Bottom line: This is an absolute must have for fans of the franchise, but also a fantastic game for those new to the series. Multiplayer and crossplay both work incredibly well, and offering both an inexpensive full version and a free lite version means everyone can play together, regardless of their device or budget.
Preserves the spirit of the original
Beautifully remastered graphics
Incredible new and remastered music
Online multiplayer and crossplay
Free Lite version for newcomers
Solo play is extremely difficult
Multiplayer requires a lot from every player
Mobile controls are rough
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Square Enix had a lot on its plate when it set out to make Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition. First off, there have been plenty of remastered and remade games that just didn't live up to the hype, and to be fair to developers, there is a fine line between preserving the aspects of a game fans loved while also improving it enough that new players can pick it up and enjoy without the nostalgia factor.
On top of having that difficult balance to strike, Square Enix set out to make this game across two consoles and two mobile app stores with seamless crossplay. The developers also wanted to provide a free or lite version that would allow players to try the game out while being able to join in with friends playing the full version. It was an ambitous undertaking to say the least, and is probably why it was delayed a couple of times to August 2020.
Luckily, I am happy to say that Square Enix and the team responsible for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition were largely successful. Sure, there are a few complaints, but on the whole, this game is a beautiful tribute to the original. It's fun and engaging, not to mention so very pretty.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition — A labor of love
|Title||Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition|
|Developer||The Game Designers Studio|
|Genre||Action role-playing game|
|Console||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android|
|Game Size||4.1 GB, 5.83 GB, 3.1 GB, 41 M|
|Play Time||20-30 hours|
|Players||Up to four|
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles challenges you and a team of up to three others to seek out Myrrh, an enchanted liquid that can purify your town's Crystal, protecting you and everyone you care about for another year. You must work together and face a slew of monsters, all while unraveling the mysteries behind the Miasma that has covered your world and the Crystals that ward it off.
This is the action role-playing game that started a franchise, and these days, it seems like every game, cartoon, and story we loved as kids is getting a remake, reboot, or re-release. In many cases, these rehashes seem like a lazy way to cash in on nostalgia, but sometimes it's incredibly clear that the teams behind these creative endeavors truly love the source material. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is, without a doubt, one of these labor of love projects.
Even before the game launched, I was cautiously optimistic. Having loved the original and having a handful of kids who loved it even more, I've been following closely since it was first announced. However, seeing this particular Inside look left me especially hopeful. It shows the team loved the original even more than I did.
It has beautiful art and phenomenal music
While part of remastering games is updating the visuals and music, the team at Square Enix outdid itself with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition, creating something that both feels like the original while looking and sounding new. The remastered graphics are so clean and crisp, like comparing standard definition on a tiny television to high definition on the big screen. For a game originally released in 2003 on the GameCube, this had to have been a real challenge, and yet, this team did a masterful job. The game is worth it for the artwork alone.
On top of remastering the existing graphics, all four Tribes have new designs as well. You can now choose from 10 different appearances for each Tribe when building your characters. You can build up to eight characters, each customized with a Tribe, appearance, gender, and job. While these additional appearances are new, the team designing them included the original creators, so they all fit into the aesthetic perfectly.
The artwork isn't alone. We also get to experience remastered versions of all the original, charming music, as well as brand new songs by the original composers. Having played more than my fair share of video games while also being a busy parent, I've lost count of the number of times a game was left on a menu and the same music played on repeat. I'm sure most gamers can relate on some level, getting a looped song stuck in their head.
The music in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is so good that I intentionally left the game on while working or cooking. I could listen to this for hours (and I have) without getting sick of it. It's charming and fits perfectly with the fantasy feel of this game.
If you loved the music of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition as much as I did, this soundtrack is an absolute must have. Set to release on September 11, 2020, you can enjoy every beautifully remastered song, as well as new original songs over and over.
Online multiplayer and the Lite version mean everyone can play
When Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles orignally came out, video games were mostly played on consoles that weren't connected to the internet at all. Multiplayer meant gathering your siblings and/or friends in one room, plugging in multiple Game Boy Advances, and all playing on the same save file. Now, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition multiplayer is entirely online. This game supports crossplatform play, allowing you to join in with friends and strangers on the Nintendo Switch, the PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android.
Having played on all four, I am glad to say it actually works. Sure, there are going to be the occasional connection issue, and online multiplayer doesn't allow for the same level of communication as couch multiplayer, but the seamless integration of parties using all four versions of the game is impressive.
The addition of a free or lite version also means that people who aren't sure if they will enjoy the game can still join in. My kids have already invited some of their friends to play with them, and those friends were able to download the free version and have a similar, though understandbly more limited, gaming experience. The lite version gives you full access to the first three dungeons and character building, as well as the ability to join other players on most of the original dungeons.
The fact that multiplayer is done entirely online also means you can build parties anytime. You can match up with friends or strangers and take on dungeons to progress your own storyline, or just to level up and farm drops.
The game has improved controls and fun additions
Anyone who played Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles knows how much practice the timing of spell fusion took. While there is still some level of practice necessary in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition, the battle system is definitely much smoother than the original. With the addition of the Spell Timer, players can see exactly when they need to cast their spells to perform fused magic. While it's not perfect, there is also a messaging system that allows you to direct your party members in performing more complicated magic.
The improved controls weren't the only upgrade Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition got. There are tons of new items, weapons, and gear to be found and crafted. There are nearly twice as many dungeons, most of which are high difficulty dungeons accessible after completing the storyline.
However, my favorite addition is the Mimic System. Throughout the game and in the DLC, you can gain Memory Crystals. Memory Crystals are unique items that allow you to change the appearance and voice of your characters to those of many of the game's NPCs. While this doesn't make a huge difference to the actual gameplay, it is a lot of fun to be able to play as these characters. It also gives one more option for customization, allowing you to stand out from the rest of the party.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition — Not perfect for everyone
While Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition has definitely impressed me, I will admit there are some flaws. For starters, you no longer have couch multiplayer. Since a free or lite version of the game means you don't necessarily have to buy additional copies of the game, it's sad that families who may share a Switch or PS4 can't just all play on the same console.
The online multiplayer is a nice addition, but also comes with drawbacks. If you're playing with strangers, there isn't a good way to communicate during a dungeon. There are a number of preset messages you can use, but getting those messages out in the middle of a battle is a challenge. I definitely understand why — for such a light hearted, kid-friendly game, the last thing you want is abusive and profane messages. However, it makes coordinating difficult.
Solo play is an afterthought
Much like the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition was designed as a multiplayer game first. It is possible to beat the game solo, but it is more difficult. Having to balance physical attacks, magic, healing, and items alone is a real challenge. I ended up dying several times in the very first boss fight and I played the original enough to know how to beat it. On the other hand, I was able to beat that same boss quickly with just one other player.
What's more, while you can fuse some magic in solo play, the most powerful spells can only be cast in multiplayer. You absolutely should go into Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition understanding that it is primarily a multiplayer experience. For those who love Final Fantasy games but are new to Crystal Chronicles, this might just be a deal breaker.
Mobile and online subscriptions
I play just as many mobile games as I do console games, so I am used to the typical touch control issues many suffer from. Even still, having started on console, I couldn't get a solid handle over the mobile controls. If you play primarily mobile games or start out with the iOS or Android version of this game, you'll probably handle it just fine, but having played both, I won't be playing without a controller again.
Also, for the Switch and PS4 versions of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition, you have to have a paid online subscription to play multiplayer. Even if you're using the lite version of the game, you need either a Nintendo Switch Online Membership or a PlayStation Plus account. Neither of these services are particularly expensive, but it is still a recurring cost that you need to plan on.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition — Should you buy it?
If you love action RPGs, especially multiplayer ones, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is a must have. This game is absolutely a labor of love and it really shows just how much the creators adore this world and these characters. The graphics and music are beautiful and the gameplay is engaging and easy to learn. It's definitelty a multiplayer game first and foremost, but with online multiplayer and crossplay, you can find other players to join in at anytime of day or night.
With nearly twice the number of dungeons to play, the new Mimic System, and plenty of new weapons, armor, and accessories to craft, you will also be getting a lot for a relatively low cost. The addition of a free lite version and mobile versions also make this game super accessible. This is one of my favorite games to come out is a while, so I would definitely recommend buying it, but you don't have to take my word on it. You can try out the lite version for free and, if you decide to buy the full version, all your progress transfers over.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is now available to play on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android.
The most fantasy Final Fantasy
A fun and beautiful multiplayer action role-play experience
A fitting tribute to the original, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is a beautifully crafted fantasy, and a delightful action role-playing game. Best enjoyed in multiplayer, you can start for free and play across Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, or Android. You won't want to miss out on this adventure!
Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.