5 Reviews

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

More than just a case of grin and bear it...

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Once locked-on, different directional flicks have different reactions. Goblins can be piledriven into the soil. Flick angry red bombs to the left or right and they'll spin like tops before exploding in a mushroom cloud.

What a witty combat system it is. Snatch a skeleton's head and wolf monsters pant lovingly at your feet. Beetles can be rammed together into bowling balls. Tougher enemies require all kinds of cleverness - peeling off armour to reveal ejector seat levers or tugging away weapons to fire back in their faces. A personal favourite are the iron giants - clunking mechanical death-tanks that you rev into action by spinning the cog on its back. Putting them back to sleep? Good luck with that.

Clean out monsters (or wait long enough) and the region briefly purifies, filling with a whole new set of (slightly less face-eating) toys. A barren desert becomes a quaint farm, complete with pig-cows to milk and crops to pluck. In the grassy highlands, a farmer needs help with alien abduction. Hide and seek, fishing, topiary, football and water chutes await the diligent explorer; bit by bit that slim ten-hour runtime gets closer to 30 - more if you want the full 100%. It'll take two run-throughs, too, some events only opening second time round.

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Crystal Chronicles has always been the Final Fantasy laboratory, where producer Akitoshi Kawazu and his team tinker with mad co-op experiments or real-time combat. Confident strides in a new direction are to be welcomed, but there's still some learning to be done. D-pad-controlled cameras are never nice, especially in tight boss arenas or platforming tasks. Navigation can be tough on a grander scale, too - a horribly vague map screen sees to that. And do not jump off a Chocobo in the middle of nowhere - doing so leaves Layle in for some long treks.

We're not sure the conclusion does the game justice either. After delicately balancing 'doing' against 'watching', the final hour spams the cutscenes and palms you off with a couple of quick-time events. The yarn (about warring factions and what seems to be five potential apocalypses) wraps up nicely, but couldn't we have done the wrapping? That said, five minutes later we've hopped straight back on Crystal Bearers for a second ride, back in an aerial plummet with 235 medals in our sights.

Could Bearers' true playfulness be better integrated? Certainly. Does the story feel a little odd taken alone? Without a doubt. But knowing this going in should help. Ultimately, it's hard to begrudge any game that encourages you to throw poo at cats and use a cow as a pump-action milk gun. Final Fantasy has always done the best line in silly anime hair - how nice to see Crystal Bearers let it down.

For a second opinion, read Official Nintendo Magazine's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers review.

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The verdict

Dumb action threatens to overshadow the odd combat system, but beneath it there's some of Squeenix's most enjoyable work in years.

8.4
Format
Nintendo Wii
Developer
Square Enix
Publisher
Square Enix
Genre
RPG

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