Sixteen years after its original release, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered has arrived for a new generation. Is this Final Fantasy worth remastering, or should it have stayed on the GameCube?
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Review
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered starts with you creating a character and naming your home village. The world of Crystal Chronicles suffers from a deadly substance called Miasma. To prevent this from reaching civilization and killing everyone, settlements have a crystal that purifies the Miasma in the area. However, every year the crystal must be restored with a substance called Myrhh to absorb the Miasma again. This is where you come in handy.
You set out form your village with a caravan to collect Myrhh in your crystal chalice. Bosses protect the Myrhh, and each dungeon you clear will have a Myrhh tree waiting for you. At first, this is real quick, with each dungeon going for about 5-10 minutes. However, this quickly increases as the in-game years go by. Once you fill your chalice up entirely, you head back home, and your crystal is purified for another year. Then the next year you set out and do it again, with access to new areas and dungeons. The story can run you roughly 20-25 hours, depending on how much side content you do.
If you haven’t played crystal Chronicles before, you will be in for a shock. It isn’t like typical Final Fantasy games, opting for an action-based setup instead. That’s not the shock; the chalice radius will be the shock. You need to keep the chalice close to you so the Miasma doesn’t kill you, which means you have to fight in the chalice radius. In single-player, you have a Moogle that will carry it for you. In multiplayer, one of the players has to move it around and then drop it to fight. It is a system that didn’t work well to begin with, and time has only made things worse. This was the wrong design choice back then, and the remaster should have corrected it.
In single-player, it isn’t so bad because the Moogle carries it for you, and you fight in the radius. The Moogle moves as you move, so for the most part, you are clear. Had they implemented this in multiplayer, it would have been great. Instead, they decided to do nothing for the multiplayer but add online for dungeons. You can’t party up and travel the world together; you can just play dungeons together. The worst part is the fact that only the host gets the clear on the map. That means if you are playing multiplayer, you need to do the dungeon at least twice, or more if you are with a larger group. There are so many things they could have done to improve things, but instead the development team has left it as the archaic mess it already was.
Combat is another thing that hasn’t aged well. Using the D-pad, you switch between attacks, items, defending, and magic. So if you are in the middle of a fight and want to dodge, you have to switch off attack and select defined mid-combat. Again, merely implementing a permanent defense button would have gone a long way to improve this. Once you get past the old school layout, combat is pretty fun. Your basic combo does a lot of damage, and charged attacks add variety to the battles. There is also magic for those of you who prefer to be a mage.
Magic is usually a high point in Final Fantasy games, and Crystal Chronicles has one of the better systems in place. You don’t start with magic but find orbs that allow you to use magic in a dungeon (or for clear rewards later). The basic magic is bland, with players holding the button down and casting Blizzard, Fire, or whatever other spell of their choosing. It is when you fuse magic that the game becomes much more enjoyable. Fire and Ice make Gravity, double Fire makes Firaga, and so on. In multiplayer, this system is incredible. Four players putting down the same magic, and hitting the right timing can decimate enemies and looks awesome as well. The only downside is that you really need four players to maximize the system.
There is no leveling in Crystal Chronicles. Instead, you upgrade your gear and get relic rewards each time you beat a dungeon. Relic rewards for beating dungeons will give you increased stats, more HP, more command slots, or permanent magic, but you can only choose one. It is a system that incentivizes you to grind out areas to increase your stats more and more. During multiplayer, the highest score gets to pick their relic first, so there is a sprinkle of competitive gameplay as well. You can’t get the same relic twice, so even if you miss out on it once, you will likely get it again if you are in a group of people.
New equipment must be crafted via blueprints and materials. Your weapon will change appearance from time to time, but it always stays the same type. Your starter race determines what weapon you will be using. Armor also doesn’t change, but you can alter your appearance via Moogle stamps. As you explore, you can run into Moogle houses, and the Moogle inside will give you a stamp. After you get enough stamps, you can change into a different character. They are just NPCs you run into throughout the world, but the change-up is still nice.
Finally, I want to talk about just how annoying the random events are in the game. As you move around with your caravan, you will run into people on the road. This will trigger a cutscene, and you have to load in and out. You can’t skip these, and some of them are useless. For example, I paid a Yuke 10g for some advice, he didn’t say anything, and I was loaded back to the map. To top it off, every time you exit these cutscenes, it asks you if you want to check your journal. The same thing happens with when you first clear a dungeon, leave a new town, or do anything of significance. After I say no 50 times in a row, maybe the game should get the point. If I want to check the journal, I know where to find it.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered can only be recommended to the most die-hard of Final Fantasy fans, and only if they play in its single player mode. Those looking to play multiplayer with friends are going to be sorely disappointed.
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