I had to find time to write this and get this off my mind. I am normally someone who can look past faults and enjoy something for what it is. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered took a game that I enjoyed fondly, and somehow turned it into something that killed my excitement in an instant. I decided to ignore the comments surrounding the game at launch and play it for myself to form my own opinion. As of writing this, I am halfway in Year 4 and I think I can finish this game by Year 6 (years go by after you finish 3 dungeons).
A little background about Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. When this game first came out on the Gamecube, it was a fun game that you could play solo or with friends via a complicated co-op method (I’m starting to believe that I was the only poor person who played this with no friends who had their own GBA and link cable). While the game is enjoyable playing by yourself, the game shined when playing with friends. What made this feel different from other games at the time was the concept of working with your friends to protect your village throughout the years together rather than joining up like random adventurers. Remember this point, as I will refer to it later.
The main premise of the game is that you have to collect myrrh to power up your village’s crystal within the year, or it would die out and kill everyone via the miasma. To accomplish your mission and protect you from the miasma, you are given the crystal chalice to collect myrrh at the end of each dungeon. This leads to one of my favorite game mechanics, as you and your group have to stay within the radius of the chalice and take turns carrying it. It gives the game charm and adds to the fact that everyone needs to work together to get through each dungeon; adding to the stakes everyone shares.
Single player in the remaster is mostly the same. Since this is the mode that I am more familiar with, it was nice to see familiar locations and take my time to explore each map. The music is still one of my all time favorite OSTs, and I can’t help but to whistle along with the music. They did include a new mimic mechanic to the game that allows you to dress up as an NPC from other caravans. You unlock these by visiting Moogle house and collecting stamps. Get all matching stamps, and you unlock a new costume. Another new addition is voice acting, which is hit and miss for some NPCs. Moogles in this game sound weird since I’m used to them having high pitch voices and not sounding like a PR manager. For everything that single player has, I couldn’t help to notice that I felt like I was not enjoying myself. That feeling mostly comes from the other play style of the game and the main draw of the game, multiplayer.
After pondering and thinking over it, I finally came to terms with my thoughts about the multiplayer. Multiplayer in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered is terrible, and it ruined the main reason why I was excited to play this version. I will stand by my belief that this version is still the most accessible way to play this game with friends. I know people were bummed about there being no couch co-op for the game, but I believe that it is hard to do without having your own screen with the number of times you go in and out of menus. You can play the remastered version on PS4, Switch, or with your phone and still play with anyone due to cross-platform support. When I first heard about that, my excitement jumped through the roof, as I was finally going to be able to experience multiplayer to its fullest. I was asking friends if they wanted to join me in this game, as it felt solely unique and the shared progress.
Instead what we got was a drop in multiplayer set up that takes away everything the original was. I didn’t mind not having couch co-op if it still meant that I could form a group with my friends and progress through the story normally. What happens instead is that before you enter a dungeon, the game asks if you want to play multiplayer. You are then thrown into a lobby where you can either host a party or join one. This means more than likely, you are playing with random people who can drop in and out during any part of the dungeon. You can meet up with friends, but you have to go through a friend code system in order to start together at the beginning. You could find some work around this and still enjoy the multiplayer experience, but then the developers decided to do something that makes no sense at all. Even if you form a group with just your friends and start from the beginning together, only the host of the session will get the drop of myrrh and progression in the main story.
Why did the developers think that was a good idea? That destroys the entire concept and theme of this game. Remember my earlier statement about how you and your friends were a group working together to protect the village that you come from? That does not exist in this game. There are no stakes when playing multiplayer since the people you play with are just trying to protect their own village. There is no sense of comradery as everyone just feels like a random adventurer that assists you on your quest. That is not what multiplayer in this game is about. The whole idea of being part of a crystal caravan is the idea of working in a group with a common cause. There is no point in using the term “caravan” if it is only a group of one. This decision alone made my excitement and recommendation of the game to drop significantly.
I am still going to play the game for what it is. I’m used to playing this game solo, so I still have that going for me. I found that a real challenge is to play solo in multiplayer mode just for the extra challenge. Playing through this again is motivating me to go back and finish the original. This is still one of my favorite games of all time, and I wished the remastered version elevated it even higher on my list.
So to wrap this up and give my final thoughts, I can’t really recommend buying the remastered version. There is a free version if you want to try it out and see if it is something you will enjoy playing. The great thing about the free version is that if you play with someone with the full game, you can play all the dungeons with them. I have a feeling Square knew some would not like the direction they were going and offered a free version for those on the fence. I’m not afraid to hide my disappointment with this version as it had so much potential and could potentially revive the series. I hope by some miracle in the world (haha miracles happening in 2020?), a future update will address the online issue. But as of now, I will stick to my original viewpoint that the series hasn’t been good since the original came out on the Gamecube (sorry fans of the sequels).