Review by bAc0Nb0Y

"A review that tells it like it is. CC is a touch of brilliance with a few minute errors."

Well, it finally happened. Square finally made it back to the core Nintendo system. It's been so long since any of us have embraced the glory that is a Nintendo/Square union. I remember when this game was first announced. I was fired up because I had wanted a Square game back on a Nintendo system from the very beginning of N64. Alas, it wasn't to be. I'll also be the first to admit that when I discovered it wasn't the ''mainstream'' FF I was very disappointed. However, after letting go my reservations I prepared myself for a fantastic game. Did this one succeed in its quest to impress me? Lets see.

Graphics: 9/10

Graphics first because they're almost always what you notice first. The graphics on this game are SPECTACULAR. Honestly, they are amazing. I would, in all honesty, put this at the top of the available GCN games at this time. It may get some competition from Metroid Prime or Wind Waker, but it's the definitive style of the game that helps to push it ahead of the rest. All of it has an old rustic/Celtic feel to it. The water effects are amazing, along with the spell effects. I particularly love casting Thunder, or getting it fused to make Thundara(more on this later.) However, why not a 10? Quite honestly, there is a little slow down during the heavier moments(or boss battles.) While this slow down is minute, it's still slowdown. I dunno, I figured we were past these kinds of problems as I've yet to really see anything like this for awhile. However, said slowdown is DEFINITELY not anything to quip about.

Music/Sound: 9.5/10

As with most FF games, the audio is top notch. Songs on this game lean more towards the Legend of Mana/Secret of Mana games. However, that type of music is really the better suitor for this game. Lots of wind instruments and strange foreign stringed instruments. None of the music is really made to get you pumped up for battle, so much as to be entertaining without being distracting. My only slight complaint is that the initial world map music can get a tad annoying if left to play for a little bit. As my brother said, ''Can you turn that down, the flute is giving me a headache.'' Otherwise, great sauce.

The sound effects(bashes, slashes, spells, roars, cries, splashes, etc.) are all very well done as well. Everything sounds completely in place and is executed at all the right times.

Story: 8/10

Our story for this outing is a simple one. Of course, I won't reveal spoilers so I'll keep it to just about what everyone knows. The world is covered by a strange fog called Miasma. This fog is deadly to all living inhabitants(save for those birthed in it...and moogles.) Each town/city/house that can't live in it must have a Myrrh crystal to keep the deadly fog at bay. However, each year the Myrrh crystals lose their luster, and thusly begin to lose power. Therefore, every year, adventurers must be sent out to find myrrh dew. This dew falls from Myrrh trees, and only drops once every few years. The dew, when enough is collected, is then added to the crystal inside the respective village, and the Crystal is then renewed and the fog is held at bay for another year. The problem is, the crystal needs to be renewed each year, but the trees don't produce dew every year. So, the adventurers must continue to go farther and farther away to find dew.

There are approximately four different selectable races. Clavats who are masters of defense. Lilties who are masters of offense. Yukes who are masters of magic. Selkies who are masters of agility. All get little bonuses to their respective stats and what they're good at(i.e. Yukes cast magic faster, over a longer distance, with greater power. Selkies charge attacks faster, over longer distance.) Each different race has their respective males/females with four different outfits for each one. Thusly there are 32 different character models available. Not bad really. There should be enough difference between all of them to make the most avid rpger...remotely...happy.

That's the story in a nutshell. It's not a bad story, however it doesn't exactly get as IN DEPTH as you would think a FF game would be accustomed to. However, with this game, the focus really isn't on the story as much as it's on the game itself. I gave it an 8/10 because, while it could have been better, it was as good as it could be for a multiplayer RPG where the characters are made by the user.

Gameplay Single: 8.5/10

FFCC is basically a hack/slash RPG(LoM or SoM stylie.) You explore ''dungeons'' in search of money, artifacts, designs, materials, and the blood of your enemies(tee hee hee). Along the way, you can pick up magic spheres that enable you to cast different types of spells. These spheres(depending upon single or multiplay) can then be combined with other spells/spheres to make better attacks. For example: If your friend Bob starts to cast Blizzard, you start to cast Fire, you can both aim at the same spot. If you release at the same time the spell will combine and a Gravity spell will be unleashed. Other such spell combinations exist along with attack/spell combinations like Fire Strike or Thunder Strike.

You can also charge up your regular attacks for a little distance combat along with added UMPH. Combine said attack with a spell(multi only...unless the moogle helps...doubtful) and you get a lot more UMPH.

I've decided to split the gameplay section into two different sections because this game can be played either way while still having lots of fun. Obviously, this game is touted as being a Multiplayer that aspect is better. However, not everyone has friends(tee hee hee) or multiple GBA's(not so tee hee hee.)

The key differences between single and multi(aside from friends playing) is the moogle. On multi, you don't get one. On single, he/she's there to
A. Carry around the Myrrh chalice.
B. Spell fuse with you.
C. Offer words of encouragement like ''Oh no!'' and ''Kupo!''
Honestly, that's the only major difference between the two(other than some odd spell fusion stuff.) The moogle is a nice help as he stays with you quite nicely while carrying the Chalice. He is controlled simply by the X button(when using the GCN controller.) Double tap X and he'll drop/pick up the chalice. If he isn't holding it he'll occasionally spell fuse with your spells or charge attacks. If you hold x he'll move as close to you as possible. Other than that he just follows you around.

Another difference is that on single, you can equip different spell spheres and then fuse them on the menu to get different types of spells. This is made possible because, well...there's noone to fuse with on single player. It'd suck not being able to cast gravity because the moogle won't do it with you. So, they eliminated the middle man on single mode and made it so you can equip the spells so long as you have the appropriate spheres to accomplish it.

Also, leveling up is handled a bit differently between the two and a LOT differently from any other FF game. You don't level up in this game so much as you gather artifacts that can increase your stats. On single, these are found throughout the levels. However, you can only choose an artifact once you've beaten a level and only once/victory. Better artifacts are acquired through better following of the bonus points guidelines. The bonus points guideline will be at the bottom of your map screen. Following the rule they provide will net you more points, which nets you better artifacts, which ''levels'' you up faster.

Gamplay Multiplay: 9.5/10

Honestly, this is where it's at on this game. The multiplay is KEY, and OH so good. It's just a large amount of fun to whoop ass with your friends. However, Square went to extra mile by encouraging teamwork. Everyone is required to have a GBA to play multiplay. Since everyone has their own little screen, everyone gets a different map. Depending on how many people are playing there are three different maps. The area map, which shows where to go or the general paths available. The monster map, which shows if there are monsters nearby. The monster guide, which shows how much life a respective monster has along with its general weaknesses and strengths. There may be a fourth, but I don't have another person to play with. As far as I knew, there wasn't. However, as much as the different maps encourage teamwork, the Bonus Points guideline encourages people to be sneaky. As I explained in the single player section, following your B.P. guideline nets you points towards better artifacts. However, in multiplayer there's a twist. Whoever nets the most Bonus Points will also get first dibs on the artifacts available. I'll admit, this seemed kinda pointless in the beginning. However, later on when the really good artifacts start popping's hard NOT to be competetive for that +3 to Magic artifact.

Also, on multiplay spell fusions can ONLY happen when timing and placement with a team mate is used. Single play allows you to combine spheres in the menu, but not here my friend. Here, you have to ask for help and set up strategies. This is part of what makes the game so fun. If you wanna hit a boss with Fira, you've gotta get you and a team mate in position while having someone else distract the monster long enough to get the spell going. It gets very hectic, but it's also very rewarding to pull off. You can also combine a spell with a friend's charged attack for a much stronger charge attack. However, the timing is a little different.

My only qualm with multiplay is the requirement. Yeah, you have to have one GBA/person to play it. This, quite frankly, sucks if you don't have friends with GBAs. If you do, more power to you, you're saving a lot of money. If you don't, be prepared to lay down another 150 bucks to play this game the way it was meant to be played. However, knowing full well that the price sucks....I also know that this is the only way this game could have been made, and made well. Split screen, menus on screen, etc. just would NOT have worked. Honestly, that kind of crap barely works for Phantasy Star Online. However, how they have it set up on this game is NEAR Perfect. The other problem with the gameplay element here is that with each new area you visit you MUST find the spells all over again. Now, at first, this seems tolerable. However, what really sucks is that every time you find a new item that you want to use, you need to jump into the menu...reset your command list, and jump back out. I've yet to encounter really...really hectic levels, but I can imagine much crying and shaking of fist will be involved when I do.

Controls: 9/10

This, my friends, was the department I was most worried about coming into this game. ''GBAs ONLY for multiplayer? Say wha!?!?!'' Yeah, I'm sure we all experienced this, and I'm also sure it's something that MIGHT be keeping you from buying this game. So, lets put it to rest. It WORKS. It WORKS SPECTACULARLY. The controller presents no problems that I can think of while playing this game. All the buttons do their part and do it well. A attacks, B picks things up, L and R cycle through commands, select accesses menus, and start pauses the game. The only thing I'm not too sure about is how well the hands do with an SP. I had to buy my own systems so I opted for the cheap used regular GBAs which can be bought for around 40 dollars at most. The control pad, while not an analog stick, also works very well. The only problem, you guessed it, is battery usage. If you didn't guess should. However, most Game stores have AC adaptors for GBAs. I HIGHLY recommend getting these. Sure, you'll have extra cables, but you'll save a lot of cash in the long run.

Overall: 9/10
Yeah. I really do like this game. Heck, I love it. It's my first offline, multiplayer RPG that doesn't require a split screen. Everything about this game, thus far, is awesome. I've never run into anything that would make me dislike it, while constantly noticing little things that make me like it even more. I honestly, suggest a rental for every game before buying because it makes more sense in the long term. However, make sure you play the multiplayer. It's far too fun to pass up. It's also far too funny that the Lilties, the most diminutive race in the game used to rule the world with an iron fist. Don't know what I'm talking about? Rent the game. It's too funny.

Rent or Buy: Rent. Always rent first. BUT PLAY THE MULTIPLAYER.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/11/04

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