Released in US not too long ago, the saga continues on, this time in handheld form. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Rings of Fate is the latest in the spin off franchise of the Final Fantasy Series and delivers it as a brand new package in the form of an Action RPG. Developed by Square Enix and taking advantages of both local and wireless features of the DS, can this new game bring anything new to this genre on the DS?.
Being a prequel to the original 2004 Gamecube game, the game starts off you off in your home town, as Yuri, twin brother of sister Chelinka. You set off on a journey to claim revenge against the death of your father. As you wander across the land, you meet Alhanalem, Meeth and Gnash who you quickly befriend into coming along on the journey and fighting the evil Cu Chaspel. The plot thickens with many twists and turns and the characters develop over the course of the game. You’ll find the story engaging as well as being humorous at moments.
Game play in Rings of Fate revolves around hitting the A button to perform attacks, X to perform spells and B to Jump. There really isn’t much else to combat except the occasional shoulder button to initiate commands depending on which character you control. Characters can be swapped at an instant using the DS’s lower touch panel by touching a character icon. Magic or otherwise known in the final fantasy world as “Magicite” is represented by small spheres which you pick up from certain chests or monsters you kill. You can carry a limited amount of Magicite and the amount can be increased by purchasing bags at the magic shop in Rebena Te Ra or through various Moogles found throughout the game. To Cast magic, you choose a Magicite by touching the appropriate icon in the bottom touch screen and hold down X to choose a location to cast. Using magic spells becomes vital to open new areas and activate switches so you need to make sure you carry enough. You can change magicite by using the bottom touch panel.
Certain characters have different abilities and classes are a big part of any final fantasy game. This is no different. You start off with your basic melee class Clavats who carry swords and rely on close quarter combat. The Yukes is a mage class which is able to reveal hidden areas. Selkies are your basic archer class and Lilities are alchemist with the ability to create magicite. Of course all are different in stats with each other as you’ll see mages have more increased MP compared to higher Attacks of Clavats. There is also a crafting section for creating new weapons given you have obtained the necessary materials and also many ways to customise all characters with many different pieces of equipment.
Square Enix is one of the few companies who push the DS to its limits. The choice of 3D in this game and how they have mostly used in game cut scenes are astounding. The Locations are beautifully rendered with only a few drops in framerate when there is multiple characters on the screen at one time. All the characters look good but lack facial expressions but this can be overlooked due to limitations of the DS hardware. The use of both the top and bottom screens is well used with the action mostly on the top screen and the bottom for on-the-fly inventory, character and magic switches. The plot is strung together by in game cutscenes which serves the flow of the plot.
The soundtrack, composed by Kumi Tanioka , mixes into the action well and is the one area that Square Enix never falters at. The Arrangement of piano and orchestra pieces requires one to use headphones for full enjoyment. The sound effects of hitting enemies to the sounds of water are all top notch, however one can say otherwise about the voice acting which only does a on par and at times annoying performance though it is tolerable.
The Crystal Chronicles series have always been known for its multiplayer options and this one is no different. It offers an extensive multiplayer mode allowing up to 3 other friends to troll through the games various dungeons and areas as a party. The game also allows Wifi for up to 4 friends to battle it out.
Overall the game is definitely worth a look and you’ll be impressed with it’s art styles and multiplayer.
Review score: 8.0