Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Hands On) (GameCube) Preview

By Theo 22.02.2004 2

First off, I'll get to the bit you all don't want to hear; the single player experience in Crystal Chronicles is simply not a scratch on what multiplayer offers. There are strategies available in multi player, that are not possible on single player, especially during combat, where, for example, a timed team attack is possible on one target, inflicting greatly increased damage. Now before you all either dismiss Crystal Chronicles, or go out and buy three people to play with, bear with me.

The single player game is still very good, it just seems like a let down after experiencing FF:CC in multiplayer. What I think is necessary in order to enjoy FF: CC, is to understand what its purpose is. FF:CC is there to showcase the connectivity feature, its there to be that game everyone remembers as the best at what it's trying to do. And this makes it less enjoyable for those unable to experience it at its fullest, but, it also makes the game individual and special, and when its played in multiplayer, it really is special.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Hands On) on GameCube

There are aspects that shine in both single player and multi player mode. The combat system is very intuitive, it takes maybe a few minute to get used to (during which you die about twelve times, but, all the enemies you have managed to kill so far are now permanently gone, allowing beginners to progress). It is, of course, like so much of FF: CC, nothing like the system in other final fantasy games. It all happens in real time, no turn based swords and sorcery to be found here. You have your basic attack, and if you time button presses right, it can be used as a combo of several strikes. In addition, if the attack button is held, you charge up a more powerful, targeted attack, that is sometimes long range, sometimes physical, depending on your characters race, and/or item.

You can then switch to different functions using the L&R buttons, such as a magic spell or item that you have equipped. This sounds awkward but works surprisingly well. The magic attacks themselves, up to the point I have played, come in the form of items you collect that are then assigned to one of the item slots. Magic attacks can be combined, for instance, fire and blizzard combine to create a spell called "Gravity". Doing this is a good idea, as a) you get more powerful spells, and b) it allows you to fit more spells into the precious few item slots you have. Magic attacks always involve a momentary charge up before use, and are always ranged. You select the area you wish to burn/cure/add a random gravitational field to, and boom! (Or in some cases, fizzly white lights).

Screenshot for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Hands On) on GameCube

In multi player mode, you can have two players or more target the same enemy and attack simultaneously, inflicting bonus damage. Unfortunately, your only ally in the single player game, a furry mouse bat creature belonging to a race called "moogles" , is less helpful. He is able to cast the occasional spell when his hands are free, but usually they are taken up carrying the chalice that protects you from the poisonous miasma outside. As a consolation, you can spray paint "knobhead" onto his fur (or anything else that takes your fancy, I happen to like "knobhead"), at any of the moogle houses across the game. In addition, at these houses you can collect stamps from moogles, and if you collect several of the same type, you can then claim prizes from the moogles.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Hands On) on GameCube

Now, the graphics; I can only say stunning. This is a truly eye pleasing game. The textures are a little ruff in some places, but when the battles start going, especially against the lavishly created bosses, the beautiful magical effects, the water, is honestly drop dead gorgeous. Some of the best graphics I have seen on the 'cube are to be found in crystal chronicles. It first hits you in an area called the mushroom forest. Up until the point everything has been very nice, but this place is gorgeous. The bumps on the floor glisten and shine, some of the mushrooms glow... and the boss... well. I don't wish to spoil it, but suffice to say, it looked great!

Sound is also very nice, not as jaw dropping as the graphics, but there's a rousing travelling theme, complete with guitar, flute, bells and others. It's not an audio extravaganza, but its more than enough.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (Hands On) on GameCube

Final Thoughts

In the end, try try try and find some mates to play this with, If you cant find anyone interested, its still a stellar game. Now some of you may say "but its not final fantasy, we want Cloud or Tidus or whomever, we want turn based battles, we want a hugely involving storyline, and we want cutscenes that probably took longer to make than the game itself!" I'll tell you this then: Go buy a Ps2. We have truly original game here, would you really rather play the same, admittedly good, old game again? Or something fresh, something new, and something exciting?

Square is back, and it's back with a bang.

Developer

the Game Des!gners

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (9 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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