The special dungeons, which are optional exercises that reward you with new jobs and other abilities, can feature very restrictive, annoying rules. In one, you and all monsters are limited to one health point, so just a single hit or unlucky trap can send you reeling back to the start. To worsen matters, you're not allowed to bring any items or gear into special dungeons. And to add to the frustration, it becomes increasingly difficult to level each job because you're unable to earn experience or job points from special dungeons, which is a pity because you'll be attempting those a lot. This means that you're forced to reexplore shrines, where the guardian beasts rest, to level up your weaker jobs if you're getting bested by a primary dungeon, which is a dull and tedious process.
What's even more boring is the game's lack of variety, with most dungeons relying on the same generic design shrouded in a different color. Shrine dungeons, however, are highly varied and well-detailed. These have vivid colors and unique aesthetic elements that add to their atmosphere, like the intricate coral reef that serves as Leviathan's shrine. You'll encounter some visually impressive sequences at key moments and when summoning guardians and, on the whole, exploring the quaint little town of Lostime is a pleasant treat complemented by a strong Final Fantasy flair and familiar, soothing music. The cutscenes are less pleasing since they're plagued by poor dialogue and are highly melodramatic, with ridiculously exaggerated voice acting and no Japanese voice-over option to replace it.
Completing all of the primary dungeons should take about 40 hours, though you can easily spend almost twice as long playing through special dungeons, planting flowers, catching fish, leveling jobs, or visiting the local arcade for minigames. The cute pop-up card game from Chocobo Tales makes a triumphant return and allows you to summon monsters to fight for you in a manner reminiscent of Pokemon. Creating the perfect deck can be a fun task, and even more enjoyable is the option to play online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon offers challenging dungeon-crawling gameplay mixed with attractive Final Fantasy lore, but its high difficulty level may prove a little intimidating for some.