Even though each of the numbered games in the Final Fantasy series stands on its own, the idea of jumping into the series can be incredibly daunting for a first-timer.

"What did you say this game is called?"

"Final Fantasy XV."

"FIFTEEN? So I need to play 14 other games to understand this one?"

"No, no. It's not really a sequel to the other games. It's got its own story and stuff."

"Oh, OK. So how long should I set aside to play it?"

"Probably about 50 hours or so."

"..."

World of Final Fantasy, the latest in a long line of series spin-offs, occupies a weird space. At a glance, it's packed with nostalgia for current fans, drawing on characters, locations and themes from the series' 29 year history. One of the first towns you visit, for example, is a town from the original 1987 game, complete with an updated version of that town's original music. Later, you're running into characters like Yuna (FFX), Terra (FFVI), Lightning (FFXIII) and more.

But it's also built in such a way that it could act as "Baby's First Final Fantasy." The main characters are new (thus not relying on any prior knowledge of the series), the game's world never gets to massive (so you're less likely to lose track of where you're going) and much of the dialogue even seems written to specifically target a younger demographic.

The battle system is also divided into two different types, depending on your play style and experience. The default setting presents you with a simple set of commands, making it really easy to just hit a button or two in order to fight monsters and get through the game's combat. The "classic" menu option, though, is much more like the Final Fantasies of yore, giving you a big list of attacks, spells and abilities to choose from however you see fit.

Then there's the part where it's also not purely a Final Fantasy game when it comes to combat, because it's also kind of a Pokemon game. You will spend a lot of time capturing enemy monsters in Pokeball-esque items called Prismarium, after which they can fight alongside you in battle — not unlike the popular Nintendo series.

So World of Final Fantasy is in some ways the most Final Fantasy game around while at the same time feeling so different in terms of how it plays that it might as well not be called Final Fantasy at all.

There are things that both camps will like about the experience, of course. The animation and voice acting are surprisingly engaging (we've come a long way since the stilted performances of Final Fantasy X), the collecting aspect of catching monsters is fun and it's easy to pick up and play. And if things start moving too slowly for you? There's a very handy (and much appreciated) fast-forward button to let you zoom through action and dialogue at a faster pace.

In thinking about introducing my non-gaming friends to a role-playing game, there are things about World of Final Fantasy that are appealing. The combat can be easily understood, but the experience as a whole can't stand on its own the way other "simple" RPGs (I'm thinking Mario & Luigi, Pokemon or Costume Quest) can. There's actually too much baggage here from Final Fantasy's past to make it truly a game for the masses.

At the end of the day, World of Final Fantasy will appeal most to the series' die-hard fans. Because when the plot starts to drag or the battles start to get tedious, those fans can get a lot of mileage out of saying, "Whoa, look! It's a cute version of Squall!" 

It's a perfectly fine game if you're trying to get your friend into Final Fantasy, but you might still be better just sitting them down with VI or VII. Those games are classic for a reason.

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