The original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was lightning in a bottle. The concept was so innovative and new, and it incentivized spending an afternoon with friends around a TV while using your Game Boy Advances in a unique way with your GameCube. It told a different sort of fairy tale. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition attempts to recapture that magic. The problem is, it happens in a way that doesn’t resolve issues the game had before and adds new inconveniences.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition Review – Protecting the Chalice
The world is a dangerous place. People are separated by a hazardous Miasma that can kill anyone not protected by the Great Crystal Fragments. However, while these shards are powerful, they are limited and require myrrh to keep up the beneficial aura. To preserve the bastions of humanity out there and protect the Clavat, Lilty, Selkie, and Yuke citizens out there, people head out in Caravans to gather myrrh in Chalices from hazardous, monster-infested locations. You are one of those people. But also, so are any PlayStation 4, Switch, and mobile device-owning friends who also have Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition.
Your goal is to create a character from one of the four possible races, determining their background and family appearance. You become a caravanner, heading out into dungeons to gather the myrrh needed to keep people safe and materials and artifacts that could keep you alive. You head into each area with basics, like the weapon and armor you have equipped and as many food or healing items you can fit into the item slots you have open so far. You fight by button mashing X for combos, holding X for a charged physical attack or to cast a spell if you have collected Magicite. But most importantly, you make sure you have the Chalice.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition Review – You Better Have Friends
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles’ gimmick has always involved friendship. Its players thrive when they aren’t alone. In the GameCube era, this meant having enough friends nearby with Game Boy Advances. In the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition era, it means having enough internet-connected friends who also have a system with the game. This is because the very air around you is filled with the poisonous Miasma and the only way you can safely explore is if you have a balanced party where one person ideally tends the Chalice and the others actually beat up the bad guys.
In a single-player game, things are… maybe manageable. Square Enix clearly made this with groups in mind and, while you can assign a moogle to tote the Chalice for you, having an intelligent person who can help carry the load is ideal. The problem is, balance is an issue if you’re attempting to play with people and don’t have others on and around. Setting up a lobby and leaving it open for others to join by Setting Out in the campaign means… you are alone with the Chalice and the monsters and have to hope others will randomly drop in. Mog didn’t show up when I’d choose this option, which meant awkwardly carrying the Chalice around, dropping it near enemies, attacking, and hoping that someone would show up.
Difficulty scales, which means you ideally want a group of at least three people playing. That way, you can reliably have one person handling the Chalice (and perhaps also healing with spells like Cure, Clear, and Raise) and two people dealing damage and drawing the enemies’ aggression. Voice chat is also the best way to go, even though there are in-game default messages you can send, because otherwise you’re spending time you don’t have searching for “Hold on” so you can adjust your menu or to say which spell you’re casting.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition Review – Dealing With User Unfriendliness
But even if you can get a group of people together, playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition can be excruciatingly frustrating. You can’t just go from one campaign dungeon to the next with the same group. You can’t even change the dungeon once you complete a run. To do so, you have to completely disband the group, start up a whole new room with with the next dungeon you want to explore, then head out again. It really takes away from the sense of progression and makes it so much more of a hassle than it needs to be. That’s even before taking into account the region-locking, as Square Enix’s site even notes, “a player will only be matched with others in the region specific to player’s software.”
Which means you also have to wonder and worry about your progression compared to your group’s. A lot of these bosses genuinely do feel like you need another person on hand to help. The Malboro isn’t particularly tough, but having one person who could act as the designated healer to cast Cure and Clear is incredibly helpful with a foe who casts Poison on the regular. So if you do take the time to play alone and grind for materials, like metals for equipment, you have to wonder if you gathered too many artifacts and put yourself in a position where if you hosted, you’d put them in danger.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition Review – A Relic from Another Time
But you can see that Square Enix did put in effort here to make this version of the game special. The extra character model options are nice. Mimic alts are a fun option to earn and encourage you to find Moogle nests. The post-game seems inviting, though I honestly never got enough people around to help me play to reach those extra dungeons. It looks great on the PlayStation 4. When I did play with other people, lag wasn’t an issue. (Even if they were on a Switch, it was relatively seamless.)
It’s just that you can really tell how old Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is. There’s some good stuff here and it is definitely a piece of gaming history that should be honored and remembered. It just doesn’t compare to more modern conveniences in cooperative RPGs, and things like needing to constantly create new lobbies or make sure you have a certain number of party members can hold you back.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.