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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates

March 29, 2008

Beat the story mode and can’t really be bothered to play it again. Too bad I don’t have anyone to play the multiplayer game with, I guess.

I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively strong emphasis on platforming; having played through a few action-RPG “dungeon crawlers” in my time, I expected it to be fairly rigid, particularly when it came to the dungeon puzzles. However, your different characters can pick each other up and throw each other around, jump off of each others’ heads, balance items on top of their heads while double-jumping, and summon all the other party members to their present location – all of which can be used to creatively solve the different puzzles without bothering to figure out boring things like how it’s “supposed” to be done. This is good, because I hate switch-flipping puzzles.  GameSpot called this a “12 hour game” in their review, but I finished it in just under 10.

I imagine the game is supposed to get progressively harder after multiple playthroughs, but I certainly don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. Managing a whole party in a boss fight is clumsy, but most of the time you don’t have to do much more than blindly hack away with the character you’re controlling to win the fight. I didn’t even bother with any of the special abilities, charge attacks, or myriad combinations of spells besides the stock revive and heal spells. Just slash-slash-slash away.

It’s worth noting that the reason I didn’t bother with any of the advanced high-damage stuff wasn’t because I didn’t want to, but because the stylus control is so damn awkward. In order to use most of the special combat abilities, you have to use the touch screen to choose an enemy to target. This means you have to take a hand away from the buttons or the control pad to fiddle with the stylus. It’s a total pain in the ass. Same goes for changing characters – you have to use the touch screen to pick who you want to control, even though the select button would have been a much-appreciated alternative option. This means that if I want to cast Fire 3 (to hell with the post-FF6 naming conventions for spells, by the way), I have to pick the red magicite (right hand – touch screen), select a location (right hand – X button, then d-pad to pick a location, which takes FOREVER), then pick out two other members with red magicite selected with the touch-pad. And if they don’t have it? Oops. No Fire 3 for me. I suppose this might be forgivable, since the game is presumably designed around the multiplayer, with the party controls added on afterwards, but it’s also the worst use of MANDATORY touch screen controls. Ugh.

Also of note: save points are fairly scarce, you CAN’T do any kind of temporary mid-game save outside of a save point (low battery? no luck.), and you can’t even PAUSE the damn game except for closing the DS. You basically have to play this one like you would any typical console RPG – that is, chained to a power outlet with long stretches of free time – because it isn’t designed to be played on the go.

Up next, a post on the moment I realized exactly how fucked video games are about race. Peace.

pat m.

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