Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King review

April 25, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Game Review, Wii Review | Leave a comment
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One of the earliest WiiWare titles and easily one of the deepest experiences you can find on the service.

Title: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My life as a King

Format: Wii

Developed by: Square-Enix

Published by: Square-Enix

Genre: Life Sim

Releasing a spin-off to any gaming series can be a risky business decision; on the one hand you have a ready-made legion of loyal followers to tap into, on the other the merest hint of the term can whip said fan-base into a frenzy of outrage. To release a spin-off of a spin-off would therefore surely be risking a veritable tidal wave of vitriolic comments from the world’s gaming forums. So it doesn’t help matters when your game comes from one of gaming’s most prized franchises and the spin-off you’ve spun off from is as divisive and notorious as Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

Whether the controversy surrounding Crystal Chronicles was fully justified or not is down to personal opinion. In terms of gameplay and structure it was pretty far-removed from the epic single-player quests the series was famed for; from the outset, this was an adventure that was intended to be enjoyed by a team greater than one and was perhaps better suited to be an extension of the Secret of Mana series. However, in retrospect, it remains a unique and fun title in its own right, especially for those lucky enough to have experienced the multiplayer aspects as they were intended. SquareEnix seems to have some faith in the series as here we have the second of a possible three follow-ups.

Boasting one of the longest names in gaming history, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: My life as a King takes places several years after the events in Crystal Chronicles set in a Kingdom once choked by the miasma mists. Taking the role of the young King of the title, you are tasked with returning the Kingdom to its former glory and it’s not going to be easy. In order to repopulate the lands within the castle walls you need to use a form of magic called ‘Architek’ which is initially in very short supply. Thanks to an early tutorial you are given a couple of houses to start off with, which also gives you your first adventurers and your first introduction to behests – quests you can send your eager villagers on to bring back items, gold and most importantly more Architek on a daily basis.

The number of buildings you can assemble depend on which of these quests have been completed; things like bakeries and weapons shops are amongst the early rewards for some of the simpler ones. But once you get to the higher level dungeons you stand the chance of picking up guild halls, training centres or shrines, all of which help you to build a grand army of mages, warriors and thieves. And if you want to breed strong adventurers of a certain class you may want to group their houses around certain buildings – base stats are influenced by surrounding buildings, so putting a house next to a black mage cathedral will give you an adventurer predisposed to performing awesome black magic. But not every building aids the development of your people; some, like the tavern and gaming halls can prove rather distracting to your warriors, while others are just there to improve your regular villagers’ morale.

The relationship between the King and his subjects is really paramount to success. Happy adventurers always perform better when out in the field and can get a morale (and stat) boost if you take the time to talk to them before a quest, which is important from the start seeing as even the early dungeons can prove tough for your loyal band of warriors to tackle. Every time you talk with your people, or they visit a shop, the Kingdom’s happiness gauge will rise a little and when full can be used to upgrade the Kingdom’s status or to give everyone a morale boost. High spirits result in the people decorating their houses with plant-life and lanterns, in addition to making your Kingdom look a bit nicer it also means you and your adventurers can stay out later and could net you a bonus medal when you visit their houses (medals are awarded to adventurers when they complete a quest and can give them big stat bonuses).

Thanks to the short time it takes to complete a day, the urge to keep going for one more is just too hard to ignore. SquareEnix have managed to find a fine balance between casual play and hardcore needs; the city-building is something even your little sister can enjoy but there’s enough depth for anyone looking for a rewarding challenge. Of all the early WiiWare titles My life as a King gives you the most gaming hours for your Wii points, with the main game taking upwards of 40 hours to see off depending on how eager you are to see all it has to offer. The optional downloadable content doesn’t add an awful lot more but remains hard to resist for completionists. And although the daily grind can get a bit boring, watching your band of heroes grow into world-wise warriors is strangely compelling.

8/10

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