You amass a deck of cards, each one themed after characters, items, and enemies from across FF's 25-year history, and you use them to go on quests and take down bad guys.

But Itakura is quick to state that there's a lot more to it than that. "The first thing I wanted to get across to the team is that I don't want this to be just a social game with an FF skin on it," he said. "With FF, every game has a bunch of additional stuff in it, like Gold Saucer and chocobo breeding in FFVII. With this one, for example, you can collect medals in mini-games and use the results in the main game; you can read your navigator moogle's diary; there's a lot of stuff. There's the cycle of using points to go on quests and then either paying or waiting for more points, but while you're waiting, you've also got all this other content you can play with."

There's a bit of multiplayer gameplay, too. "In addition to competitive battles," commented Itakura, "you'll also be able to do things like borrow cards from friends during battle and comment to other players to receive points. There are ranking features, too, so you'll be able to compete on points as well. We're working it so you're largely playing individually, not always in tandem with other people. It's set up so you can casually spend time with it, like any FF."

Final Fantasy X Gree is set to come out sometime this winter for mobile phones. "I think it's important to note that what you can play when you first sign in is only a small part of the entire package," Itakura noted. "We're going to have a full theme park's worth of content in the future, so please look forward to it. It's really a way of presenting the classic FF IP in a manner that's never been done before."

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