|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|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was a pretty cool title on the GameCube. It had some shallow elements, and perhaps felt just a little unfinished for die-hard Final Fantasy fans, but it had some redeeming qualities in the realm of multiplayer modes and was one of the only titles to have a worthwhile Game Boy Advance functionality. Although Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates on the Nintendo DS is quite a departure from said GameCube game, this works in its favor because it gives the spin-off series the depth that it was previously missing and is actually one of the best titles I have ever played on the Nintendo DS.
The story in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates revolves around Yuri and Chelinka, a set of twins who despite being very young, have great power. They belong to a tribe of well-balanced warrior-magicians, and enjoy a happy life with their father. However, as is the case with many RPGs, there is an evil plot afoot, and these twins have to grow up fast in order to combat this evil. The story in the game admittedly begins paper-thin, but it develops quite subtlety over the course of the game and actually becomes quite memorable. I definitely don't want to spoil anything, but trust me when I say that you'll become very involved in the plight of these twins, as well as several other characters, in a relatively short time.
The battle system takes the form of active attacks, and there is no real turn-based components. It resembles the battle system in Final Fantasy XII in the fact that you actively seek out randomly generated enemies. However, it has its own subtle differences. There are four different tribes in the game, and your party will end up utilizing each of these tribes strategically. As you might imagine, there are physical-based characters, two different types of magic users, and well-balanced characters. While characters often are able to use both physical and magical attacks, each character's specialty is fairly evident and can be used advantageously if they are utilized correctly.
Each type of attack has a different activation method, and while the this component of the battle system seems a little complex at first, it becomes fairly instinctive after some practice. To initiate physical attacks you have to do some button-mashing, as you might expect. And while this type of attack is fairly prevalent in the beginning, it gives way to tribal attacks and magic attacks as time wears on. Tribal attacks are your character's signature attack and can include a very potent magical or physical attack. These are activated by pressing the R button or tapping the tribe ability on the touch screen. From there you have to tap your enemy with the stylus. This is a little bit difficult as the enemy you are facing is still moving around when you are pressing the button and then tapping them with the stylus, and if they are a particularly fast enemy, it is sometimes difficult to tap them before they hit you. In addition to the tribe abilities, there are also magic abilities which are activated by picking up (or purchasing) orbs that are stored on the right side of the screen. In order to use these magic attacks, you must highlight the power you wish to use. Then use the x button to target the enemy and then the L button to lock on. Once you let go of the L button, the attack is performed. Like the tribe attacks, the magic attacks are a little cumbersome to perform at first, especially if your foe is fast-moving. But you are given ample opportunities to practice early in the game, and it becomes easier to manage as you play.