Published on October 5th, 2012 | by octaneblue1
Review: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
System(s): Wii, DS
Release Date: March 24, 2009
When the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was unveiled, it was announced as an agreement between Square Enix and Nintendo for the former to make an exclusive series for the latter. Since then, more titles in the spin-off series have been released, starting with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates for the DS. In 2009, Square Enix released Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time for both the DS and the Wii. The game features online multiplayer, a first for the series, and, using the Pollux Engine, includes cross-platform play between the Wii and DS. This all sounds great, but unfortunately, the game is bogged down by some issues, specifically with its best feature: multiplayer.
If you’re new to the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series, it is very different from the main series. For starters, it’s more of an action RPG with some platforming and puzzle elements, with a big focus on multiplayer. There’s a pretty nice feature of customization, with your choice of four races to choose from for your character: Clavats, Lilties, Selkies, and Yukes. The races have their own styles of play. And from there, you can customize your character with their own weapon and armor set. You can either buy these, or forge them using specific materials picked up from enemy drops or treasure chests found in each of the areas. Gameplay mostly consists of hacking and slashing enemies. You do get the ability to cast magic spells, which includes elemental and healing spells. As you progress, you can use new attacks and gain the ability to “stack” spells to a greater effect. Certain enemies are vulnerable to certain spells, but you have to be careful with how many spells you cast, as you have an MP meter that drains each time you use one. This can be restored by certain potions and food.
The game features a great soundtrack composed by Kumi Tanioka. The music tracks for each area are pretty catchy, and most of the soundtrack is adventurous and light-hearted, but the music gets serious when it needs to be. The graphics in the game look pretty good – on the DS, that is. Since its a port of the DS version, the Wii version’s graphics are decent but mediocre for the system. The graphics are more hi-res than the DS version, but the visual difference between the two versions is mostly minimal. The DS version makes use of both screens in a great way; the top screen displays the gameplay, while the bottom screen is used as a map and for spell selections and options. For the Wii version, to emulate the dual screens, it has a split screen display, with both screens from the DS made side-by-side on the Wii. You can enlarge either screen, but only to a certain amount, and you can switch the position of the screens too. The screens are not that big though, so they seem rather cramped. And there’s going to be a lot of dead space on your TV screen.
The game is divided into several areas, each one unlocked as the storyline progresses. There’s a good amount of setting varieties here, which includes a forest, ice mountain, fire mountain, desert ruin, and more. Each of these areas has its own set of enemies and, at the end of most of them, bosses. The boss fights are pretty exciting, especially in multiplayer.
Most of the fun in the Crystal Chronicles games is in its multiplayer, and this one is no different – to an extent. Going through the game solo is still pretty fun, but nowhere even close to the amount of entertainment you’ll have if you join up with some friends. You can play the game locally or online. For local play, there can be 1 Wii paired with up to 3 DS systems, or you can have all DS players. For online, you can use any combination of systems for up to four players. You can play with friends via Friend Codes, or you can play with randoms.
Now, here’s where the main problem with the game occurs. Online play does not work well. It can lag like crazy to the point of being unplayable. Disconnects happen, and the frame rate can be all over the place. At best, there’s a one second delay of input lag. This really becomes a problem during the game’s platforming sections, and there’s quite a few of those in the game. In random play, the only communication you have is with pre-set messages, but they can be difficult to send during gameplay, especially on the Wii version, where they’re harder to go through. The connection for random online play can get even more laggy, so unless you don’t know anyone with the game, it’s not recommended.
At its core, Echoes of Time is actually a fun, engaging game. It’s an entertaining game to play with friends, and the entire adventure lasts over a dozen hours. It just has some design and technical issues that keep it being great, specifically on the Wii version of the game. The game is recommended on the DS. Unless you really want to play on your TV, the DS version is superior, as the touch screen works better than the Wii’s pointer, and the screens aren’t cramped. Add a whole point to the final score for the DS version.
+ Fun multiplayer
+ Lots of customization options
+ Easy-to-learn gameplay
– Extremely laggy online play
– Cramped gameplay screens
– Mediocre Wii graphics
Final score: 3.25 out of 5