Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameCube
Publisher
Nintendo
Developer
Square Enix
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Fantasy Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Graphics
• Control
• Music
• Multiplayer madness

The Bad

• GBA requirement
• No deep story
• Single player will get boring for some

 
Grade
A*
 
* Score average based on A- for single player and A+ for multiplayer

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is the first Final Fantasy game to be on a Nintendo console since back on the Super Nintendo days. It's quite a departure from what the normal Final Fantasy games are like, but is it any good?

The story for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is about a deadly mist called miasma and it covers the entire land. Every town and city has huge crystals that protect the city from the deadly mist but every year the power of the crystal fades away and needs to be re-energized. Now this is where you come in. You are a person (which you name) picked by your people in your town (which you name) to retrieve three myrrh drops which will restore the crystal for another years time. There you have it the basic premise for the story. While there isn't much story in this game (which seems like going back to the FF:1 days) the game is incredibly addicting in other ways which will keep you playing.

Now this game is a hack and slash role playing game. There are many hack and slash games out there but this one has very many different ideas and they work. What seems simple at first actually does have some complexity to it. I'll explain.

The game starts you off with naming your own town and being able to name and pick your characters. You can pick from up to four different races. They are Clavats, which specialize in defense, Lilties, which are good at offense , the Yukes, who use magic, and the Selkies, who are very agile. Now what else is a nice feature is that the game lets you pick male or female and then for each race and gender there are different looking costumes. You also then pick what family trademark you'd like to have from blacksmith to alchemist which effects what your family can do for you when you come back to town. So the customization is quite nice. Once the player(s) name and pick there character, the game starts. You are then presented with a map screen with a little caravan wagon on the map and you can begin your journey. You move your wagon across the map and then pick and choose which way you want to go but not all ways are accessible in the first year.

Yes, the game is played in years. Every year you are out to collect three myrrh droplets to fill your chalice with. Once you do this, thus ends the year and you begin a new year. One of the unique gameplay ideas is that you must stay near your chalice in this protective radius that keeps the deadly mist away. If you step out of it while traveling you take damage. In single player a mog helps carry it for you most of the time but in multi-player someone always has to carry it so teamwork is a must. Now while playing the dungeons you'll find magic orbs that fall from enemies or you find in chests and they have abilities which are either cure, fire, blizzard, thunder, clear, and life. Now anyone can use magic and you can cast as much as you want but you must find the orbs first. In single player, depending on what you have, you can fuse spells together to make the stronger versions of spells you already have or new spells like gravity and holy. In multi-player its a bit of a different story - you have to team up with your friends and cast magic together as a team. Intense stuff. So you go from dungeon to dungeon and are trying to get to the end and collect the drop. Standing in your way are various enemies and at the end a giant boss. The bosses are always very large and very deadly. They do take some strategy and not just mindless button smashing, so good luck. When beating bosses you also get a letter every time from your parents saying how they miss you or something else and it really adds to the atmosphere of the game. You can then pick how to reply back to them and send Gil or items back to them. The reason for that is to make your family happy and if you do you'll get discounts on stuff they do for you and get better stuff from them. The point of Gil in the game is for buying various items and upgrading your weapons but first you must find the weapon plans or buy them and then have all the material and Gil required for the blacksmith to make them. The same goes with armor. It appears each race has there own type of weapons and armor but there are some that are for anyone. It's fun trying to find the certain items that you need to build your stuff and while some are very hard to come by it very satisfying when you find that missing item.

Now you could just run through the game since don't earn any form of experience from fighting creatures. Yes, that's right you don't earn any form of experience while fighting... but as you fight enemies and unlock treasure chests you find these items called artifacts. Now artifacts can do anything from giving you a new slot command (which is good to have to fuse spells) to a added heart or a strength +3 or magic +2. Now while you find these items their effects take place immediately and through the rest of the dungeon but there is a catch. Once you beat the dungeon your only allowed to take one with you permanently for the rest of the game so choose wisely. So as you beat each place you get an artifact and you can keep replaying the levels to get more artifacts thus making your character stronger.

When the year changes, new dungeons open up and the miasma streams change. The miasma streams are all over the world and in order to pass them you need to have your chalice with that miasma streams element. Certain dungeons have the ability to change the element of the chalice from wind, fire, earth, water and depending on what the stream calls for, that's what you need to break through the barrier. It's as simple as walking over to the place on the map and selecting the element change.

The main story of the game can be beaten by year five if played right. The nice thing is that you can go back to previous levels and go through them again and they will be harder and usually yield better items. So, while the game can end at year five you can just keep skipping the last level and keep making you character stronger and stronger. A nice addition indeed.

Phew... so all this talk about the game play - what about the graphics? Well, there is a word for graphics like these - breathtaking. The graphics in Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles are marvelous and really bring you into the game. The effect that you get from crossing a miasma stream is a awesome site and the water is wonderful too. The graphics just shine. You will want to see every different themed level. They range from a forest, caves, to a beautiful marsh and volcano and that's just a few of the places. The game really has so many graphical touches to it. The magical attacks have nice effects added to them and the game just reeks of beauty. The enemies are detailed and some of them are quite large and the boss battles are always amazing to look at. Also, the character designs and animation and everything just go so well together they pull you deeper into this world square enix have made. High quality stuff.

Now the soundtrack to this game still have a Final Fantasy feel to it, but what's interesting is it uses all old style instruments. Nothing heavy heard but the sounds of drum beats and whistling tunes and what even sounds like kazoos at times. The music is really good and matches with the style of the game and the world it's in. The sound effects of your sword slashing or the water flowing in a river near by all come off very nice. This company definitely knows the meaning of high production values.

The controls are spot on and are easy for anyone to pick up and play. You use the d-pad to walk around or control stick if playing single player. A button is your attack button and if you hold it you can charge up a attack or spell and B is used to pick items up. The L and R triggers switch between your spells and defend or whatever you have equipped to your command slots. That's pretty much it. Easy stuff.

I've played single player and multiplayer for many hours and I must say there both awesome fun. They both have there pluses and minuses. When playing single player you're doing everything on your own but you can fuse spells together and you don't have to worry about who gets what artifacts. You have pretty much control on everything but your all by yourself. In multiplayer you each use your GameBoy Advance and use this to look at letters and items and whatnot. Now while in dungeons you can go into your menu and while your teammates move your character will follow. Also, you each have a different screen on your GBA for your radar. Someone will have a map, another will have the treasure locations, someone will have the monster locations and someone will get the monster descriptions and this changes from section to section in levels so you have to communicate with your team. One interesting thing is you have to compete with everyone for the artifacts. At the beginning of each level you have on your GBA a goal and whoever performs this goal better, whether it be take damage or don't cast magic, gets first dibs on what they want at the end of the level and then who did next best gets next and so on and so forth. So it gets competitive but at the same time you cant beat having 2-4 people playing with you and talking, laughing , screaming and enjoying the game (and in personal experience when overcoming a really tough boss there is nothing better then screaming for victory and slapping your friends hands when you overcome it).

Now, there has to be some minor complaints and with any game there is. First off - the fact that you have to have a GameBoy Advance for multiplayer purposes is a bummer to a lot of people and while I find it not a problem, a lot of people do. If they had made it so that you didn't need the GBAs I feel more people would get the game. Also, in single player some might find it too repetitive and boring since there really isn't much of a story. Other then these few minor things I think the game is a blast and anyone should at least try it.

It might not be the deepest or biggest Final Fantasy game ever, but its a different take on the Final Fantasy game series. Final Fantasy has finally entered the word of hack and slash and they did a awesome job with it.

- - Justin Celani

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