Spinoffs tend to lead to disappointment. Since they’re attached to something people already know, they immediately establish interest, but rarely do they capitalize on it. What usually happens is we get a game that is unremarkable and could honestly be its own thing, yet isn’t. Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!returns to the mystery dungeon series with some interesting ideas, but is it enough to sell the franchise or is it an okay game wearing a good mask?
Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!makes the common mistake of assuming interest is guaranteed. It isn’t that the story is bad, it just never hooks players. For the most part you go around a town helping people with various problems, which at some point leads to either a dream world or fixing some problem through a dungeon. After a while it all blends together, which is a real shame, since the gameplay is fun.
Once you make it through the tutorials, which is entirely too long and slow for a game this simple, the experience starts to open up. The chocobo starts by getting a variety of classes to play as. These unlock over time, so you can get a good feel of many of them before being locked into one specifically, with each having a playstyle. So, knight is physical, mages are magic and so forth.
The main gimmick is making friends with iconic monsters, which is done in the least interesting way possible. To make a monster your buddy, all you need to do is collect buddy points from defeated monsters. Monsters give buddy points that relate to that specific monster, so you can’t kill a bunch of red marshmallows and be buddies with tonberry but it’s a fairly common drop.
Much to Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!’s credit, monsters do level and higher tier versions can also be your buddy, so you’re never really stuck with a specific monster being the best. I feel like I could take my tonberry anywhere and we will defeat threats without breaking a sweat or at least without losing too much blood. Sadly, leveling your chocobo is not quite as simple.
As players progress though a myriad of different dungeons, monsters will occasionally leave behind gear. Some of them will have perks, others higher stats, which can be used to increase your power. Anything useless can be fused with other, more useful gear, to improve it, though keep an eye on what you’re doing. Unlike a lot of games, you can actually weaken gear by infusing bad gear with better ones. You can also mix and match things, so there are a lot of things to mess around with, even if they’re not terribly important for most of the game.
Even if there is a lot to do, fights are rather simple. Players have one basic attack, with the only additional attacks being magical, throwing gear or based off your buddy. Often times, unless you make some bad calls, fights are little more than trading blows until the monster dies. Even if you get outnumbered, unless you’re avoiding fights or running straight to the end, there shouldn’t be an issue. Just tank, defeat, collect points, heal.
Where Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! starts to really fall apart are the finer details. None of these are enough to ruin the experience, there are just some confusing choices. My favorite example of this is using an item when you’re standing on it. Considering storage is on the small side, players have the option to use any item you find, provided you’re standing on it. However, the first option given to players is pick up, which is pointless unless you tell the game to not automatically pick up items and far less likely to be the more common choice.
Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! is cute, colorful and lets you have a tonberry as your bestest bud, it just a little rough around the edges. Story might not be the best or terribly important, but it is important to know where to go or what you’re supposed to be doing. When you consider there are a lot of poor design choices, such as multiple menus or not thinking of the most common player choices first, it makes it a little harder to recommend. That being said, it gets enough wood on the ball to, if nothing else, make it a fun game to play on trips or the go.
[Editor’s Note:Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! was reviewed on Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]