Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, a long-forgotten entry in the classic series, is now slated for a remaster in 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Great news for a video game that was underappreciated in its day thanks to an inaccessible setup.
What made this game so hard to setup? Well, in 2003 and 2004 were the years Nintendo deadset itself on implementing its two-screen ambitions. Long before the Nintendo DS became a success, the answer lied in linking the GameCube to the Game Boy Advance to create games with multiple screens. Believe it or not, most of the games produced were well received, but the ability to play them as intended proved far too difficult.
Players needed three friends, each of whom had a Game Boy Advance, a link to the GameCube, and interest in Final Fantasy, and they needed to set aside time to get together and actually play the game. Remember, this was before online gaming became the standard for playing with your friends. You actually had to be in the room with one another!
Life happens, schedules complicate themselves, somebody can't make it. Playing without that friend means his character falls behind, which in turn means that he doesn't want to play future sessions because his character can't keep up… and the whole campaign falls apart.
Ugh… you can see why many missed out on this game.
We've come a long way since then, and the accessibility of multiplayer experiences has made leaps and bounds. This remaster for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch promises to do away with the complicated setup and create a multiplayer experience that doesn't require such strict time commitments.
And while I support the streamlining of this game's excellent multiplayer mode, the original, as-intended way of playing the game is still the most ideal. I say this as someone who got the chance to play through this game and Four Sword Adventures with the proper setup, tucked away in a Freshman college dorm where Game Boy Advances weren't hard to find. The gimmick of two screens added that extra layer to make the adventure unique.
I wonder if the game will stand out enough to be worth your time without it.
On its own, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has a great soundtrack, cute graphics backed by art direction that helped it stand out in the pre-HD era, and an exciting magic system where players can unite their spells for even bigger spells. Repetitive melee combat and backtracking through familiar areas aside, it's a fun experience with the right group of friends. I'd say it's maybe a bit bare-boned compared to today's multiplayer offerings but certainly worth checking out if you love co-op adventures.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition will be available in Japan for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in 2019. No localization commitment just yet.