Review by Auron255
"Nintendo's FINAL Fantasy...Final Fantasy IX: The Remake"
Unfortunately, this game has been hit by the ''get rich quick'' bug, and infected with the connectivity disease that Nintendo insistently incorporates into almost everything for the GameCube. Even though this game stands on it's own ground, separate from every other Final Fantasy in the series, it's obvious this game has some flaws, but is also a decent game if you don't think about the ''Final Fantasy'' in the title.
This game is definately not story driven, nor is it in any way compelling. The story begins, and ends, with the collecting of myrrh to bring back the brilliance of the crystals of each individual town, specifically, Tida, your hometown. This is the obvious catch, and where the game get's it's name Crystal Chronicles. From start to finish the game revolves around collecting myrrh from myrrh trees, and bringing it back to Tida, through and through, for many ''years''. This is your goal, and the purpose is to protect yourself from a deadly miasma, which engulfed the entire planet...for some reason; (really, it's never explained). Your protection from this, crystals, no surprise there. The story isn't cut-scene driven, and there are absolutely no side plots, or anything puzzling in the story. It really is a true hack n' slash story. This game falls just below average: Not enough to consider it an RPG story, and too much for a mindless slasher game, so it gets points for trying to be something it isn't.
Before you jump from your seats and scream at the score, you must realize, there is good reason for the low score.
First, the good: This game has the best water effects, and reflection images in any FF game to date. It truly shines when you look at the detail and glimmer of the water and fountains, mainly because this game revolves so tightly around liquid, ie: myrrh. The moogles are fairly well designed with every hair on their body being drawn, to give an authentic fuzzy appearance. The character models are smooth, and textures are unbelieveable, so much so, that you'll wonder if this is on a next-gen console and not the GC. Now, the bad.
Whatever your opinion on the graphical quality of this game, there is no disputing that this game is truly a recycling of old FF, combined with uninspired game design and logical order.
More than half of the monster models, are taken directly from Final Fantasy IX. The malboro, the sahagins, the behemoths, the iron giants, the buers, and many of the smaller less significant enemies like the Blazer beetles, and the Mu's...though some are given different names to hide the resemblance. Any Final Fantasy vet will know this game is a rehash of everything that was in Final Fantasy IX. Even some significant characters make a return in this shoddy ''remake''. NPC moogles Artemicion and Stiltzkin make a big come back, but it is less interesting as it sounds. Instead of creating unique, and interesting characters, the Final Fantasy IX formula is followed and copied to a ''T'', only without the professionalism that FFIX displayed. If you've played FFIX, and made it to Memoria, you'll have fought a lot of Iron Giants. If you take the model for the Iron Giant in FFIX, and pasted it into a next-gen console (with a polygon revamp and smoothed edges) you'll see no difference, which not only shows a lack of inspiration, but sheer laziness on both Square Enix's and Nintendo's part.
For being truly uninspired, and to a greater degree, a simple revamp of the FFIX formula (super deformed characters and all), this game can not be granted anything, absolutely nothing.
The gameplay is probably the best part of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. The game is a real-time action RPG, where there are no menus to navigate, and only your weapon and magic to weild. You button mash the A button to get a combo going, and you hold A to perform your special attack. Though both pail in comparison to the magic system. With the removal of magic points, and actual magic spells, you must conjure up fire, thunder, blizzard and cure spells with magicite orbs. Fusing these orbs result in spells like Holy, Gravity, Slow, and Haste. Each with their own upgrades, like Holyra, Gravira, Sloga, Hastega, etc. Even though the magic system provides something unique to Final Fantasy, the sheer number of spells is nothing, even compared to Final Fantasy I (if you exclude Mystic Quest...meh), which had the fewest spells of any FF game before Crystal Chronicles. Even though the battle system shows some innovation, it doesn't follow the Final Fantasy formula, which every other installment in the series has incorporated, which completely takes away from the FF vibe.
The camera system goes both ways. During small intertwined cut-scenes on your carvan, the camera angles are dynamic and give a good view on the situation. The dungeon camera is pitiful. The view is sometimes too close, it hides behind objects which blocks the view of an enemy, and since there are no more random battles, the enemies could be shooting arrows or throwing rocks from a distance, and you won't be able to see them, therefore, are unable to counterattack.
Speaking of dungeons, your main source of protection from the miasma, is a portable chalice which contains a crystal which creates a magic fish-bowl of breathable air, and the only means by which you can travel in this world...which hasn't been given a name for some reason. Your moogle will carry this for you in single player mode, though there is one problem...the moogle is useless. Your character runs faster than your moogle can fly, so you'll find your character making sudden jerks and shudders as you try to allow your moogle to keep up with you. Often, the moogle will get stuck, while you're still running, and bring you face to face with the miasma...not good, since touching the miasma will damage you. Though it is a good idea in theory, the practicality of it in this game is just plain absent.
Even though the gameplay is very sub-par, there is something addicting, something that drives you to keep going, whether it be the smooth look and graphical quality of the game, or the interesting magic you can perform, there is nothing in the practical application of the game that sets it apart from everything else, including Gauntlet and Baldur's Gate.
I have given the multiplayer it's own section, due to the fact that this game is multiplater driven. The multiplayer is much better than the single player experience, and is actually a blast to play with friends. The only problem, good luck getting people together to play this game, because it requires a GBA for each person playing in multiplayer. Not only do they need a GBA, they also need a link cable, which can run up to 150 bucks in total, depending on where you live, and whether you get a used GBA and link cable. This game just plain doesn't work with the GBA, so you're forced to use the GBA SP, so that the backlight can make the screen actually visible. In my own experience, I had to go buy a second GBA just so I could play this game with a friend of mine. Not only was this costly, it was unnecessary, as the game is far more fluid with the GC controller, and there is no difference between using the GBA or the GC controller. Only the use of maps and inventory are displayed, and those could have easily been displayed on screen, as there is no heads-up-display, and there are no menus.
This game is very fun in multi-player. Not in a deep, or intriguing kind of way, but in a, get-together-with-your-buddies for a good time kind of way. But because of the sheer inaccessibility of the the multiplayer (ONLY available to people with GBA's), and the cumbersome effect that the GBA has on the actual gameplay experience, not to mention the camera angles will make the game seem crowded with four people, this game get's very little credit in terms of multiplayer, and we have Nintendo and their not-so-brilliant idea to import GBA connectivity into everything they produce.
They work. They are easily adjusted to, I just wish the multiplayer used the GC controller, rather than forcing the gamer to fumble with a GBA; and no matter what anyone says, no matter what any Nintendo official says, it is more than possible to have the GC controller used, and have all menus on screen.
The musical score is done by the same person that has done Final Fantasy XI, so it comes a suprise to see such a poor quality score in this game. Every musical piece sounds exactly like the last, maybe with a different tempo, or the substitution of a bass drum for a timpani, but nothing too different or pleasing. It's especially noticeable in this game, because there are no voice actors. This game makes us respect the hard work that went into Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX. Without voice acting, those games relied heavily on a damn good soundtrack, and catchy, yet musically professional and ornate theme song...which this game doesn't have. Without voice actors, the audio quality of this game plummets as the flaws in the music become more apparent.
Reaplay Value 0/10
There is no reason to replay this game. There are absolutely no side quests, and no secrets to unlock or obtain. There are no secret endings, and nothing really special in using the 4 different races offered in this game. If this game were something to gawk at, there might be some reason to keep playing this, but since it is so average, and mindlessly mediochre, I can't find any reason to suggest you play this more than once.
Final Verdict 5/10
With an interesting combat system, and excellent graphical appeal, as well as gameplay that is pretty easy pick-up and go, this game gives some good reasons as to why we are still thinking about Crystal Chronicles.
But with a complete rehash on everything from Final Fantasy IX, a flawed presentation and practicality of gameplay, as well as one of the worst scores for an FF game, this game is average. It's mediochre, and barely passes an RPG, while throwing away the Final Fantasy formula, and rewriting it, with only one thing in mind...money.
You can blame Nintendo for this game, as most of the flawed design elements were forced upon Square Enix by Nintendo. Either way, this game, may make itself into your collection, but think of it as the lost Final Fantasy, the Final Fantasy you never wanted, but are strangely addicted to. Hopefully, we won't see FF on the Nintendo consoles anymore, as we now know, Square Enix has produced some of it's best work for the Final Fantasy series on the Playstation and Playstation 2.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 02/11/04
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