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Fantasy Life: An RPG with plenty of roles to play

The latest (and greatest?) from Level-5...

You wouldn't think it from playing RPGs, but there's more to life than killing and cash.

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That Link - he's always got his mind on his rupees and his rupees on his mind. And you think he carries that sword around as an accessory? Nope, he carries it around as a murder weapon.

The developers behind Fantasy Life know that some of us have higher values. So while all 20 of the available occupations (or 'Lifes') in the game do involve amassing money, only a handful are equipped for barbarism, and every one of them has a happiness gauge as well as a richness gauge. Just as you need to splash your cash to upgrade your gear, your character's happiness level will affect your progress through the game.

Fantasy Life plays differently depending on which Life you choose. Soldiers do the usual RPG weapon-wielding, but a pilot flies planes, a fisherman fishes, a treasure hunter hunts treasure and a mailman, um, mails men.

Other jobs include tailor, alchemist, animal tamer and chef, and you can chat with various NPCs as you wander around the medieval kingdom of Kuruburuku and accept Life Quests from them.

Although the game is being put together by various ex-Square veterans at Japanese developer Brownie Brown and published by Professor Layton maestros Level-5, it slightly resembles Harvest Moon or Tomodachi Collection - sim-style games where the focus is on interaction with other characters. You'll also be able to communicate with other players online or over Wi-Fi (possibly just the latter) and via StreetPass.

The world of Fantazeal is rendered in a slightly surreal, humorous, super-cute style. You can customise your own character avatars using a Mii-style editor that offers tons of mix 'n' match options - gender, body type, facial features, hairstyle and so on.

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Each character has their own ending song, composed by Final Fantasy songsmith Nobuo Uematsu. There are 21 tunes - one for each character and presumably a bonus song for completing every strand.
Fantasy Life was originally announced for DS back in 2009, and was delayed heavily when it made the leap to 3DS.

Happily, our short hands-on time with the game confirmed that this has resulted in a superb level of polish. And as a game about life, rather than butchery and bucks, it should be a gentle introduction to the world of RPGs that offers something for everyone.

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