Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers.
It is nice to see developers try to take advantage of the Nintendo Wii’s unique remote abilities, especially when they are used as extensively as they are in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles; The Crystal Bearers. However, for an Action RPG to utilize this function and only this function for the entirety of the game, with no other supplemental form of combat or variety, is a serious flaw. This glaring fault is what ruins what could have been an entertaining, if not generic, Action RPG.
Story & Presentation:
Unlike Crystal Chronicles games of the past, The Crystal Bearers is a single-player focused game. The game supports two players in certain situations, but the second controller is relegated to “helper” of the primary player.
The story is enjoyable, to an extent. It suffers from the typical JRPG problem of excessively long-winded and poorly edited cutscenes, but it’s a fault the entire genre shares, so it is easily forgivable. You assume the role of Layle, a young mercenary and “Crystal Bearer”, which grants said bearers unique magical abilities. In Layle’s case, it’s telekinesis.
After the appearance of a thought-extinct member of the Yuke race, and a monster assault on Airship Alexis’ maiden voyage, the story plays out much like you would expect in a JRPG, with predictable plot-twists and the like. You explore in Zelda-esque fashion, traveling to different towns, exploring ruins and crypts, finding treasure, fighting monsters, free-roaming, etc. all while uncovering more bits and pieces of the grand scheme of the story.
The Crystal Bearers also does away with the more cutesy character models and artwork, adopting a more mature Anime-ish feel while still retaining the essence of the artwork from past games.
The voice work is also fairly good; nothing to write home about, but not mute-worthy, either.
Here is where the game starts to drag it’s feet. Layle’s special ability is his telekinesis, which lets him pick up or manipulate things from far away, pretty-much regardless of size. This also allows Layle to platform around certain dungeons, which is actually very fun and interesting despite the function not being used too much. He can make anything in his environment a weapon by simply picking up and hurling it around. What’s more, there is a great variety of effects these things (and enemies) have when thrown, making utilizing them in battle very satisfying.
The problem? That’s all you do. Considering the genre, such a deviation from the normal form of combat is very unexpected, and sadly, Layle has no other form of attack aside from his telekinesis. There are no melee or magic attacks to supplement his special ability, which means you will be throwing things around. A lot. Which is a shame, as the telekinesis, if it were slightly more responsive (as the Wii remote can be inaccurate at times) would be excellent alongside some basic melee attacks to lay on the hurt.
Add that to the fact that the enemies are extremely non-aggressive or challenging (almost as if to make using Layle’s telekinesis easier), and combat quickly devolves into a chore. Worse still, combat is some-what random, with “Miasma Streams” appearing at a whim, spewing enemies into the area, and then disappearing with them just as quickly. It’s as if the developers feared combat might get tedious, and decided to fix it by not letting you fight too much.
To summarize, the game has some interesting ideas, and the decision to make an Action RPG that revolves around the Wii-mote’s functions exclusively is a bold move, even if it turned out flawed in execution. The story and characters were interesting and enjoyable despite being trite, and the music was good. Some of the mini-games are absolutely golden and a blast to play (and re-play), too. If the rest of the gameplay was up to snuff, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers would be a must-buy Nintendo Wii title. As it stands now, the games’ controls needs more polish in general, and much more work on the actual combat system. With a bit of hope, the next Crystal Chronicles title will be everything this writer hopes for.
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