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Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles - Ring of Fates
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Cartridge
Release: US 03/11/08
Japan 08/23/07



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I can barely afford to pay attention!
 
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What about that parallel world where I'm beside myself?
 
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I'm screaming so much, my face turned purple!
 
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Push you worthless maggots! PUSH!!
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Neal Chandran
First Look Preview
01/26/08
Neal Chandran

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for the Nintendo Gamecube was a highly anticipated title, because it was the first original Final Fantasy game on a Nintendo console since the Super NES. Unlike other Final Fantasy games, Crystal Chronicles was an action RPG with multiplayer cooperative play and connectivity features with the Game Boy Advance. The press and players generally did not embrace this new formula, but this did not deter Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles producer Akitoshi Kawazu and Square Enix from trying again with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles - Ring of Fates for the popular Nintendo DS handheld.

The original Crystal Chronicles allowed players to select one of four races to play and the desired gender. The four races were the short stout Lilties, the human-esque Clavats and Selkies, and the tall, helmet-clad Yukes, all of which are present in Ring of Fates. The multiplayer campaign allows players to select one of a variety of character classes to play as, such as Warrior, White Mage, Archer, and a couple of others. However, the single player campaign does not offer the players a selection and puts them in the shoes of a sword-wielding clavat named Yuri. Accompanying him on his quest is his twin sister Chelinka and the two meet many friends along the way, such as Alhanalem the Yuke and Meeth the Lilty. Various Final Fantasy staples such as crystals and moogles will also be present. The single player campaign promises a more focused, tighter, and deeper storyline than was present in the first Crystal Chronicles game, which was regarded as a fun multiplayer experience but a somewhat dull single-player experience. One aspect of the storyline that appears to have promise is the theme of fraternal love between brother and sister, for whom mysterious powers only truly work when they are together.

The graphics are on par with the 3D remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV for the DS. Environments, character models, and enemies are all polygonal and have vivid colors and fun details. The appearance is generally cute with characters having squat bodies and large heads. Some of the enemies seen have expressive faces with large eyes and mouths. Everything appears to animate smoothly and camera angles appear optimal for navigation and combat. There is also CG full motion video in the game, such as during the introductory sequence of the game. This is a Square Enix specialty as this game and prior Square Enix games on the DS have top quality FMV.

The trailer on the official website shows a wide variety of gameplay options, some of which capitalize on the unique aspects of the DS' hardware. The general gameplay looks like classic action RPG gameplay with realtime combat. Sword wielders utilize multi-strike combination attacks on enemies and distance fighters, such as mages and archers, use a targeting system to hit enemies. There is also footage of characters lifting up, carrying, and throwing various living and non-living objects much like was done in Super Mario Bros. 2. Objects can be thrown at enemies or used to solve puzzles. A new addition is the ability to jump, which was not present in the first Crystal Chronicles game and allows for environments geared more for platforming. Players can only control one character with AI controlling the others, but control of a different character can be switched through the touch screen menu and a single button press can summon all your party members to huddle around you. This is helpful for healing and for the reported combination magic attacks.

The dual screens are used frequently as well. The touch screen is primarily used to navigate menus and the top screen is primarily used to move characters around the screen. However, footage shows that the screens can be flip-flopped at the touch of a button in order to allow some combat to be conducted via the touch screen and to solve certain puzzles in the game. There is also footage showing funny faces being drawn on moogles via the touch screen. And in keeping with the cooperative play spirit of the series, one can play Ring of Fates with other players via the DS' Wi-Fi.

In terms of sound, the music is once again being composed by Kumi Tanioka, who composed the music in the first Crystal Chronicles game. The music heard in the trailer sounds more sweeping and atmospheric than the more bombastic compositions associated with other Final Fantasy games, though some classic Final Fantasy themes such as the victory theme are present. There is also voice acting during various cutscenes. The Japanese voice acting sounds on par with that of other Square Enix RPGs. Square Enix has a good track record for English voice acting, so players should expect Ring of Fates to follow suit.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles - Ring of Fates was released in Japan on August 23, 2007. Square Enix projects a March 11, 2008 release date for the US. Whether or not US players will be willing to give Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles another chance remains to be seen.



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