Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles - GameCube

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Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Adventure: Role Playing
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Square Soft. Co.: Square
Publishers: Nintendo (GB)
Released: 8 Aug 2003 (JP)
12 Mar 2004 (GB)
9 Feb 2004 (US)
Ratings: PEGI 7+
Accessories: Memory Card
Connectivity: GC/GBA Link Cable


Over the past decade, the feud between Squaresoft and Nintendo has been one of the industry's more interesting tiffs. It saw Final Fantasy taken from Nintendo platforms, after which a disgruntled Nintendo president made his bitter feelings quite clear for some years to come. However, the two giants did get around to resolving their issues, and Square's best-selling franchise finally came back to Nintendo. Square's first Nintendo offering since Final Fantasy VI on SNES was Final Fantasy Tactics for GBA, but Nintendo loyalists and RPG enthusiasts alike demanded a full-on 3D adventure, and so Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was born.

In a world ravaged by plague, the people depend on a blessed crystal. In order for this crystal to maintain its sparkle and power, Mirula Droplets are constantly needed for replenishment, but these crystallised drops can only be found in the deepest, darkest caverns of a far-off dungeon. Every year, the Crystal Caravan must collect the precious Mirula Droplets, burdened with the fate of the villagers. This year, however, players and up to three friends must take the caravan that makes the vital excursion to save the villagers lives...

Mirula Droplets? Crystal Caravan? Okay, you'll probably agree that this is one of Final Fantasy's cheesier plots. In fact, as you'll quickly learn, the whole approach to this offering is quite different. We don't know if it's Nintendo's influence or a Square Enix strategy, but Crystal Chronicles is clearly aimed at a younger audience.

Crystal Chronicles is quite unlike the others in the FF series. Ditching millions of hit points, magic points and random battles, Crystal Chronicles is less complex with regards to its play mechanic. Here, players wander a cartoon-like 3D world - which happens to be beautifully rendered - hacking, slashing and casting spells along the way. Enemies can be spotted from a distance, and can normally be dispatched by means of several swipes of your sword. In this respect, there are similarities of Nintendo's own RPG series, The Legend of Zelda.

But things become a little different once magic is thrown into the equation. By defeating enemies and collecting items littered about the world in hidden chests, players can gain several types of "Magicite" that are used to enable various spells such as Fire, Ice and Cure. There are only several types of Magicite, giving the impression to those who haven't played it that there isn't much going on in the world of Crystal Chronicles. However, by means of a new "spell fusion" system, players can combine existing magicite to create a new, more powerful spell. There's a lot more to this game than meets the eye.

But what's most important in this particular Fantasy is the ability to partake in a multi-player adventure. It's a first for Final Fantasy, giving players the option to participate with three others in a co-operative adventure, similar in some ways to The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords. Players will have to combine their talents not only to defeat stronger bosses, but to solve new puzzles too. It's a great new feature that is implemented well and that complements Nintendo's values of multi-player gaming brilliantly.

In all honesty, Crystal Chronicles is a refreshing change from the norm. It might give ardent Final Fantasy fans a bit of a scare in the beginning, but persist and you'll become immersed in a hardcore RPG worth its weight in gold.