February 2018 is a rather golden time for people who enjoy RPGs and happen to have a handheld gaming device handy. This month, we have seen two major games come back around again. One is Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, a mobile adaptation of Final Fantasy XV. The other is Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, the ultimate edition of one of the Nintendo DS’ best games for the Nintendo 3DS. Both not only offer the opportunity to expose a larger audience to the games. Each one makes the titles more efficient. As someone plays through them, they may realize that things are easier to enjoy and experience, without necessarily making things too easy or ruining things. In each instance, it is an opportunity for quality of life adjustments that respect the fact that someone playing these games on the go may not have the same 60 or more hours to devote to the games.
With Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, it is easy to see how this version takes busy people’s lives into consideration. It is essentially Square Enix’s take on the Reader’s Digest Condensed Book. The most important parts of Final Fantasy XV’s story are here. We get to see Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto head out on their journey. We see as he meets Ardyn and Lunafreya. Important locations and enemies are still present. But all of the open world filler is absent. There are still side-quests and adequate-sized maps. They are just more manageable and less extravagant. The critical moments we remember remain. Just this time, it will take about an hour or less to get from the Hammerhead to Galdin Quay, instead of possibly sucking up more time as you run across fields, go through extra side-quests and do all the extra traveling and investigating that really get the prince started.
What is also important is that Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition does all this without dumbing down the experience. Yes, the first chapter is going to be extraordinarily easy. The game is still using tutorials to introduce features and systems. But once you get into chapter two and beyond, things pick up. The battles can sometimes be genuinely challenging, since you need to work on positioning, warping, countering, dodging and directing your allies’ actions. Puzzle segments that have you searching for items may mean paying more attention to environments. You can find more side quests to pad things out. It is never as involved as the original Final Fantasy XV, but the things happening do not feel childish or trivial. There is a sense of balance.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology shows the same sort of respect, but offers a different approach. This is a slightly bigger version of the original Nintendo DS game, with new optional missions, some options that let characters not in your party still participate in battles, new art and voice acting. It is the Friendly Mode option that illustrates how its design understands that people may not always have time to tackle everything. This could be a 40 hour game, if you do absolutely everything. (I think I remember it taking more, back when I played it on the Nintendo DS.) Friendly Mode does not cut any of the story out, but allows you to have Stocke hit certain enemies in the field to skip those battles. You get everything you would have had you actually fought the battle normally, like experience or money, but you do not spend five minutes or more on the actual fight.
The genius here is that Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is not compromising when it offers Friendly Mode’s opportunity to skip fights. You have to take an action to eliminate the fight, otherwise it will happen as normal. You can not skip boss battles or some critical fights. But, skipping other fights does not penalize you or make these hallmark moments impossible. It is an alternative that may come in handy when you want to quickly skip through a specific section. Maybe you enjoy playing the 3DS on a bus or train. You know your stop is approaching, but want to get through a section a little quicker so you can save. Friendly Mode makes things a bit more manageable, without taking away from the story or making you feel like you are cheating yourself out of the experience.
Both Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition and Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology give people options. They take games that are established and offer adjustments that make them a little more considerate. With Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, this means trimming a bit of the fat. The original game can be excessive in the best possible way, with large areas to explore and extra quests to enjoy. The mobile version focuses on the most important story elements. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology offers an optional Friendly Mode that lets you have the option of skipping inconsequential fights if you would like. You still take part in the major battles. The story remains the same. You just can avoid some assaults. In each instance, the games respect that people may not have the time to play for hours each sitting or invest 40 hours in a game.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is available for Android and Apple iOS devices. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is available for the Nintendo 3DS.