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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles review
by Uneducated_Reviews

Every medium has its own set of weaknesses and strengths: be a book, a movie, or a videogame, every one of these mediums has its fair share of immersion, but to me, videogames are the ones that excel in this regard even when it's one of the younger forms of art, Crystal Chronicles is a testament oh how creativity and limitations led me to one of the most immersive experiences of my life yet and also gave me some of my best memories playing with other people.

[This is a multiplayer review]

FFCC it is set in a world covered in Miasma (a poisonous and lethal gas) and Villages across this Medieval fantasy world send Caravans to venture in dungeons, forests, paths, etc. in search of Myrrh Trees, when a Caravan collect three drops of Myrrh from these trees they can restore the power of their village's main crystal so it can repel the Miasma from that zone for a year till its power vanishes and the process need to be repeated every year; this is the basic premise of the game.

Contrary to almost any other Final Fantasy game which as a general rule they have a linear narrative, Crystal Chronicles goes with an open narrative, and it's focused on world-building rather than character building. This means that your character and fellow companions aren't the main focus of the story, in a way you have more of a bystander role instead of the "chosen one" kind of story, this, of course, could be a matter of preference to the player, but if you're open to this premise you'll not be disappointed by its simple but charming tone. Although it has an open narrative the game gets pretty personal and manages to pull one of its most brilliant magic tricks: even when you're playing with a full caravan of four players, its story and characters speak personally to each one. As I said the game is focused on word-building but that doesn't mean that your relationship with other characters doesn't grow, on the contrary, you'll be rooting for their struggles as well as be happy by their victories.

Same with the narrative, its gameplay could be described as simple and maybe rudimentary at times, although I could say that its brilliance resides in its simplicity when playing multiplayer with the rather unused GBA connectivity of the Game Cube. The second screen of the GBA comes in two uses for this game; when your party is in a town it serves as another screen where you can see NPC's dialogue to your character and also to independently navigate through menus and shops. In dungeons, every player have a radar that shows different things like enemies, treasures or to equip and unequip items, it also shows every player the objective of each player to complete, this could stuff like: kill your enemies with spells, pick up items, avoid physical damage, etc. At the end of each dungeon, every player sums their points to see who did their role the best and they're ranked accordingly, the winner gets to choose first from different artifacts that will increase their stats permanently so playing well while trying to keep the other players for making rack up their points is key to victory, while this aspect of the game will depend on the personality of the players it is one I enjoyed the most, my caravan consisted on 3 permanent players and 1 different guest from time to time, so I and other one were the ones that played more "dirty" while the other permanent was more in a passive playstyle and the guest was always either-or, so each of the 13 dungeons felt different each time despite repeated playthroughs.

The combat consists of three main actions: attack, defend, and casting spells, while spamming the attack combo (which has a certain rhythm for it to be executed) could be the easiest most of the time, the fun of playing multiplayer is to combine spells or charge attacks with the other players, these fusions can be tricky to pull off since they require perfect timing and positioning. When charging a spell your character will summon a magic ring and when releasing the button the spell will be triggered, to fuse a spell you need to have two to four rings positioned just right and be released at the same time, this mechanic is easily the most enjoyable aspect of the gameplay and if it's executed right it can make a Caravan almost invincible, which is not that easy and require a lot of synergy with your team players to pull off, so it never felt overpowered, quite the opposite a lot of times while we wanted to make a devasting LVL 3 spell the only thing we achieve was three LVL 1 spells, at first is almost like a gamble but in time it can be a super useful and satisfying tool of destruction.

There are no fixed jobs unlike in other entries, it depends more of the role you want your character to be and the stats you decide to grow, although the races come with unique perks I strongly suggest that you play however you like. The problem with the combat is if your party goes more with a physical melee build, it would be repetitive, so I strongly recommend that you try magic even if it's not your normal playstyle, it will be worthy. The game only has so many dungeons but, every time you take the drop of Myrrh of a dungeon, the next time you try to take another one (it takes two in-game years for a dungeon to restore its Myrrh) it will be harder than the last time, so every dungeon has 3 LVL cycles, the third being the hardest and challenging, with new enemies and in some cases new areas to explore, it relieves the repetition a little because you're going to repeat these dungeons quite a while.

Normally repeating dungeons to grind items or exp would be such a chore but FFCC gets away with it with its art direction and music. First and foremost the art direction is amazing, it has aged amazingly well to this day that it doesn't feel like a 20-year-old game, every location, dungeon, or character speaks volumes with just a glimpse of them, it has a lot of variety and it makes this world truly alive, not only they're flawlessly designed they are unique, the variety of levels is staggering, be a swamp, a mansion or a cave, every place feels so detailed like a stage play.


What truly steals the show to me, is the music, from the very beginning where you start your file and "Morning Star" kicks in (composed by Kumi Tanioka and sung by Donna Burke) you know that you're up to something special, Kumi Tanioka did an outstanding work with the music that is no short of a masterpiece, every song feels rich and crafted with the most care and detail that I can't think of someone disliking it, overall the game has this a little sad and nostalgic feeling or as one of the characters said: "You need rain for your crops to grow, so hopefully you'll have some rain in your journey" and the music captures this tone greatly, same as with the art direction, the soundtrack range is incredibly wide. As a little note, whenever you start a dungeon a brief narration kicks in that gives you some lore of the dungeon or the world, these narrations are also by Donna Burk which did a great work capturing a dreamy-fairy tale theme within them, they also become more personal till the very last one which is simply beautiful, so please don't skip them or at least heard them once.

The game has a strong emphasis in making memories and bonds, this is not per se a mechanic but it's in the narrative's DNA, and I think it has a pretty good payoff towards the end, like a magic trick I was almost as the same place of my character, so I hope that you have a similar experience but in a unique and personal way.

Of course, FFCC is not perfect by any means, certainly, it's two games at the same time, one for single player and the other for multiplayer. In single-player the experience is passable but all of the shortcomings from multiplayer become at times a chore and even a little hollow, but if you somehow manage to acquire 4 GBA with 4 link cables and some friends that are up to the challenge, you're going to have one of a kind journey with your companions, or at least to me I couldn't think of any other time (gaming or not) that I was more connected with my siblings than the adventures and adversities we have while playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.

Thank you so much for reading to this point, I hope that it wasn't too corny or cringy, but hopefully, even if you agree or not, you might consider giving a shot to one of the most under-appreciated Game Cube or Final Fantasy games ever.
«Just one more turn»
«Liked before it became a hit»
«Better with friends»
«That ending!»
«Beaten more than once»
«OST on repeat»