Review by Linkmaster12

Reviewed: 02/22/04

A successful return to the fantasy, in Final Fantasy

I remember back when I was about 7. I loved video games; I had played Ultima and Legend of Zelda for a couple years, and was ready to expand my resume a bit. I also had this thing about medieval times; the period just fascinated me. So when I walked through the video store, and I saw Final Fantasy II for the SNES (although it was really 4) and I looked at the back. When I saw the cool looking knight standing on top of a medieval castle, I couldn’t refuse picking it up. That is when it all began. Those were the good days. Since FF5 though, Square has gone after a more realistic look at things. In 6, there were these machines, and guns, it was the start of the realistic phase. In the 7th edition it only got worse, now the only swords that are huge, and people have-gun arms. In VIII there were buildings that could fly, not by magic, but with an engine, and you go into space, on a space ship! I think in IX and X they realized this, and tried to return to their roots, but in X-2 it got worse again. Now, in Crystal Chronicles, there is no technology to speak of, and it is better than ever, making for a successful return to Nintendo.

Gameplay: 9/10
Not only does Crystal Chronicles mark the return to Nintendo, it also marks the first action game with a Final Fantasy name on a home consol. You can choose the name for every character, and there are 32 different character models to choose from, divided into race/gender. You can even use special character in your names now! The biggest change it the dungeon crawl though. Now, as I said, it is action-based. So you have to try and evade enemy attacks, and counter with a combo or special attack, just like any other action game. It is hard to explain why, but it seems better than most action games though… Perhaps it is simply because any enemy can kill you if you aren’t careful, you don’t take 5000 hits to die, and the actions are so well co-coordinated. This may not make sense to you, but after playing the game for a while you will probably see what I mean. Part of the reason it seems so good is likely because of the strong fantasy aspect, it seems almost like a dream… Once again, hard to convey what I mean. I only took a point off because the action menu is annoying. You set actions on the action menu, and you select what action to do by scrolling the menu with R/L and performing the action with A. Of this can be good in moderation, but they couldn’t just set defend to Z or something, half the buttons aren’t used!

Story: 6/10
The game has very little story in itself, more of a history. Being an action game, very little story happens in game. Basically they give you the history of the world, a meteor struck the world, and because of that a mist called Miasma covered the world. The miasma was deadly, destroy organisms that touched it, and because of the miasma, monsters appeared. When all seemed lost, the crystals were discovered. They had the power to ward off the mist, and allow them to live their lives. These crystals blessing were not eternal however. Travelers would have to go out every year in caravans in search of drops of Myrrh, which could be used to restore the crystals blessing, until next year. The Myrrh trees would only wield another drop, however in two years, meaning that a tree that was used one year, could not be used the next, and another tree must be found. So basically you just assume the role of the caravan, and must find drops of Myrrh each year so that your village can go on.

Music/SFX: 10/10
I love the sounds that come out of this thing. The music isn’t the most memorable stuff, but the second you start hearing it again, you will start humming along with it. It really does a good job utilizing softer instruments, like flute, xylophone etc. The sound effects are good to, like the sound of a sword connecting and a goblin yelping is well done. The narrator’s voice, while only used to introduce a new dungeon, is very well done. It has a lot of expression, and sounds very believable.

Visual/Graphics: 9/10
I have said through the ages, that graphics don’t make a game, but here is different. While the graphics don’t necessarily make the game, they certainly don’t take away from it. The first dungeon, River Belle Path, is just as beautiful as the narrator makes it out to be. The spell graphics, while not as big and impressive as past titles (probably because there is no Ultima spell) are still very good in the eye candy section. There is virtually no clipping graphics, and everything just looks so amazing! The graphics aren’t even supposed to be one of the selling points of this game, like in FF X but they are even better than in X in my opinion. I think when they don’t try and make the graphics look so realistic; they often get a better result.

Replay: 7/10
Through the ages, Final Fantasies have not always done so good in this category, due to their length. Once you have played a game for 30-60 hours (at least) you won’t usually want to jump up and play through it again. Specially since you would know exactly what to do in every occasion, and where everything is. This game is a bit of an exception. Because there are 4 different races, you may want to play trough as each race, because each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, they all have different strategies that work. Not only that, but there is so much, seemingly randomness, in the game, that it would take you many hours to figure out how it actually works. However, once you find out what some of the tricks are behind these things, truth be told, it does start to get boring. So what do you do then? Go through the game four more time and write a FAQ! By then you should have completely mastered every aspect of the game, and be sooooooo sick and tired of it that you want to vomit. Or you could just beat it once, whatever works for you.

Overall: 9/10
I guess Square (oh ya, and Enix) finally clued in and put the “fantasy” back in final fantasy. Good move by them! Chopping people up with a sword is just so much more fun than pulling out a gun and saying, “BAMBAM! Two bullets in the chest, tour dead.” I guess that this game would be strong evidence that final fantasy looks the best when it is beside Nintendo. It manages to maintain excellent graphics, make the best music since Final Fantasy VII, maintain aspects of prior games, create an action-based adventure, and thoroughly please me! Good job SquareEnix, may you entertain me for years to come.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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