Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Review (PS4)
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a spin-off/companion game outside the main Final Fantasy series. Released in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube, it marked the first return of Final Fantasy to a Nintendo console since Final Fantasy VI.
This Final Fantasy game features many new gameplay elements previously unseen in Final Fantasy, like real time fighting, as well as being the first RPG to incorporate GameCube-Game Boy Advance compatibility. The music was scored by Kumi Tanioka.
A remastered edition was originally scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and major mobile platforms on January 23, 2020 and was later pushed back to Summer 2020, citing a desire to deliver a complete product to fans. On May 28, 2020, Square Enix set a final release date of August 27, 2020 while noting that variance may occur in mobile ports. It will be a digital-only release in North America.
Having played the original on Gamecube when it was first released I was interested in seeing what changes were made to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles to modernize and improve the game. I spent quite a bit of time playing this game with my friends all linked up with their gameboy advance link cables, and I thought wow, this should make multiplayer so much easier. But I will get to that later.
In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, players assume the role of various characters who must venture out into the wilderness in a caravan to protect their village from a poisonous gas cloud known as the Miasma that engulfs the entire world. They must find magical trees called Myrrh trees out in the wilderness.
These trees produce one droplet of Myrrh every two game years, meaning the caravans must explore more of the world to replenish their supply of myrrh. Three droplets are needed every year to purify the town’s crystal, which wards off miasma. The trees are guarded by a host of creatures bent on killing the caravanners. The passage of time plays an important role in the game, for as the years progress the challenges the players face grow increasingly stronger.
So basically you travel with your caravan and a big chalice you need to carry around with you in order to ward off the gas and allow you to explore and combat your enemies, if you step out side the circle of protection you will be hurt and eventually die. Think like the storm in Fortnite but much more deadly. You make your way around an overworld map on set paths to points of interest, this may be a town where you can buy or sell gear, or a moogle camp, or your dungeon-esque areas where you have to battle to collect your myrrh. As you make your way around the overworld you are often interrupted by cut scenes that add little banter between characters you encounter. Most of which is throw away stuff that just interrupts your game play with many long loading screens.
Combat plays kind of like a diablo game more than a traditional Final Fantasy game, you attack, defend, cast spells and use items all in real time. However there is no leveling up in this game, as you complete areas you can unlock artifacts that will increase one metric for you, like attack or defense. In some cases you can increase your health or add another spell to your commands.
The visuals have been upgraded from the original game however they didn’t really put alot of effort (it seems) here. With us seeing some great remasters in Mafia, Destroy all Humans, etc…this game shows it’s age. But textures seem decent enough for an older game and it’s terribly distracting. The voice acting (I don’t recall if the GC version had this or not) actually is very clear and well done when we get them. Not every character is voiced or has alot of dialogue but it is a nice touch. The music in this game is a standout for me, I absolutely adore the upbeat music that is VERY reminiscent of the days of old.
The combat loop was interesting enough to keep me engaged and hooked on the first couple “years” of the game. Exploring and upgrading my weapons was a fun romp while enjoying the music, however after that the game became very tedious playing through the same levels with just harder enemies. The games narrative is very lackluster and bland, which is shocking for a Final Fantasy game to be honest and that is one of my biggest pain points. After awhile the whole focus becomes hit, run, hit, run, hit, run for an extended period of time on bosses.
The other major issue for me was multiplayer, for a game that focuses all about this experience….it’s just not there. There is no couch co-op whatsoever and I was really expecting it. After playing a bit by myself with my Moogle who will carry the chalice for me (which helps when alone) I thought it would be fun to see how the online works. I checked my friends list first and unfortunately no one in my list was playing the game. But that’s ok, when you enter a dungeon you can set it to multiplayer and the game will pair you up with some other explorers to help you out. I was loaded into my dungeon (without my Moogle) because I was doing online, but no one every showed up. So I had to carry my chalice and throw it down to fight someone and pick it back up to move which was an infuriating experience to say the least.
The game overall isn’t difficult even when playing alone (as long as you have your Moogle friend) and is a fun experience for most of the game. However without the nostalgia of the old game in ones mind, I do find it hard to recommend for any experienced gamer or fan of Final Fantasy. This however would make a good point of entry for some more casual gamers looking for a good time.