Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 03.06.2019 1

Review for Chocobo

Dating all the way back to 1993, Mystery Dungeon began as an offshoot of Dragon Quest IV, featuring randomized dungeons and rogue-like mechanics in place of the franchise's more traditional RPG elements. Since then, Mystery Dungeon has acted as a spin-off for Etrian Odyssey, Gundam, Pokémon, and Final Fantasy. Most interestingly, the franchise's take on Final Fantasy frequently casts aside the epics that defined the series in favour of one of its chief mascots: the Chocobo. The fifth entry to place Chocobo front and center, Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! is one of the best iterations of the formula yet.

With a franchise as long and firmly rooted as Mystery Dungeon, sequels aren't necessarily going to target new audiences. This is a series that has only made the most minor of changes from title to title. Across the board, any given entry in the series is bound to feature: randomized dungeons, a limited inventory system, light RPG elements, a demanding difficulty curve, and rogue-like elements designed to punish poor play.

Aside from the occasional spin-off specific concept or mechanic, this has never been a franchise that thrived on constant innovation, rather, its strengths come from the little ways the series plays with its core mechanics. A minor change is sometimes all that's necessary to make a world of difference. If not change, a single addition can add depth that may have been lacking an entry or two ago. Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy is a rather safe entry on that front. With a light-hearted story, and the traditional gameplay stylings the series is known for, Chocobo's latest adventure doesn't seem to set itself up for much - which is frankly a rather poor way of examining the title.

Screenshot for Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! on Nintendo Switch

What the latest Chocobo themed spin-off lacks in pure innovation, it best exemplifies the franchise's ability to play with familiar concepts in a succinct and satisfying manner. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about the 25 year old franchise's newest entry, but that doesn't mean it's any less polished, charming, or downright fun to play.

In a land where memories are routinely sucked away, the onus is placed on Chocobo to break the curse, traverse through some mysterious dungeons, and help his partner Cid at just about every turn. What serves as a relatively simple premise does manage to surprisingly lend itself to some heartfelt and even introspective moments. Nothing quite touches the level of depth or emotion at play in the core Final Fantasy franchise, but Chocobo's deep dives into the memories of suffering NPCs does make for an interesting method of serving up character analysis and some light philosophy.

Of course, few come to Mystery Dungeon for the story. While the series' scripts aren't necessarily bad (the first Pokémon spin-off doing a rather fine job at offering an emotional arc) the main draw has always been the dungeon crawling. While dungeons are randomized as ever, the enemy design more than makes up for what would naturally be lacking in level design. Enemies aren't exactly relentless, but they pose up a decent fight, especially later on.

Screenshot for Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! on Nintendo Switch

More importantly, enemies serve as potential party members. Upon defeating an enemy, they have the potential of dropping Buddy Points. By picking up Buddy Points, Chocobo can unlock monsters to join it while dungeon crawling. In becoming Chocobo's Buddy, monsters scale up to Chocobo's level, feature their own unique skills, and can be upgraded by picking up even more Buddy Points. The Buddy system isn't unique, even for the franchise, but it's a fantastic addition that creates an addictive gameplay loop where grinding is encouraged not for experience, but for the potential to earn more Buddies.

Even without the Buddies, Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon brings in Final Fantasy's Job System, with enemies dropping Job Points alongside Buddy Points, allowing Chocobo to upgrade their Job. Each Job offers a cosmetic change along with new skills for Chocobo, offering quite a bit of variety when it comes to exploration and combat. These two minor elements make a world of difference as combat is now designed to be as rewarding as possible thanks to enemies dropping experience, Buddy Points, Job Points, and even items.

Screenshot for Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! on Nintendo Switch

On the subject of items, the limited inventory will perhaps be the biggest hurdle to overcome for newcomers to the franchise. Chocobo's adventure is not one designed around hoarding. Simply hogging items will likely result in death. A huge chunk of Mystery Dungeon's progression is designed around item usage. With this in mind, the limited inventory is only a problem when lugging around equipment from dungeon to dungeon.

Upon dying, Chocobo loses everything in their inventory. While the first half is rather well paced in terms of difficulty, the second half doesn't pull back, like at all. Grinding is never really necessary per se, but the sudden difficulty spike can naturally take the wind out of anyone's sails, especially when considering how relaxed the first major chunk of the title. That said, this spike in difficulty isn't a bad thing by any means. Rather, it allows audiences the chance to familiarize themselves with the mechanics before being challenged. Said time is perhaps a bit too long for comfort, but it isn't all that harmful in the grand scheme of things.

In conclusion: Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy is by no means revolutionary, but Square Enix has managed to develop a loving entry in the ever growing Mystery Dungeon franchise, one that understands the series' conventions better than most.

Screenshot for Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Absolutely filled to the brim with content, Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! is a charming take on the Mystery Dungeon format. While it might not offer too much in the way of innovation, there is a refined quality to just about every aspect. From the Buddy System, to the wonderful integration of Final Fantasy's Job System, there's very little on display that doesn't ultimately come together. The difficulty's pacing might pose a problem to some, but Square Enix's latest interpretation of the Mystery Dungeon franchise is bound to be remembered as one of the series' highest points.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Our member of the week

I already have it on Wii and as far as I can tell it's the same game with extra content. I find it hard to justify the purchase for me on that new content alone, but the original was a lot of fun indeed.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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