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Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales

Review: We're back from another of those Choc Flockin' Feats

Here's the defining moment; in the opening town's park, you'll encounter a solitary member of the Chokazu sitting idly near a seesaw. So, which scenario plays out if you tap on the saw? a) Your choco rips the seesaw board clean off its balancing support, before pummelling its rival into oblivion and taking his dismembered beak as a trophy? b) A short, twee interval plays out as the two drumsticks-to-be frolic gaily on the seesaw?

It's that sort of game - a poisonously sweet homage to Square's big yellow mascot. You direct your giganto chicken around its world with the stylus, in search of a number of picture books that your friends have found themselves trapped inside, due to a magic spell gone awry. Each book opens up a new minigame, consisting of several 'levels' where you first get to grips with the concept of the minigame before going head-to-head with the aforementioned Chokazu.

Wark like an Egyptian
The minigames are standard for DS, but are never less than amusing, with tasks as diverse as dragging a turtle up a treacherous cliff, blowing into the mic to guide a mouse to cheese and a nifty Powerstone-like scramble for coins. Progression doesn't require you to beat the games 100%, meaning none need overstay their welcome, but many will frustrate you on the way, either by overestimating the capacity of the human brain or the accuracy of the touch screen.

Success in these games earns playing cards, used for a game called PopUp Duel which is sadly less than captivating. Although as in all guess games, there's some benefit in making decisions based on probability, there's no escaping that this is a four-pronged game of Paper, Scissors, Rock.

But if, like us, you're the kind of doughy-brained loon that would stick footage of their newborn Final Fantasy XI chocobos on to YouTube, then you should import. Because from the moment the title screen follows the stylus around with its massive eyes, this game is frighteningly adorable.

The verdict

Irritating and irrational, Magic Picture Book treats you badly. Yet one flash of those choco-puppy eyes and your heart will flutter. The DS equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.

Nintendo DS
Square Enix
Square Enix