Granblue Fantasy Brings the Final Fantasy Pedigree to Mobile with a Side-effect of Gambling Addiction

Adventures, heroes, a mysterious waif, and the evil empire all await for you in Granblue Fantasy. Releasing as a browser based Role Playing Game  during the year 2014 Granblue Fantasy (GF) continues to be a hit in its home country of Japan.  But, did I mention how successful it is, as of currently the game has been played by over 16 million players and continues to grow by millions every couple of months. Now, you might be asking yourself if it’s that popular, how come you’ve never heard of it before, and what is it about? Well, prepare yourself for a fantasy, a grand adventure in the blue skies of a new world, never before seen on a quest to save a girl from the hands of an empire who wants to use her powers for evil!

Granblue Fantasy was developed by Cygames, a company famous in Japan for titles such as Rage of Bahamut and Shadowverse. But, while the name Cygames might not strike a cord with many gamers out there,  Nobuo Uematsu and Hideo Minaba will certainly bring fond memories to players of the Final Fantasy (FF) series. Both Nobuo and Hideo participated in the development of Granblue by providing music and character art respectively thus providing their illustrious pedigree of FF to the game and was it ever worth it. Players everywhere will enjoy turning on their phones, logging into their account, playing GF and being bombarded by sweet memories of the illustrations and music of Final Fantasy.  But, it isn’t without its own merit as Granblue offers plenty enough to stand on its own two feet for those who are willing to play it.

Granblue Fantasy begins with your standard fare hero (Gran if male or Djeeta if female, but for the sake of this article will be referred to as a Gran) as he discusses with his dragon/animal companion Vyrn about the desire to leave his floating island and explore the world. During his discussion he sees some type of vessel crash into the forest and he rushes to discover what it actually was. When Gran arrives at the location he discovers Lyria a girl being pursued by ironclad warriors trying to take her back to their mothership. Gran steps in to prevent them from taking Lyria back. However, the celebration is short lived as they’re soon attacked by a giant dragon who’s under the thumb of the commander from the enemy forces! Acting quickly Lyria summons her own beast using her special powers and thus begins the adventure to find Estalucia an island hidden at the edge of the world. But, to discover Estalucia, Gran, Lyria, and Vyrn must be ready to take on the world itself.

Combat in Granblue is done on a turn based system which will be familiar to RPG players. Characters take turns performing actions such as attacking, using items, summoning, and a variety of combination attacks that function similar to limit breaks. Players will take turns deciding which course of action to perform at any give turn with skills being selectable from a list that depends on your character class. Furthermore Gran can choose from a multitude of classes all of which will affect his stat growth as he levels up and continues on the journey to find Estalucia. But, he’s not limited to a set party, as the biggest call to Granblue Fantasy is the “gacha” system famously exploited in Japan for those addicted to gambling.

The biggest draw in Granblue Fantasy is the multitude of characters who can join you on your quest. The character, rare weapons, and summons unlocks are based on random draws by spending gems which can be acquired in-game or spent money to gather. 300 gems and you’ll unlock one item/summon/character, but spend 3000 of those babies and you’ll get 10 plus the guarantee that at least one of those will be super rare. This is essentially how GF makes money as Japanese players have been known to spend thousands of their hard earned yen on trying to unlock special specific rare items. Yet, these bonuses don’t come without their own set of perks as each character unlock has one questline that can be completed with them in order to build bonds with them and gather items or treasures.  All of these bonuses keep players hooked as they play in order to gather more items and become even better players.

But, there is a darkside to Granblue as mentioned earlier exploits the players disproportionate predilection for gambling. Games these days tend to notoriously exploit the “gacha” mechanics, titles such as Fire Emblem Heroes, Fallout Shelter, Tales of the Rays, Mass Effect 3 and many use this as their primary money making mechanic. While these games do offer ways to earn the items without having to spend a single-dime it’s often easier to spend real money and buy them in large quantities in order to get the desired items. But, even worse is when the companies stack the odds against the player such as in FOS which promises at least a single rare item in each lunchbox, but it can easily be the 500 caps card after a point in which obtaining caps is no longer an issue. It’s not exactly dishonest, but it does prey on the human weakness and is a point of contention between critics of the video game industry.

Overall, the Granblue Fantasy experience is worth a try. Originally the game was all in Japanese, but while the GF hasn’t been officially released in the West, the developers kindly added an English option in the menu that allows players on the other side of the world to play. Keep in mind you’ll still need to register with one of four Japanese companies in order to play the full game, but browsers such as Firefox can assist with translating those sites. Once you have an account you can start your own grand blue fantasy!

GranBlue Fantasy is currently available on IOS, Android, and any browser available on your computer!