I wasn’t really a big Final Fantasy fan until Crystal Chronicles for Gamecube. This game introduced me to the series, and is still among my favorites due to its charm and innovative multiplayer mode. 5 years later, Wii owners got a sequel to this wonderful game, giving the series a huge makeover, complete with more realistic character models and an overall more mature look at the world. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has received tons of mixed reviews since it’s launch in 2009, but I’ve gotten the opportunity to play through this game to give you guys my thoughts on it. Prepare to be shocked.
Crystal Bearers takes place 1,000 years after the events of its predecessor, and boy, has the world changed since we last visited it. Years prior to this game, the Lilty and Yuke tribes were at war. The battle resulted in the destruction of the Yuke crystal, annihilating the entire Yuke race. Drunk with a new-found power, the Lilties are using crystal reactors (made from shards of the shattered Yuke crystal) to power their new machines, thus starting a new era of science and technology. The now dominant race ended up outlawing the use of arcane arts in the Liltian Kingdom. The peace-loving Clavats and the crafty Selkies try to not get involved with the Lilties, but are always ending up in some sort of trouble.
Eventually, magic resurfaced in the world in the form of super human beings born with special powers called “crystal bearers”. Since magic is forbidden in the kingdom, a crystal bearer’s presence in the city is often frowned upon, most likely due to fear of the city’s destruction. You take on the role of a Clavat named Layle, a 21 year-old crystal bearer with a crystal on his cheek that gives him the power of telekinesis (allowing him to manipulate the gravity of himself and others). The closer the target, the stronger his powers.
Layle and his partner Keiss (a Selkie) have been hired to escort the Alexis II, a towering luxury airship that just screams, “The Lilties are way cooler than the rest of you losers”. Everything is going as planned, but not for long… Suddenly, a huge swarm of monstrous beasts invade the Alexis, leaving Layle to defend the airship by diving off his escort ship, and eliminating the flying foes himself, by controlling a machine gun and shooting ‘em all down.
Upon landing on the deck, Layle runs into High Commander Jegran (there’s something up with this guy), and a young Selkie named Belle, who has caught Jegran in the act among the shattered crystallized corpses of the beasts. The three aren’t the only ones present on the deck of the Alexis; A portal opens up, and out comes a Yuke. Wait, aren’t these guys supposed to be dead?
After a superbly choreographed fight, the Yuke (whom Layle nicknames “Goldenrod”) escapes the scene, only after absorbing the airship’s power into a strange rock. This leaves our hero with the task of crash-landing the entire ship, which happens to be full of Liltian noblemen and tourists. After an exciting quicktime event, the Alexis II slides right into the Queen’s Garden of the capital city Alfitaria. This is only the beginning of this epic quest, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat during the entire adventure, trying to uncover the mystery of the Yuke’s extinction and the strange incident with High Commander Jegran.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers plays different from any FF title to date. While all the previous titles have been RPGs, this game has its RPG elements, but is closer to an Action-Adventure title. Also, Layle doesn’t get any weapons, but instead, uses his power of telekinesis to dispatch foes by manipulating and throwing objects such as rocks, swords, logs, and even other enemies. This power is the main gimmick of the game but never gets old, especially when you’re just wreaking havoc in the city or throwing old ladies into fountains. Along with this new gameplay style, Square Enix has added tons of new quicktime events such as hiding from soldiers on a train, or helping (a.k.a. cheating) Belle and her friends win a beach game. About half of these events are optional, but are such a blast that you’ll probably spend an extra 5 hours playing all of them.
The art style in Crystal Bearers differ from its Gamecube predecessor greatly, and add a lot more personality to each character, including even the minor characters like the townsfolk. The game’s cut scenes are some of the best parts about the game, and feature tons of epic fight scenes and character development, and even a hint of romance between Layle and Belle. The maps are my only huge complaint in the game, and I often found myself lost somewhere in a field trying to find my next destination. Overall, the game’s high production values have made this game a great experience, and it also helps that the game’s graphics are some of the best on Wii.
So you’re probably wondering by now, should you buy this game? My answer to you is yes, and very yes. Even if you have never played a Final Fantasy title in your life, I recommend picking this game up, and you’ll quickly get pulled into the adventure. If you just want to blaze through the adventure, it’ll take you about 8-9 hours, but if you are like me, and want to find out more about the story and participate in side quests, you’re talking about around 20-25 hours of gameplay. So don’t listen to all those other guys; Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is a great game, and it saddens us that Western gamers have been mistaken all these years.