Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Backlog Assault: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

In the last few years I've built up a pretty crazy gaming backlog. This year, I've decided it's high time I do something about it. Join me as I begin to regret more than ever all those impulse Steam buys and 99 cent PS2 bargains:

You can press 2 on the Wiimote to save a picture to your SD Card, so I did, a lot.

Title: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
Platform: Wii

11 July 2010
From: HMV.com
Price: £19.49

25 February 2011
Final Game Time: 11:16
Price/Hour: £1.73

Backloggery Dump:
  • 21/02/11 - Started this tonight. Good God, the camera controls!
  • 25/02/11 - Well, that didn't take too long. A fun little game, if a bit lacking in substance gameplay-wise.

With the tiny amount of coverage this got at the time of it's release, part of the reason I picked this up was to figure out just what the hell it was for myself. Now that I've beaten it, I can state conclusively that this is an action-adventure game set in the Crystal Chronicles universe; Think Zelda with no dungeons, but lots of moogles.

It's true there isn't too much meat here in terms of gameplay. Most of the game consists of you traversing the overworld, talking to one person here, another person there - just moving along the story by triggering cut scenes. Accompanying that there are a few boss battles and a whole bunch of other "playable events" ranging from rail shooting to airship steering to ferret chasing to dancing. If you feel like supplementing that with some optional stuff, you can have a wander around the overworld, where you can find some pretty fun mini games to complete and groups of enemies to fight.

Combat takes place in real-time and makes use of your telekinetic powers to pick up enemies, throw them at each each other and clobber them with nearby objects. I found it mostly enjoyable, apart from the d-pad-controlled camera on occasion. With a more limited range of movement, the d-pad isn't a great substitute for analogue camera controls, especially with the fast pace of combat here. You run into an even bigger problem during the first boss encounter of the game, where you need to move the camera up and aim the pointer at the same time, using the same controller, before you miss a narrow opportunity to throw a sword at the boss. Think patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time.

The biggest problem of all with the combat though is that it's almost entirely optional and mostly pointless. One one hand, for taking on a group of enemies in the overworld and closing the portal they spawned from (for the first time in an area only), your health gets increased by one and you might get a few items you can combine into stat-boosting accessories. On the other, you can safely bypass almost every enemy in the game and the few bosses you encounter are never any real challenge. The benefits you gain from fighting aren't really useful when you almost never need to fight or beef yourself up for difficult bosses down the line.

Having said all that though, I still enjoyed the game for what it was. The playable events, mini games and the few battles I partook in were all quite fun; The story's interesting; The characters are likeable; The soundtrack's fantastic and the game world itself, with it's lush grasslands, dusty plains and sweeping blue skies is a joy to wander about in. Look, I brought some more holiday snaps (full album here):

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