To me Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (FF:CC) is similar to a deceased relative, I loved them so, so much, but they're gone now and I can hope and wait that one day the technology to bring them back will be available, but we all secretly doubt it.
A game that was so beautiful for it's generation and could have been so ground breaking went unnoticed some how.
FF:CC stars you as a member of a caravan that annually leaves it's small humble village to collect Crystal drops from local dungeons that will fuel the crystal residing in their previously mentioned cosy town and stop the miasma from invading and killing everyone.
It sports some of the most visually amazing graphics for it's generation, especially the Gamecube and has a sound track crafted by the heavens and some of the most creative multiplayer going - So what went wrong? First off to play this game you required.
A. Gamecube (Duh)
B. The Game (Also; Duh)
C. Gameboy advance
D. Gameboy advance link cable
E. Atleast one friend (Not entirely necessary, but pretty key If you wanted to get the most from this game)
Secondly a lot of the dungeons in game were very repetitive, first time round they were charming, second time round they were still charming and were spaced out enough between the first run that it didn't feel too repetitive, third time round it had already begun grinding on you, all those charming features had now left the atmosphere and it was merely a matter of collecting what you needed and enjoying the parade at the end of the year, which might I add, was always as lovely.
The actual game play was easy to pick up and easy to master, it relied on setting items that you could hot key using the L or R button, this would include magic, defend and attack; Tap A to do a simple attack, or hold down for a charge shot which worked with both magic and attack.
Travelling from each level was done on an over world map with a simple interface that allowed you to add new characters to the party or even to export your character onto a memory card so that you could join someone else's world.
Dungeons would range from underground caverns, to mansions and even to cities that had been swallowed by the dreaded miasma, each with their own area that you'd have to battle through to reach the boss, whether that was achieved through puzzle solving to merely slaughtering all that came towards you was entirely dependant on the level you'd decided to travel to. After trekking through a level you'd fight a boss and depending on your success, you'd gain a drop of crystal juice (Can I use that term?) which would enter your chalice and take you one step closer to helping your village survive another year.
Character customisation was quite basic but charming none the less, to start with you could pick your character's race ranging from two human like species with the Selkies being more at home with nature than the Clavats who were your basic humans - To the Yukes who were lanky magic users with giant helmets on and Lilties who are small warriors and knights that used spears.
Next up you had the choice of four different styles for each race, these were fairly basic and were features such as hair, hats, colours, clothes; After this step you were ready to choose your families profession, this would help later on in the game when you came back to town with materials, jobs such as Blacksmith, Tailor and Alchemist would grant you the ability to forge new gear, where as jobs such as Fisherman, Farmer and Rancher would get you specific materials, this decision also changes what your family sends you whilst you're out on the road.
When I recently tried to get back into FF:CC I found it hard, in fact, I found it terrible, it's aged terribly especially in a world where grinding dungeons, multiplayer and basic character customisation is something that most MMO's now base their entire franchise off of, but something most MMOs will never have over FF:CC? Atmosphere.
This game built atmosphere like no other, maybe my mind was merely younger back then, but I've never been so involved in a game before, I strived to save my town each year, I loved those little festivals, I grew close to the other characters; My family would send me letters after each journey with little gifts ins or ask me how I was, it was so much fun, so personal - And with all four players you could sit and read your letters through your GBA and just chat about them, we'd laugh and send little presents we'd found on our journeys back to our persistent mothers, or our proud fathers, needless to say, this game really captured my imagination as a 13 year old fan of RPGs.
I really loved the random events that would spring up whilst you were out on the road, random little things like traders or the mysterious "Black Knight" all adding more charm to a well developed Universe that had only been established in this one game, Square really out did themselves with their atmospheric creation, the music, the voice acting, the visuals - It was so right!
I can only hope that Square see the error in their mistakes and bring the FF:CC franchise back to it's glorious origins as the newer titles are doing it no favours what so ever.
9 / 10