Review by EhowusTheBrave

"Back to Nintendo, and with innovation"

After a harsh, long departure from the Nintendo system, Square-Enix (formerly Squaresoft) decided to invest a project on the Nintendo system. With this, Square-Enix applied the resources available to them: a console with excellent graphics capabilities and the connectibility between two systems. Despite Square-Enix's reputation for making excellent role-playing games, the company wanted something different for the Nintendo system; this is called Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

Some may categorize this game as a role-playing game, which it is, to a certain extent. Its true nature, despite ''Final Fantasy'' appearing in the title, is an action/semi-role-playing genre. The A and B buttons will run the show, though confusing at first, becomes effective when playing. The L and R switch between commands and items, which again, can be a task in the beginning, but is effective in the long run. The GBA screen will run all your menu tasks, which can be awkward at times, but leaves the main screen open for full action for your partners. Each player is assigned one of four tools in dungeons: map, treasure map, enemy map, and the enemy weakness guide. Attacks can be ''focused'' and time with your teammates using cursors, which result in powerful attacks. Many of these gameplay elements emphasize communication between your party members.

In game, hearts are used to determine health. A little Zelda-esque, but it does the job well. Magicite can be infinitely used until the end of each stage, which is convenient and effective. The chalice which keeps your party together is a nice touch, as it adds a purpose to keeping the party together and again, promotes communication and teamwork.

Creating your character is a task on its own, from choosing which tribe (Clavat, Yuke, Selkie and Lilities), to in choosing which profession your family excels. After each dungeon, you will receive mail from your family and you can interact with them back, which affects what items you may obtain from them later on.

The level-up system is much different, as at the end of each level, you choose an artifact to keep that will permanently boost of your attributes (i.e. strength, magic, carrying capability, hearts, etc.). The order of who chooses first is determined by a special task given to each player at the beginning of the dungeon (i.e. inflict damage, use focus attacks, take magical damage, etc.). This is an interesting element to playing this game, as it heavily affects gamers who are item-oriented and will do many means to achieve their goal. While items are dropped by monsters and found in chests, new equipment is forged at blacksmiths using raw materials and ''recipes'' found in dungeons. This is not standard to any role-playing game; increasing your statistics can be a long and harsh road.

The game is challenging with some harsh enemies and bosses, but an overall good experience when playing with many people. The single-player lacks the excitement and companionship which this game emphasizes thoroughly.

Absolutely beautiful and stunning. This game is easy on the eyes, with excellent spell animations, character model detail, and gorgeous environments. Every level has a unique atmosphere, with well done enemies and bosses. The only reason why Final Fantasy should remain in the title is for its personification of Final Fantasy (mainly IX and XI). Quality-wise, only Resident Evil can surpass FF:CC's graphics.

The music is subtle and well composed, but sadly forgettable. Not to say that it isn't good music, but it could have been better. The sound effects are also up to par, though it is hard to judge whether there could have been much improvement to them. The lack of voice-acting is fine, as it would have diminished the quality of everything else. Overall, the sound gets the job done.

Sad to say, but there is little plot to these crystal caravans. An in-depth, single-player mode story line would have been excellent, but you cannot expect much from this type of game.

Bottom line:
This is an excellent multi-player game, if all your friends have readily available GBAs (including yourself) along with the chords. I do not recommend this game if you do not own the pre-requisite equipment to play it. I also do not recommend this for single-players, because the true heart of the game lies in the multi-player. Square-Enix did an excellent job innovating and using their resources. I highly recommend Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles to those with GBAs, good friends, and much free time on their hands.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/11/04

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