My fantasy is that the waggling can stop.
I should start this review by saying that, if case you didn't know it, this isn't a traditional Final Fantasy game. This is a Crystal Chronicles game. It's not a turn-based affair, so if you get bored by all that thinking, positioning, you don't have to worry about straining yourself here. However, if you like telekinesis and throwing stuff, this might just be up your alley!
[image1]You take control of Layle, the blond protagonist with Jersey Shore hair and an attitude against authority (didn't see that coming from the glint of industrial gel in his hair) who stumbles through the world trying to find shards of a crystal that belong to an ancient kingdom to, well, save the world from an evil so-and-so. What else? At least it's not as convoluted as some previous FF games have been. Even still, it has every trademark thrown in... gender-neutral main character (with a drunk sense of color-coded style), strong female that keeps getting into trouble, really funky-lookin' big guys, royalty in distress, and all with moogles and chocobos everywhere.
The team at Square-Enix is definitely not slouching in the graphics department. The colors are bright and colorful, and the details are as crisp as the Wii seems to handle. Each region has unique visual palettes, from a gritty and metallic city where good ol' Cid resides and tinkers around, to the vibrant colors in the Vineyard. Every spot on the map has its own ambiance and personality, which is the most beautiful thing of all: variety.
Battle is controlled very simply and straight-forward: point the Wii-Mote at the screen, hold the trigger to lock onto something, then waggle. Wagging up picks up the item (and sometimes the character) you've locked on to, whereas wagging to the side will send them flying to the left or the right. That's really everything there is to it, with no depth at all. His powers are just a straightforward, lightning-bolt-looking telekinesis. It's easy to grasp, but really isn't deep in any way, shape, or form... which I guess works, because – with the except of a story-based event – battles are COMPLETELY SKIPPABLE.
[image2]That's right. You can go through the game and only fight a handful of times. No need to grind, no need to search for that enemy with an awesome drop, no need to fight at all. It is perfectly possible to run through an area and not lock your cross-hairs on any enemy. Need some money? Break a couple of boxes, or throw a few old ladies around on the train. Want a new item to equip? Break a couple boxes, save up some cash, and buy it all.
I don't know if The Crystal Bearers can truly qualify as any form of RPG without some levels... or power-ups... or serious fights along the way. I know the Crystal Chronicles series is designed for players that aren't into RPGs (or at least not used to them), but c'mon Square Enix, does every staple have to go? Can't I have something to remind me I'm on an adventure, going out into danger, instead of making me feel like a babysitter on a grocery run, travelling from story event to story event?
And speaking of adventuring, getting lost along the paths is easy, since there's no map system. That's right, you have to find your own way through in the wide-open world. Sure, you can check where your next mission is - there's a beaten path in every direction - and (sometimes) there's even a signpost pointing in a direction with a name attached, but most of the time, there's no way to figure out if you're going in the right direction. Which leads to a lot of listless wandering around, without any directions or compass to guide you to your next destination, followed by swearing and frustration when you realize you've gone a half-hour or more in the wrong direction. And then have to take that time to go back, get thrown off again (because of an oh-so-helpful and stable camera system), find your way back and then head where you were supposed to go in the first place (which just so happened to be a twenty-second jog).
[image3]Being perfectly blunt, I had more fun pointing the wand at the rich-looking fat ladies and small children with my bearer power and throwing them around the map than I did any of the enemies. There's surprisingly little to pick up and toss – mostly signs, loose debris, and people (it's so fun to send the little ones skidding on their bums) – which is a big letdown, as it keeps deep exploration to a minimum. There are a few nooks and crannies, but they don't pay off well, so you'll find yourself just pushing forward through the story.
But what about the two-player abilities, you might be wondering? It's basically just a second player, with a second Wii-mote, helping to throw stuff around. The second controller doesn't control anything but a second cross-hair, which I guess is fine... what else would they control? There isn't any sort of party system, there's no “little helper” running around, so they basically act as Layle's other hand (insert joke on THAT where you will). I don't know if it was tacked on at all, but either way it's just... there.
Sadly enough, I just can't see this as anything special. The cinematics are nicely done, and the voice acting isn't terrible, but it's not worth the hours of running on foot and wandering over the same areas multiple times to see some odd body language with forced English dubs. And for as massive as the world feels as you hoof it, the areas really feel limited the more you move. There's just nothing very engaging here overall, which is sad, because I expected so much more than just flinging virtual people around.