We’re just under a month away from the release of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered, reviving a GameCube classic that many could have expected to stay locked to that console for all time. Instead, Square Enix have remastered this intriguing action RPG spin-off, and it will be coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android on 27th August.
So what is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles? Well, we have to go back to the late 90s to find out. With Square having jumped ship to Sony’s PlayStation for Final Fantasy VII and enjoyed huge success with the games on that system, the mainline Final Fantasy series wasn’t about to head back to a Nintendo system in a hurry, but there was space for a spin-off and more importantly, some experimentation. In fact, Crystal Chronicles was one of those wildly experimental games designed to use some of the specific tricks that most developers wouldn’t bother with outside of Nintendo.
The game is designed as a co-op action RPG, but with a unique narrative twist to keep players together. The world is poisonous to its inhabitants, with a Miasma that will kill anyone that ventures out of the spheres of safety generated by the fragments of the Great Crystal. To keep the towns safe, their crystals need topping up with myrrh, and that’s where your adventuring Caravan comes in.
This need to stay near to crystal fragments is what keeps players together in the game world. Sure, we’ve seen plenty of co-op games have similar set ups designed to stop players getting separated and need the console to split its processing power on two views into the world, but none have really made it a part of the story.
In single player, you control your character in a hack and slash action RPG, while a Moogle carries the protective vessel around and follows you, giving you plenty of freedom. However, in multiplayer, with up to four players, it’s then up to you to carry and move the vessel around.
That doesn’t sound so awkward for co-op, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, but on GameCube, you could only play multiplayer by linking up multiple Game Boy Advance. Utter shenanigans for people wanting a good four player action RPG at the time, but it did allow for unique tricks like moving your player character’s info to a personal screen, and allowing you to visit and interact with shops independently. Thankfully everyone needing a direct link cable to a single console is not a restriction for the remaster. Instead, Square Enix have gone in the complete opposite direction.
Alongside the main game’s release will be a Lite edition of the game. This is effectively a demo, giving you the first few dungeons to play through, and letting you do so in both single and online multiplayer. That’s pretty generous in its own right, but the Lite version also lets you join someone with the main game and play through almost the entire adventure. You can enjoy 13 of the original 14 dungeons, which is simultaneously incredibly generous and a little bit cheeky from Square Enix!
Through the rest of the game, there’s then just dozens of other niceties. There’s voice overs, a new mimic system, a set of post-game high level dungeons (another full game exclusive), new weapons, armour, recipes and on and on and on. It seems like every part of the game has been looked at and tweaked, which would go some way to explaining why this remaster has been delayed so often.
Thankfully, that wait is coming to an end. That’s all we have for this video, but this time next month, we’ll all be able to revisit this GameCube classic on some current gen consoles and smartphones.