Aren’t There Better Things To Remaster, Kupo?

HIGH A bright, cheerful presentation that defined “chibi” Final Fantasy.

LOW Completely missing the only thing that made the original cool in the first place.

WTF The proper usage and inflection of the word “Kupo”


I find the fact that I’m reviewing a new remaster for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles HD somewhat odd, as not many people I know remember it fondly the way I do — see, I’m one of those dorks that had a Gamecube and three dorky friends in middle school with GameBoy Advance link cables. Under those very specific circumstances, Square-Enix’s Crystal Chronicles is a great time as a pseudo-action RPG party game involving lots of yelling at pals.

The issue with this remaster? I’m not reviewing a Gamecube game, I’m reviewing a Playstation 4 game in 2020 that’s damn near old enough to vote.

Crystal Chronicles takes place in a world engulfed by miasma — a deadly gas that makes traveling difficult. For protection, towns around the world have crystals that create a barrier protecting both the towns and their inhabitants.

To power the crystals, players (known as “caravanners”) must collect myrrh from trees hidden deep within dungeons and under heavy guard by all kinds of monsters. To get to the trees, players must use a large, heavy chalice. The holder of the chalice is unable to attack and defend, but their burden is what shields the party from miasma.

FFCC is definitely skewed towards a younger crowd, which was appropriate given its heritage as a Gamecube exclusive. There’s a serene nature to the world that gives it a decidedly chill vibe, and that’s helped by excellent character design and music.

This aim towards younger players falls in line with the mechanics as well, as Crystal Chronicles is, sadly, a title without much depth. Players can attack, defend, use magic, fuse magic spells together to make new spells, carry around a bucket, and… not much else. Anyone looking for their next Action-RPG challenge won’t find it here.

Worse, FFCC‘s remaster hasn’t been able to solve the biggest problem with the original — playing solo is about as enjoyable as getting poked in the eye with a hot french fry. While the annoyance of carrying the chalice is alleviated by having an NPC moogle tote it around in single-player mode, its nature as an incredibly basic title is brought immediately to the forefront without friends.

While the shallowness of play is somewhat solved when one has three mates tagging along, instead of including local co-op to be played with controllers, Square-Enix scrapped it altogether in favor of entirely online multiplayer, and the results are not good. FFCCR does not lend itself to co-op without communication, and playing with mic-less randoms is frustrating, especially when somebody won’t be a good team player and pick up that gotdang chalice.

Adding to the frustration of the online-only multiplayer are the draconian limitations put on progress. If four players complete a dungeon, only the host will collect the myrrh from the tree at the end, and only the host will get to mark the dungeon as completed. While players can keep any equipment and experience earned, progress is exclusive to the host — this means there’s little motivation to hop into a random game and help somebody out.

Decisions like these make FFCCR feel like a weak remaster effort, especially in the face of the truly stellar work Square Enix did on games like Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age to modernize them. Crystal Chronicles runs at a paltry 30FPS when the PS4 Pro is more than capable of running a 17-year old game at 60. It must be capable of loading such a game quicker than it does with FFCCR as well.

While everything looks sharp, nothing was particularly touched up, including the menus, which are ginormous and clearly appear designed for SD Televisions. Considering the audiovisuals are just about the only thing that FFCCR has going for it, this lackadaisical effort is even more disappointing.

Sometimes it’s best to let things rest, and that is definitely the case with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered. It was a game that is mostly remembered for its ties to one of Nintendo’s many hardware gimmicks, and without that, we are left with a rather mundane game that hasn’t done enough to correctly update itself. As a game to be purchased and played in 2020, it’s just not worth returning to — it needed a remake (or, better yet, a sequel), not a remaster.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Square-Enix. It was originally released in 2004 on Gamecube, and is now available on PS4 and Switch. A “free to start” version is also on iOS and Android. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on a base model PS4 Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to playing the game in both single and multiplayer. This version of the game was not completed, but the reviewer has previously completed this game on Gamecube.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and features Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. This game is definitely in the running for “oddest T designation ever”, as there’s hardly any objectionable content outside of the inherent violence associated with swordplay. I’m not sure what the “suggestive themes” are either. Is miasma being an allegory for climate change too “suggestive”? In any case, parents have nothing to worry about here.

Colorblind Modes: The game features no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game features subtitle options and presents them in very large, clear font but with no way to resize them. If anything, I wish I could make it smaller. All dialogue and instructions are provided in text, and there are no necessary audio cues. I’d say it’s fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The game’s controls are not remappable, and the game features no in-game display showing the controls. Players move their character with the left analog stick, attack with the X button, pick up objects with the O button, shuffle through their sub-menu with the L1 & R1 buttons, and open up the main menu with the touch pad.

Jarrod Johnston

Jarrod Johnston

Jarrod has been lucky enough to be a contributor to GameCritics since 2016. In his earlier years, he flamed out of games writing after the freelance checks for $80 weren't cutting the mustard, and he appreciates being able to do his thing at a place like this in its purest form.

He is currently attending graduate school at Pacific University seeking a Master's In Teaching with a focus on secondary social studies. From 2015-2020, Jarrod worked as a school teacher in various countries throughout Asia, and is now seeking certification to teach in his home country so a global pandemic doesn't leave him stranded again.
Jarrod Johnston

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Daniel
Daniel
6 days ago

Thanks for the write-up, Jarrod! This conclusion is pretty much what I anticipated the moment I read the news about the remaster of this game. I was also one of those dorks who owned a GameCube in the early 2000s, although I had only two dorky friends with GBAs (and I had to provide link cables myself for both.) Even then we only played it twice for a few hours each as I recall it, before we got bored of the shallow combat and anti-fun chalice mechanic. It’s just not a particularly engaging game at its core. It comes across… Read more »