26 years ago, Enix decided to give give Monopoly a run for its money. The company came out with Itadaki Street: Watashi no Omise ni Yotte, a series known outside he country as Fortune Street. In 2004, Square Enix decided to pair the brand with iconic characters, putting Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special on the PlayStation 2. Since then, plenty of installments have featured famous folks as playable characters, with the Wii’s Fortune Street having Super Mario and Dragon Quest stars around. Now, in 2017, Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary is doing it again. It is taking a tried and true formula and applying fan favorite characters from so many series to it.
The basic Itadaki Street formula remains the same in Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary. Four players head to a board filled with spaces that have shops on them. These are on rows with different colors to represent various neighborhoods. There are also four squares with the four card suits on them that need to be collected by passing over them, so you can head to the Bank and get a promotion and bonus. Your goal is to reach a certain amount of wealth. This is accomplished by purchasing shops, investing in them to raise their value, ideally also owning other stores in the same neighborhood, and even playing the stock market by investing in neighborhoods that are doing well to increase your holdings.
What makes Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary is the way it is constantly paying tribute to both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. After all, the “30th” in the title is referencing Dragon Quest’s debut in 1986 and Final Fantasy’s in 1987. And the cast list is impressive, paying tribute to all of these games. There are plenty of returning characters from past Itadaki Street games. Alena, Angelo, Balthier, Bianca, Carver, Cloud, Jessica, Kiryl, Lightning, Maribel, Sephiroth, Nera, Squall, Terry, Tidus, Yuna, and Zidane have all come back to play this money-grubbing game. The new characters are ones you would be excited to see. Gilgamesh, Golbez, Kefka, Minfilia, and Noctis all show up for the first time on the Final Fantasy side. As for Dragon Quest, Anlucia, Erinn,and Hades Nelgel are all Dragon Quest newcomers. Even iconic monsters and characters show up on the side, with Dragon Quest Heroes’ Healix and Final Fantasy XIII-2’s Mog acting as mascots to help people along their way. I felt like it was a good mix of personalities and characters, though the Dragon Quest side does not offer as many former villains willing to kick back and chill.
What’s nice about this is how Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary preserves these people’s personalities. Each one of them is voiced and has little quips they will make as they play. There are boasts, laments, and taunts, all of which appear as fortunes rise and fall. The voice acting is amazing, and I was especially fond of the portrayals for earlier Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy characters like Alena, Kefka, and Sephiroth. It makes the game, one that is already colorful due to its chibified versions of iconic characters and vibrant maps even more colorful.
Speaking of the maps, they’re also recreations of famous places. And again, lots of them are returning from previous games. Some are returning places, like Alefgard from the original Dragon Quest, Mt. Magmageddon from Dragon Quest V, and the Gold Saucer from Final Fantasy VII. But again, there are new places to see too. Like Dragon Quest X’s Camihalumui or Final Fantasy XV’s Kingdom of Lucis. While it is nice to see them as a backdrop for different boards, it is best when they can offer interesting board layouts. Lucis is one of my recent favorites, due to the arrangement of areas and spaces. It’s somewhat complex, but offers opportunities to strategize movements and plan proper investments.
This is also highlighted in a Museum. As you go through the game, you earn coins for taking part in matches. These can purchase exhibits. You can see artwork representing important Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy scenes. It is a good way to preserve precious memories and see these characters you have been following around the boards and enriching in their natural habitats. While it is neat when the characters come to offer a little behind-the-scenes commentaries on their own games, it is especially cool when they have something to say about someone else’s. It gives you a goal. Having something to work for and a reason to keep going through different matches, proving your investment knowledge and strategies are sound.
What is especially nice about Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary is how it offers offline and online multiplayer. This allows you to engage in matches even if you can’t find someone nearby who is willing to play with you and appreciate all these icons appearing in one place. Even better, the free demo on the PlayStation Store is compatible with the full version. You can play against others, sampling the formula, as you use Anlucia, Carver, Kefka, or Yuna in Dragon Quest VIII’s Trodain.
Monopoly-style games are not for everyone. There is a lot of micromanaging and thinking about how actions can benefit you in the short and long term. Plus, matches can take quite a while. All of these are things Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary can throw at you as you attempt to accrue a certain amount of money in a specific period of time. It is the presence of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy characters that makes such endeavors more appealing to both people who are and aren’t fans of this sort of gameplay. The assortment of available characters, their personalities, their voice acting, and their environments all come together to provide plenty of moments where people may point to certain actions and behaviors and delight in how familiar they are. Especially if they also take the time to earn some event scenes in the museum and watch people react to their own and others’ games. It ends up being both nostalgic and silly fun.
Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Japan.