Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
Wii | SQUARE ENIX | 1 Player / 2 Players (co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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11th June 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
At the start of the game, "crystal bearer" Layle and his Selkie buddy, Keiss, are on patrol duty for the Alexis II. As soon as they think this escort mission will be trouble-free, a swarm of flying creatures begin to attack, prompting Layle to take action. He jumps off of his patrol ship, and prepares himself with a gun to destroy all enemies in sight. This is where your experience first begins. You use the Wii Remote's pointer to aim at the creatures and hold the B Button to fire. As you successful score hits, you'll add to your point total. This is just one of the many events in the game where you actually feel like you're taking on the role of the protagonist. It takes about a half-hour for you to actually get into exploring in between cutscenes and the like. When you do get further into the game, though, Crystal Bearers begins to shine.
Although other secondary individuals play a pivotal role in the outworking of the plot, Layle is the only playable character in the entire game. Controlling him with the Nunchuk, you can travel to exotic locations and make interesting discoveries. A quick shake of the Wii Remote whilst on the move will perform a roll move that will get you to your destination even faster. The exploration or 'adventure' side of the game is quite enjoyable. The open world is very large and there are lots and lots of places to visit and explore. In select areas lie treasure chests full of gil and other valuables that can be obtained. With no map, you may sometimes find yourself scrambling to figure out where to go next to advance the storyline. But part of the game is about exploring on your own and venturing out. In the event that you're overcome with confusion, though, the Stiltzkin Moogle helps in offering direction when needed.
What may seem weird is the fact that you can't jump on demand. Rather, you will need to go up to a wall that you can climb, and wait for a message to pop up before you can ascend. Same goes for ladders where you'll need to go up close and then press A to fly upwards. When there's a considerable distance in between two points (such as rocks and other platforms), you'll need to aim the cursor at the screen and look for a blue icon to pop up on the other side of the gap. Only then will you be able to perform a long jump that will get you across. Additionally, when you get knocked back by an enemy, you can press A right before falling to recover gracefully. It's quite different to be sure, and particularly when it comes to jumps, I suppose it spares some frustration in having to time things carefully.
You'll observe plenty of townsfolk on your journey, and I was pleased to see different areas feature a good number of people, as it adds some realism. Unfortunately, you can't interact with all of them but at the same time, the NPC's do show signs of intelligence. For example, at one point I observed two females flirting with a man, and on another occasion, female characters chased me for supposedly "peeping" inside a women's dressing area. I really appreciated the AI used for these otherwise-useless characters, and the mood icons above their heads even showed themselves to be expressive as well.
You'll also be able to visit shops and make useful purchases that will assist you in your quest. Now, don't expect that you'll be able to wield a weapon or use other special abilities, because you won't. What you have, instead, is a simple accessory system that will improve whatever stats your character already has. You won't ever level-up in this game and gain new abilities, but using these items, you can become even stronger and faster at what you already know best - psychokenesis. In addition to the accessory workshop, there's also an emblem, jewelry, and material shop, and each of these serve their own purposes.
Aside from the adventure portion of the game, there's also the "action" or combat element. As touched on already, Layle has been endowed with is the ability to manipulate gravity. Your powers allow you to grab enemies and throw them around like they're nothing, or use different parts of the environment to cause damage. What you won't see Layle doing are using his fists for physical attacks, or even make use of aerial tactics. Battles take place in real-time, as opposed to something more linear and systematic. Enemies in the area can only be controlled after you first overpower their strength. To do this, you aim your cursor at the target, and wait for the radial gauge to fill up with energy. Once it goes, you can press and hold B, then swing in one of four directions to send them flying. If you swing upwards, you can carry them above your heads, and walk around before throwing them at will.
Further, battles are very motion-driven and some may find this fun, while others may tire of it after a few battles. Initially, it may seem that you only have a limited set of moves, but the game actually allows for much experimentation and even creativity in the heat of a battle. You'd be surprised with some of the different things you can do to make things a little more interesting. I admit that it can be repetitive over time, but the mix of variety with the rest of the game certainly helps with this. Plus, you may end up liking the idea of throwing enemies all over the place to get by. I personally enjoyed it, and I kept thinking to myself that Layle reminds me a lot of Silver the Hedgehog in the abilities he can use.
The radar at the bottom of the screen pinpoints enemies, and even flashes to indicate where danger is in relation to your current position. When enemies are defeated, they sometimes release green healing items that can restore HP. It's somewhat rare that you'll ever lose all your health, though. The enemies are fairly intelligent, but they're not challenging enough to result in multiple deaths. Upon defeating all the enemies in the area, you'll then be required to close the 'Miasma Stream' (or portal) the enemies are emerging from, by locking on and swinging downwards. And at times, you'll be rewarded with a Myrrh fragment which will increase the maximum of your life meter.
With the exception of a few battles, combat isn't forced upon you, meaning that during the exploration segments, if you happen to come across a cluster of enemies, you have the ability to run right past them. The game has an imposed battle timer where, over some time, if the enemies haven't been eliminated, the darkness over the area will pass over, causing them all to disappear with it. Then you'll be able to explore the area enemy-free for a short time before they return. It's a bit odd and at times, it can be irritating when you run out of time as you're nearly finished clearing the area.
So naturally, you must be wondering: Is the story interesting at all? It most definitely is. There are multiple messages being juggled around here, with races trying to co-exist, a Yuke trying to save her family, a King being struck by a mysterious illness, and more. I think that with the exception of Belle and Jegran, all of the characters are pretty likeable. In fact, I found myself drawn to two in particular throughout the adventure. The plot can get distrubingly deep at times, and the dialog isn't always great (seriously, what is up with Layle and "Wahoo!"), but there are some good moments, in addition the odd plot twist or two.
There are cutscenes that play out during the course of the adventure. Sometimes you'll just be running along, treading through an area, and you'll find yourself transitioning into a cinematic clip. There are lots of them and you can't skip them, unfortunately. But most of them are enjoyable to watch. I found the storyline to be quite good, and it was somethnig that drives you to keep playing, even if you don't find the main mechanics to be all that great.
At times, special events will take place that add much to the variety of the game. Acting as sub-games, sometimes you'll ride a Chocobo in a race, fight cool, albeit not very difficult bosses, get chased by royal guards, and run away from a giant monster. Some of these can even be played with a second player, but until you get the ability to play these on demand, it's not likely for somoene to sit in the same room as you just waiting to take part. Most of these don't feel thrown together and they feel very much integrated into the storyline. At times, you'll even encounter some pretty epic moments as well.
Easily one of the best aspects to this game are the presentation values. As stated earlier, there's lots of areas to explore, and the environments range from great to downright beautiful-looking. And the best part is, the Hhas top-notch graphics for the Wii. The framerate dips on few occasions, but even when it does, gameplay is still really manageable. Even in terms of music, the soundtrack for this game is quite impressive. Each track is either full of life and infectious rhythms and beats, or just serving as well-fitting songs for what's taking place. The only issue in this department is the camera. Although you can adjust it manually using the D-Pad and reset using the Z Button, at times it can be downright terrible. You'll constantly find yourself trying to adjust it to get a good view, and it can be quite frustrating.
The entire game can be beaten in roughly 10 hours or so, which is quite short for a game like this. I think what doesn't help is the fact that the story is quite captivating, so once you reach the end, you'll feel like saying: "Wait, is that really it?". Thankfully, beating the game will award you with the New Game+ option where you can start a new file (bringing all your stats and items with you), and play through the game a second time. You can even search for hidden warp points, replay mini-games on demand, and watch two special cutscenes that you wouldn't otherwise see on your first playthrough. There are lots of side-quests to search out for, and the medal system is a good way for completionists to get more out of this game. And of course. shutterbugs can see some replayability in going into Camera Mode (with the 2 Button) to take in-game pictures. Looking back on the entire experience, there are some plot holes left to be filled in by the player's own interpretations and theories. But one thing's for sure, I certainly hope this game gets a continuation in the near future as there's a lot of potential for a sequel here.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers needs to be played with an open mind. If you're expecting an RPG of sorts, you likely won't appreciate this game. However, the developers have gone to great lengths to make this a success and I think they've done a great job for what it is. It feels a lot like Sonic Adventure or games of a similar nature, and yet, there's a lot of unique elements to make this worth looking into. Even though I enjoyed playing this game, I don't recommend getting it for $50. However, if you can find it at $30 or less, I strongly suggest you pick it up. It may not be what you're expecting from it, but it's still a fun game that Wii owners should seriously consider trying.
25/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 9/10 - Fun gameplay that makes use of the Wii's motion controls well, story is quite interesting, not your usual affair which is great
Presentation 9/10 - Simply beautiful environments, music is really good as well, camera can be really uncooperative (otherwise would be a 10)
Enjoyment 4/5 - It's not for everyone but give it some time and it may grow on you, lots to like about it, the game can pull you in with it's story
Extra Content 3/5 - Limited co-op, picture mode, side-quests, awards, will last about 10 hours, New Game+ for a second playthrough, could've been longer
Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)