Review by discoinferno84
"Thoughts from a non-Final Fantasy fan..."
All right, so Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles has just come out. There's been a lot of debate over this game, and either side could be easily justified. So, how does the first Final Fantasy game for the Gamecube stack up? Let's have a look.
Note before reading this: I have never played a Final Fantasy game in depth in my life, except for Tactics Advance. However, I have played enough of the regular series to make some comparison.
Crystal Chronicles boasts four different races as playable characters. Each race has their own pros and cons, such as high attack power and low magic ability, vice versa, etc. Also, this game gives you the option of choosing your gender. You can also choose what occupation your family has, which will affect what items you will get later on in the game.
According to the story, the entire world is covered in a poisonous cloud of Miasma. The only way to get through your travels is to carry around the crystal chalice, which protects you from the miasma for a certain radius. Most of the time, your moogle companion will carry the chalice. Since the moogle follows you everywhere, it's kind of hard not to get out of the safety radius of the chalice. However, it is possible. And if you get outside of the protective area, your health will be gone in no time.
Crystal Chronicles does not have a turn-based battle system; it is live-action, real-time. Anyone who's ever played Phantasy Star Online will recognize the gameplay instantly. Unlike PSO, the battling is much more fluid and responsive. It's much easier to do button attack combos. Also, you can hold down the attack button for an amount of time, which will enable you to perform a Focus Attack. A Focus Attack lets your character dish out a more powerful, aimed attack on an enemy. However, when you charge up long enough, a small circle appears, which you need to move in order to aim the attack correctly. When first using the Focus Attack, the controls seem similar to the control setup of the game Pikmin. Same little circle for aiming your attack...In any case, you use the same controls for casting magic spells. Thankfully, the enemies don't move that fast, so getting a hit on an opponent isn't too daunting.
Now, for the part that everyone's been wondering about: The Gameboy Advance Connectivity. There are some that will complain about the issue of the GBA being required for multiplayer. However, using the GBA for independent screens was probably the best option the game developers had. The menus on the this game can be a little cumbersome, even in single-player mode. You have to press the Y button and sift through pages of menu to find what you're looking for. Now imagine four players doing this at once. There's no way that multiplayer would have been good if everyone had to stop and pause the game in order to get their equipment in order. That's why the GBA is required. Multiplayer would have been too time-consuming if everyone used the same screen. Now, some may bash the GBA Connectivity as a clever marketing ploy, but there's not really any other way multiplayer could have worked otherwise. Also, different screens on each GBA give different information. One GBA gets the dungeon map, another gets a scouter which can provide information about a monster, a monster locator, and a treasure chest locator. Not only does each player get to attend to their character independently, but also get the added bonus of useful information screens.
All right, I admit it. The first time I saw the preview for this game, I thought it looked ''kiddy''. However the story has a few darker undertones that convinced me otherwise. The world is covered in a poisonous cloud of Miasma. This Miasma is lethal unless kept at bay by the large crystals that are kept in every town. However, the crystal needs to be maintained. So, every year, the villages send out caravans in order to find myrrh, a substance that powers the protective crystals. It's your job to set out and find the myrrh, to save your village from certain death from the Miasma.
Graphics/Sound: Top notch. The water, the trees...everything here is astounding. The magic effects are brilliant, the character designs detailed. Even the moogle looks awesome. If you're into graphics, definitely give this game a look. Everything is so detailed. The music is...folksy. It's not terrible, but unless you like the sound of a lute and guitar strings in the background as you fight monsters, the music will get old fast.
I just got this game, but I've spent a little over an hour going through the first boss. I'm not too sure on how long this game lasts as far hours go. Even if this really is a multiplayer game, single-player mode can be fun and challenging. It really depends on what you want out of your game, and if you're willing to give a chance for something new.
Rent this game first. See if you like single-player mode. Or, if you have friends ready and waiting, give multiplayer a shot and see how the gameplay grabs you. If you like this game, stick with it. If you don't, that's your prerogative.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/04
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