Review by RVD182
"Truly one of the Gamecube's best"
''Final Fantasy'' and ''Nintendo''; two names that haven't been on the same console gamebox in ages. When Crystal Chronicles was first announced, many were skeptical as to how the game would turn out. Something that only existed in rumors then were now a reality. Months have passed since then and the game has been released. How did it turn out? Read on.
The core essence of a game, the gameplay in Crystal Chronicles doesn't seem very Final Fantasy-esque. For example, there is no level system, meaning your character does not gain levels after defeating enemies/bosses, etc. Instead, after beating a level, you get to choose an ''Artifact''; which can increase one of your stats (Attack, Defense, Magic) or give you an extra command slot or more health.
The combat system is fairly simple. You can pull off a maximum of a 3-hit combo by tapping the 'A' button consecutively after each attack animation. Easy enough. The magic system however, requires some experimentation to get the most out of it. There are 3 main offensive spells; Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder. The spells are often dropped by enemies after you defeat them, in orb-form. If you find more than one, you can 'Fuse' them together to make a stronger magic attack. You can fuse a maximum of three of the same orbs. For example: Fire + Fire = Fira, and Fire + Fire + Fire = Firaga. You can also fuse one magic type with another to create new spells. It's a solid formula. Nothing bad, but certainly nothing incredibly inventive or anything that hasn't been done before.
Ah, the graphics, the eyecandy, the cornea-gasms. To describe the graphics in one word: Gorgeous. This game is a joy to look at. The character models, while not incredibly detailed, are well done. The environments and levels sport some of the best scenery I've ever seen in a video game. Rivers and oceans flow with fluidity with light bouncing off of each and every wave. The particle effects....aww, man...the particle effects; it's definately one of those things you have to see in action. When crossing miasma streams, your Crystal Chalice emits a giant, transparent, sphere-shaped force field around your main character; Tis truly a beauty. Triple-fused Spells are also very well done. Your character, the enemies, items, and every other object cast a clear shadow, which isn't something that'd penalize the score if excluded, but it just shows how polished the game really is. One of the best looking titles on the Nintendo Gamecube.
There is a mysterious poisonous vapor that, when touched, would kill any being in site. The only thing able to repel this poisonous vapor are Crystals, which can usually be found in every single village. However, these crystals eventually run out of 'gas' and need to be replenished year, after year. To refill the Crystal in the village, someone must travel to certain areas (or levels), slay a bunch of monsters, defeat a usually enormous boss at the end, to retrieve droplets from Myrrh Trees. Yep, that 'someone' is you. Isn't that just super?
One of the main trademarks of Squaresoft-developed Final Fantasy games have always been an epic, spell-binding story. Although that might not be the case with Crystal Chronicles, there is still a story; a fairly good one I might add. You just have to look for it. The plot isn't handed to you in beefed-up, 10 minute long FMV's like in previous Final Fantasy's. Instead, the story comes in the form of text; by talking to your parents, fellow caravan-riders, villagers, etc. Also, you keep track of a 'diary'. After an event occurs on the road, its recorded in your diary. At the end of each year, all of the diary entries that were recorded during that year are retold.
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles boasts one of the finest in-game soundtracks I've ever heard. Each tune sets the mood of the area or level. In the Mines of Cathuriges, the song sets off an eerie feeling of lonliness and despair and you can feel the enemy coming closer with every step you take. In the Fields of Fum (quite possibly, my favorite track), you get some of that summer time nostalgia. It's almost like poetry has taken on the form of music. One of the best aspects of the game.
Sound effects are a little above average at best; nothing really special. There's the 'CLINK' and 'CLUNK' whenever you smack an enemy over the head with a weapon. This area could be improved, I suppose, but it definately does not detract from the game.
Replay Value: 9/10
This game is one of those kind of games that, literally, never end. The beauty of the game is that as years go on, and as you progress throughout the game, the environment grows with you. River systems experiance droughts, monsters and bosses grow stronger, the list goes on. Of course, there's always the never-ending struggle to find the Ultimate Weapon for your character or to try to improve his/her stats, or to collect every artifact, or to get the highest bonus score possible for each level, etc. Replay, really, is limitless.
Don't look at Crystal Chronicles like any other Final Fantasy game. Enjoy it for what it truly is; one helluva good dungeon crawler. And if you take the time to really look for a story, you will find one. There's nothing this game can't do. You want story progression? Check. You want character progression? Check. You want mind-boggling graphics? Check. You want cool-lookin' swords, lances, and other weapons? Check. You want an incredible soundtrack with each song doing an excellent job at fitting the given environment? Check aanndd...check. A whole slew of monsters? Check. An enjoyable cast of playable character classes? Check. An enjoyable cast of good-looking female playable character classes? Check =P You get the point. I'm only playing Single Player so far, and I'm having a blast. And with multiplayer (up to four, which everyone must use a Gameboy Advance as a controller), it can only get better. There's no such thing as a perfect game, but Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles comes very close.
Buy or Rent: Rent if you're still not sure, even after reading this review, but just give it a try. That's the least you can do. Just give this great title a chance.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 03/06/04
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