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Critical Reception:  FF Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

Critical Reception: FF Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

December 23, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

December 23, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Console/PC, Columns



This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, which reviews describe as "an interesting offering with some great concepts." The Crystal Bearers currently earns a score of 66 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

AJ Glasser at Games Radar scores The Crystal Bearers at 7 out of 10. "Traditionally, the Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles games have been a good match for Nintendo consoles," she explains. "From the original Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube to the DS and WiiWare titles of only a few years past, the role-playing games have kept things cute with sprites and snappy with varied types of gameplay from action to tower defense."

"Crystal Bearers shakes things up for the series by replacing the cute 2D sprites with realistic, 3D characters and returning the combat to its real-time roots," Glasser continues. "The game also makes motion controls a main attraction as players steer the third person action adventure entirely with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk."

Glasser feels that the motion controls work to the game's advantage. "With a simple button press, Layle can grab items, enemies or non-playable characters. With a well-timed flick of the remote, he can fling them, shake them or bring them toward himself to throw or set down," she explains.

"All in all, the motion controls work well for the game. They let you explore the environment, cause all kinds of civil unrest on public transit and lend themselves well to a series of minigames like cherry-picking and Chocobo racing."

"The only glaring problem with the controls is the camera," Glasser warns. "You can take control of it to pan around or snap it directly behind Layle with a button hold or press. However, you can't really spare your fingers during jumping puzzles or minigames."

"The one thing that will ruin Crystal Bearers for you is if you can't take the waggle," Glasser writes. "The game isn't asking you to throw your rotator cuff out to complete it - but the temptation to grab-and-fling everything that isn't nailed down is pretty strong. So maybe you should invest in some Icy Hot if you think you can't resist."

IGN's Mark Bozon rates The Crystal Bearers at 6.2 out of 10. "While Crystal Bearers treads new ground and brings all the expected Square elements to the table," he says, "it's also a game that's ultimately devoid of a solid base and some much-needed polish."

The Crystal Bearers takes an unusual approach to equippable items. "Gone are conventional weapons and equipment, replaced by three accessory spots for Layle to equip, and items to find and then exchange for new accessories around the world," Bozon describes. "Finding the right trinkets will allow you to upgrade your range, defense, magic, casting speed, and the like, so while you won't be stopping at shops every few minutes to outfit your group you'll still be on the hunt for new gear from time to time."

Bozon continues: "Team that with the medal system which is constantly rewarding you with in-game achievements based on your actions and Crystal Bearers seems to have a different -- but well thought up -- core system in place."

Camera problems and repetitive battles prove frustrating, however. "The combat system itself is fun, if not a little too repetitive. Simply grab an enemy, huck them around for a while until they die, or find an alternate way around dealing damage," Bozon describes. "The real downside though is that the combat takes a back seat to countless other mini-games and challenges."

"Crystal Chronicles is an interesting offering with some great concepts," Bozon admits, "but the end result is an experience that's fallen pretty far from grace, and it just isn't that fun."

Justin Haywald at 1UP.com gives The Crystal Bearers a grade of C-. "Interspersed within all the action you'll find lots of motion-sensing minigames and a wide-open world to explore," Haywald says. "Those frequent bright spots keep the game from dragging too much, because the tedious combat and lack of direction can quickly sap your desire to keep playing."

The Crystal Bearers' minigames are often engaging in a way that the core gameplay is not. "Crystal Bearers doesn't throw much challenge at you, but it does toss in varied minigames to keep everything moving forward," Haywald praises. "Right at the beginning, you have to shoot at enemies while falling through the sky, and soon after that, you have to avoid pursuers in a high-speed cart race. You can't fail these sequences, and you're given a score at the end."

"However, doing better doesn't earn you anything, except the chance to go back and try again for a better result later in the game," Haywald continues. "But there wouldn't be much reason to collect prizes even if you could. Different pieces of equipable jewelry you find throughout the game increase some of you abilities' powers, but actual combat plays such a small part in the game that farming for materials to make better equipment is never necessary."

Despite a strong first impression, The Crystal Bearers soon bogs players down with fetch quests and filler material. "If Square had kept the fast-paced, action-oriented feeling of the few opening hours throughout, this would have been at least a fun, quick romp through a weird story," Haywald notes. "But dragging the game out with endless fetch quests and terrible combat makes getting to the end more of a chore than anything."

"If you're looking for some pretty Final Fantasy fan service, replete with Cactaurs, Moogles, and flying Nus, then you'll be able to appreciate the game's great art and creature designs," Haywald concludes. "But Square still has a lot to learn about making a Final Fantasy game that's not an RPG."


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