Choosing a Social FF Game

What, in the end, is a sign of a good social game? This page might not answer that question, but what it can do is give you a general outline of the various FF social games to help you in deciding which to play (and which you can play).

Defining Characteristics

A social game is a small game designed for smartphones and other portable devices that has social integration. The fun you have in them is often dependent on how many friends you can recruit for your friends list, and are also notorious for having cash shops that make the gameplay a breeze, while not buying anything could seriously hinder your progress. All these elements are present to some degree in each of the social FF games that have come out so far.

Social games are also often highly region-locked, which can present some troubles if a social game you wan to play is only present in another region than your own. Your region is usually defined by your IP address, so you will need to use a VPN or a similar service if the region lock is an actual lock and not simply a recommendation (each of the game presentations below mention if a lock is present in it).
Your region will also be defined by your credit card's billing address, and it is just about impossible to pay with one region's credit card for another region's in-game shopping. You will have to use other methods of payment should you want to participate fully in this regard.
A third way to indicate region is the language you use. For English-speaking regions cross-region play might not present any problem, but if your only language is English (or something else), you cannot really enjoy fully a game in another language.

Active Games

Airborne Brigade

Service for Airborne Brigade English version has ended in 2014. The Japanese version is still ongoing.

Regions: JP, NA
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android credit (NA), credit card (NA), Mobage payment methods (in JP version)
Access: app (NA version), Mobage site or smartphone app (JP version)
Other Requirements: JP version of the game requires a Japanese mobile phone email address to access

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Accessibility for this game is good, as even though the game has not been released in all regions the NA version can be accessed just about anywhere with minimal hassle. However, if you were wanting to access the Japanese version of the game, which is still being updated, you are out of luck unless you happen to be in Japan. You can access the JP game's main page from Mobage or through the app, but to actually start playing the service requires you to register an email provided by a Japanese cellphone carrier. These can only be obtained by having a cellphone service active in Japan. This in turn requires documentation that you'll be staying in Japan for at least quite a few weeks.

As for the gameplay, this game is as simple as they come. You click buttons to advance and gain EXP, EXP gives you more levels which in turn gives you more LP (to advance in quests) and more ability and equipment points to use. Abilities and equipment are obtained by random number generator, there is no skill involved. You can only raise your odds by buying items to give you more chances at the RNG. Events are held regularly (there is only 1-2 days of downtime between events so chances are one is ongoing when you join), and the rest of the game more of an afterthought to the events. To make the most out of the game without paying, you will have to play it every 45 minutes at the minimum, and only if you manage that can you say you've accomplished something in the game.

The strong points of this game are its cutesy graphics and its constant main-series FF tie-ins through its events. However, as there is no story and the game forces you to be playing it in very short intervals to achieve anything, this game might not be entertaining for most.

Update
The English version of Airborne Brigade became drastically different from the Japanese version before its demise, staying in the original design of the game and doing away with any and all events whereas the Japanese version received an updated quest design, changes to itemification features and continues with events. Please note that the experience you received playing the English version was severely cut-down from the original.

Brave Exvius

Regions: JP, US, EU
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android payment methods
Access: smartphone app
Other Requirements: -

ffbe_logo.jpg

Brave Exvius is a social game that greatly resembles the RPGs of yore. While it does have a stamina system (for the first 10 ranks everything costs 0 stamina, only after that does it become a requirement) and small 'quests' that consist of chained battles only, it also has explorable towns complete with NPCs to chat with, shops to shop in and sidequests to pick up, as well as dungeon-type exploration quests where you re-visit a past location outside of the story to search every nook and cranny for hidden treasures - as well as random monster encounters. Summons are a feature in the game as well, although you'll mostly have to unlock them through side quest battles, and then level them up with magicite.

The game has a gacha system familiar from most social-type games, but this as well is not as much a requirement as it could be. You get enough Lapis (real-money currency) by simply playing the game that the characters you get by using the free Lapis for gacha are more than enough to make good teams. Each character you get is not locked to the rarity rank they appear with, but can instead be Awakened. A character's max rank is not always the highest in the game, but enough are (and become so through updates) that even just investing in one team is enough should you wish to do so. Other uses for Lapis are various inventory expansions and magic keys, which can also be crafted from rare materials.

The player interaction of the game is limited to 'friending' others to be able to consistently borrow their party leader to join you in battles, as well as pitting your teams against other players in the Arena. Having a lot of active friends will also give you a slight edge at the start of the game, as friends can wish for items from each other. Fulfilling a wish does not reduce the applicable item from your own inventory.

All in all, the game is very friendly for story players, while still offering a lot to do for event-oriented players and min-maxers. The battle system is satisfactory and secrets to find by exploring never seem to end. Highly recommended.

Crystal of Time

Regions: JP
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android payment methods
Access: smartphone app
Other Requirements: -

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Crystal of Time has a fairly standard availability for a Final Fantasy social game. All you need is a region-specific smartphone account, and those are easy enough to create. Paying for Space-time stones (the game's real-money currency) is easy enough as well, although there is hardly any reason to buy them. You gain enough stones to get the abilities you need to get through the story, so you'll only ever need to buy if you're in for the events.

Gameplay is based on stamina that regenerates over time and CP that you gain from sidequests. Stamina is mainly used on sidequests, while CP is used in event quests and other special quests. You will quickly find out that unless you do a lot of grinding in sidequests for CP, you will be perfectly unable to participate in any events. However, it bears noting that participation in events often provides only event-specific equipment (ie ones that are extremely weak outside of the event) and stories not in any way related to the main story, so they can be safely skipped if you're playing for the game itself rather than its events.

In Crystal of Time, more emphasis is placed on the main story to keep you playing. This may be an unintended side effect of the events being self-contained units, but the grand majority of the time there is absolutely no reason to participate in them. The game does require some level grinding to let you keep advancing in the main story as the difficulty level can rise every few quests, but events provide some relief to that if you're into grinding. Be careful about using CP for grinding events though, as they can be better used to first get memory crystals that provide permanent stat boosts to your characters.

All in all, this game is recommended to people who are interested in the story.

Mobius

Regions: JP
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android payment methods
Access: smartphone app
Other Requirements: -

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Final Fantasy Mobius is accessible as per standard to anyone with a JP region account on the platform of your choice. It is recommended to occasionally prepare for paying, but for the most part it is very possible to go by with just the Magicite (in-game real money currency) you get through gameplay. It is mostly if you get interested in the game's player rankings that you will be needing to buy Magicite, but the various limited-time bonuses to the gacha can easily lure a regular player to pay for a gacha draw or two or three.

Gameplay works off a stamina system all throughout the game. It is thankfully easy enough to gain levels to get stamina enough to last through a gaming session without inconveniently running out, at least after the first few days. The battle itself consists of tapping the screen to attack and tapping your abilities to use them when you have the resources ('elements') to do so. A large part of battle is preparing your jobs and abilities for an optimum experience in battle. To make this more convenient, you gain a selection of save slots ('decks') for pre-made setups, and you gain more decks as you level up.

Aside from the game's ranking system where each player is constantly ranked according to the score they get from battles, the main draw of the game is its story and world. It has an excellent story for a social game, and even events can have interesting additions to the overarching story of the world. To top it off, Mobius has excellent graphics for what it is. Whether you are into social games in general, into competing with other players for top score, into story and world or into graphics, this game has something to offer to you, and its offering is likely top-notch. Highly recommended.

Pictlogica

Regions: JP (plus some other regions with Japanese language option only, no translation is provided)
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android payment methods
Access: smartphone app
Other Requirements: -

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Pictlogica is so far the Final Fantasy social game with the best accessibility. It can be downloaded and used from any region (on iOS, Android version is Japan-only), although the language of the game will remain Japanese, which in the case of such a simplistic game is nothing but a minor hindrance should you wish to play it. In addition to being in Japanese, the app's shop feature (at the date of writing) displays a yen sign instead of your own currency with the price of any item you buy, although the price itself is in local currency. The payment confirmation will display the right currency, this bug is limited to in-app only. Another bug is with timed events. The in-game counter may display various events as ending at your midnight when they actually end at Japan midnight (the end result is you can see the event as 'still ongoing' but you can't participate in the event as it's down from the servers). For repeatable actions (such as the every-24-hours pictlogica puzzles) the app takes your local time and sends it to server which thinks it is JP time and acts accordingly. Thus, the times provided in the app for when you can next receive prizes from the puzzles can be off by a considerable amount.

As for the gameplay, Pictlogica is more interactive than many other FF social games, requiring you to solve a 5x5 minipuzzle for each turn in battle. Battles occur during quests, which are divided into normal quests and special (event) quests. The latter includes a special weekday-quest that nets you a lot of drops of one type (such as exp, weapons, accessories, etc) as well as promotional quests (combined with the release of another FF title) and seasonal quests. You take part in battles with a 4-member team plus one guest (the main character of a person from your friend list). Teams are completely customizable, and you can search for a new character for free every 4 hours. Every character has their own level, and can be equipped with one weapon and 2 accessories. Another feature of the game is a puzzle with a different one for each of the characters available, rewarding you with gil or materials for completing it. For every new type of character you receive, you unlock their puzzle (pictlogica) and can thereafter enjoy the rewards every day.

Paid features in the game include more space for items (your most likely source of frustration, as inventory space is severely limited by default) and characters, the ability to replenish your stamina fully (required to participate in quests, regenerates over time when left alone) and having moogles search for a new character for you with a better success rate than you get yourself. The last of these can net you a special character not available from the free type of searching.

Record Keeper

Regions: JP, EN
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android credit
Access: smartphone app
Other Requirements: if you want to ensure your game data stays, you have to have a JP Mobage account - this will save the data to Mobage servers and you can recover it should you lose the data or switch devices

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To access Final Fantasy Record Keeper, you only need to download it to your smartphone in the region of your choice. However, as noted above it's very good indeed to have a Mobage account of the appropriate region for your game as well to sign in with, so you don't lose your game data. The game lets you buy gems that can be used to buy extra rounds on the equipment gacha (although game-provided Mythril can be used for this purpose as well), possibly giving you an extra advantage in this way.

Record Keeper is an old-style Final Fantasy RPG with some social game restrictions. The game's battles work on the exact same type of ATB as FFs 4-9 did, but entering each series of battles consumes stamina that regenerates over time. Your party members gain experience after each battle (unless they're KO'd at the end), and you can equip each with a weapon, a piece of armor, an accessory, and up to two abilities. Equipment and abilities can be leveled up by having them consume other equips or items specifically designed to raise their levels. As for available locations, you unlock new ones after each successful completion of a previously uncompleted location, and a 'Force' version of that same location can be unlocked by Mastering its regular version. This is done by completing the location efficiently in as few rounds as possible while taking as little damage as possible.

Other than that, there isn't really anything to say about FFRK. It is a solid little social RPG, well worth the time for people who like the style.

Inactive Games

Agito

Service for FF Agito has ended in November 2015. The guide below is preserved for archival and comparison purposes.

Regions: JP
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android credit
Access: smartphone app
Other Requirements: -

FFAgi_logo.jpg

A game with very good accessibility. You will be needing a Japanese-region iOS/Android account, but other than that everything works as it should, albeit in Japanese. The game is rather like the main title it's spun off from, the infamous Type-0, but with the addition of dorms as a management hub. From the dorms you can access main menu (the only place where you can do so, in fact) and do management such as shopping (real money and gil), ability and equipment synthesis and evolving, and access the social features. The other modes of the game are a free-roam exploration of the Akademeia where you can talk to NPC characters and pick up quest, a mission interface that lets you pick which mission battlefield from currently available ones you will pick, and a challenge battle interface that lets you take on strong foes with the combined force of the squad you're in, squad being a random selection of players you get automatically sorted to every once in a while. The game ranks you based on how much you did that period and it compared to all other players, and lets you select a class you wish to join for the next ranking period from among the classes you have reached the requirements for.

You have a friend list in the game, and while it's not required, it is in your best interests to fill it up fast with people of various levels. When you bring along people from your friend list to battle instead of people from the selection provided randomly, you get higher class points (for leveling) and friend points (for item gacha).

In addition to the free item gacha, there is also a paid version of it. You can start out very well without needing to pay for anything, as you get plenty of freebie tickets for the paid gacha, but as these trickle down when you advance and enemies start gaining difficulty, it might become difficult to proceed without an extraordinary grind unless you get paid gacha items. In addition to the gacha, you can also use up real money to buy things such as elixirs (for quest point recovery) and item/ability inventory expansion.

This game does not suit anyone who isn't willing to grind the same battles over and over again to gain enough strength to proceed to the next. Without paying, your grind will become that much longer as you must be grossly overleveled to survive certain bosses without strong gacha items. If you can ignore that, the game is easy on the eyes and the 3D format is a relative novelty with the abundant availability of 2D social games.

Artniks

Service for FF Artniks has ended in July 2014. The guide below is preserved for archival and comparison purposes.

Regions: JP
IP Lock: Yes
Payment: (unknown)
Access: Gree site
Other Requirements: a Japanese cellphone email address to access

Unfortunately, the game is locked down so tight to Japan-only that we cannot at this time give an overview on it.

Artniks Dive

Service for FF Artniks Dive has ended in 2015. The guide below is preserved for archival and comparison purposes.

Regions: JP
IP Lock: Yes
Payment: (unknown)
Access: Gree site
Other requirements: -

This game is only accessible from the Gree website, which is locked by region. If your IP indicates you are from anywhere else than Japan, you won't be able to access the game. Other than that, there are no requirements aside from having a Gree account.

The Chrysalis staff does not have enough experience with this game to evaluate it.

Tactics S

Service for FF Tactics S has ended in July 2014. The guide below is preserved for archival and comparison purposes.

Regions: JP
IP Lock: No
Payment: Mobage payment methods
Access: Mobage site
Other Requirements: -

FFTS_logo.jpg

Accessibility for this game is fairly good for being a Japan-only social game. You only need to have a Mobage account to be able to play it, and signing up for one is free - although the process is in Japanese, this might hinder the progress for some (you can find a guide here). Nevertheless, if you can't find your way through signing up for an account, you won't get much enjoyment out of this game as it is rather dense in story. Paying for extra items can be done through Web Money point cards, although it isn't really required to be able to accomplish things in this game.

Gameplay-wise, this game is fairly close to the Tactics Advance spinoffs (it is also worth noting that looks-wise, the game is identical to them). The gameplay consists of choosing a region of a wider continent to enter, then clearing locations and quests within that region to gain EXP for your units and loot so you can make them better equipment. Clearing a quest consists of AI-controlled battles that use the characters you pick for the quest. You cannot freely choose equipment for your units, but you can raise their equipment levels and grades. During the game you also have the option to challenge other players in clan battles. The clan battles are AI-controlled as well, your job is the manage the units you dispatch, their equipment and their positions on the field before initiating the battle.

This game might serve as a light alternative to those who've liked the FFTA spinoffs before, as well as a bearable try for any FF fan. It might also be suitable for people who don't normally like social games, as its social game features are either well-hidden or well incorporated into the gameplay. As implied before, the gameplay has more in common with the micromanaging side of FFTA-games than with social games in general.

World Wide Words

Service for FF World Wide Words has ended in February 2016. The guide below is preserved for archival and comparison purposes.

Regions: JP
IP Lock: No
Payment: iOS/Android credit
Access: smartphone app
Other Requirements: -

FFWWW_logo.jpg

Easy to set up and access, Final Fantasy World Wide Words nevertheless is very much a Japanese game. The gameplay consists of typing various words on a standard Japanese touch-interface keyboard. On your ability to do this depends all factors of the game, including dealing damage, healing yourself, opening treasure chests and capturing chocobos. While some of the words displayed are in kanji, the hiragana for it is displayed directly below the fully written out version, so this shouldn't provide too much of a problem for those not too familiar with reading Japanese, but the problem of the typing remains. Even so, if you think of the letters as simply symbols you have to match, it may be possible to enjoy the gameplay even without knowing Japanese if your symbol memorization skills are good, although it is definitely recommended to know at least some. The game is friendly to learners of Japanese language as well, all you have to know is hiragana and you'll learn to read and type better by playing WWW.

In the gameplay, you obtain one character for your party by default, and can obtain additional ones by paying gems. Gems can be bought with real money, but you get quite a few just by completing objectives within the game itself. Aside from buying more characters (the max you can have in your party at a time is four), you can also buy various enhancements such as the ability to house more chocobos at your ranch, as well as useful consumables such as thief's gloves that switch the word associated with a treasure chest for an easier one to type. Aside from the consumables, you can also gather 'deco', decoration items that can be attached to characters, abilities and summons to make them stronger. Each deco modifies the name of what it's attached to, so you can in effect rename your Lightning as "Lightning Awesome Power Hero" (ライトニングすごいパワー勇者) or whatever you fancy. However, it may require some advance planning as to activate abilities, you have to type out the ability's name. You do not want to be caught having to type out "Quick Trick Dark Strong Giant Robot" (クイックトリックダーク強い巨人ロボット) as fast as possible without mistakes when you barely know how to type. In effect, your typing ability restricts how strong you can make your abilities.

Otherwise, the gameplay is fairly standard. Entering a location to do battle in consumes one 'ticket', which regenerate slowly over time. Monsters have a countdown after which they'll attack if they don't die before it reaches 0, and you can target your attacks by typing the word next to the monster you want to attack. Your party members and their abilities gain experience points after each battle.

Finally, a note on Japanese typing. This game relies heavily on the 'flick' style typing, where instead of tapping a key on the keyboard several times to get the kana you need, you instead flick in the appropriate direction starting on the key that holds the kana you need. In most cases, 'a' is displayed (a simple tap will suffice), 'i' is swipe to left, 'u' is swipe up, 'e' is swipe right and 'o' is swipe down. For example, if you need to type 'ki' you swipe left on top of 'ka', and if you need 'tsu' you swipe up on top of 'ta'. Without doing the flick style, it is impossible to get a good enough score (you get graded by how fast you type out the words, and higher grades deal more damage), and your battles will be tedious indeed.


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