Guest review by: Geoff Osman
For the first time in years, Square has finally come back to the Nintendo home console with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. This multiplayer RPG is a very original concept and intuitive in nature. However, this acts much like a double-edged sword. First off, this isn’t your typical Final Fantasy game. In fact, the only thing Final Fantasy about it is the recognizable creatures from other FF games.
Let me start off with the game itself. Square has created a four-player RPG that plays much like Gauntlet Legends. Single player is played with just a controller, while multiplayer utilizes the Game Boy Advance-to-GameCube link with a Game Boy Advance unit. Yes, you use the Game Boy as your controller. At first this seems a little awkward, but after playing with other people you begin to understand why this was necessary. With the Game Boy, you have two screens. Your Game Boy screen allows you to go through your inventory quickly and easily, is great for mid-fight changes, and shows stuff that would otherwise clutter the main screen, like letters and your map. This is really good, because it keeps the game moving. Instead of having to wait for each player to read and reply to their letters one at a time on the TV, like in single player, you can all do it at once on your Game Boys.
Each player has a unique map. One person might see just monsters, while another will just see treasure. The idea is to work together for the common good of beating the level. There are many areas where teamwork is needed. In order to create more powerful and unique spells, you need to cast spells that merge with other people. This adds a lot to the fun of multiplayer. There are four different races to choose from, all with their unique attributes. There are also jobs that will affect what your family can do for you and your caravan. There is also the Chalice that must be carried with you at all times. Even though it is annoying and tedious to lug around, I believe it adds to the challenge of working together.
Graphically, this game looks amazing. Square never disappoints in their jaw-dropping visuals. This game has no FMVs, and all cut-scenes are in-game. Still, the game has beautiful graphics.
The sounds, which Square also never disappoints in, is also superb. The music is classic to the game, and the sound effects are awesome to behold.
Now that I have said everything great about this game, let me turn to the bad. It actually feels like Square kind of half-assed this game in many different areas. For instance, trying to get many people from different memory cards to play together is a long and extremely annoying task of sending people over as a guest. Then there is the fact that when you transfer over, you don’t get to keep anything you find except the leveling up artifacts This is such a load of crap, since you could have found a kick-ass sword but know you are going to lose it once you transfer your character back.
Another problem is the controls. They are way too complicated for the simplistic GBA set-up. In order to pull off some of the better spells, the timing is a factor, and this can be really tedious and annoying, especially in a boss battle. There is also little want to play by yourself after you have played with others or have beaten the game. The game was definitely made for multiplayer, and not single. This is evident in one level, where some of the puzzles are down-right impossible to do in single player. This shows the lack of care Square put into some of the features of this game. I could go on and on about how you can give people your old weapons and armor if they need it, or even sell them for cash, or how the inventory is very cluttered and it lacks simplicity, but that would take forever. This definitely drops the fun level, even though the game itself is fun… you know what I mean.
Anyway, overall, it’s a fun game to play, but it isn’t anything stellar, and it has some ugly sides. If you really enjoy games like Gauntlet Legends, then I may suggest you rent before you buy to see how you like it. I also know that no matter what I say, FF fans are still going to want to get their hands on this game. Really, it had much more potential than Square gave the game. I think I’ll end with that… potential.