2003's underrated GameCube spin-off now has a swanky iteration for modern consoles so let's revisit Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.
When it released, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles wasn't widely acclaimed nor was it a highly popular game but many still enjoyed it including myself. In fact, I still own every Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles game. That's right; they released a few sequels for DS and Wii years after the original debuted. Anyway, even though it flew under many gamers' radars, it featured some fairly novel gameplay for its time. For starters, it allowed up to 4 local players to cooperate simultaneously. This may not sound unique on its own but you actually controlled your characters with separate Game Boy Advances by plugging them in with GameCube link cables. That way, everyone had their own little screens as well as the gameplay being shown on the TV. The closest thing we have to that nowadays is PlayStation's lineup of PlayLink games. With all of that in mind, just how does this Remastered Edition hold up? Let's dive in and see.
Upon booting up Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition, I was immediately brought back to 2003. Its visuals may be updated and they look nice but it's more like a fresh coat of paint rather than a full remake. That being said, there's no denying just how delightful its world is. I absolutely love the character models and the world's inhabitants mostly belong to 4 races: Clavat, Lilty, Yuke, and Selkie. Creating your character is great fun and the fact that you can have an array to choose from is a welcome option. Watching the little fellows run around while fighting enemies and chatting with moogles is lovely stuff, especially when you factor in the beautiful Renaissance-period musical score. Plus, the environments may not have the best visuals but they're quite charming to explore.
At first, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is tough to control and this Remastered Edition is no different. You might start playing it thinking you can hack and slash but its gameplay is quite unconventional and takes a long time to get accustomed to how to play effectively. You essentially choose a command with the shoulder buttons then perform that command by tapping the action button and running from incoming attacks then strategically landing a few blows is the key to success. You can also hold the action button to deploy magic and more powerful physical attacks as well as combine magic to create new spells. Meanwhile, you must stay within the circle surrounding a chalice in order to avoid taking damage from miasma which has infiltrated the world's air. Speaking of which, the point of the campaign is to collect myrrh which fuels crystals that ward off this miasma and hopefully find the source of it and end it once and for all.
The campaign within Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles involves travelling across a node-based world map in a caravan while entering areas where you can slay enemies, collect items, and fight bosses. These mini-adventures are great fun to master whether you're playing solo or enjoying the company of up to 4 online players. However, there is no local multiplayer which is disappointing. Considering this is available for PS4, the developers could have incorporated PlayLink if they really wanted each player to have their own screen. Otherwise, the gameplay is enjoyable and you'll fight many familiar Final Fantasy monsters which are a blast to topple, especially the bosses.
Before wrapping this up, I just wanted to mention an aspect of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles that has always annoyed me and unfortunately, this Remastered Edition retains it. Basically, character growth is incredibly slow and minimal so even after playing for a dozen or so hours, your character won't be much stronger than they were at the beginning of the adventure. All you can do is claim an artifact after each successful stage completion in order to increase your base stats by a little bit and forge new equipment at blacksmiths. On the plus side, I enjoyed finding a completely different array of magic during each run and experimenting with those is indeed rewarding.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is the sort of game that you play to wind down with after a long day. It's not very demanding or challenging yet the adventures within remain memorable, charming, and ultimately rewarding.
- + Relaxing campaign filled with plenty of delightful mini-adventures and bosses
- + Playing online is great fun
- + Cute characters and lovely stages
- - Gameplay is quite cumbersome at first and takes a lot of getting used to
- - No local multiplayer
- - Character growth is minimal