The original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on the Nintendo GameCube was nothing short of a nightmare to set up. If you wanted to play co-op, each player needed their own Game Boy Advance and link cable. The handheld would become your controller, and its screen would display important information, like inventories and maps. It was a gimmick that remains unique to this day, but that's no surprise given how awkward and expensive the whole process was.
With Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition, Square Enix had one job: make Crystal Chronicles more accessible than it ever has been. Unfortunately, the developer dropped the ball long before release, when it revealed that the remaster wouldn't have any form of local co-op. As such, you're forced to hop online if you want to play with friends.
For most games that's not an issue, but online co-op is handled badly in Crystal Chronicles. Instead of simply grouping up with your pals and heading out on an adventure together, you join with other players on a dungeon-by-dungeon basis. In the original game, you got to journey alongside your friends, travelling the roads and exploring peaceful towns as a team. Here, you wander alone until it's time for action.
Without local co-op, there's no doubt that Crystal Chronicles loses some of its magic. Cross-platform co-op is certainly nice to have -- PS4 players can group with those on mobile or Nintendo Switch -- but waving goodbye to your buddies after a couple of dungeon runs just isn't the same. What's more, only the host actually makes story progress when you play online. If you and your friends want to experience the game together, then you're going to have to play through the same dungeons multiple times until everyone has reached the same point, regrouping through invites over and over again. Convoluted is an understatement.
It's such a shame that co-op play is a bust in Crystal Chronicles, because the game still has so much charm. In its art direction, its soundtrack, and even its simple but effective world building, the 17-year-old title remains memorable.
As part of your hometown's crystal caravan, gathering precious myrrh from sacred trees is your duty. The only problem is that these trees rest in the depths of monster-infested dungeons. Each dungeon has its own theme and gimmicks, complete with unique bosses and enemy combinations. Crystal Chronicles is an action RPG but by today's standards it's rather basic. Combat is all about watching you opponent, moving around their attacks, and striking back with either a swing of your weapon or a magic spell. It's a simplistic system, but it gets the job done. A wide range of monster types keep things interesting, and you can combine spells to create more potent magic.
You can play through the entirety of the game alone if you wish, with only your fluffy Moogle companion to keep you company. Many of the game's mechanics are built with co-op in mind, but honestly, single player feels like less of a hassle at times. For starters, your aforementioned ally, Mog, carries the all-important crystal chalice for you. You see, the world's coated in an evil fog known as the miasma, and so staying within the chalice's blessed shield is a necessity as you adventure.
The shield effectively forms an arena when you enter combat, but having Mog handle it means that the arena moves with you as you fight. This alone gives you a distinct advantage against many tougher opponents, as in co-op, you or one of your allies will have to look after the chalice at all times. And when you're carrying it, you can't attack, defend, or cast magic.
The burden of minding the chalice means that coordination with your party is key -- but that can be asking an awful lot when you're paired up with total strangers. Sadly, it all comes back to that lack of local co-op. Crystal Chronicles is still designed to be played side by side with friends, all huddled around the same TV. Trying to achieve that same level of cooperation with other players online simply isn't possible.
But hey, at least the remaster throws some new content into the mix. Alongside added voice acting and some extra character skins, tough endgame dungeons have been bolted onto the experience. Although they do feel like a slog at times due to increased enemy health and some seriously bulky (recoloured and slightly reworked) bosses, they provide a good reason to keep playing thanks to new rewards.
There's still a memorable, charming adventure to be had in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition, but the complete lack of local co-op cripples the game's original vision. Playing together online is always an option, but even that's poorly implemented, with convoluted invite systems and host-only story progression. As a mostly solo experience, Crystal Chronicles is a decent, if somewhat repetitive dungeon crawler -- but this remaster should have been so much more.
Bitterly disappointed by this remaster, I spent god knows how many hours playing the original on GameCube. Didn't even mind the GBA nonsense because we had so much fun!
Anyway, if you've got any questions about the game or the review, let me know.
Mediocre remaster as expected from Square Enix.
@Pat_trick It's true, Square Enix has a shocking track record with remasters. The only good one it's pumped out this gen is The Zodiac Age, which, to be fair, was gold standard.
question was why. who really wanted this remastered and no local coop makes it even worse.
The fact they didn’t sort the co-op situation is just baffling. The original was fun for its time and I love that soundtrack.
Eugh, reading about the co-op made my spine shutter. I never played the original, but it's a shame Square couldn't improve it.
I have good memories of this, but I wasn’t looking to return and the lack of well-done co-ip kills any chance of me ever playing this again. I can’t believe how bad the co-op was handled.
@ShogunRok Amazing version of a great game. I'm still hopeful that someday they'll deliver on other remasters like they did with FFXII.
@Pat_trick We can dream!
It’s like they never sat down and had a conversation before deciding to go ahead with this. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt but what on earth were they thinking.
The only crystal chronicles game I wanted was “my life as king”..... such an underrated game.
So basically the same problems as the original
For me the original was one of the worst final fantasy games.
The local co-op is what made the game so special, to ruin it... whats the point.
Who does local co-op in 2020? Who the hell sits around a TV with friends and says lets play a game? Give me a break.
@ShogunRok true. although the kingdom hearts remasters were also very well done.
The remester we never asked for is finally here.
For a game like this local coop is absolutely essential, which is probably why the game was originally designed with that in mind in the first place, I would easily give up online to keep the local coop.
The co-op sounds awful. I love this game, but I'm regretting pre-ordering it. To make matters worse, I gave my brother money to buy it so we could play together, but I think I'd rather just play it single player.
@jmac1686 me and my girlfriend! Not on this game, though, unfortunately.
Ha, I guessed co-op would be like this.
To be honest, this is game was disappointing for me at the time of release, I can't imagine how it'd feel to play now. There are so many better co-op RPG experiences now, too, and this doesn't really feel like FF, so being a series fan doesn't make it more appealing, in my opinion.
@ShogunRok X/X-2 remasters were not bad at all imho! The ps1games are kind of butchered. And we don’t speak of the phone versions of the earlier games 🤐
@jmac1686 Children. That’s who mainly couch co-op, not us anti-social adults.
My kids are ALWAYS couch co-oping either with each other or friends. And many of their games offer split screen modes.
Why do you think Fortnite added split screen?
What a Pity And i Was Thinking Of Picking This Up To.
@Feena Ah that's true, X and X-2 are pretty solid (even though some people don't like the new character faces).
@ShogunRok i know its not a remaster, but the Trials of Mana remake was done perfectly in my opinion. They can make great games, i just think they get lazy.
@ShogunRok I thought they did a pretty good job with Final Fantasy Type-0!
Only the host advances progress?
That's a no for me. Take care.
I really though the games title was
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition Crap Co Op
I had to double check
@Anguspuss I was going to comment this exact thing.
Why? Who wanted this? Waste of resources...square Enix just riding their FFVIIR high not giving a damn.
@jmac1686 people that actually want a decent co-op experience I guess ? Or people who just have friends ?
So a bad remake without a key component. With the original i still own and the lack of a physical release another SE that i dont have too get such a shame. For me the most dissapointing developer this generation.
Surely it should have been " Crap co-op cripples charming Crystal Chronicles comeback."
i felt so bad for gamecube owners when this game released. they got shafted so hard in the jrpg department heh.
Spent the evening playing this with my brother and I'm remembering why I loved it so much on GameCube. Even having to play through each dungeon twice to progress the story for both of us wasn't a hassle because I was enjoying the game so much.
I never had a GameCube, so therefore no nostalgia for this game at all.
I'll probably pick this up in a few years when it hits $20 or cheaper.
This game was garbage the first time it released and it's still garbage now.
I'll had little hope this would be great.. i will go back to dreaming of a final fantasy tactics remake then..
@jmac1686 People who don't live alone. I don't mean that as a slight, it's just a fact. Roommates, significant others, family...local co-op is only "dead" because it doesn't get any love from developers anymore. Although, Nintendo's system has many a local co-op hit. For example, no one's buying Smash Bros for the brilliant online play.
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