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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

by Neal Ronaghan - December 28, 2009, 8:03 pm PST
Total comments: 28

7

Square Enix’s long-delayed Wii game is fun, but very different.

This isn't your average Final Fantasy game. Hell, this isn't even your average Crystal Chronicles game. Square Enix's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is a game of a different breed. First off, it's not a role-playing game. You won't find yourself leveling up or participating in turn-based battles. Instead, you'll use the Wii Remote's pointer to throw objects and characters around while you explore a beautiful world and watch an interesting story.

The Crystal Bearers stars, unsurprisingly, a crystal bearer named Layle. In this world, set in the far future of the same universe as the other Crystal Chronicles games, magic use has become rare; the outcast crystal bearers are the only people who can use it. Layle is a mean-spirited gun-for-hire who begins to chase after a mysterious character who is a member of the supposedly extinct Yuke tribe. The story is presented nicely, the cut scenes are well-directed, and it's engaging enough to keep you interested throughout. The worst part about the presentation is the voice-acting, which is rather bland throughout the 10-hour story.

The gameplay complements the story well, and the two are often interwoven seamlessly. You control Layle via a third-person viewpoint. His magic ability allows you to use telekinesis, and you can use the ability to interact with almost everything in the game; all it takes is a simple point-and-click action to pick an object or person up and throw them around. You can pick up a character, throw him down and pick up the loose change that falls out of his pocket, or you can go over to the lovable mail moogle and yank the latest letter from him. It allows for a lot of experimentation, and that's where the game's exploration is derived from.

The idea of exploration also comes into play in the game's battles, which occur less often than you might expect. Battles are generally arena-style fights where you use your telekinetic powers to throw objects at enemies, or pick up enemies and throw them at other enemies or objects. You can even use your powers to make different things happen to enemies. For example, if you throw a beetle at another beetle, you can turn the two creatures into a ball that can be thrown at another enemy for a good deal of damage. You can also combat skeletal opponents by yanking off their head and replacing it with a dog bone that you find on the ground.

The combat is a lot of fun, but it is severely hampered by the camera. Camera control is a huge issue in this game; you have control over the camera, but you have to constantly tap the D-pad to make sure it stays in a position that lets you can see the world well. The camera seems to always get in the way, and even with the few tweaks that you can make in the options menu, it is still an annoyance throughout the entire game.

There are tons of medals to collect, which are nothing more than Xbox 360-esque achievements that unlock nothing new in the game. These tasks range from uncovering an item for the first time to toying with an enemy in a specific way. It's unfortunate that there is no reward for completing these, but it's still fun to have some interesting tasks to attempt to complete.

A lot of these medals can be found all over the game's expansive world, but you'd better have a good memory of where everything is, as the in-game map is barely useable. The map is more akin to something you'd find on a placemat at a diner than anything that should be aiding your travel in a video game. As you progress through the story you will get a good grasp on where things are, but you might find yourself scared to explore in fear of losing your way and getting lost.

The Crystal Bearers plays more like an interactive movie, as most of the best scenes in the game don't involve you doing anything other than watching. The total number of boss fights in the game isn't more than five, which is even more unfortunate because the large and epic boss fights (which seem reminiscent of some of the boss battles from the Kingdom Hearts series) are some of the highlights of the game. There are some parts - primarily in the beginning - that play like interactive cut scenes, which are very fun. The game starts grandly, with a cut scene that involves Layle falling to the ground out of an airship while shooting at enemies with a machine gun.

This isn't the Final Fantasy title that RPG-starved Wii owners are looking for, but Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is still a good game in its own right. However, it's likely very different from what most players will probably expect. It's a fun adventure game with an interesting Wii-specific gameplay mechanic that is regrettably hampered by a bad camera and a lack of a decent map. If you're looking for an entertaining ride through the Crystal Chronicles world this is the game for you, but if you're looking for an RPG, look elsewhere.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 7 5.5 8 7 7
Graphics
9

This is one of the best-looking games on the Wii, with solid art design and visually interesting worlds.

Sound
7

The music is certainly weird, but it's different and catchy, using instruments that don't normally show up in Final Fantasy titles. The voice-acting is rather poor, as most characters seem to be devoid of any emotion.

Control
5.5

With the exception of the camera, the controls are fine. However, the camera is astonishingly terrible, taking the decent controls down along with it.

Gameplay
8

It's a little bit off the beaten path, but there's a lot of exploration and experimentation built into the game's simple point-and-click interactive gameplay.

Lastability
7

The story mode is around 10 hours in length if you blast through it, but you'll stay engaged thanks to being a lot of side quests to complete and areas to explore.

Final
7

The Crystal Bearers is an entertaining game, as long as you go into it expecting more of a third-person adventure game than an epic, sprawling role-playing game. If you can look past its crappy map and dreadful camera and focus on its amusing gameplay, pretty graphics, and interesting story, you'll most likely come away happy. Players wanting a traditional RPG experience will want to steer clear.

Summary

Pros
  • Beautiful graphics and world
  • Fun gameplay
  • Interesting story
Cons
  • Awful camera
  • Unreadable map
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

LJKKJLCM9December 29, 2009

This is essentially what I've come to expect out of 90% of Wii games in general.  Something fun, but nothing completely mind blowing.  It's what I expected, and it's what I look forward to playing as soon as Amazon delivers it!


THE JACKEL

broodwarsDecember 29, 2009

As I figured from all the other reviews I've seen of this game: a severely flawed game that's a rental at best, and like many Wii games (I'd even say "most") obviously did not come about through a great deal of effort.  A pity, because I would have liked an awesome Final Fantasy Wii RPG/adventure game to tide me over till FF 13 comes out.  At least it looks and sounds quite nice.

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 29, 2009

Square's not really good at actiony adventures, so the amount of interactivity in this game is a mini-triumph.  But, it's like the first time they've tried really hard to have substantial collision-heavy action in a 3D game.  The core gameplay is well-done, but it's probably practice for their future Sony Motion game.  And the presentation shows they're having a hard time not making the game a gigantic cutscene that they're so used to doing.

The camera isn't bothering me.  I am a master of Zario Windshine/Melda Sun Waker camera controls.

broodwarsDecember 29, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

Square's not really good at actiony adventures, so the amount of interactivity in this game is a mini-triumph.  But, it's like the first time they've tried really hard to have substantial collision-heavy action in a 3D game.  The core gameplay is well-done, but it's probably practice for their future Sony Motion game.  And the presentation shows they're having a hard time not making the game a gigantic cutscene that they're so used to doing.

Hopefully, Square's recent acquisition of Eidos will teach them how to do action games without completely screwing them up.

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 29, 2009

I found the majority of Eidos' games were screwed up.  Must mean they didn't participate in Crystal Bearers, thank The Gannon.

DasmosDecember 30, 2009

Quote:

There are tons of medals to collect, which are nothing more than Xbox 360-esque achievements that unlock nothing new in the game.

O. M. G.

So this is now the most innovative game on the Wii, suck on that IGN.

broodwarsDecember 30, 2009

Quote from: Dasmos

Quote:

There are tons of medals to collect, which are nothing more than Xbox 360-esque achievements that unlock nothing new in the game.

O. M. G.

So this is now the most innovative game on the Wii, suck on that IGN.

Except that these medals don't contribute to some online attribute representing your gaming progress on Wii like they do on the two other consoles, so while it's similar to 360 Achievements/PS3 Trophies it's still not there.

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 30, 2009

So is FF13 the RPG gamers have been looking for?  A guided CG movie for fat babies where you fully recover after every battle?

Confirmed?

I have an RPG to recommend, it's called WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS WRONG WITH GAMING

BlackNMild2k1December 30, 2009

who is that one by?

NinGurl69 *hugglesDecember 30, 2009

ProCodeSoftivisionArtMasters Casual

greybrickNathan Mustafa, Staff AlumnusDecember 30, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

So is FF13 the RPG gamers have been looking for?  A guided CG movie for fat babies where you fully recover after every battle?

Confirmed?

What? You recover after every battle? Oh, gross. Hopefully you can turn that function off.

broodwarsDecember 30, 2009

Quote from: NinGurl69

So is FF13 the RPG gamers have been looking for?  A guided CG movie for fat babies where you fully recover after every battle?

Confirmed?

Not to get too far off track, but...

For one who professes to love the "casual" nature of gaming, you have a funny way of showing it considering you just insulted a "casual" aspect of FF 13.  Don't knock the way the game fully restores your HP after battle until you've actually played an RPG that uses it.  I was recently playing Wild Arms 5 a few months back which also used such a system, and it was a blast since it meant in every battle both you and your enemies put all the cards on the table.  No holding back.  So long as they make every battle strategic (and from all accounts from the import impressions I've read, they have), that's just fine with me.

Will FF 13 be "the RPG gamers have been looking for?"  Well, it'll be closer than any other this generation, considering how much the genre has diminished in recent years.  Except for a few Western games like Fallout 3 and Dragon Age, I have to go back to the PS2/GC years to find a notable console RPG.  I would still like to play Tales of Vesperia, though, if N-B will ever bring the PS3 version over here.

reply>

PeachylalaDecember 31, 2009

Didn't TWEWY have that feature already though? It was one of the features I liked about the game. But then again, TWEWY wasn't a Final Fantasy game.

Two cents about Crystal Bearers. It's the most fun I've had with a Sqeenix game in a long while. The face it doesn't bull shit it's way around the story line is a huge plus.

Quote from: Dasmos

Quote:

There are tons of medals to collect, which are nothing more than Xbox 360-esque achievements that unlock nothing new in the game.

O. M. G.

So this is now the most innovative game on the Wii, suck on that IGN.

It doesn't unlock anything. Medals are useless. IGNorant sucks more then they do.

broodwarsDecember 31, 2009

Quote from: Peachylala

Didn't TWEWY have that feature already though? It was one of the features I liked about the game. But then again, TWEWY wasn't a Final Fantasy game.

No, I think you're right, though it's been a while since I've played TWEWY.  The game had no inventory system, though, so it would only make sense.

KDR_11kDecember 31, 2009

It did but the items you used gave permanent stat bonuses IIRC.

Anyway, it's for different kinds of games. Recovery works if you want full powered battles every time, no recovery works if you want players to consider their consumption and strategy.

PeachylalaDecember 31, 2009

Having the party healed after every battle in a Final Fantasy game (mainline) seems kind of out there because it doesn't seem like a typical Final Fantasy. Then again, all the crappy experimentation done on the series in the Playstation line is not surprising.

It just makes me love Crystal Bearers even more.

I'm not sure if I need to write my own review for this game or not.  I agree with the final conclusion but I disagree with some of the sentiments.  Neal left out some stuff from the boss battles though that I'll explain here.

Bosses aren't meant to be fought outright by throwing crap at them.  You'll die.  This is especially true with the last boss, who can take you out in two nearly undogable attacks.  What the game challenges you to do is use the things in the environment.  In the case of this boss you can pull guns off of his body and then instead of throwing the guns where you're pointing you actually fire them where you're pointing.  You can use the gun to destroy his uber-weapons and make it a fair fight.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJanuary 08, 2010

I think having a second opinion of this game would help things out a bit. Right now it seems that Crystal Bearers is a love it/hate it kind of game, with the biggest complain being that its very different for a Final Fantasy.

Like I said, the net result will be about the same.  It will just be different text with the same ending.

My biggest complaint about the game is that I beat it in less than ten hours.  I polished it off last night, and today I keep turning to my Wii to fire it up and then think "oh yeah, it's done."  I don't feel satiated.  I guess that's a positive statement: after ten hours I'm not "f---ing done with this game."  I do wish the game could and had a bit more length but the story's conclusion was solid and ended at the right moment.

I just don't feel like I experienced the standard "joy arc" I get from a good game.  I always start out feeling bored by a game; I don't know why but I never feel pumped until after a few hours.  After a few additional hours I really feel locked into the game.  Then as the game winds down it becomes a nice draw-down.  I feel like I had just hit the peak of the emotional excitement, and I never got to get to the part of the game where I can just cruse and enjoy myself.

NinGurl69 *hugglesJanuary 08, 2010

Sounds like the game doesn't visit that typical balance of "trying harder" VS. "having a high-level character."

YmeegodJanuary 08, 2010

Actually other RPGs use auto-healing as well.  DQ series for one, can't recall when it started but it was in DQVIII and in the DS ports of older games as well.  For starters most people did Heal their parties after battles anyhow and two it helps the game keep a "faster" pace which is what the market is leaning too. 

Hell I wouldn't mind a "second chance" option like in Baten games, you could replay the fights even if you lost :).

At least one of Square Enix's 360 RPGs (The Last Remnant) auto-heals after every battle.

Quote from: Ymeegod

Hell I wouldn't mind a "second chance" option like in Baten games, you could replay the fights even if you lost :) .


You can do that in Crystal Bearers

KDR_11kJanuary 09, 2010

Quote from: Ymeegod

For starters most people did Heal their parties after battles anyhow and two it helps the game keep a "faster" pace which is what the market is leaning too.

Yeah but in most RPGs that healing isn't free and if you cruise around in a dungeon for prolonged periods of time you're going to run low on supplies. Free auto heal means no need to spend supplies to undo damage.

NinGurl69 *hugglesJanuary 12, 2010

"The Crystal Bearers is an entertaining game"

Just a reminder.

For the record, I didn't mention the bosses because it honestly wasn't a big part of the game. It's been a while since I played it, but if memory serves me correctly, there are three bosses.

GearBoxClockJanuary 12, 2010

Wait, a Final Fantasy game that isn't 25-hours of boring combat and whiney angst? On a console?

I still think they're worth a mention. There might only be three or four but the damn game is less than ten hours! I think they're where the game really pushes you to experiment and where it really shines.

Eh, to each their own. Part of the reason why two reviews are sometimes worthwhile.

I would like to restate the fact that I really enjoyed this game. It would probably squeeze into some kind of Top 10 or 15 list for the year (if this list were only Wii games). It's just not an amazing game.

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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer Square Enix
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
Release Dec 26, 2009
PublisherSquare Enix
jpn: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicle: Crystal Bearer
Release TBA
PublisherSquare Enix
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