Review – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition

Nostalgia can be a very potent emotion. Many times we hold a game on a pedestal because of the fond memories we have of playing as a child. Or perhaps we treasure the overall experience of playing certain games with friends. It’s this emotion that drives so many publishers to remaster older titles. Partially to bring these games to a younger generation, but they’re real motivation is to capitalize on the nostalgia of older gamers. Sometimes it pays off and pleases newer and older players alike, as with the wildly successful The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Then there are games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition that fail to please either.

The story in Crystal Chronicles is actually one of the least convoluted in the franchise. Many years ago, a strange meteor hit the world and released a deadly gas called Miasma. It was discovered that special crystals kept the Miasma at bay, but they needed to be replenished with a substance called myrrh. The trouble is that only myrrh trees can produce the substance and they only produce a drop a year. So warriors travel around the lands in Crystal Caravans in order to collect the drops of myrrh and bring them back to the crystals. That’s about as deep as it gets.

Crystal Chronicles

One of the myrrh trees.

The gameplay is a mixed bag. It’s not a turn-based game like many other entries in the franchise. Instead, you’ll have the option of either attacking, defending, or casting spells like Fire or Cure while you run around the area. It’s an incredibly simple system that is very easy to learn, albeit a bit boring after a while. However, there are some other factors that make the combat quite frustrating.

You’ll be accompanied by a Moogle who will carry around a chalice that is used for collecting the drops of myrrh. The chalice contains a small crystal, so it will provide a relatively small radius of protection from the Miasma around you. This essentially creates an arena of sorts in which you can safely fight enemies. The problem is that the Moogle doesn’t always stay right next to you or fly around very fast. Sometimes he’ll even get tired from holding the chalice and just set it down. This can be detrimental in a fight against multiple enemies or god forbid in a boss battle. It’s hard enough to navigate your attacks around a small area of safety, but when that area stops moving with you altogether, it can be devastating.

Crystal Chronicles

That ring on the ground is all the space I have to move around safely.

That annoyance is nothing compared to the multiplayer. The multiplayer system for the original GameCube version was incredibly cumbersome. You could have a few friends come over and join your game, but they would have to do so by hooking up their Game Boy Advances to the GameCube and use them as a controller. The initial setup was time consuming and messy, but at least you could sit around and enjoy a few hours of entertainment with your buddies afterwards.

In this remaster, you can only play multiplayer online, as there is no option for local co-op. This version of Crystal Chronicles does offer cross-platform support, which is nice, but that’s about the only compliment I can give to the multiplayer system. In order to play with your friends, you’ll have to enter a lengthy one-time code that is only valid for thirty minutes. Then you’ll have to enter an even lengthier friend code, “follow” each other, and then add each other to your internal friends list. Luckily you’ll only have to go through this process once with those friends you wish to play with regularly. However, I am absolutely shocked by the notion that Square Enix somehow made their multiplayer even more of a headache than the original version.

Crystal Chronicles

Will that make this less of a headache to play?

The fun doesn’t stop there though. In addition to the hassle of setting up the multiplayer, it turns out that only the person hosting the game will actually progress in the story. Anyone who joins someone else’s game is essentially just there to help out and gains nothing in return. So if you and a group of friends all want to get through Crystal Chronicles together, you’ll have to be prepared to replay the same areas over and over again, with each person acting as host in order to move their game along. This is baffling to me, seeing as how Crystal Chronicles is a game that’s designed to be played as a multiplayer game in the first place.

The remaster isn’t all bad though. The graphics have had a lot of improvements, especially with the lighting and texture work. Enemies and main characters are much more detailed and their movements look more fluid. It does still have the same facial animations as the original with character’s mouths not syncing up to the dialogue and only having a few repeating body movements in cutscenes. It’s not exactly pushing the limits of the Switch’s hardware either with it being locked at 30fps. Which is shocking considering how long the loading screens are. Since it’s also available on mobile devices, this leads me to believe that the remaster was designed more for phones, rather than consoles.

Crystal Chronicles

The Malboro looks so much better in this version.

The classic soundtrack is still here and has been cleaned up a bit to make the songs clearer. The musical scores are probably still the most charming aspect of Crystal Chronicles. They’ve added voice acting to this remaster, but honestly it’s mostly awful. The narrator sounds bored out of her mind and the Moogle is just straight up obnoxious. I got so fed up with hearing my Moogle ask, “Do you want me to carry the chalice, kupo?” that I turned off the dialogue before too long.

Moogle Styling

The Moogle might sound annoying, but at least I can make him look cute.

I have to say I am disappointed by this remaster. The combat is alright, just overly simplistic and repetitive. The graphics are a lot better, but still appear as if their made to run on lesser hardware. There’s the inclusion of voice acting for the first time in this game, but it’s pretty terrible as a whole. However, the biggest offender is the fact that for a game designed to be played as a multiplayer experience, the multiplayer is absolutely dreadful. There’s no reason for it be as complicated to set up as it is, not to mention the fact that all players don’t progress their story unless they’re the host. This is a Final Fantasy game in name only and does not live up to the fond memories my nostalgia created.

Graphics: 8.0

The graphics have been heavily updated and feature some good lighting and textural effects to make the world and characters look more dynamic. However, it still in many ways looks like a GameCube game with a simple facelift.

Gameplay: 5.0

The combat is very simplistic, with you mainly having to learn enemy attack animations then hit, run away, and hit again until they’re dead. The online multiplayer is somehow even more annoying than the original version.

Sound: 6.0

All of the classics songs are here and have been cleaned up a bit to make them even sharper. They have added some voice acting, but it’s so annoying that I eventually turned it off.

Fun Factor: 5.0

A classic case of something from your childhood not living up to the memory. The combat is beyond basic and the multiplayer is an inconvenient mess. It’s best enjoyed in single player mode and in short bursts.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is available now on Switch, PS4, iOS, and Android.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition was provided by the publisher.