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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers review
by XV

FFCCTCB starts pretty solid, you get a fun combat sequence, interesting narrative, and stylistic choices but sooner or later you'll find that something is a little off.

The Crystal Bearers is a weird game, I don't see how it came to existence but I'm thankful that it did. I love the original game and it's my favorite game, but I'm also aware that it is by no means a masterpiece (at least combat-wise) however it has an incredible amount of charm in its narrative, lore, music, mechanics, aspects that I believe The Crystal Bearers inherit, alas for the most part in a shallow way but also on its own way. The big draw here is that this is a new story told within the universe of the Crystal Chronicles with some drawbacks and references to its lore but that's all, the most notorious part would be the combat system, you now control Layle a Crystal Bearer, one of a handful of persons that can use magic, Layle is a gravity wielder and it makes all the sense since it surely was a technical choice to use the Wii motion to its main potential, well sort of it.

The original game lacked a lot in the combat department, it was simple, serviceable and repetitive at its worst, in this game the combat, in theory, should be a lot of fun, since you use motion controls to control gravity, pull and throw enemies at the will of your movements like a fantasy Jedi, it sounds like it would be a match made in heaven but in reality, it feels unpolished, the battles are always as follows: pull an enemy to you, throw it to another enemy or wall to deal some damage, rinse and repeat, surely you can throw objects like rocks, or furniture too, and some enemies require that spin them first or activate a status but are basically the same thing over and over, you control the camera with the directional pad and it's way too awkward and unnatural when you're in combat that it almost became a chore, it would benefit greatly to have a lock-on reticle just to focus an especifc enemy even if you still need to aim it manually (a thing that I like mind you) to attack it. Although since it's an action game I never felt that the passing was off or the battles too regular to be a huge problem, what I find it pretty odd and it was a nice surprise, is that I have a lot of fun with the minigames within the story, one moment you're sliding through a waterfall, another you're in a beach butt-fight competition, semi-shooter segments, stealth segments and even rhythm games, similar to its combat they're not so polished but they're so brief and fresh that they were always enjoyable, they even forward the main story so they feel with purpose.

The plot is nothing to write home about and it falls in some of the conventions of the franchise but it's good, the characters are charm enough just to look forward how the story will unfold, unfortunately, I have some issues with its localization, mainly the dubbing, it seemed that the original intention was to make something in the spirit of Cowboy Bebop at least character and narrative-wise, but the acting is way too cartoony and dull (a problem that most RPGs from Japan have when they're dubbed that prevails to this day), it's not the worst acting and maybe you can't pass behind it but to me, it was distracting, although, I really fall in love with this Yuke character and also her actress was genuinely good portraying her. The rhythm of the game as I stated before it's OK for the most part, my only issue is that at some points the story needs you to backtrack a lot from point A to point C just to make you go point A again, it can be bothersome since a good portion of the game you don't have a way to fast-travel and you move pretty slowly when navigating, there are some Chocobos here and there but they were always far away to me and they're not that fast also.

Aside from the main story, you can make some "side-quests" that are hinted in notes or newspaper, things like: "there's a bunch of enemies floating around in the beach, we hope that someone could take care of them" they're not cryptic but it's hard to keep track of them since the game would not track anything but the main campaign and since the only reward is extra HP and some materials, the game is not that hard and the combat isn't that fun so honestly you can skip them easily. A thing that it's worth to note is that this game looks absolutely beautiful, it aged incredible well that at times it even looks better than a lower PS3 game, I believe is mostly for the art direction and artistic choices.

Another great aspect is the music, the original game has a masterfully crafted soundtrack, and even when this one doesn't get to that height of finesse it has a lot of personality and variability than it needed to have, and for that I'm thankful.

The Crystal Bearers is quite the unique if a mixed title, it has a lot of good ideas that fall short for the most part, but the sum of its parts make for at least an entertaining journey, is hard to recommend it for newcomers or Final Fantasy canon games, since you have the better of it if you enjoy the original but if you do so, prepare to expand your lore about the Crystal Chronicles if only by little.
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