I’m going to be rather upfront about a few things here. I never played the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. I certainly heard about it. It and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords always intrigued me as a kid, what with being games that required Game Boy Advance systems to be plugged into a GameCube for multiplayer.
But, cool as that appeared, it wasn’t exactly practical for the majority of gamers. As such, the only Crystal Chronicles game I played before 2020 was Crystal Chronicles: Rings of Fate for the Nintendo DS, which was quite a fun little action RPG. However, it is also not the game we are discussing today.
Today’s focus is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition, now out for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and mobile devices. It’s a game that I thought looked rather charming from the initial trailer. It’s also a game that I hope this review will encourage at least a few people to try out. That’s due in part to it having been the subject of a fair bit of mixed reception.
From a lack of local co-op to claims of long load times to this just being a modern remaster of a fairly obscure GameCube game, there has been a surprising amount of controversy surrounding FFCCR. The general consensus on this title also seems rather inconsistent. Some folks say it’s a pleasant remaster. Others say it seems half baked at best. One major gaming news site even went so far as to claim that an entire slew of major issues “make this remaster a chore.”
As for me, I found this game to be incredibly charming. It’s relaxing. Fun. Easy to pick up to play. Simple enough even though most casual of RPG fans can dive into it. I would even call it one of my new favourite titles to play with friends.
Perhaps a lot of my overall feelings towards Crystal Chronicles Remastered come from my expectations going into it. This was not a game I was picking up with the intention of reviewing.
I was not sent a review code. I had no interaction with Square Enix before writing this. I purely picked this game up because a close friend of mine loved the GameCube game when she was a kid, and I thought it would be an enjoyable way to get some friends together for some RPG action.
In that regard, the game has delivered in spades. As Crystal Chronicles Remastered only received a physical release in Japan, the only way to play a North American version of it is to download it from your digital storefront of choice. In my case, that’s the Nintendo Switch eShop. Due to both this and the nature of the original game requiring each player to have their own screen, I found the lack of local co-op understandable. Besides, online multiplayer has had minimal issues.
Multiplayer is the bread and butter of Crystal Chronicles Remastered. Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly playable as a single-player adventure, even if a bit repetitive. A Moogle will carry the protective chalice you need to keep your party safe instead of that task falling to a player, and there are even some nice towns to explore.
And yes, you read that right, protective chalice. It forms a barrier around your party that will damage you if you step outside it. I feel it adds some nice strategy to multiplayer romps. However, it doesn’t add much if anything to single-player runs. This is clearly not a game that was designed to be a single-player experience. But, that really does not bother me much.
Crystal Chronicles involves you – a player of one of four races, each with their own attributes – who sets out as part of a caravan to explore the land, take on dungeons, and gather a mystical dew known as myrrh. In one of my runs, this was a redheaded girl named Misty from the town of Cringe. And that’s it. It’s a simple story that’s doesn’t need to be much more complex.
This is not a Final Fantasy game where you set off on a grand quest to attack and dethrone a god. Instead, every three dungeons you go through advances your in-game time by one year. This usually results in some sort of cute cutscene. And, as you explore more, you gain more artifacts that can upgrade your characters, get new equipment recipes to craft, and fight enemies such as a giant crab and the disgruntled chefs of a giant aristocrat. What the story lacks in-depth the game world makes up for in charm.
This is bolstered by an oddly cutesy presentation. Sure, it’s a budget title and certainly looks the part at times, but the overall aesthetic here is pleasing. The playable characters almost look like dolls, giving the game an overall more lighthearted feel compared to typical Final Fantasy fare. In addition, the music often sounds inspired by Eastern European works, which helps to give Crystal Chronicles Remastered an identity of its own.
This brings us back to the multiplayer gameplay. Multiplayer adventuring is the core of Crystal Chronicles Remastered. Seriously, if you want a single-player Crystal Chronicles experience, stop reading. Skip this one. Get Rings of Fate on the DS. But, if you want a great multiplayer experience, and even if you just have a passing interest in the game so far, I highly implore you to at least download the free demo.
With that demo version, you can hop into any of the first thirteen dungeons no problem. For context, that’s almost all of the original GameCube game. You just can’t tackle the final boss or any of the new Crystal Chronicles Remastered-exclusive content. If you’re on the fence about spending $30 USD, just grab this demo and jump into some multiplayer action! That’s not to mention that crossplay has been flawless so far, no matter if the host is on Switch, PS4, or mobile.
But, that’s not to say the multiplayer is perfect. I mean, setting up and joining online lobbies is easy enough. It’s quick and easy and you can add in-game friends with little hassle. Inviting friends into a lobby and jumping into dungeons with them is also painless. It’s quick. The load times are short. Lag is minimal and players can hop in at any point during a dungeon when playing multiplayer.
Perhaps the only major quirk to multiplayer is in regards to progression. You have to create a new lobby for every dungeon, and progression is tied to each player’s save. That means no running through the game with friends from start to finish with uninterrupted.
Yet, this was only a minor inconvenience to me. I found my friend group and I played at different paces, and some of us even had multiple characters and files. For example, I have one friend who only played when I was hosting dungeon runs on Twitch, and another who has spent the last few days binging the game whenever she can.
I find myself somewhere in the middle – streaming the game, and also hopping in on occasion when I have a bit of downtime. Whether “hopping in for a bit” is calling up a friend for a few hours while we play or just running through a dungeon with a random party here and there, Crystal Chronicles Remastered is a blast.
Let me be clear: Crystal Chronicles Remastered is definitely a flawed game. It’s not a 10/10 title and I’m a bit surprised that Square Enix would choose this of all games to be remastered.
But at the same time, it’s certainly not a 3/10 title. Whether you’re trying to speed through dungeons or have a casual romp through the game, there’s a lot to love here.
Being a critic doesn’t mean viewing a game by some arbitrary set of “objective” standards. True objectivity is impossible. When it comes down to it, I am a person giving their opinion about a video game on the internet, and my thoughts on video games are melded by all previous experiences.
I just hope to be consistent. And consistently speaking, I find myself drawn to games that give me unique experiences. Extra credit goes to games where I can happily share those experiences with friends.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered is a game that provides such an experience. It may not be the deepest RPG on the market. It’s certainly not the most intense multiplayer experience out there. But that’s okay. These past few days have been an absolute ton of fun. The fast-paced action RPG combat is a blast and the drop-in drop-out multiplayer rocks. To put it simply, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered is consistently a joy to play.