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- Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
We had a chance for a hands-off preview of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition. We got to see what’s old, what’s new, and how it all comes together. This remaster is more extensive than most, but at its base is a 17-year-old GameCube game (check out our review of the original from 2004). We wondered whether Square Enix can breathe new life into gameplay that’s almost two decades old. Fortunately, it seems like the game hasn’t lost any of its charm over the years.
The story remains the same in the remaster as it was in the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. It’s very Final Fantasy-lite and carries similar themes to some of the main series titles. A thousand years before the game, a meteor hits the Great Crystal that sustains the world. A parasite inside the meteor begins generating a vapor called the Miasma, which is highly toxic.
Fortunately, the Great Crystal shards have a repelling effect on the Miasma, and the four races of the world go into hiding with these fragments. Unfortunately, the fragments require renewal using myrrh, which must be siphoned from magical trees by intrepid caravans. You and your party are part of a caravan, and you explore and learn about the world as you seek myrrh.
When it comes down to it, the story isn’t too complicated. The new English voice acting helps to gives some added character to the people you meet. However, unlike most Final Fantasy games, the plot is mostly just a backdrop for the gameplay here. As such, the story hasn’t expanded significantly, but the gameplay options have.
The thing that makes Crystal Chronicles special, besides the excellent co-op gameplay, is that it’s Final Fantasy. It has moogles, chocobos, malboros, and tons of other creatures, items, and situations that reference the franchise’s history. It’ll be a double dose of nostalgia for those who played the original Crystal Chronicles. However, even if you never experienced this title on GameCube, there’s enough of Final Fantasy‘s pedigree here to draw in fans of other entries in the series.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered features new, high-level dungeons. New weapons, armor, items, artefacts, and recipes, can be found throughout the game as well. The soundtrack has also been completely remastered, and the UI has been overhauled. Almost every aspect of the game has been adjusted in some form or fashion.
For the most part, I’m happy to report Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition looks to fill an open niche. It’s a traditional action JRPG set in a Final Fantasy world with four-player co-op. There are no MMO trappings here, and you can stick with your friends from beginning to end. In a world where MMOs and games-as-a-service tend to be the norm, it’s nice to go back to a traditional multiplayer offering again.
On the GameCube, Crystal Chronicles only allowed for local co-op. Unfortunately, that feature has been removed for the remaster, but the versatile online system helps make up for it. The game is releasing on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android, and it’s cross-play enabled. Pretty much anyone into games has one of those four devices, so it shouldn’t be hard to get a group together.
What puts the icing on the cake as far as multiplayer is Square Enix offering Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition Lite. Anyone can download this free version of the game and play through the first three dungeons in the game for free. Additionally, if the host of the multiplayer session has the full version of the game, those playing with the Lite version can play through up to 13 dungeons at no cost. The best part is, all progress in the Lite version carries over to the full version if you decide to purchase it.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered doesn’t try to pretend to be anything its not. It’s a fun, nostalgic action JRPG with a multiplayer focus. Not everything has to be a vast, 100-hour, open-world blockbuster. I’m glad Square Enix just went back to polish the gameplay that made the original so popular instead of changing it entirely.
Pre-orders for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered on PlayStation 4 go live at 9 am PT/12 pm on July 29. Those who pre-order get an exclusive PS4 theme ahead of the game’s launch on August 27, 2020.