Final Fantasy is one of the best fantasy RPG series I have ever played. From back in the day of the first Final Fantasy on the Nintendo, I have played and beat almost every Final Fantasy that has come out. The latest installment in the series; Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, is no exception. Crystal Chronicles is only for the GameCube. Does it meet the high standards of the series, or is this just one to rent and forget about until the next installment in the series?
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles does not have graphics to sneeze at. Now granted, I don't think it is the prettiest one in the series, but it holds its own. The GC does a wonderful job of rendering the game world. There are occasions where there will be a lot of monsters and magic on screen at the same time and the GC does not even stutter a little bit! This is a good thing because the last thing you want in a battle is to be fighting a monster that has moved and you end up fighting air.
Those of you familiar with the series will undoubtedly recognize the music in FF CC. The music goes well when you are in any situation and there is no battle music while you are traveling or anything like that. Ambient sounds - while plentiful - are nothing spectacular, but keep with the feel of Final Fantasy.
As some of you might already know, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a little different from others in the series. As you start, it takes you through an intro movie that you cannot skip. After that, you are prompted to choose a character and then a party for your crystal caravan. Your job is to collect myrth from myrth trees to preserve the crystal and keep you free from miasma for another year. Now, this is where the game differs - after your initial talk to your family, you are off.
The world map is not like you would expect, it’s much more along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics. You are in your caravan and push the direction you wish to go. Every now and then you will encounter people of interest on the road. You first run into a trainer. This guy will teach you the basics of fighting and magic. He will also give you 'Mog’ (a little furry flying animal) to help you in your journey.
He is pretty important to you as you have to carry the Crystal chalice everywhere you go as it collects the myrth. The chalice is important. It has a circular aura around it and if you move outside of this, you will start losing life, so Mog or you must carry it around at all times. As you first start you will notice different places you can stop and explore. After you leave the caravan to explore, it is battle time. Remember; your sole purpose is to collect myrth. Now, fighting is different than other in the series. I would almost compare it to 'Diablo’ style fighting.
Once you get off the caravan they will ask you to set your command list. This is where you can set your magic, fighting and defense as you see fit. There are not a lot of slots, so be prepared to change them often. You can fuse two magics together to form new ones. Also, you can only select one at a time i.e. fighting or magic. Let’s say you have selected Fight. Fight is then what you will do until you switch to a spell.
Now as you roam around the area, you encounter monsters (duh!) and it does not switch to a different screen for this. In order to hit the monsters, they must be inside the circle. Monsters will occasionally drop items for you. The items can be anything ranging from health to magicite. Magicite is your magic and you cannot take them with you after you leave an area.
After you explore an area you are confronted with an area boss. They are big and take some time to beat, especially since they have to be in the circle to hit! After beating the area boss, you get to collect a drop of myrth from the tree. During this, a 'Mog’ will bring you mail. These will be from your family mostly, asking how you are and such. You reply to this and you have the option to send items or money to that family member. Each member has a face in the menu so you know if they are happy or not. There is also other things to do on your journey. If you explore throughly enough, you will find a cave that mogs live in. These guys will give you stamps and if you get three of the same kind you receive something special. As in most Final Fantasy games, as you explore an area there is treasure strewn about and you have to find a way to get to them. (Of course you do not strictly HAVE to as it is totally up to you whether you want to or not). There is an option for the GBA to be hooked up as well. In single player mode this serves as a terrain radar. And the color of your moogle, assuming you painted him at a moogle’s nest. This is pretty much how the single player part of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is played.
Multiplayer in this game is not typical either. You can have up to four players but all four players must be hooked up to the GC with a Game Boy advance! With two players you will have the terrain radar and monster radar. With three and four players, you get the scouter and the treasure map respectively. This mode is played pretty much the way single player is, just with the addition of more players. This does make the game more interesting though. If you happen to find certain items, you can craft weapons! This is definitely a plus point and this goes for single player too. I do think the multiplayer part is why most people will buy the game as it adds a different level of play for the series.
My conclusion of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is a mixed one. The single player mode is quite short (around 15 hours of playtime or so). It is much different than what most fans of the series would think a Final Fantasy game should be. The multiplayer side of it is great but it gets a little pricey! The game, the GBA's and the cords. Now if you can afford all of this or already have these components, then this game is for you! If you are looking for a typical Final Fantasy single player game, this might not be for you. I enjoyed playing the game even though it is more Diabloesque than like Final Fantasy. If you have doubts, rent the game before you buy it.