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[Wii] Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles : Crystal Bearers


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This game is nothing like the first one, which is a horribly shame. I mean if they added multiplayer in the first game, and continued with the same style, it would have been a epic game. While this one is more entertaining to look at, It feels like a bunch of mini games thrown together, and the actual combat is not much to be desired.
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If this game had a real combat system it would be the best Final Fantasy of the year it was released. A multiplayer mode with players playing as Layle, Keiss, Belle and maybe Altea would be a great idea. This game could be longer too, they missed a good opportunity to show more about Layle's past at the monastery. I liked the way they showed what happened in Crystal Chronicles' world some centuries (a thousand years if I'm correct) after the miasma was cleaned up in the GC events and they started rebuilding stuff in My Life as a King. Too bad it was a low-budget game, I'd like to see the other portions of the world (they showed just a small part of it, roughly 1/3 of it) and to see River Belle.

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Translated from my gaming blog

I hope you guys don't mind my grammar mistakes, I'm out of practice on long texts

The Story

Crystal Bearers takes place around 2000 years after the original title. In the meanwhile there was a great war between the Lilties and the Yukes. The later tribe Crystal was destroyed and the entire race disappeared from the world. The lilty became the only united nation and prospered, being the strongest of the three surviving tribes (the clavats and the selkies being the other two). The pieces of the yuke's crystal are being used as a power source for all kinds of technology, from trains to airship made by the lilty. The liltie's military is also very strong, the clavats don't mind it very much being more focused on agriculture but the selkies are openly against the lilties' dominance but they lack the power and discipline to face them (nor are willing, they rather to take advance from the situation).

Some people are being born with crystals on their bodies, they are called the Crystal Bearers. With the power of these crystals, the bearers got many different powers and are feared by the general population, being ostracized and can't use their powers on the cities because they might use it for not so altruistic means.

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Layle is a clavat, a crystal bearers with the power of manipulate gravity. He's a cynical person, but always pays his debts and is a mercenary together with his best friend Keiss, a selkie. Both are hired to protect the lilties' newest airship, the tourist cruiser Alexis during it's maiden flight. But of course things don't go so smoothly and they are attacked by zuus. During the mess, a portal opens up and a mysterious yuke appears, subdues Layle using a small green crystal that turns the airship's crystal powerless.

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That's how the story starts and you'll guide Layle through the world while he tries to make it even with the yuke, whom he calls "Goldenrod" while is chased by Jegran, liltie's supreme commander just because he's a crystal bearer.

The characters are right on the spot, even the annoying girl isn't so annoying (Common at most JRPGs). You won't have to protect the girl or the lame friend that only screws up (specially because Keiss can take care of himself and is usefull sometimes). The cast is small, but the characters are strong: Layle is independent and rather to make things happens instead of waiting for it; Keiss is a selkie that tries to make his living among the lilty, much to his guild leader's chagrin; Belle is a selkie who works as a photojournalist who wants a big scoop (and win big too); Cid's back, weirder than ever; Vaigali, the selkie's leader who welcomes Layle as one of his own; the mysterious Amidatelion and his objectives; Althea, the lilty princess that wants to bring peace to her beloved kingdom, help her father and struggles with her own feelings towards Layle; and Jegran, the high commander that believes might makes right and the victory in battle is the only truth, nothing special but well-written.

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One of this game's weakest points is the story is too short. It's strong, well-written but it's possible to beat the game in less than 20h in the first time, 9h in the following ones. In one hand, it's not that bad if the player don't likes the battle system and there's no useless stuff. But it's easy to relate with the characters, the world is fairly interesting and the story is pretty good. I'd like to see more about Layle, but there was a missing opportunity; they also missed the chance to tell us more about the connection between Keiss and Vaigali. The love story never had any chance because Althea's position as a princess and Layle's attitude but it would be interesting to have some more about it. Most of all things are connected and solved withing along the way, there's no pending business but the ending allows the player to imagine how it's going to be.

The Game

Unlike the rest of the series, this game don't have a cute story and politically correct. Layle wants to make even with Goldenrod and wants some thrill, not to help anybody but for himself. Later he feels like he owe something to Amidatelion, but that's it. You'll spend most of your time walking around the world on your own, the only chance to have a multiplayer is to ask a friend to use the second controller to help with Layle's powers, but more on this later.

The game is all about events and reflex mini-games, using Layle's powers as a main feature. There are just a few bosses that uses the regular battle system: only three of them (whoa!) but that's more than enough.

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To fight, Layle don't have any weapons besides his own power. You move around the field with the control stick, points to the target (it can be an object or enemy), press "B" to fill up the 'lock-on' meter (closer the better) and Layle can lift it when the player moves the Wii towards. With the A button, Layle's going to release the object but if you aim into something and press B, Layle will toss the lifted object. With a quick movement of the remote, Layle will create a sort of shield and will roll forward. The system is quite simple, there's no level up but you can enhance your abilities and attributes using accessories like rings.

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While moving around the map, the music will eventually stop and a counting down sound will be heard. At the end of it, the sky will become dark and a miasma field will open. The miasma itself won't hurt like the other games, but all the non-playable characters are going to disappear and monsters are going to appear. To defeat the enemies, Layle can toss objects or the monsters themselves. The game have many different possibilities. Toss a Cactuar inside a Malboro and something will happen. Toss a beattle into another and they'll become a ball and Layle can use them to do some bowling. But after a while, at the end of the music the miasma field will close down on it's own and all monsters are going to disappear. If all monsters are defeated, Layle can close the miasma himself and get a extra energy point (it's quite useful by the end of the game). It's fun at the start, but unless you want some more HP, get some extras or collect materials, it's more likely that you'll be running through the battles or wait the miasma to close down.

It's a battle system where you love it or hate it. It's a innovative and quite creative system, but it lacks direct attacks (I find it annoying sometimes). The only way to do some direct attack is to throw yourself toward the enemies (not always possible) or equipping a ring that allows Layle to use the dodge to cause some damage. This can make the boss fight a little longer than necessary depending on your skill level. The game is short, so it's easy to deal. There are many small things to do during the battles that can be rewarding, but they requires patience, reflexes and creativity.

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The entire world is connected, except for two regions that you're going to need a train. After a certain point you'll be able to use chocobos, take trains or even portals to move around more quickly, all for free. Walking around there's always some chests around (a way to make money), things to do and mini-games, like saving people falling down the hills, help people being attacked by wild bulls, harvest carrots and onions from killer scarecrows which can shoot lasers from their eyes (Cid's creations, by the way), and so on.

While riding chocobos you can use the turbo (infinite) and you won't have to worry about time like in Final Fantasy XII. You can also dig items or money from the ground. There are many spots where you can find the chocobo rental services, they go away when you unmount them and it's presence scares the monsters.

The train rides takes one minute and Layle can walk around the cars, being able to interact with the machinist to arrive immediately or can go chest hunting and shopping.

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The shops are run by moogles. You can buy materials, jewels (that costs gil), accessories (costs gils and materials) and change Layle's jacket design. The accessories asks for specific materials and you can get them by defeating monsters or buying it. The order you give them to the moogles can change the attribute of the accessory you're making. The moogles also runs a mail service, which delivers some mission rewards and story missions, telling you where to go next.

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If you don't know what to do, just press 1 and go to missions. There's a summary on what's happening and where you have to go on the map (which not always helps). You can also read the letters sent to you, that usually tell you how to get to the places and Stiltzkin is always around to help you. There's only one point in the game that they don't give you any info, but you're supposed to know where it is because you've been there before.

The game is about small details and little things to do. You can swim along the dolphins at the selkie's territory and help a poor turtle being bullied by a jerk, a hidden pirate treasure and get the girls angry at you in two different ways in only one area! You can't talk to most NPCs, but you can cause many reactions, since a legion of fans, fear or even a mob trying to hit you. You can even steal from old people and moogles! (now that's evil)

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There's lot to do and the game got a medal system (somebody said "achievements"?) showing everything that you did and the revealed medals unlock hints on how to uncover the nearby ones. Good thing the game got a New Game +, or it would be annoying to get at once. Some are obvious and happens during the regular story, like riding a zuu, some you need some ingenuity (like being hit by a train) or even read the hints from the menu.

The Graphics

It's one of the most beautiful games on the Wii so far. 'Kay, let's elaborate on this.

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It's a beautiful world, rich on the visuals, with nice textures and detailed models all around. All the game areas are well-design like the characters. Alfitaria, the lilty capital, is a huge bursting metropolis, with urban trains, many people everywhere interacting with each other and objects (which Layle can interact with his telekinesis). Bridge Town is where you can find Cid, in the middle of the desert, small and highly mechanical, and a easy place to get some trouble. At the monastery you can visit the chocobo stables, go into the cemetery or steal the donations of the church. There's the cherry blossom field where you can play with the petals falling on the floor and you can see happy people relaxing, cows and sheep can be seem at the roads, children play at the beach. The selkie guild is at a sink ship and the vineyard is one of the prettiest areas in the game, and you won't see a single loading.

You can see Layle's rings and earing when you move the camera, his hair transparency are very well-done. He remove his jacket and wears a short when at the beach and Belle changes her outfit when at the snowy fields. Both common and story NPCs got many details and are in perfect harmony with their surroundings.

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The final battle is outstanding, with many particulpes and many things happening at once, the boss is huge and got many stages to defeat it, and sometimes is hard to tell what's CG or if it's a in-game animation. Once again Square showed what it can do.

The Sound

Like the visuals, the soundtrack is rich. It got from rock and techno tracks to bagpipes, country and surfing music. They are hard to get tired, even if you're at the area for a long time.

The monsters got generic sound, but they got good quality. There's nothing much to do on this one.

The American voices are good. Layle got a remarkable voice, Amidatelion got this calm and serene voice, Jegran's is fiery and full of emotion. Some of the minor characters only do their job, nothing to write about it.

If I must complain about something, getting a train ride to the Moogle Forest is one of the most cute and most irritating things ever. You're in a train, full of moogles, all coming towards you making "ku-popo!" and when you bump into them they start to go all "kupo! kupo! kupo!". All right, not really a problem, but I had to write something, right?

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Story-wise, the series is at it's peak. Ring of Fates got a good story, but short; Echoes of Time tried too hard to deal with time paradox; while Crystal Bearers got a certain deep that was lacking at the others, but didn't went far enough. And it's also pretty short.

The battle system could use some more work, I really missed having a weapon to attack the enemies and not only tossing stuff around or making them hit each other.

Even with all those things, it's a fun game, focusing in a single player with a good story. It's worthwhile to check out and played through (specially because it's a quick game). Layle is an unusual protagonist for a Final Fantasy and he's strong enough to carry the story. The antagonists also got good motivations. The game is beautiful, rich and full of possibilities, with freedom of movement and the sound is great.

If you got a Wii and like RPG, it's a good title and a good Final Fantasy.

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