Square Enix Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates
- Cool visual tricks, fancy cut scenes with solid voice acting, enthralling music
- Poorly placed camera angles, controls can be complicated at times, no Wi-Fi feature
Ring of Fates is a solid title that boasts some amazing production values. Its single-player campaign tends towards mindless hack-and-slash gameplay and there are some noticeable slowdown flaws, but it still offers up a good dose of fun, especially if you're looking for a dungeon crawler with a bit Final Fantasy flavour.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
When the original Crystal Chronicles debuted on the Gamecube, it raised a few eyebrows as it eschewed much of the famous Final Fantasy formula. The game's successor, Ring of Fates, also differentiates itself from the series proper by breaking new ground with the DS's touchpad but it still upholds Square's rigorous artistic standards.
Ring of Fates starts out quite similar to other Square-Enix games before it: a pair of twins are put in charge of a mysterious crystal that can undo the machinations of an evil force that blah blah blah. It's standard boilerplate but Square Enix knows what they're doing when it comes to telling these types of stories, so it's easy to forgive the somewhat tired, somewhat odd narrative. What's more impressive is the visual style, which expertly mimics the vibe of the original Gamecube title. It even features cool visual tricks like character models reflecting equipment changes. The game also offers some fancy cut scenes with solid voice acting and the music completely steals the show with a sprawling repertoire which ranges from deep, subterranean dirges to triumphant paeans.
The core gameplay of the original Gamecube title remains largely intact, offering a dungeon crawling, action RPG style more common to games like Diablo or Baldur's gate than anything in the main FF series. Essentially, you use the D-pad to run around the upper screen (which often runs afoul of poorly placed camera angles) and mash the A button to melee your enemies. As you level up, your characters gain various abilities including multi-shot arrows, charged attacks, double jumps, and rolling and airborne attacks. While most of the core combat takes place on the upper screen, the game does make ample use of the DS touchscreen, which at times can be completely novel and refreshing, but also maddeningly over-complicated.
The multiplayer has also been revamped from the boneheaded Gamecube version which required a lot of extraneous hardware. Up to four players can play, sync up locally and head out on an adventure, though everyone in the party needs their own cartridge. Sadly, there's no Wi-Fi multiplayer support apart from the Mog trading feature, a simple minigame that allows you to paint up FF's signature mog cuddlies using the stylus and trade them with your friends over the Net.
In the end, Ring of Fates is a solid title that boasts some amazing production values. Its single-player campaign tends towards mindless hack-and-slash gameplay and there are some noticeable slowdown flaws, but it still offers up a good dose of fun, especially if you're looking for a dungeon crawler with a bit Final Fantasy flavour.
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