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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King

by James Jones - May 20, 2008, 8:24 pm PDT
Total comments: 25

8

Presenting His Highness, the Teeny Tiny King.

I might be the only man alive who enjoyed playing Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube by myself. I actually built multiple characters on the off chance I'd find somebody who actually wanted to play it with me. It happened, once. For a brief moment, I was happy.

Being a bit of a "planner," when it comes to video games, the idea of a city-building Crystal Chronicles title has had me excited for some time now. It turns out that my excitement was justified. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King is a great addition to what is becoming a budding sub-franchise.

My Life as a King takes place after the events of the first Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles title. The members of the legendary Caravan (your party in FF:CC) have driven back the Miasma. With it, the dangerous monsters have disappeared from most of the world. People no longer hide in the shadows of protective crystals and adventurers are free to travel the world.

It is this world that young Prince Leo, his chancellor, Chime, and his Lilty knight Sir Hugh Yurg used the two years prior to the start of the game to go exploring. They wandered the land, searching for the Promised Land left to Prince Leo by his missing father, King Epitav. This land, The Young King's domain, turned out to be a cursed land. When King Epitav first built upon it he discovered a mysterious power, the Power of Architek. The power, provided by the city's crystal and fueled by the mineral Elementite, grants its wielder the ability to spawn buildings out of the air.

When the trio finally finds the lost city, it is abandoned. All that remains is a castle and the city's crystal of protection. Leo, King of this new land, is granted the power of Architek, and begins to rebuild the town.

It's a good story, but it isn't told particularly well. It is very nice that Square Enix extended the story of FFCC, though. Even if you haven't played the previous game, the story is capable of standing on its own. There are a few twists that provide intrigue, and the characters drive the action. However, some of the story scenes are not well assembled. There were multiple plot points where I was lost until one of my villagers talked to me about it after the fact.

Gameplay is surprisingly deep. There was a lot of concern that this game would just be "build a house," "train an explorer," then "send them out." While you do all of that, there is a lot more nuance. For example, if you recruit an explorer, whose house is next door to the Magic School, they will develop a natural affinity towards being a black mage.

Similarly, the layout of your city is important. I made the mistake of putting large structures wherever I had space. This worked fine when all I had was an item shop and a weapon smith. However, when I added an armor smith, some special class-specific buildings, and a tavern, building placement became an issue. The problem was that every morning your explorers move about town to get ready for the day. When there were only a few buildings for them to visit, that was fine. However, when there are more buildings to roam through it takes them a longer time to get ready. They waste a lot of the day doing so, and often have to come home without completing their goals because they've run out of daylight.

The construction elements have lots of little tweaks like that. Likewise, your interactions with your subjects can completely change the dynamics of your city. Talking to subjects will generate morale. The game has a morale meter, and when you fill it you get morale spheres. If you accumulate enough of them you can upgrade your city and increase your tax income. You can trade morale spheres to enter "raise morale" mode, during which time the itty-bitty King radiates an aura. When you talk to a regular citizen they get "along better with their family." That means, by the game's logic, they leave their house lights on and the young king can stay out later. (Yes, the king has a bed time. He is ten years old, after all.) Talking to explorers while in this mode will buff their stats up. The buff can make a difference between a mission's success and failure.

Every morning you review your reports. The reports include the income and expenditures of your kingdom, detailed listings of everything each explorer did the day before, and a screen to issue behests on. Behests are your daily orders to your adventurers. They are posted on boards around your town, and your adventurers pick the one (or none) they want to attempt that day. It's up to you to approve their request to go on a behest. This can be annoying when your strongest party decides they don't want to go explore the next dungeon, but it's just something that you learn to deal with.

One problem is a lot of game depth is locked up in downloadable content. MLaaK is the first Wii title to offer micro-transactions. The problem is many of these transactions aren't so minor. FF:CC sported four races, each with distinct talents. MLaaK offers you access to that same depth, for a price. To use the stout Lilty knights, the evasive Selkie thieves, or the gifted Yuke mages, you have to buy them separately via the online store. There is a "value" pack that contains all three races, but it only removes a dollar from the combined price. Beyond denying the player access to the races, many structures are tied up in DLC. For example, there is a shrine that spares the Little King from having to manually buff his explorers. It's a useful building to have, but it's not free. It is another example of downloadable content.

Overall, the game is a joy to play. It proved to be a real time-sink. There are times when you've got nothing to build, and you're waiting on your adventurers to progress, that the game slows down. However, the breadth, depth, and plot of the game generally keep everything moving.

The control options are surprisingly diverse. The game allows the use of the GameCube and Classic controllers, and the Wii Remote + Nunchuk. I chose to play with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and it worked well. Movement was controlled with the analog stick, camera control was done via the D-Pad, interactions were triggered by the A Button, and cancel was done with the B-Trigger. The game made no meaningful use of the Wii Remote's functionally, besides ringing a bell to summon Chime.

The graphics are surprisingly good given the game is a download. The development of My Life as a King was expedited because they reused many assets from Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. The character models are all really gorgeous, but I would have liked for there to be fewer "twins" among your villagers. The town itself is very impressive. The buildings all mesh together, and the city is fun to just explore. The adventurers run through the city, during early morning preparations, and the citizenry strolls around going about their daily business. The city feels alive. That’s impressive, since the layout was all my doing. It could have felt spartan but instead feels fantastic.

The sound is somewhat neglected. The music is good quality, but there aren't a whole lot of tracks. The sound effects are subdued. There are chimes and beeps from navigating menus. The sounds of pages rustle as you move through reports. Armor clanks as your adventurers walk by, and your footsteps sync nicely with your animations. However, that is pretty much it.

Overall, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles My Life as a King is a deep and engrossing title. The biggest problems come from emphasis placed on DLC. If you enjoy city building, planning, or organizational games there is no reason to skip MLaaK. If you're a fan of the original Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles the extension of that game's lore makes this worth a purchase. Everyone else should at least consider it. It is a great game.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 6.5 9 8 7.5 8
Graphics
8

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles My Life as a King has tremendous style. The buildings show variety, and the character models are detailed. The city bustles with life. It's gorgeous.

Sound
6.5

The music is good, but there isn't a whole lot of it. The sound effects do the work, but there is even less of them than there is music.

Control
9

Simply put, the controls work. There isn't a lot to say about them beyond that. The game offers multiple styles of control. The options are appreciated.

Gameplay
8

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles My Life as a King has surprising depth for a downloadable game. It can suck you in and not let you go. Sometimes the game lags, and play feels like a chore, but once you press through the rough patches you're reminded why you loved it to begin with.

Lastability
7.5

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles My Life as a King isn't a short game. It took me 12 hours to beat the game, without any of the downloaded quests. While playing the game you take the same voyage your Little King does, you learn how to build a better city. The ability to replay the game in Game+ mode will put your learned skills to the test.

Final
8

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles My Life as a King is a great game. It features a solid story, great graphics, and fun gameplay that rewards learning by doing. There are endless opportunities to customize a city, and its people. A steady stream of DLC could keep this game going for a long time, but I just wish some of it were included in the main game. Now that I'm done reviewing I'm going to go play it again.

Summary

Pros
  • Good story
  • Living world
  • Lots of depth
Cons
  • Occasionally play slows down
  • Sometimes daily chores feel boring and repetitive
  • Too much emphasis placed on making content pay to play
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

DjunknownMay 20, 2008

Quote:

I might be the only man alive who enjoyed playing Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube by myself.  I actually built multiple characters on the off chance I'd find somebody who actually wanted to play it with me.  It happened, once.  For a brief moment, I was happy. 

You are not a alone. I had a blast with CC solo, since I didn't have to divy up the loot  8)

Still, I'm still skittish on purchasing a 15+ Wiiware title. Let's not kid ourselves, some of these micro transactions aren't optional. If Squarenix plans on keeping this title afloat with DLC for a long time, I wouldn't be surprised if the total cost of buying all the DLC comes to 50 or dollars, money spent on a full featured game.

It's a fair concern, and the only way I was able to really get myself to buy it was to send an email to our reviews editor that I'd bite the bullet on it.  I found a way to force my own hand.


I'm glad I did.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 20, 2008

Needs more Chime.

This review pushed me over the edge, I was pretty sure but not completely until I read this. Once I'm done with LostWinds, that is, so I have the blocks.

DAaaMan64May 20, 2008

Poop PT.1

WindyManSteven Rodriguez, Staff AlumnusMay 20, 2008

Quote from: MADONNA

Needs more Chime.

http://www.square-enix.co.jp/littleking/closet_chime2.html

Presenting Chancellor to the King, of the Court of Padarak, Her Lady Chi...OH GOD WHAT IS SHE WEARING?!

shammackMay 21, 2008

Do the different races actually function any differently?  From what I'm hearing, it sounds like they just look different and are locked into one job.  That seems pretty optional to me.

hioo1Billy Brown, Associate EditorMay 21, 2008

Don't worry, you not the only one who liked FF:CC, mind you, I had my little brother, and a friend that lived up stairs and we all ended up playing it. It was awesome when you all got together to play. But back onto this game...

I loved it, and am still loving it.

UltimatePartyBearMay 21, 2008

Quote from: WindyMan

Quote from: MADONNA

Needs more Chime.

http://www.square-enix.co.jp/littleking/closet_chime2.html

I must be a nerd.  The first thing that came to mind was, "She must be half Selkie."

DAaaMan64May 21, 2008

Poop PT.2

Quote from: DAaaMan64

Crimm are you not going to fix that error I pointed out?

No, because it's not an error.

PartyBear, you would be correct.  She is half Selkie.

DAaaMan64May 21, 2008

Poop PT.3

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorMay 21, 2008

My guess is that Crimm didn't notice the typo and was instead thinking you were making a comment saying that the con was wrong... inferring that daily chores are NOT boring and repetitive.

But that's just a guess.

Yep.  In my defence, that happened in editing.



I don't know that to be sure, but I'm going to stick to that.  Thanks man, sorry for "poppin' off."  Good catch, fixed it.  I'm still defensive after being told I don't know how to play Pokemon Mystery Dungeon.

mastroMay 21, 2008

Very good game if you like city builders sim. My only problems with the game is that it takes forever for the game to become interesting.

There were times I though about giving up but than it started to get good. The problem with this is that it gets good a little to late. Taken me about 40days to finally get into this game. I think if some of the DLC came with the initial game that problem could've been lessened but I haven't actually purchased any of the DLC yet so I wil not pass futher judgment on that.

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 21, 2008

I demolished 5 Clavat houses in favor of 5 Selkie Dens.  They have a neighborhood to themselves.

Quote from: MADONNA

I demolished 5 Clavat houses in favor of 5 Selkie Dens.  They have a neighborhood to themselves.

SEGREGATION IS BAD

DAaaMan64May 21, 2008

Quote from: Crimm

Quote from: MADONNA

I demolished 5 Clavat houses in favor of 5 Selkie Dens.  They have a neighborhood to themselves.

SEGREGATION IS BAD

YA YOU ISOLATIONIST

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 21, 2008

SELKIE PRIDE

BREEDING FACTORY

Quote from: MADONNA

SELKIE PRIDE

BREEDING FACTORY

They're all female.

Now when he was a young man, he never thought he'd see/people stand in line, to see the boy king!

NinGurl69 *hugglesMay 21, 2008

Quote from: Crimm

Quote from: MADONNA

SELKIE PRIDE

BREEDING FACTORY

They're all female.

The Dark Lord is a MAN, BABY.

Quote from: ReverendNoahWhateley

Now when he was a young man, he never thought he'd see/people stand in line, to see the boy king!

How'd you get so funky?

Dan_FlyhightMay 29, 2008

Well I have to say that with Crimm here talking about it on the podcast and reviewing it, I'm seriously looking into investing some wii points and money into this game, now I won't buy the extra content, but I'm certainly interested in getting the game.

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Genre RPG
Developer Square Enix

Worldwide Releases

na: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King
Release May 12, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingEveryone
jpn: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Young King and the Promised Land
Release Mar 25, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingAll Ages
eu: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King
Release May 20, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
Rating7+
aus: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King
Release May 20, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingGeneral
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