Square Enix Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time makes a lot of improvements on past games in the series, especially with its near-flawless online, wireless multiplayer.
- Plenty of things to collect, online multi-player makes great hack-and-slash fun, colourful DS graphics and good soundtrack
- Platforming elements suffer from bad camera, tedious single player hampered by brain-dead party AI, Wii version is a visual mess
For a DS title, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time sets a high bar for handheld RPG games. Lag-less action, wireless play and a mind-boggling amount of items and customisable ways to outfit your adventurer are how most online RPGs should be built. With the Wii version, you've got the same good gameplay, just cramped and, um, ugly.
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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time makes a lot of improvements on past games in the series, especially with its near-flawless online, wireless multiplayer. Even with a severely lacking story and graphics that don't really live up to Final Fantasy standards, the hack-and-slash RPG action is the best since the original Crystal Chronicles. Overall, Echoes of Time proves itself to be a good dungeon-crawler, despite a less than stellar Wii port and awful A.I. compensation for tedious, boring single player gameplay.
You Scratch My Back
One give-or-take aspect in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is definitely the story. You start the game as a village warrior who has "just come of age" in time to solve the mystery of a sudden "crystal sickness" that has crippled one of your childhood pals. Venturing out into the world for the first time, your character immediately runs across the game's blatant main villain, who promises to help cure your ailing friend. Soon enough, all heck breaks loose, your village is wrecked, and you're off on a quest to save the world. Personally, I wish that Echoes of Time had directly continued the storyline of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fate, because I often had little clue what the heck was going on this game. Still, the plot is essentially just a means to send you travelling the world on various dungeon-based mission, and that's all that really matters.
Like the titles before it, Echoes of Time's gameplay sends you into fully 3D dungeons to kill monsters and loot as much as gold as your little arms can carry. The addictive part of the game comes into play when you collect enough items to start crafting your own gear, which is both fun and rewarding to see on your in-game character. It gets even better when you're playing with a group of friends, since the puzzles and enemies are best tackled with your buddies coordinating attacks and spells in unison. Echoes of Time's wireless play works incredibly well between DS and Wii machines, and even my online session didn't falter in the face of frantic boss battles. Moreover, the dungeons are clearly structured with multiple players in mind, and they're varied enough to engage teams of Crystal Chronicles players for dozens and dozens of missions.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
Even though the Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles series has always been best when played with friends, the flaws in Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time become drastically magnified both on the Wii and with only a single player in the game. Echoes of Time gives you the option to customize your own team of tagalongs, but the party A.I. is just pathetic outside of closed battles. Also, each dungeon's frustrating platforming elements (stupid camera!) are exaggerated when your A.I. partners blindly stumble face first into traps and fail to snag items and loot. Even worse, you can't give them simple commands, like "stand on this floor panel," which made me want to claw my eyes out every time I had to deal with a multi-part puzzle.
If you're going to play Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, the DS version is the better of the two by far. The colourful and crisp graphics on the small dual screens just look bad when they're blown up on the Wii, and splitting the display into two small side-by-side screens is like lemon juice on an open flesh wound. It's obvious that the DS' display options are the way to go, but Square Enix should have thought of a way to make the screens at least shift so they could be full-sized for the Wii. Then again, that probably would've made the graphics look worse.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time may have a forgettable story and serious design flaws on the Wii, but it's still a great dungeon crawler for groups of Final Fantasy devotees to get their hands on. While the online upgrade and improvements in the wireless multiplayer make it a feat to behold, just make sure to play the DS version instead of its unattractive, very unpolished console port.r
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