Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is back with a “Remastered Edition” coming to PS4, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices. In the analysis we tell you how the trip with the Crystal Legion has been.
17 years ago, Square (without Enix) decided that it was time to forget old insults and bury the hatchet to collaborate with Nintendo again. The first fruit of that renewed peace was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for GameCube, a game that despite carrying the name “Final Fantasy” offered us something quite unusual within Square’s flagship franchise.
But everything that was unusual (like connecting several GBAs to access multiplayer) was also original, becoming one of those endearing titles that are remembered with great affection. And now Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is back on PS4, Nintendo Switch and mobile devices in the form of a remastering, improving various aspects, making a few changes and presenting many new features. After spending several hours walking the roads with our caravan of adventurers, in the analysis of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition we tell you how the experience has been.
The story of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles takes us to a world that is the victim of a phenomenon known as miasma: a cloud of gas toxic to living beings that covers everything. To survive, the towns and small settlements have their own crystal, magical artifacts that provide a protective field (and a common element of the Final Fantasy saga). Unfortunately, crystals lose strength over time until they are no longer effective, and they need a “fuel” known as myrrh to keep working.
And that’s where we come in: to save our people from being engulfed by the miasma, we set out on the journey in search of the trees that generate myrrh, the drops of which we collect in a chalice that in turn serves as protection for our caravan.
Under this premise we create our character, being able to choose his gender and race from four different ones, namely: Clavates, Liltis, Yukos and Selkis. In addition to their different physical traits, each race specializes in a different play style. For example, the Clavates are skilled in defense, while the Yukos are specialists in magic. Although some new looks have been added, the customization options are quite limited. Luckily, the remastering also adds the nicknamed Mimic mode, which allows us to adopt the appearance of some of the characters we come across during the trip. Although, to do so, we must find and collect moguri stamps.
We also choose a profession that affects the characteristics and gives us a little background … But in the end, whatever we choose, all the characters start by leaving their hometown and saying goodbye to their father, mother and two brothers. In fact, the story is the aspect that leaves the least amount of Crystal Chronicles: do not expect an epic plot with great moments and memorable villains like those of the numbered Final Fantasy, because you will not find them here.
The development of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is quite similar to that of a dungeon crawler: we travel the overworld with our caravan (along guided paths, it is not possible to move freely), we visit towns to trade and along the way we come across other caravans that activate mini-video sequences. The action takes place in the dungeons, where we obtain objects, plans and materials with which to forge better equipment.
Each dungeon is different and has its own final boss, and to add humor to the whole thing, they also feature unique little mechanics, like playing with a mine wagons to advance. This remastered edition of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles includes higher difficulty versions of the story’s dungeons and bosses, unlocked after the first clearing.
As we move through the dungeon, the myrrh chalice acts as a protective bubble against the miasma; if we go out of their range, we gradually start to lose health. Any player can carry the chalice, although that means they will not be able to attack or defend themselves. If we play alone, we are accompanied by a moguri who we can ask to carry it for us.
The action takes place directly, without shifts, although it has its own: we only have one button to perform actions, so we must rotate between those that we have equipped using the triggers. It is a somewhat cumbersome system, because in the time it takes to change from “attacking” to “defending” it is quite likely that the enemy has already dealt us a good blow. We believe that the remastering could have been used to make changes in this aspect without “breaking” the gameplay too much … More when we have so many buttons that are not used.
Magic, always present in Final Fantasy, also follows its own rules in Crystal Chronicles: instead of needing PM to cast spells, all we have to do is find magicite in the dungeons and equip it. The downside is that magicite is destroyed every time we leave a dungeon, so it is necessary to get it again when we enter, and that to execute spells we must press and hold the action button, so it takes a little longer than the basic attacks.
The most interesting thing about this system is that it is possible to merge spells to obtain more powerful versions or completely new things. And by being able to do it at no cost to some, simply equipping and unequipping magicite in the available slots, it lends itself a lot to experimentation.
Generally speaking, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition’s combat system is somewhat basic, but it does the job. Even the character improvement process is somewhat … different: instead of gaining experience and leveling up, each time we complete a dungeon we must choose an artifact (and only one), items that grant permanent improvements such as more force points or magic, an extra heart, more slots, etc.
But it is in multiplayer where this system (and many others) of FFCC makes sense; In the case of artifacts, at the end of the dungeon the points are counted and the player who has achieved the most chooses first, fostering competition. It is even more important in the case of magic, as it involves an injection of team play and strategy: if several players have the right magicitas and use them with the correct timing, they can join forces to execute the spell-weakness of a powerful boss.
Although it can be played alone without problems, it is quite obvious that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is specially designed to be enjoyed in company. As expected, we do not need a Game Boy Advance to access multiplayer, as it has been replaced by online functionalities. The development team, led by Ryoma Araki (producer of the original), have tried to replicate the multiplayer sensations of the GameCube title, undoubtedly the most remembered aspect.
Hence, we have cross-play between all platforms and that from launch day a Lite version is available, completely free, which can be connected and played with those who have purchased Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition.
Unfortunately, the implementation of the online functionalities is far from perfect: if we don’t have friends added to the internal list included in the game, we can pull matchmaking – which in our experience works quite well, although it prevents us from progressing in the story if we are not the host – or enter the dungeons by creating a room that other players can join.
The problem is that by doing so, the moguri that normally accompanies us when we play alone disappears, because the game assumes that some user will join our room … But if that does not happen, you will find yourself playing alone and without the help of the moguri, that is, having to continually carry the chalice.
We imagine that this is normal right now, as the game is not on sale yet and there are hardly any people playing … But the fact that the multiplayer is regional rather than global could complicate the matter. There should be some way to “call” the moguri in case we get sold out. But the most painful thing is undoubtedly the absence of local multiplayer, especially in the case of Nintendo Switch. The GameCube title proposal fits perfectly with the hardware of the hybrid console, and being able to share the Joy-Con with a friend would have been ideal. A real shame.
Lastly, and as the remasters dictate, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition presents audio-visual improvements and small changes to make the game easier. In terms of graphics, we are facing a remastering of the manual, with an increase in the definition of the image and a finish slightly higher than the original game. The sound section is somewhat more worked, and we find completely new melodies composed by Kumi Tanioka (composer of the original game), the main musical themes (Sound of the Wind and Starry Moonlit Night) sung and dialogues dubbed in English.
A unique adventure within the Final Fantasy universe that extols its virtues when playing in company. All changes and additions are welcome, although the playable core is weighed by the years and the online options are not quite convincing. Fortunately, it still retains its charm.