By Spencer . December 31, 2009 . 2:23am
“Final Fantasy” may be in the title, but Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is about as far from a Final Fantasy game as you can get. It’s not going to satiate Wii owners craving an epic traditional RPG either because The Crystal Bearers is closer to a Zelda-like adventure game than a JRPG. Anyway, enough about what Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers isn’t, let’s talk about what it is.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers begins with Layle, a cocky Clavat and established hero living in the distant Crystal Chronicles future. Layle’s crystal bearer power is controlling gravity, an important skill since the entire game revolves around it. When it’s time to fight, Layle uses his gravity bending power to throw enemies and other objects as weapons. Things like rocks, exploding barrels, and piles of manure appear with monsters so Layle always has stuff to toss. Before you can pick up a cactus or monster you need to point and hold the remote at a target to lock on. Once the lock-on gauge is full you have to shake the remote to capture the object in a gravity bubble. If a you have a Goblin hovering above Layle’s head you can toss it at another monster to damage both of them. Point, yank, swing.
The combat system gets more complex when you add reactions and monster abilities. Layle can borrow abilities of captured monsters. Grab a Sahagin to shoot water by pressing the B button. Pick up a Goblin with a crossbow and Layle gets a three arrow spread shot. Reactions happen when you chuck things at enemies or different enemies at each other. The thing is, you need to experiment to discover reactions. Take the Skeleton enemy as an example. Pull a Skeleton with your gravity powers and it falls apart, which lures another type of enemy to play with the bones. Finding reactions is essentially how you “master” The Crystal Bearers, it’s like learning a combo or searching for a weakness.
Gravity bending is the glue that holds the game together because Layle doesn’t level up or even get new skills. The main way Layle grows is by clearing all of the monsters in a miasma stream, which rewards players with one maximum life boosting Myrrh Fragment. Miasma streams disappear after a set amount of time and take all of the monsters with it. So, the battle, if you choose to take on the challenge, really a battle against time. Alternatively, Layle can completely avoid fights by hiding and waiting for the miasma stream to pass like a raincloud. There’s also a light crafting system where you can create stat boosting earrings and bracelets from monster drops.
However, items don’t help much when its time to fight bosses. You can’t crush Bahamut by over leveling Layle’s stats. Beating Bahamut is a game of weapon hide and seek plus wrestling with the camera by using the D-pad on the remote to find the dragon’s weak spot. Boss battles are more like pointer skill tests or mini-games. Speaking of mini-games, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is loaded with them. You start the game with a light gun sequence, then pilot an airship before even playing with Layle’s gravity powers. In other playable events Layle sneaks around a train a la Solid Snake and helps Belle, the Selkie, win a Dead or Alive style butt battle. Players get a score for each mini-game, which is often linked to the achievement-like medal system, but Layle can’t lose. The game continues even if you stumble, say, during the dancing event.
In between playable events there is a world to explore and get lost in. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has a vague map that just shows Layle’s position and his destination. If you want to know how to get there you have to talk to Stiltzkin, a traveling moogle that seems to live forever. Stiltzkin is sort of like a Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles staple. Square Enix preserved him along with other Crystal Chronicles mythology for this game.
The Crystal Bearers has Crystal Chronicles elements, but Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is such a deviation some fans may get a bait and switch vibe. Especially, in Japan where it was advertised as Final Fantasy for Wii. Perhaps, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers would have been better off if Square Enix just called it The Crystal Bearers and disassociated it from the Final Fantasy brand as Akitoshi Kawazu, Producer, considered doing. That way it wouldn’t have to live up to Final Fantasy level expectations. The new ideas Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers brings to the table are somewhat refreshing, even though it comes across as an unpolished experiment with an awesome last battle.