| Graphics |
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles displays some of the best graphics that the Nintendo Gamecube has ever seen. The highlight of Crystal Chronicles' graphical splendor is the detail work put into the backgrounds. Specifically, Crystal Chronicles has some of the best water effects in any game to date. The character designs are well drawn and animated. The graphical style is unique and cohesive throughout the entire game, a whimsical hand drawn fantasy of strong Celtic influence, full of color and life. If the graphics are to lose any points, it's because for the most part, they are entirely non-interactive. Exploration of the world of Crystal Chronicles is akin to exploring a giant oil painting, albeit a very nice one.
| Sound |
The music of Crystal Chronicles suits the atmosphere of the game admirably. A blend of Celtic themes with a Medieval/Renaissance air about them, the soundtrack provides an appropriate mood for the lavish fantasy settings you'll visit throughout the game. If the soundtrack has a flaw, it's being repetitive. The various themes you'll listen to are well orchestrated and pleasant to the ear, but rather short. You'll most likely hear them many times. That being said, this was no issue to me. Fans of mainstream Final Fantasy games are accustomed to hearing the same music repeatedly, namely, battle themes and world map themes. The issue of repetitiveness should be of little consequence to Crystal Chronicles' target audience.
The sound effects are as good as any other Final Fantasy's sound effects, for the most part. Weapons make the appropriate "thwack" upon striking a target. Magic has all the traditional sound effects you've heard before. Chronicles doesn't lose points here, but it doesn't gain any either. It's the same old stuff.
| Gameplay |
The controls of Crystal Chronicles are smooth and responsive. Never will a player find the game's difficulty increased because the character didn't respond as the player intended. Movement is smooth, and the hit detection in combat is forgiving and accurate. Crystal Chronicles' gameplay focuses on strategy over reflexes, though a quick thumb is a blessing when the action gets frantic.
Gameplay in Crystal Chronicles has garnered some notoriety in regards to the steep requirements for utilizing the game's multiplayer function. Specifically, Crystal Chronicles requires each player to have a Gameboy Advanced, and a link cable. This is to free the onscreen action from menus and keep the action fast paced. One views the menu and map information via the Gameboy Advanced LCD screen. To bolster a need for teamwork, each player can only see a specific part of the map, IE: one player might only see where the enemies are, whilst another might only see the treasure. It forces cooperation, and the whole system works wonderfully.
Gameplay loses points because of the single player mode. It seems an afterthought by the designers. Level design and controller usage are geared toward multiplayer action. Many stages feature puzzles designed with more than one player in mind, causing added difficulty for the solo adventurer. While single player mode allows the use of the Gamecube controller, no additional buttons are mapped beyond those available on the Gameboy Advanced, which is a shame, because allowing use of the Gamecube controllers extra buttons would greatly lessen time spent menu browsing.
I'd like to add that the controls are quite different between multiplayer and single-player mode. First, single player: your review says it well, to which I'll add that you can freely go to the menus while fighting (it pauses the fight), which allows you to change your equipment/magicites, pack on phoenix downs and whatnot. The use of a GBA is a plus, because you get to see the map/treasure map/monster map/monster stats, and it can help a good deal (especially the regular map). Besides, it's the only way to know what is the bonus condition. Now multiplayer mode... I can perfectly understand the reason why they chose the use the GBA as a controller: 4 players would spend their time in the menu, thus blocking the game... but it did so at big costs:
| Story |
6/10 if you're not patient, 8/10 if you are patient
It seems a bit light when you begin the game. You learn why you're on your quest, you meet people, but there doesn't seem to be any depth to it at first. The real meaning of the story only gets revealed late in the game; save for the choice of dungeons, the first three years don't bring much to understand why. You can get to start some subquests, but it's still peripheral, somehow it doesn't show the big picture. The people in the cities also don't have much personnality (you see the same text, there doesn't seem to be many events to trigger). But if you're patient enough, you will be rewarded, and the story will develop and reveal where the miasma comes from, why, and even more. The game can theorically be beaten in 5 years (in-game, not real years), but you might find yourself taking more time to prepare. After each cycle (when the tree repacks on myrrh), the dungeon will be slightly altered (roads opened/closed, tougher ennemies and boss, new rewards), but it doesn't really make the number of dungeons that different.
| Overall |
Crystal Chronicles is simply fun to play. The graphics are pleasing on the eyes. The music is catchy. The enjoyment of exploring a strange world whilst defeating familiar Final Fantasy staple enemies such as goblins, bombs and tonberries is great indeed. Who could ask for anything more? To be able to do so with three friends is all the better. There is no better party game than this.