For what almost seems to be like a week, I’ve had the luxury of playing Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. After investing a certain amount of time with the title from beginning to emd, I can honestly say that Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings is a game that is well worth the time one plans on investing in it. Though it currently suffers from extensive criticism from those who’ve invested little time in the game or no time at all, Revenant Wings does for the DS what Heroes of Mana did. It shares the same gameplay mechanics as Revenant Wings and that, if anything, would be a unique gameplay experience on the Nintendo DS that feels natural and fun.
Even if it does take place a year after the events of Final Fantasy XII, the story of Revenant Wings is merely a side story to Final Fantasy XII and not a full fledged sequel. In Revenant Wings, the game is focused a lot more on Vaan and Penelo, who were spectators with small roles in comparison to the main cast in Final Fantasy XII. Vaan has accomplished his dream of becoming a sky pirate by obtaining his own ship. He sets out to the Glabados Ruins where he crosses paths with Fran and Balthier. After receiving the legendary treasure at the Glabados Ruins Vaan learns about a "ghost ship" from his fellow orphan friends Filo, Kytes, and Tomaj. Vaan and his friends board the "ghost ship" and are led to the sky world of Lemures where their real adventure, which involves that legendary treasure Vaan found truly begins.
The most prominent feature of Revenant Wings is its RTS/RPG gameplay structure. Similar to Heroes of Mana, Revenant Wings functions as an RTS with Vaan and five of his chosen companions. They can summon a set amount of monsters under their command to do battle. Players use the stylus to circle units and point to an enemy to issue an attack, cast a magic spell or select an enemy unit to see their stats. The reason why it’s also considered an RPG is unlike Heroes of Mana, characters and summon monsters gain levels in Revenant Wings. In traditional RPG manner, Vaan and his companions learn their spells and skills through leveling up. The basics of purchasing weapons, armors, and accessories are also essential in Revenant Wings, but what differs in Revenant Wings from Final Fantasy XII is the whole licensing system.
In Final Fantasy XII, one had to earn License Points to be able to equip weapons, armor, accessories, and use elemental/non-elemental spells after you’ve purchased them. In Revenant Wings, the License Board has been replaced by what is known as the License Ring where summon monsters are unlocked. Each monster requires Holy Stones to be used for summoning in battle, which Vaan earns after completing a mission. Each summon monster has their own summoning level determined by the amount of Holy Stones needed to unlock them and their own elemental attribute. When battles are about to begin battle, monsters can be summoned by characters who share their same combat style.
For example, characters like Lluyd and Filo are aerial fighters. They would start off battle by having summon monsters who excel in aerial combat under their wing. Vaan and Basch, are melee fighters and they would have melee summon monsters under their command. Kytes, Fran, Balthier, and Ashe, would have summon monsters who shoot projectiles or cast spells on enemies. Weaknesses also play a role where melee units beat aerial units, aerial units beat projectile/magical units, and projectile/magical units beat melee units. Penelo is the only character who has no specific combat unit type. Instead she summons healing units tied to her that excel in curing injured allies. This doesn’t mean that only Vaan can summon melee fighters and aerial summon monsters can only be summoned by the characters with the aerial style. After you’ve gained control of a Summoning Gate, you can summon five monsters you’ve preset to appear at the beginning of battle via a summon chart. These monsters can appear under under any character’s command and this adds more strategy to your battles. Not all battles have a Summoning Gate, so it’s best to preset units who are strong and share the same combat style as your party members. Furthermore, not all battles allow you to use of summon monsters, so watch your character’s levels and equipment.