STAFF REVIEW of World of Final Fantasy Maxima (Xbox One)


Tuesday, December 18, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

World of Final Fantasy Maxima Box art I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan, complete with a merchandise collection that’s borderline embarrassing. Yet somehow, I skipped over playing World of Final Fantasy back in 2016 when it originally released, even though it’s still sitting in its wrapper on my shelf. I’m fine admitting when I make a mistake, and not playing World of Final Fantasy until now, with the release of World of Final Fantasy MAXIMA, was one of those big mistakes.

MAXIMA is essentially a Game of the Year version of the core game, complete with all the updates and DLC it received post launch, that, and the fact that it has finally come to Xbox One for fans to enjoy as well! While MAXIMA feels more like a spin-off Final Fantasy game, it fits right in with the series, complete with tons of references, cameos, and more that veterans will be sure to enjoy.

Even looking at the box art, you’re going to instantly notice that MAXIMA’s art direction is nothing really like any of the previous Final Fantasy titles. Instead, a more chibi-like style with anime influences are utilized, and while I don’t normally gravitate towards this style, it simply works here.

To add another layer of addictive gameplay, there’s also a Pokemon-like 'catch-em-all' system in place where you’re attempting to collect monsters you battle during your adventure, but more on that shortly. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of MAXIMA, with its art direction and over-the-top cuteness, but as I got further into the game, I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.

Siblings Reynn and Lann, wake in their small town working at the local café, only to realize no one else is around. They are interrupted by a mysterious girl who seems to know a lot about them and their history, even though they can’t remember anything about themselves. Taking place in the world Grymoire, Reynn and Lann are placed upon a quest that becomes larger than they could imagine, revealing bits about their past that seem too unbelievable to be true. I won’t delve further into the story, as I found it quite interesting and engaging, especially as you progress, but the fact that Reynn and Lann can shrink or be full size on a whim (Lillikin and Jiant form) also plays a vital role in the core gameplay.


So, you’ve already played World of Final Fantasy and simply want to know what’s new and included with the MAXIMA edition? Well, the siblings can actually change INTO the fable Champions themselves with the Avatar Change system. New Legends will also make an appearance, and more than a quick cameo as well, so expect to see Noctis, Lightning and a few other notable names from the series’ past. Sure, there’s also a bunch of more quality of life improvements, like being able to carry more active mirages into your party, sharing experience, New Game+, Nightmare Difficulty and more, but the real addition is a Noctis minigame where you fish!

World of final Fantasy was actually a celebration of the series’ 30th anniversary, combining many mechanics and aspects from previous titles, but also with a drastic change to entice new fans to the series as well. Complete with a traditional Active Time Battle (ATB) fighting system, new is not only the ability to capture and collect monsters, of which many will say is a Pokemon ripoff, but you also get to stack said monsters on your head to create powerful combinations.

Yes, you’re going to stack cute and adorable monsters on top of your head. It’s silly, and in any other setting it would be ridiculous, but again, somehow it simply works and makes sense here. My daughter has watched me play a few Final Fantasy games in the past, especially when I put over 100 hours into XV, but when she sees me playing MAXIMA, she sits down beside me and totally gets into me trying to capture more mirages (monsters) for my team. The adorable and colorful art direction certainly helps gain the attention of a younger audience, and while it’s still a bit too much for her at age 6 mechanically, she’s enjoying coming along with me for the ride each time I play.

Don’t let its child-like visuals fool you though, as this I a fully-fledged Final Fantasy, complete with a deep and engaging plot, satisfying gameplay, excellent voice acting and surprisingly, a non-stop amount of humor that had me laughing throughout. Combat is probably one of the biggest changes and additions, as the stacking mechanic is a bit clumsy with its menus and does take some getting used to, but more on that shortly.


Like Pokemon games, monsters can be fought in battle and they can also be captured if the correct specifics are met. For example, to capture a Black Chocochick and create its Prismtunity (susceptible to capture), you’ll need to heal it. Others may need to be put to sleep, poisoned, damaged with specific magic, and numerous other conditions that must be met before you can attempt to capture it. Capturing mirages isn’t simply a gimmicky mechanic added in for no reason either, as there’s a narrative reason as to why you are trying to, and should, capture as many as you can.

Each Mirage is unique, with its abilities, size and evolution options. That’s right, you’re going to get to evolve your mirages, but unlike Pokemon, it’s not a choice that’s final, as you can freely change between their forms. Stacking mirages is very strategic though, as you can round out your abilities with all different magics and attacks, or specialize in one type and become very powerful using a specific type of attack. For example, if you stack multiple mirages that use Fire abilities, you’ll gain access to the –aga versions of the spells, allowing for attacks against multiple monsters at once.

Like a totem pole, your stack must consist of a Large (L), Medium (M) and Small (S) mirage, but Reynn and Lann have to be in each stack as well, either as their medium chibi-like Lillikin forms, or their large Jiant form. There are pros and cons to both types of setups, something that will take quite a bit of time to learn and figure out on your own through trial and error. While you could unstack your stack, each individual mirage is weak on its own, and stacking makes the stats of each one combine, including magic, health and more.

There are reasons, and specific times, you want to unstack, but for the most part you’re going to want to find the best stack(s) that work for you, as you’re much stronger as a trio. Keep in mind that when stacked, you are not only granted all of the bonuses together, but the weaknesses as well. So that fire based stack that can cause a ton of fire damage, it will also be very susceptible to water attacks, so there’s a balance you need to figure out.

Not only will you be hunting down elusive and rare mirages, but each can be leveled up and most can evolve into more powerful versions. Somewhat a watered down version of Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid, the experience you earn can be spent on stat increases and new abilities for each individual mirage. You can even spend your skill points on special abilities on some, allowing you to ride them in the overworld or having them walk alongside you, notifying you on hidden items. What I enjoyed best was that you don’t need to level each form of a mirage, as it pertains to all of its unlocked forms, so you can simply swap between them when needed, as sometimes you’ll want its S, M, L or XL version based on the stack you’re trying to accomplish.

While the core game utilizes Champions as summons, where you are able to call in specific Final Fantasy legends to perform some powerful attacks, MAXIMA has included the ability to actually transform into a Champion with Champion Jewels. Equip these jewels on Reynn or Lann and they will visually transform into that specific Champion, while also gaining some of their iconic abilities. There is a balance here as well, given there are some good reasons, as well as some drawbacks, when using these powerful jewels, something that I’ll allow you to figure out on your own. Suffice to say though, seeing chibi-style versions of some of the most iconic Final Fantasy characters is a treat, even after a few dozen hours of playing.


A Final Fantasy game wouldn’t be complete without side quests, mini-games, and tons of distractions to sink hours into, and it is no different with MAXIMA. Once unlocked, the coliseum challenges you against specific enemies or stacks to test your battle abilities, or simply to try and capture any mirages you’ve missed along the way. Most interestingly though are the Intervention quests. Here you’ll learn about the history of specific characters you’ve met during your journey and you get to relive specific moments, intervening, by playing as them without them knowing, usually resulting in rare rewards that are well worth the effort. These side quests were a lot of fun and I highly suggest spending the time doing them.

I could go on further about some of the deeper mechanics, but part of the fun I had was simply learning how everything worked and then tweaking it to suit my playstyle. The stack mechanic seems silly and shallow at first, but creating that perfect stack is quite challenging, yet rewarding.

I was completely surprised with how funny MAXIMA was, from start to finish, something that I’m not used to when playing a Final Fantasy game, and this was only accomplished by the absolutely stellar and perfect voice acting contained within. As for its over-the-top cute and artistic style, I absolutely adored it, but it can be a bit much, as a friend that tried it out with me was actually turned off by it and its silliness. Look past the nauseatingly cute factor and you’ll be surprised with MAXIMA’s deep mechanics and storyline.

Even after dozens of hours, you'll still have a long way to go, and I found that I did get that ‘catch-em-all’ fever. Even though I’m not a Pokemon fan, I’ve really gravitated towards the mirage capturing, as each one has its own prerequisites that must be met, and not simply using an item. You can spend countless hours leveling every mirage and evolving them should you desire, adding a ton of more value and length.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I started playing MAXIMA, as it doesn’t appear, or play, like any traditional Final Fantasy I’ve experienced before, but that’s what’s so charming about it. It fits within the Final Fantasy universe while also carving out its own place amongst the greats. Its disgustingly cute art direction is something I really enjoyed, and there’s more than enough fan service contained within for series veterans as well. The game is accessible for new fans, yet deep enough for those who've play many Final Fantasy games too. World of Final Fantasy MAXIMA is a great entry into the series that should be experienced by all, as long as you can handle the obscene amount of cuteness contained within.




Overall: 9.1 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.5 / 10

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