jrpg

On the whole, it’s been a rough year for Xbox games on Windows Phone. Most weeks go by without new releases, and several publishers like Gameloft have stopped publishing their games as Xbox titles. And yet, a couple of new Xbox releases have turned up in the last few weeks: Temple Run 2 and Rabbids Big Bang.

Today another Xbox Windows Phone game showed up out of the blue as something of a late Christmas present for Xbox fans: Final Fantasy III from Square-Enix. This makes the third Japanese role-playing game the publisher has released on Windows Phone, following the first Final Fantasy and Chaos Rings. Final Fantasy III runs on both Windows Phone 7 and 8, but it carries a hefty price tag… Check out our hands on video, impressions, and Store link after the break!

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Windows Phone Role-playing fans welcomed Square-Enix’s remake of the original Final Fantasy with open arms last year. At last, we had a lengthy and well-made RPG in the Xbox Windows Phone lineup. But the RPG genre has advanced dramatically since the first Final Fantasy dawned on 8-bit Nintendo consoles. The remake’s modest enhancements couldn’t prevent the game from feeling dated.

Thankfully Square-Enix did not choose the equally dated (but still good) Final Fantasy II as its next Windows Phone RPG. Instead, the publisher followed up with a port of Chaos Rings. Originally released on iOS in 2010, Chaos Rings is an original Japanese RPG (JRPG) designed exclusively for mobile devices. How does it stack up against modern RPG standards? Read on to find out!

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We didn’t exactly get a new Xbox Windows Phone release this week, but Windows Phone 8 gamers DO get something new to play. Square Enix’s Chaos Rings, one of the highest profile games on the incompatibility list, is finally Windows Phone 8 compatible!

The game launched only for Windows Phone 7 back in March, hugely disappointing Windows Phone 8 RPG fans. Earlier this week it started showing up in the Store on Windows Phone 8 devices, but couldn’t actually be downloaded by most users. Just an hour or so ago, several of us managed to download it at last. The game's Store web page was down all week and just came back up as well. At last!

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In our ‘Best Xbox games of 2012’ feature, I named the sole Xbox-branded RPG Final Fantasy as one of the year’s finest. This year we have the very RPG-like strategy game Skulls of the Shogun to look forward to, but another Xbox RPG seems unlikely at present. Thankfully an indie developer has come along to fill the void with Doom & Destiny from HeartBit Interactive. Previously available as an Xbox Live Indie Game on 360, Windows Phone gamers can take the game with them on the go…. And for free (at the moment)!

Check out our initial impressions and hands-on video after the break.

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Final Fantasy: Xbox Windows Phone Review

For more than a year, the Xbox Live lineup on Windows Phone languished without the presence of a single traditional RPG. Thankfully Japanese publishing giant Square Enix has finally tossed their hat into the Windows Phone arena with Final Fantasy, a remake of the original NES classic that vaulted their company to stardom. The first Final Fantasy may not have some of the finer trappings of its sequels, but it remains a vast and remarkable adventure that mobile gamers shouldn’t miss.

Head past the break for our extremely detailed review!

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Final Fantasy, one of the most-anticipated Windows Phone games ever, is now on the Marketplace! Why so popular? First off, it’s the only straight-up RPG (or JRPG) in the mobile Xbox Live library. Besides, while the Final Fantasy series is extremely popular the world over, Final Fantasy (part I) is only the third entry for Microsoft platforms, the first two being Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 on Xbox 360 (if we count the online-only XI, that makes a total of four). Windows Phone gamers finally have a chance to experience the series’ origin.

While the first Final Fantasy initially appeared on the 8-bit NES system, the mobile version is based on 2007’s enhanced Playstation Portable remake. Players will assemble a party of four warriors from a pool of iconic classes and then set out to save the world from the surprisingly unhelpful Elemental Fiends. Overworld and underworld navigation utilizes a funky-looking virtual pad for movement while the battles are more tap-focused. Mainstay RPG elements like grinding for experience and money to purchase new equipment and a huge danger-filled world to explore promise hours of entertainment.

When we revealed the first screenshots of the Windows Phone version, we were slightly disappointed that the game still runs in the same aspect ratio as the iPhone game it was ported from as opposed to the wider ratio of the PSP and Windows Phone screens. The screen remains off-center, a seemingly odd decision – until you notice the clock occupying the black space. Tap that area and the phone’s battery life, wireless, and cellular signals appear as well. Considering the length and addictive nature of Final Fantasy, having instant access to the time and your phone’s battery life is actually quite useful.

Strategy

Since many of you are new to this installment of Final Fantasy, we’ve got a few tips to get you started. The first decision you make upon starting a new game, that of which character classes to take along, is very important as you’re stuck with those for the rest of the game. Choose poorly and you’ll face a much greater challenge. The default selection (Fighter, Thief, White Mage, Black Mage) is actually one of the best parties to go with. At any rate, you absolutely must have a single White Mage or Red mage on hand to heal the rest of the party.

Saving is another important area to wrap your head around. Whenever you exit to the title screen, press the Home button, etcetera, that creates a temporary save file. To start back where you left off, simply pick Resume from the title screen. The file is temporary though, as resuming, choosing to Continue a permanent file, or starting a New Game will overwrite it. To create permanent saves, simply enter the menu by tapping the names of your party in the lower-right corner of the screen while outside of battle. Then choose the Save option at the bottom of the screen. (Thanks to Cadwr for the correction!)

One last thing - pressing and holding on the party status indicator in the lower-right corner of the screen while outside of battle brings up the overworld map. You'll need it!

For more Final Fantasy tips, check out the following resources:

Now that you're prepared...

Final Fantasy costs $6.99 and there is a free trial. It clocks in at a whopping 91 MB. If you love RPGs, don’t wait for a sale. Head over here to the Marketplace and start adventuring!

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Battling the Kraken

The mobile Xbox Live lineup is getting better and better lately. This week we got Battleship, the first Live game with true online multiplayer, and next week’s game… Wait for it… Final Fantasy I from Square Enix! Why Microsoft chose not to demo the game at E3, we’ll never know.

Final Fantasy will be the first traditional RPG in the Windows Phone lineup. A direct port of the iPhone game which was a port of the PSP game which was a remake of the original Famicom version – it’s like seven degrees of Kevin Bacon but with black mages and imps. Players will assemble a party of four warriors from a pool of iconic classes and then set out to save the world from the dastardly Elemental Fiends. Overworld and underworld navigation utilizes a funky-looking virtual pad for movement while the battles are more tap-focused. Numerous hours of role-playing goodness will ensue.

Windows Phone Central received these exclusive first screenshots of the mobile Xbox Live version of Final Fantasy I in action. You might be wondering about the black bars on the sides of the screens... It seems that Square Enix simply increased the lower resolution iPhone version of the game to match Windows Phone 7's vertical resolution without tweaking the the aspect ratio or UI elements for a wider display (I even did some resolution tests to confirm this). In other words, the original game ran at 480 x 320. The Windows Phone game's display has been resized to 720 x 480, leaving 80 pixels of dead space. Let's hope the screen will at least be centered in the final build - we'll find out in less than a week.

Final Fantasy I launches on Wednesday, June 13th and will cost $6.99 (two dollars less than on iPhone).

Garland the rogue knight has kidnapped princess Sarah.

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