|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 11, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
October 11, 2007 - It seems like every time you turn around, there's another Final Fantasy game being announced, in development, or coming out. This franchise has spawned nearly 50 different games in the past 25 years and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. Ever.
And with the ever-increasing volume of games coming out, it gets a little tedious to keep the numerical "main series" from the endless amount of sequels and spinoffs. And continuing in this grand tradition of over-saturation is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates.
This game continues the saga first presented in 2004's Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube. This game was largely underwhelming, and got it's only saving grace from its interesting GBA connectivity and multiplayer options. But the series has been completely reworked, reinvented, and brought to the Nintendo DS in the form of a sequel that is more of a spin-off then an actual follow-up.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring Of Fates follows a pair of adventurous twins as they head off for an adventure. The two children, Yuri and Chelinka, have been blessed by the crystals, and while they enjoy the power these crystals give them, it also puts a great big target on their cute little heads. The gameplay essentially is a long sting of dungeon-style gameplay and has you moving though various enclosures between the occasional cutscene and plot point. But this method works particularly well in a handheld title because there's no real commitment to lengthy gameplay involved.
The battle system will be true to the modern Final Fantasy formula, a mix of action moves and turn-based strategy. You'll use the face buttons to run, jump, and attack, and use the stylus for menu-based special attacks. There will also be a class system employed that will dictate the different special abilities available to the different members of your party.
One element of this game that looks to be particularly promising is the graphics. It seems with each progressive wave of DS games, the graphics look better and better. I can remember picking up a DS for the first time and thinking that my GameBoy Advance had better visuals. But some of the most recent games on the DS have cinematic scenes that could pass for scenes from its rival portable, the PSP. And the cinema scenes on this title actually surpass many that I've seen on the PSP. They're pretty short, but from what it looks like, these visuals actually look like they could have been from a PlayStation 2 game. And in a handheld, especially one that started off with such underwhelming potential, this is a really remarkable feat.
And while the graphics are certainly a great facet of this game, the real gem here is the multiplayer modes. The original Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles had an excellent multiplayer system, if you had all the hardware to fully enjoy it. But the beauty with the DS sequel is that all you need is your DS and your cartridge to be able to play the multiplayer version of the game. Essentially, what the multiplayer mode entails is gathering up a few of your closest friends and battling out various levels using team strategy. And although it may sound simple, the game uses the class system to force players to figure out an individual role to play and a strategy to go along with it. One slight drawback to this mode, however, is that it can only be played via local wireless, and doesn't have any support for finding friends online. But if you've got friends who like Final Fantasy, then getting together and playing a round or two with this one should be pretty fun!
Final Fantasy sure has spawned a lot of games, but the really remarkable thing about the series is its continual reinvention of itself. And even though sometimes it's easy to dismiss titles as just being "another Final Fantasy game," it's important to look into these games and find out what makes them distinctive. And if you look closely, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fate looks like it will be another fun and unique entry into one of the most expansive franchises in gaming today.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer