E3: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers ImpressionsAnnounced in 2005, playable in 2009!06.08.09 - 6:48 PM
Throw everything you know about Crystal Chronicles
out the window, because the next in line for Square Enix's spinoff series is anything but what you've seen in the past. Crystal Bearers
is a completely single player experience with heavy amounts of motion controlled content, one that's sure to please Wii owners looking for that next waggle-happy title. But why should we care? Well, it's also an RPG. And we like those around these parts.
The twenty minutes or so I got to spend with the game had me doing a lot of different stuff. Battling, unfortunately, isn't the stuff I'm talking about, since it was completely absent from the demo on display. In place of it, however, I got to sample a rather splendid variety of activities that more or less set the tone of what Crystal Bearers seems to be about: Mini-games. I did about four of them. In twenty minutes. It might seem overkill for an RPG title, but it actually felt…appropriate. They weren't used as distractions, but rather flowed with the story events that were unfolding before me. Triple Triad and Chocobo Hot and Cold these certainly are not.
The game started off with the main character, Layle, escorting a passenger airship (aka, old-school airplane) known as the Alexis to a neighboring kingdom. As expected, the escorted airliner is quick to be attacked by an unknown cadre of monsters, and it's up to our goggled hero to rid the skies of their presence. You know, via giant, magic gun.
This is where I ran into the first of my mini-games. As Layle is freefalling through the air, I was asked to point my Wii-mote at the screen and tap the A button to shoot out energy bullets at the wyverns circling around me. The more I was able to hit, the more points I got at the end of the sequence (though as far as I can tell, the points are meaningless). Everything had a very nice cinematic quality to it, and there was a lot of movement and miniature cut scenes interjected between the shooting sequences. I don't think there was any possibility of death, but it still felt suspenseful as I descended through the clouds and blasted away at these menacing beasts.
A few story scenes later, another mini-game ensued, which gave me direct control of the Alexis. This one had me flying through a very narrow canyon, and required me to control the fatty vehicle without slamming into the claustrophobic walling. Needless to say, I was crashing all over the place (and getting yelled at profusely by my female companion), but it was still an entertaining bit of gameplay.
When I finally landed the thing and got to town, I was able to control Layle and run around freely. The Wii-mote played a predominant role here, as I was able to target pedestrians and humorously toss them through the air with Layle's crystal powers, or hoist giant rocks over my head and hurl them at said pedestrians. I could even tear fire hydrants right out of the ground and fly backwards as the water spewed my way. Lots and lots of fun was had fooling around here. The third of the present mini-games had me trying to catch a loose ferret, which was done by keeping my aiming reticule centered on the evasive varmint until a capture meter filled up. I then gave my Wii-mote a shake to knock it off its feet and secured it before it managed to scamper off again.
The last of the mini-games was a full-blown chase scene, with Layle eluding police horses whilst atop a Chocobo-drawn carriage. As the opposition approached my cart, I needed to fill up the aforementioned capture meter and blast them off of the pathway. The occasional roadside crate could be flung at them, and I was even able to topple this massive mountainside structure by tearing apart its support pillars. Even with all of this, however, I found myself very close to getting a gameover, so it definitely wasn't subtract of challenge. Easily my favorite section of the demo.
The lack of a playable battle system soured me a bit, but it was hardly enough to muster up a frown on me. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers was oddly enjoyable, even with all the waggle. I mean, motion control is old hat for me, but it managed to work here. It'll be interesting to if Square Enix can provide enough gameplay variations to keep players immersed, but if this demo is any indicator, I'd say they're on the right track. Keep checking back with RPGFan for continued coverage!