The mobile phone prequel to Final Fantasy VII is finally on its way to North America. Even after everyone said it would never make it, even after a year of being out in Japan, Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII is on its way over and it'll be on the cellphones of North American gamers everywhere before long. Even before that, as in this week, Before Crisis was playable on Japanese cell phones at E3.
The first thing I took a note of was the look of the game. Before Crisis is definitely one of the best-looking mobile games I've seen, but you don't need me to tell you that--just look at our screens. As far as the gameplay, you control one of the newly-hired Turks and your first mission, given to you by a youthful Tseng, involves hunting down and killing members of a terrorist group, Avalanche, who are planning to blow up a Mako reactor owned by Shinra, the company you work for. Sound sort-of-familiar? That's the exact opposite of the first mission you have in the original Final Fantasy VII, as you may recall.
Even for people who couldn't understand the Japanese writing, the interface was quick and easy to pick up. Only 4 buttons on the keypad were used, one for movement, one for the menu, one for attacking and one for magic. All the controls are very responsive, and loading times are negligible.
Ahhhh! Get away from me!
As you run around Midgar, making sure you don't disappoint your new employers, you may run across some resistance, of course. When you see an enemy on the screen and make contact with him or her, you are taken into a separate battle map in which the battle plays out. Unlike FFVII, however, it's not turn-based, but rather more of a real-time action RPG battle style. You run around the map, swingint a blade around, trying to hit your foes. This would have been made much easier if not for the tiny mobile phone buttons. When you have to move and think quickly, having small, smooth buttons can be a hinderance. The action sometimes seemed to slow the frame rate a bit as well. I suppose that's what you can expect from cell phones, though--they aren't exactly built for games. But all things considered, Before Crisis ran and played very well. There were no bugs or holes in the programming to speak of.