Author Topic: RetroActive 47: Crystalis  (Read 5352 times)

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Offline Crimm

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RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« on: June 07, 2020, 01:24:18 PM »
You made your pitches, we made our choices. The 47th RetroActive is for SNK's Crystalis.

Comments posted here may be used in the relevant episode. Recording will likely happen late June/early July
James Jones
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Nintendo World Report

Offline Papasmurff

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2020, 08:55:34 PM »
Good timing boys. I was actually just looking through the NES online catalog and thinking about starting Crystalis. I don’t know much about the game, but I have heard it compared to Legend of Zelda. I also recently finished Startropics which may be in a similar vein and enjoyed it, so here’s hoping Crystalis holds up!

Offline TOPHATANT123

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2020, 11:02:32 PM »
I put in 2.5 hours today, and I know that because (cool tip) if you press X from the NES game select it tells you your playtime.

I'm really enjoying it so far and it's exceeding my expectations. The game starts with a neat cut scene and you get to choose a 6 character name. Although I think I messed mine up by putting a space at the end, so now characters take a pause before using exclamation marks or punctuation.

The game controls really smoothly and looks great. So much so it's hard to believe Crystalis and Zelda1/2 are running on the same system.

The combat is interesting as it isn't about spamming. Instead you stand still to charge up then you can move about and line up your shot. The equipment so far has been pretty simple, but there's nothing wrong with that as I have never felt overwhelmed by this game.

Some of what the game asks you in terms of puzzles and where to go next is choreographed and other times it is not. I had to use a guide to understand what the rabbit boots do and how to use the insect thing, but for the most part the game has been easy to get through.

The controls for talking to people are kind of weird. You can easily blast through and miss a bunch of dialogue. I missed what the person said when they first gave me a sword, so I missed the set up to the entire quest. Thankfully y
I could use the rewind feature to go back and read it.

You can save and load the game by pressing + on the equipment screen, I still find it novel saving in NES games.

The game has some clear inspiration from Nausicaa Valley of the Wind. The guide calls the starting area Wind Valley, the setup for the story, the poison area that literally has Ohmu looking enemies from Nausicaa.

Offline Papasmurff

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2020, 11:21:59 AM »
Finished the game yesterday. It still amazes me what developers were able to accomplish in later-NES era games despite the limitations of the system. My first introduction to NES games as a kid was through Animal Crossing on the GameCube. These were mostly launch window black box games like Excitebike, Balloon Fight, and Ice Climber. Sure, they could be fun, but I basically wrote off NES games as a 30 minute diversion at best. So when Virtual Console came around, it didn’t seem prudent to spend $5 on an NES game when there were far superior SNES experiences available for just $3 more. Since then I’ve played many more games in the NES library, but the NES online games on Switch have been great for getting me to play NES games that I otherwise never would have given a chance.

Crystalis is one of those, and I’m glad I played it. You can tell it’s a 30 year old game, and I definitely took advantage of the rewind feature, but the combat is pretty engaging. I love how fast your character moves around the world. The music is somewhat hit or miss, there were some songs that I though were really good and others not so much. Nothing as bad as the Legend of Zelda’s grating dungeon theme though. I thought the visuals were great. The lightning bolt effects when you do the fully-charged attack with the lightning sword look cool even today. One thing that got annoying was constantly having to open up the menu to swap swords and equipable items, but that’s just a limitation of the NES having so few buttons. I’m not sure what the status of the IP is after the Game Boy Color port, but maybe we’re due for a remake...?

Offline Discord.RSS

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2020, 06:24:45 PM »
Just started this as well, I'm up to the poison forest right now. I like the speed of the game for the most part, but flying enemies and projectiles also come at you real fast. How do you regenerate magic, just through inns and a bit when you level up? I'm often running low on magic since I'm always using Refresh to gain back health from some axe throwing bear.

I've never played a top-down Zelda game so can't really compare, but so far this isn't very obtuse - outside of the hidden statue I ran into completely accidentally.

Offline TOPHATANT123

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2020, 12:03:39 PM »
Here's a collection of notes I kept, now that I've finished the game.


The game is quite generous when it comes to saving. If you press continue after dying it will usually send you back close to where you died.
The paralysis spell is given to the player by a voice that comes out of nowhere.
There is a pawn shop but everything is practically worthless.
One of the solutions to a puzzle is to annoy the **** out of the Queen until she doesn't want to see you anymore.
Spending MP to communicate with a wise elder and they respond with '...'
The Queen reveal to be the fortune teller was actually a cool little story beat.
You take the boat just so you can go to an island to call a dolphin.
The dolphin is really cool though.
Level gated bosses is a bad idea.
The eye glasses puzzle is nonsensical.
The change spell is realllly awesome, wish it played a bigger part in the game
The game has lots of enemies and continues to add new ones in each area
There's an interesting use of the barrier when you have to block the stream of projectiles.
Once you save everyone in Leaf they actually come back which surprised me.
All the healing available in the second to last gauntlet is greatly appreciated.
Flight, also very cool.
Some of these flying enemies are infuriating, you have to stop to charge attacks but they paralyse you CONSTANTLY.
The guide I vaguely followed taught me how to use Change to get the warrior ring, allowing you to spam all level 1 sword attacks without having to charge it up. Probably the best item in the game.
The sun and moon statue bosses are horrible game design, never would have got past without the guide telling me where to go.
The fight with the dragon emperor is horrible design.
The tower is cool, glad they decided to give it a sci-fi twist. Whole new visuals and enemies. The kill rooms however are not appreciated.
The final boss looks freaking incredible for an NES game.
The credits sequence is also very pretty.
12 hours and 22 minutes completion time.


Overall I'd say I liked it. The combat is somewhat interesting and there's plenty of variety in terms of new spells and powers. Unfortunately the game has too many obtuse elements to recommend it in a modern setting. I doubt you would be able to finish it without a guide. The visuals are great and the world is actually pretty huge. There's not much too say about the music. While the story isn't anything special, it feels very advanced considering how old it is, so I came away rather impressed.

Offline Noirevert

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2020, 11:23:03 PM »
   I first got Crystalis when I was 4 years old, and couldn't make it past the windmill; sold my copy.  At 12, I saw it at a flea market and thought "I could probably beat it now" but barely got any farther.  Here we are, almost 20 years later, and it was chosen for the RetroActive, this had to be the time for me to beat it.
   It's a visually impressive game for the NES, and I liked the music pretty well.  The world building is nice, and the map is robust.  The attack mechanics offer a flexibility that makes combat feel more satisfying than Zelda 1.  It turns out killing rooms aren't so bad when the combat is more fun.  The puzzles, on the other hand, are much more cryptic.  It's almost as if they assumed players would buy a guide or call a help line.  The gating is inelegant in a number of ways, from a sleeping character only spawning after you buy the flute to wake him up, to the game directly telling you that you aren't ready to climb a mountain, to the level requirement for bosses.
   I'm not sure I would have powered through Crystalis if not for my life long ambition to beat it, but I *mostly* find it less frustrating than Zelda 2 (a couple of bosses not withstanding) and more unique in it's lore.  If indie devs are looking for a different retro game to reimagine, I wouldn't mind seeing some Crystalis clones.  Either make the puzzles and exploration tighter, or focus more on the combat and it could be a good formula.

Offline regmcfly

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2020, 03:10:38 PM »
I've just fired this up and the immediate fear is that of Zelda 2.

Not sure I'm gonna enjoy further than that... Will keep going.

Offline Crimm

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Re: RetroActive 47: Crystalis
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2020, 11:25:58 PM »
Its a better game; as long as you grind when the game wants you to.

Again, like Zelda II play it with a guide.
James Jones
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Nintendo World Report