Realize your Fate!
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.
What really stood out to me about Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates was the magnitude and length of the game. Generally when I think of handheld games, I think about short, bite sized experiences. However, this game is quite lengthy for a handheld title, and can easily occupy more than 25 hours if you take the time to explore the expansive levels. And even though it is possible to run through the different levels without defeating all the monsters or finding all the treasures, I think that RPG gameplay really demands the extra effort. If you don’t stop and actually spend time leveling up or gathering items, you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle during the final stages.
One thing that the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles game did get right was its multiplayer functionality. And I’m happy to say that the multiplayer functions in this title are just as good, if not better, than the original. For the multiplayer modes, you play as a created character that is representative of one of the four tribes in the game. From there you can get to a mission mode where you can visit different lands and play them with a party of friends. And if you’re worried that you don’t have friends who will play the mission mode with you, the good news is that you can play mission mode solo. It may be a little more difficult to play solo, and you’ll lose the benefit of strategizing, but it’s great that this mode is available to those who might not have friends who share their Final Fantasy enthusiasm.
Visuals in this game are quite amazing, and are probably the best graphics I have seen yet for the Nintendo DS. I was really floored by Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings last year, and this title just improves upon the already-impressive graphics in that title. Characters are presented very smoothly, and textured environments come through lush and atmospheric. Cinema scenes in this title are amazing and look like some of the better PS2 titles. The color palate is vibrant and enhances the overall look and feel of the game. Truly this game is a sight to behold, especially on the DS.
Overall, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates is an excellent title. It features memorable gameplay, stunning graphics, and a great multiplayer mode. It is also a very long title, and will keep you playing for quite a while. So if you’re into Final Fantasy, enjoy RPGs, or are just looking for a great title for your Nintendo DS, look no farther than this game. I can confidently say that it is by far one of the best titles in the series, and I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy it!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.7 Graphics
Contunues Square-Enix’s trend of great-looking games for the Nintendo DS. Cinema scenes are breathtaking. 4.0 Control
Very easy to use at first, but the controls become increasingly complex and will require a little practice to master. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voice acting is very well done and music is great to listen to. 4.7
This game is incredibly long, and very intricate. And if the story mode isn’t enough for you, there’s a pretty in-depth mission mode which you can play solo or with friends. A very well-rounded and worthwhile addition to any Final Fantasy fan’s library.
4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.