X-Play reviews the long-winded, handheld title, 'Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time,' to see how the RPG holds up against the others in the series.
- Slick online and wireless connectivity
- Streamlined story
- Loot-filled, puzzle-centric dungeons
- Lag kills
- Creepy James Carville guy
- Pick-up groups can be really uneven
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time Review
The original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a relic of a very particular time – when Nintendo was pushing for connectivity between the GameCube and the GameBoy advance. It was a pretty wild idea. And it took four gamers a shopping cart of gear and wires to make the dream come alive. But the result was a unique on – a console hack and slash RPG that four players could enjoy. Nine years later everything’s changed. The Wii is an online console and so is the Nintendo DS. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that Square Enix continues to experiment with multiplayer gaming. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is proof that they’re finally on to something.
Keep It Simple, Selkie
If there’s one thing Square Enix has learned from day one it’s to scale back the story. Involved plots are fine when you’re immersing yourself in an RPG. But when there are three other adventurers on the line it’s all about action. The plot in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is bare bones. Players start in a remote village, the only one left in the world to house a (wouldn’t you know it) crystal. And a good friend has just been stricken with crystal sickness. You, and any friends you can rustle up, set out to find a cure for this ailment and wind up getting entangled with a creepy wizard that looks a bit too much like political guru James Carville. He’s got some kind of big plan cooking, but it’s all good since he sends you to dungeons where you can collect loot, level up your weapons, solve puzzles and kill baddies.
Play this game solo and you’re missing much of the point. Still, Square Enix has your back. In town there are mercenaries you can hire to accompany you on your adventures. But you’re really going to want to team up with friends. And the best way to do it will be to schedule a play date. Up to four can hook up in real life and play side-by-side using local wireless. This set up is the ideal because it’s easier to chat with your buddies and there’s less change of getting a poor connection between consoles. After exchanging friend codes friends can hook up on the Internet via WiFi. Instead of voice chat the game offers a series of canned lines that players can spout back and forth – not exactly the kind of thing you want to do in the heat of battle, but useful for telling a slowpoke party member to hurry up. Friendless types can find anonymous pick-up groups online. But there’s a good chance of winding up in an uneven group, where one player is significantly stronger. If you don’t mind feeling worthless and getting twinked, go ahead and play this way, but it’s not very fun. Also, playing online depends greatly on the quality of your connection. Slow speeds can make platforming challenges extremely frustrating.
A Pocket Full of Drops
Played with one or more friends, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time can be good, if fairly mindless, fun. The dungeon crawls don’t get terribly challenging until the final boss fights, but the puzzles that must be unraveled before facing down those monsters offer just enough resistance. And those trips back to town feel like a shopping spree, with items to craft and customize. There are also a handful of fun multiplayer mini-games to tackle. Some call for teamwork. Others are all-out brawls. These side quests are all surprisingly fun and offer yet another way to scrounge for loot. It’s been almost a decade. But Square Enix, taking notes from their MMOs and cribbing heavily from Diablo, has made a fun, super-connective actioner out of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. Now all they need to figure out is how to make the name of the game shorter.
By: Gus Mastrapa