- This article is about the original game, titled Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. For series information, see Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a spin-off/companion game outside the main Final Fantasy series. Released in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube, it marked the first return of Final Fantasy to a Nintendo console since Final Fantasy VI.
This Final Fantasy game features many new gameplay elements previously unseen in Final Fantasy, like real time fighting, as well as being the first RPG to incorporate GameCube-Game Boy Advance compatibility. The music was scored by Kumi Tanioka.
A remastered edition Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition was release on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and major mobile platforms on August 27, 2020. It will be a digital-only release in North America.
The game can be broken down into three general actions that players are able to choose from: exploration, interaction, and fighting. Like many RPGs, these will constitute the bulk of the game.
In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, players assume the role of various characters who must venture out into the wilderness in a caravan to protect their village from a poisonous gas cloud known as the Miasma that engulfs the entire world. They must find magical trees called Myrrh trees out in the wilderness.
These trees produce one droplet of Myrrh every two game years, meaning the caravans must explore more of the world to replenish their supply of myrrh. Three droplets are needed every year to purify the town's crystal, which wards off miasma. The trees are guarded by a host of creatures bent on killing the caravanners. The passage of time plays an important role in the game, for as the years progress the challenges the players face grow increasingly stronger.
Like the other games in the Final Fantasy series, the story includes characters traveling across the world to accomplish some world-saving event by completing other quests along the way which furthers their progress. On their journey, events unfold which change what abilities the players have, where they are able to explore, and ultimately what they can do in the game.
While in the World Map, the player views a graph of the area they are in with their current location marked by a caravan. The player can travel along plotted roads from one town or dungeon to another, occasionally being stopped to view a brief cut scene. Cutscenes often add to the story or change items from the player's inventory, but they can also be mundane clips of interacting with another caravan along their path.
While in a town or dungeon the camera switches to a third-person perspective, following the crystal chalice in dungeons or the players themselves in towns, viewing them from above as they move throughout the stage. This can cause problems should the chalice be left in a location without anyone carrying it as the player can move off screen. In multiplayer games, players are restricted to being a certain distance from one another in towns, but they can still run out of view in dungeon stages. In towns or other urban environments, NPCs will talk to the characters, offer them advice, or sell them items by pressing the B button, while dungeons allows for different commands (attacking, casting magic, using items, etc.) by switching the options with R or L and confirming the command with A.
Combat in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is real-time based and takes place in the regular movement mode unlike many games in the Final Fantasy series which use a turn based combat system or active time battle combat system. The player has free movement in the stage and acts in real time depending on the option selected. Combat is comprised mostly of physical attacks or magic spells.
Attack is permanently a part of the player's ability slots, along with Defend. Using this command swings the player's weapon once. Pressing A with correct timing multiple times in a row will cause a three hit combo faster than three individual attacks. Holding the A button down will have the caravanner start charging a focus attack, which has a special effect depending on the weapon used.
In order to cast a spell, a magicite orb or magic ring must be assigned to an ability slot. Holding the A button charges the spell, then releasing the button will cast the spell wherever the casting circle is at the time. Overlapping casting circles or combining a casting circle with a focus attack will result in a stronger fusion of the two. In a single player game, this fusion is possible by placing the necessary items in order in the ability screen or combining with Mog's spells which he uses randomly based on how far the player is from him and whether Mog is moving or not.
At the end of each dungeon lies a myrrh tree and a selection of prizes. These prizes, called "artifacts", permanently increase one stat (strength, defense, or magic) by a certain amount or maximum health points or number of activity slots by one or be able to cast a specific spell without magicite. In addition, artifacts encountered inside the dungeon temporarily increase the stat the artifact controls until the player exits the dungeon. Notably, in this game, spells and skills are not learned- special items called magicite must be acquired once per level to cast specific spells.
The story unfolds as the players journey from territory to territory, talking with people and completing quests set before them. While traveling, a caravan may encounter other travelers, which is displayed in cutscene. These movie-like breaks in the game further enhance the story and can be random or part of the storyline. Each encounter is recorded in the caravans journal and is recorded as a memory. By piecing memories together, the player learns the history of the world, nature of the miasmas, or subplots of the game, depending on what they have seen.
One interesting role-playing aspect of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, is that the players can and should interact with their in-game parents. The players actually choose the occupation of their parents at the start of the game, and based upon this occupation the parents will aid the players in various ways. Blacksmith parents, for example, will forge new equipment for the players, merchant parents will sell rare items, alchemist parents can create designs for new equipment, and so on.
Additionally, players will have opportunities at the end of each dungeon to write home or send gifts to their parents. Players with good relationships with their parents are more likely to receive gifts from them in return, as well as gain discounts on their wares.
There are four Tribes (character classes) that players can choose from, each with its own unique strengths. A well-balanced party will draw upon the strengths of each race, which makes the game ideal to play with four players.
The four Tribes are:
- Clavat: Clavats are very human-like in their appearance, and peaceful by nature. They use swords and shields in combat. Clavats are traditionally farmers. Clavats feature the strongest defense and powerful magic-casting abilities. A large Clavat community has settled west of the Jegon River in the Fields of Fum. The Fum caravan is made of four Clavats which journey away from their farms to collect Myrrh for their crystal back in the farmlands.
- Lilty: Lilties are a short, stout people, with reddish fur, leafy hair and something of a mane. They don gauntlets and wield spears as their weapons. Lilties are traditionally warriors rather than spell casters because they have the highest attack power and worst magical power of all the races. Various characters will tell of a time when Lilties ruled the land with powerful soldiers keeping people safe from the threat of monsters. Now Alfitaria is a large city which is mostly inhabited by Lilties. Both Marr's Pass and Alfitaria have caravans comprised of Lilties.
- Yuke: Yukes are tall, mysterious creatures. Their appearance is humanoid in shape, but their heads are always covered by helmets and their hands look somewhat like wings. Oddly enough, they have a set of wings on their backs as well. They wield hammers in battle, but they are rarely used over spells due to having the highest magic and lowest attack. Their focus attacks take longer to charge, however. As such Yukes are traditionally scholars or magicians. Many Yukes reside in the town Shella in Veo Lu, a city protected by powerful magic.
- Selkie: Selkies are a human-looking race with some distinctive features that set them apart from the Clavats. They typically have silvery-blue hair and almost all examples of their race are in peak physical condition. Selkies are traditionally thieves. Known for their speed, Selkies have a strong attack power and shortened focus attack charge time. They use racket-like weapons in battle. The island town of Leuda is filled with Selkies who will rob anyone not of their own race.
The story of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is highly non-linear, though there are certain quests which require the player to perform in a particular order to proceed. The main story itself is followed through several in game years.
The game takes place in a world covered in a poisonous gas called Miasma. Settlements have gathered around large crystals which ward off the mist and protects the people from danger. In order to preserve the crystals' radiance, the towns send out caravans to collect three drops of Myrrh to purify the crystal. Myrrh collects in myrrh trees, often guarded by monsters, every two years in their Crystal Chalice.
In the very beginning of the game, a caravan sets out from the town of Tipa to collect myrrh for their town. The myrrh is used at the end of the year in a purification ceremony to keep them safe for another year. After leaving home, the caravan meets a Lilty named Sol Racht and a moogle named Stiltzkin who offer advice on traveling in a caravan.
Each year the caravan is told a story by the village elder, Roland, about a young man who journeyed around the world trying to find a way to rid the world of Miasma and end the people's reliance on myrrh and crystals to protect them from monsters.
The caravan ventures out into the wild to collect the precious myrrh every year, running into other caravans from neighboring towns doing the same thing. Eventually the caravan meets a Lilty donning black armor and swinging his lance wildly called the Black Knight. He screams violently that a light has stolen his memories and thus he cannot remember who he is.
Later in their journey, the caravan encounters an eccentric Clavat poet named Gurdy. Over the years he is repeatedly abandoned by whichever group of people he's most recently deceived. Upon these encounters, Gurdy recites a short and mysterious rhyme before leaving the party. Occasionally the caravan will meet an eerily similar Clavat named Hurdy, claiming to be Gurdy's brother who he has never met.
Years after they originally left their homes for the first time, the journeyers, trekking across the ocean and deep into the Lynari Desert, are able to transform their crystal chalice's aura into an unknown element able to break the barrier of any Miasma Stream, including the mysterious cave beyond Rebena Plains. On the other side, the caravan finds themselves in Mag Mell, the home of the Carbuncles at the base of Mount Vellenge. After navigating the labyrinth of the mountain, the party finds a hideous creature emitting miasma from its body, the Meteor Parasite.
Before they can destroy the parasite, they are transported to a calmer setting by Lady Mio, the very light which the Black Knight was chasing. She tells the Tipa Caravanners that she and Raem feed on memories, but with one significant difference: while she nibbles on a memory from time to time, Raem enjoys devouring mass amounts of bad memories.
She also tells of two adventurers - a Lilty named Leon and a Clavat named Hurdy, who attempted to do what the caravanners are doing now. Mio explains that they were unsuccessful and lost their memories after the experience, revealing that the Black Knight and Gurdy are the travelers from Roland's story. Losing their memories subsequently caused the Black Knight to go mad, never to return home; while Gurdy developed the alternate personality Hurdy under the guise of his own brother.
Raem then appears and explains that memories of bad experiences are his favorite to consume, and thus he lives in a special synergy with the Meteor Parasite which creates the miasma and causes so much of the pain Raem enjoys. He attempts to defeat the caravan to perpetuate the miasma and consequently satisfy his need for nightmares. After a lengthy battle, Raem acknowledges his end is near and merges with Lady Mio, forming Memiroa. He again attacks the party, refusing to fade away from existence. In this mysterious plane the caravanners use the memories of their lives to fuel their vigor and finally destroy Raem once and for all.
The party is immediately transported back to the Meteor Parasite, withering and dying. After terminating the beast, a beam of light breaks through the miasma and dissipates it. The world is finally rid of the poisonous gas which caused so much pain. Mio's voice comes to them, explaining that she and Raem will sleep for a while. The warriors return home and finally are able to live their lives peacefully.
Multiplayer and connectivity features
The most unique aspect of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is that up to four players can play at once utilizing a Game Boy Advance connected to the GameCube (or Wii) via a Nintendo GameCube - Game Boy Advance cable. When more than one player wishes to play the game, each player is required to play with a GBA.
Multiplayer mode allows several things to happen:
- Players can cast larger spells by working together to join their magicite crystals in different combinations.
- Players use the GBA to switch between various attack commands, spells, items, and equipment. This allows the game to proceed uninterrupted when one player wants to make an adjustment in the middle of a battle; however, this also means that monsters will continue attacking the defenseless player who is navigating the menus.
- When the players enter a dungeon or a cave, each player's GBA screen will show different information. The controller slot that the player is plugged into will determine what screen they will get. Player 1 shows a mini-map, Player 2 shows monster locations, Player 3 shows treasure chest locations, and Player 4 shows enemy health and weaknesses. Players must therefore communicate the information to each other to venture safely through each dungeon, which adds a unique interactivity element to playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.
- The GBA also has the added benefit of clearing away information clutter from the game screen itself so that players can get a clear view of the game without obscuring the screen with excess information.
The Remastered edition changes several elements of multiplayer, most notably making the extra information from the GBA screens standard features. The mini-map, including monster and chest locations, is now displayed in the upper right unless the player turns this feature off in the options. However, there does not seem to be a monster health and weakness indicator other than health bars for bosses.
There is also a new Spell Timer that appears when the first player to finish casting a spell does so, so that other players can see how long they have to finish casting before the effect of the spell is activated. This makes multiplayer spell fusion easier since players may not necessarily be able to speak with one another while playing together, compared to the original where they necessarily had to be in the same room.
In March 2002, Nintendo announced that the Final Fantasy series would return to their company's consoles for the first time since Final Fantasy VI in 1994. Partially backed by Nintendo's Q Fund, a new company helmed by Akitoshi Kawazu was formed to port existing Square titles to the Game Boy Advance, as well as develop a new project that would take advantage of the GBA's ability to link to the GameCube. The project was initially speculated to be related to the anime series Final Fantasy Unlimited, as Hironobu Sakaguchi had mentioned Kawazu was directing a game based on the series in October 2001. The first footage of the game was shown in August 2002, revealing the title as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.
Kawazu has stated that he wanted to promote player freedom with the gameplay and that he did not feel obligated to include common Final Fantasy elements, such as White Mage and Black Mage jobs. Shigeru Miyamoto was said to have offered advice to the team during development.
In September 2018, a remastered version of Crystal Chronicles was announced for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android. The remaster adds new features, such as additional dungeons, voice acting, and online multiplayer. A full remake was considered, but producer Ryoma Araki opted for a remaster instead. Araki was not involved in the development of the original, but he was a big fan of the game and wanted to see it brought back faithfully, while also modernising it for new players.
Music that was cut from the original release due to hardware limitations was added back for the remaster, along with new tracks by Hidenori Iwasaki and Kumi Tanioka. Character designer Toshiyuki Itahana considered redoing the original character designs, but chose to keep them intact and added a new male and female design per race instead.
The remaster was initially scheduled to release in late 2019, but was pushed back to January 23, 2020 and then again to August 27, 2020 in order to make final adjustments to the game and deliver the best experience possible.
Sequels and spin-offs
Due to the success of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, the game has spawned three sequels and two prequels:
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates is a prequel game for the Nintendo DS. It follows the tales of two Clavat twins, Yuri and Chelinka, as well as the Yuke Alhanalem, the Selkie Gnash, and the Lilty Meeth Crym.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King is a spin off of the original game for the Nintendo Wii via download on WiiWare. It takes place directly after the original game when the Miasma has cleared up and the young King Leo begins to restore his Kingdom.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord is a sequel to My Life as a King for the Nintendo Wii via download on WiiWare.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is a game set in-between Ring of Fates and the original Crystal Chronicles for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii systems. It is the story of a girl named Sherlotta and a mysterious crystal.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is a sequel game for the Nintendo Wii. It follows the story of a young mercenary named Layle.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition
A remastered edition Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition (ファイナルファンタジー・クリスタルクロニクル リマスター, Fainaru Fantajī Kurisutaru Kuronikuru Rimasutā?) was originally scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and major mobile platforms on January 23, 2020, and was later pushed back to Summer 2020, citing a desire to deliver a complete product to fans. On May 28, 2020, Square Enix set a final release date of August 27, 2020 while noting that variance may occur in mobile ports. It will be a digital-only release in North America. A trial version Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition Lite was released for PS4 and Nintendo Switch on the same day as the full version of the game, allowing players to enjoy the opening three dungeons, as well as online cross-play of the same dungeons, and up to 13 dungeons with users of the full version for free.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has been completely remastered with a number of new features to make the gameplay experience better than ever. Whether alone or with friends, you will be able to discover an incredible fantasy world and grow fond of magnificent characters while enjoying role-playing and action gameplay.
Among the new features for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition are:
- Updated graphics and audio: Enjoy the world of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles in all its splendor, with updated audio and improved graphics that enrich this magical adventure like never before.
- New voices for the characters: The playable characters come to life with new voices while they throw spells and face powerful monsters.
- New online multiplayer: Play online with up to three friends to overcome the dangerous monsters and dungeons found in the world. No player will be left out, as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition allows cross-play.
- New dungeons and bosses: New dungeons and bosses have been added to the game, enabling even more exciting and fun gameplay.
- New objects and aspects for the characters: Be the center of all the looks equipping you with the new aspects and artifacts that you will be able to use during your magical adventure.
Even with the update data (Ver. 1.01) immediately after launch, there was a bug that was speculated to occur when the scenario management flag was bugged under certain conditions during online multiplayer, but the update data (Ver. 1.02) was released on September 30, 2020, and the bug was resolved. In the updated data (Ver. 1.02), the "? s attribute hotspot being released by itself, fixed infinite item acquisition, improved the frequency of freezing during loading, boss appearance scenes can be skipped during multiplayer, and boss appearance scenes can be skipped during single-player on smartphones.
The game has been rebalanced so that Artifacts are no longer dropped in places where they did not drop in the original version, such as in rare slots when killing bosses and in the contents of treasure chests.
The autosave feature has been changed so that the game will now save every time switch screens.
- Many enemy designs are taken directly from Final Fantasy IX. Some examples include the Gigan Toad and Hedgehog Pie.
- The game also shares several thematic elements with Final Fantasy IX, the most notable being memories.
- Official North American site
- Official European site
- Original version official Japanese site
- Remastered Edition official Japanese site
- GameFAQs entry for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
- Collection of reviews of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Shrine
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition delayed to summer 2020 (Accessed: December 12, 2019) at Gematsu
- Nintendo and Square settlement details (Accessed: July 16, 2020) at Nintendo World Report
- More Specifics on Final Fantasy Announcement (Accessed: July 16, 2020) at IGN
- FF:TSW Interview Series - Hironobu Sakaguchi (Accessed: February 03, 2002) at Anime Dream
- Akitoshi Kawazu on the origins of SaGa's insanity (Accessed: July 16, 2020) at Retronauts
- Square Enix on Crystal Chronicles (Accessed: July 16, 2020) at IGN
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition Producer On Rearranged Tracks, Why Not Remake, And More (Accessed: July 16, 2020) at Siliconera
- Announcement tweet (Accessed: September 10, 2018) at Official Final Fantasy account at Twitter
- Release date announcement tweet (Accessed: September 10, 2019) at Official Final Fantasy account at Twitter
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is digital-only in North America (Accessed: September 15, 2018) at Nintendo Everything