Retro Video Game Collecting

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Tag Archives: "Final Fantasy"

SimFanta-City | Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles – My Life as a King

Posted on 23 June, 2016  in Nintendo, Wii

Credit: Square Enix / GamersGlobal.de

 

The Final Fantasy series has taken on many forms in its myriad releases and spin-offs over the years.  Included are action RPGS (Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest); tactical RPGs (Final Fantasy Tactics); rhythm and music games (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy); collectible card battlers (Final Fantasy Trading Card Game); kart racers (Chocobo Racing); dungeon crawlers (Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon); party board games (Chocobo Land: A Game of Dice); MMORPGs (Final Fantasy XIV); fighters (Dissidia Final Fantasy); and in-app purchase generators (Final Fantasy: All the Bravest).  The results have been… mixed, at best.

 

Among all these side-stories, half-sequels, and shameless cash-ins, we find Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles – My Life as a King.  Unique not merely by virtue of being a spin-off of a spin-off, it is the only city builder title in the entire series, offering players a bit of role reversal and digging a bit into the meta-core of RPGs in general.

 

To oversimplify a bit, My Life as a King places the player in the role of an NPC from the Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles series.  No prior experience with the Crystal Chronicles games is needed, nor need one be familiar with Final Fantasy at all.  This is a simple map planning / resource allocation game, with dashes of RPG and RTS elements tossed in to create a surprising and fun experience.

 

Let me back up a bit.  The Crystal Chronicles games, exclusive to Nintendo platforms, are Final Fantasy in name only.  They have little to do with the mainline FF series, though they are tied together with an arcing storyline taking place in the same world.  Many races, enemies, and items familiar to Final Fantasy can be found here, such as Moogles, malboros, adamantoises, and so on.  The similarities more or less end there, with the games mostly taking an action-RPG approach, distinct from the classic FF battle sequences.

 

Credit: Square Enix / Nintendo

My Life as a King takes place some time after the events of the Crystal Chronicles series, focusing on the aftermath of those games’ good-vs.-evil showdown.  There is a simple story here: Leo, the prince of an unnamed kingdom, finds himself in charge after his father’s apparent death.  Surrounded by his retinue and a handful of loyal subjects, you take the role of Leo and attempt to rebuild his kingdom from the ground up.  Conveniently, Leo and company begin the game having found an abandoned castle and surrounding fortress, at the center of which is a giant cluster of the titular crystals.  The crystal unexpectedly grants Leo the magic of architek, giving him the ability to instantly create buildings around the new castle town.

 

As the game progresses, Leo develops the ability to summon more complex and useful structures — all of which should be familiar to longtime Final Fantasy fans.  Just as in most towns and cities in the main series, your castle town can include a weapons shop, an armory, a potion shop, and an inn, along with citizen shops and bakeries.  Also available as your city grows are academies for white and dark mages, and training halls for warriors and thieves.

 

These four archetype classes reflect the series’ long-running jobs system, and that’s where the proto-RPG meta-game kicks in.  As you build houses, more subjects return to your growing kingdom, and some of them want to join your small army.  As such, you assign them jobs and issue daily edicts, here known as behests.  Essentially, in this role, you’re sending these adventurers out to do Final Fantasy while you stay behind and run the kingdom.  Their quests include gathering crystals and other raw materials; clearing roads and landmarks of monsters; fighting bosses; and ultimately defeating the game’s antagonist.

 

None of this is shown in anything other than the most abstract manner possible: a daily briefing prepared by Chime, your adorable young chancellor.  As each in-game day passes — about five minutes in real time — your adventurers either successfully complete behests or fail at them, and the game progresses accordingly.  This is where resource management and some very light strategy come in, as you decide which adventurers are best-prepared for the needed quests.  By providing funding to your town’s shops, you enable the shopkeepers to develop progressively stronger weapons, armor, and items; likewise, the mage academies and battle hall desire funding for improved spells and fighting techniques which are taught to your adventurers.

 

Credit: Square Enix / GamersGlobal.de

The game is easy to learn and doesn’t do too much holding in the opening days, which serve as a built-in tutorial and establish the story.  I found building my kingdom (which I named Midgar) to be enjoyable and relaxing, with interesting things to do in each in-game day.  It does get repetitive in later phases, and once your town is built out, with the maximum number of structures in each genre, there’s not much left except grinding your adventurers until they are strong enough to take down the final boss.

 

This is where the game’s biggest weakness lies.  In order to build beyond the standard limits, players were invited to purchase DLC through the in-game store.  It is not at all invasive and in fact I didn’t even know this was possible until much later in the game, so I appreciate Square Enix not hitting me over the head with it.  But I don’t like having what amounts to not-very-meaningful content locked behind a paywall.  DLC can only be purchased by using Wii Points, another reason I didn’t get to experience everything the game has to offer.

 

If any of the above interests you, act fast.  Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles – My Life as a King is an endangered game.  The only way to play legally is to download it from the Wii Shop Channel, either on a Wii or a Wii U via Wii Mode.  While the Wii Shop is still functional as of  this writing in June 2016, it will undoubtedly be shut down by Nintendo at some point, and the fate of WiiWare titles after that remains uncertain.  Unless Square Enix decided to re-issue an HD version of the game in another digital storefront, My Life as a King will be lost forever.

 

Considering how much fun I had with it, that would be a real shame.

 


 

AT A GLANCE

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles – My Life as a King

  • PLATFORMS: Wii; Wii U (via Wii Mode)
  • PUBLISHER: Square Enix
  • DEVELOPER: Square Enix
  • RELEASED: May 12, 2008
  • ESRB RATING: E
  • FRANCHISE: Final Fantasy
  • DESCRIPTION: City builder with light tactical RPG and strategy elements
  • WHO WILL ENJOY THIS: Final Fantasy fans; anyone looking for a unique sim-type experience
  • WHO WON’T ENJOY THIS: RPG fans looking for a challenge
  • SIMILAR TITLES: SimCity 2000; Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles – The Crystal Bearers

 

 


 

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Back to the Grind | Final Fantasy Explorers

Posted on 1 February, 2016  in Current-Gen Reviews, Nintendo 3DS

From Square Enix

CLOUD!

Consider this: after releasing the first six “primary” games in its beloved and genre-defining Final Fantasy series exclusively on Nintendo platforms, the company that would become Square Enix has not returned to a Nintendo system for its main numbered series.  From the classic Final Fantasy VII to the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, every main title has appeared on PlayStation consoles, and, usually, been ported to PC and sometimes Xbox or even mobile.  But Nintendo was done, for the main series, with 1994’s Final Fantasy VI.

 

Square Enix hasn’t abandoned the Japanese console giant entirely, with a variety of spin-offs appearing on various Nintendo devices, mostly in handheld form.  This tradition continues with last week’s release of Final Fantasy Explorers for the Nintendo 3DS.

 

 

Right away, it becomes apparent to any FF fan or well-seasoned gamer that this is not a typical FF title.  The obvious comparison is Capcom’s mega-hit Monster Hunter series — one of the best-selling franchises in Japan in recent years, and finally catching on in the West thanks to last year’s acclaimed Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.  From there, we can point out other influences, such as the seminal MMORPG World of Warcraft, and perhaps a little bit of Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles.

 

From Square Enix / Miiverse

I don’t want to *kill* chocobos. I want to RIDE them!

Whatever genre it belongs in, FFEX is unique if for no other reason than its position as the sole action-RPG representative of its franchise on the Nintendo 3DS.  Only two other Final Fantasy titles have made it to Nintendo’s five-year-old handheld, and both are music and rhythm games — Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and its semi-sequel / remake Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call.  Both are good games for what they represent and should be appreciated and enjoyed by any Final Fantasy fan, but they stand out, like Cloud Strife in Super Smash Bros. or FFEX on 3DS, for what they intrinsically represent: a tribute to a series of beloved games that, for the most part, are not playable on any Nintendo platform.

 

It is something of a strange mix, and one that shows the increasing blurred lines among platforms and the absurdity of the so-called console wars.  There are plenty of PlayStation / Xbox / PC acolytes who also own a 3DS, Wii, or Wii U as a supplementary console, though these gamers are likely outnumbered by the Nintendo fanboys and die-hards who refuse to adopt a competing game environment.  FFEX is aimed more toward the former than the latter; as good as the Theatrhythm games are at sharing the amazing library of Final Fantasy music, and as interesting as the fan-service in FFEX is, neither is likely to convert many Nintendo-only households to one of the “major” platforms, simply to experience a “proper” FF game.

 

In any case, Final Fantasy Explorers relies heavily on fan-service and brand recognition, because in its absence what we have here is a fairly unsubstantial game.  Square Enix knows this, which is why they sold a Collector’s Edition of the game to chumps like me, who adore the series even if its quality has waned somewhat in recent years.  Much, if not most, of the series’ references and callbacks in FFEX will be lost on a Nintendo purist who hasn’t played anything since FFVI, and a total stranger to the series will be slightly bewildered and probably bored.

 

From Square Enix / Miiverse

I see what you did there, Square Enix localization team.

For a game with the word “Explorers” in the title, there isn’t a whole lot of exploring to do.  The world map, while of a decent size for a short RPG, is mostly linear and limited in scope.  There are a few open areas, several narrow corridors, and various stepped terrains, with so many barriers and guideposts that getting lost is impossible.  A player with any MMORPG, action-RPG or Monster Hunter experience at all will likely lose interest quickly — this game is definitely geared toward newcomers to the genre, like myself.  As a Final Fantasy fan who never played FFXI or FFXIV, this is doubly true for me.

 

Oddly enough, one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen mentioned in the reviews for this game concerns repetition and grinding.  This actually appeals to me!  I spend about half of my time in any RPG grinding away, ensuring I’m OP enough to overcome whatever boss battle lies ahead.  I don’t know what it is about grinding that I find satisfying and enjoyable.  I suspect it is the comfort that I find in mindless tasks that are actually accomplishing something; it’s sort of the antithesis of what I do at work, and it helps my brain unwind.  Grinding and leveling up is pretty much what got me into RPGs in the first place.

 

My first JRPG — or RPG of any genre, for that matter — was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the Super NES.  I played it on Wii, some 13 years after its initial release, and only because of Mario in the title.  It completely changed my feelings about the RPG genre, which I had always considered too complex and inaccessible for my tastes.  Learning it was made by the same folks who created Final Fantasy led me to next try the original NES release in that series, and a love affair with one of gaming’s biggest brands was born.

 

Perhaps I’ll experience a similar catharsis through Final Fantasy Explorers, setting me up for a Monster Hunter addiction.  I certainly hope not, because I don’t have that kind of time on my hands.

 


From Square Enix / Amazon

 

AT A GLANCE

Final Fantasy Explorers

 

  • PLATFORM: Nintendo 3DS
  • PUBLISHER: Square Enix
  • DEVELOPER: Racjin
  • RELEASED: January 26, 2016
  • ESRB RATING: E 10+
  • FRANCHISE: Final Fantasy
  • DESCRIPTION: Open-world action JRPG with optional online simultaneous multiplayer.  Explore an island; gather resources; destroy monsters; and buy or upgrade customized equipment.
  • WHO WILL ENJOY THIS: Fans of the Final Fantasy series; anyone interested in trying an MMO-style game but intimidated by existing titles
  • WHO WON’T ENJOY THIS: Monster Hunter veterans looking for a new challenge; gamers unfamiliar with Final Fantasy, or those who dislike the series
  • SIMILAR TITLES: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate; Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

 

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