Wii/DS Review – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time

The DS finally meets the Wii for another Crystal Chronicles game, is it a good combination?

A triumphant return from a monster-infested forest marks the completion of the 16-year-old hero’s coming-of-age ceremony. However, the hero’s joy is short-lived as a young village girl is found to be afflicted by a mysterious illness known as “crystal sickness.” Determined to obtain the cure, the hero steps out of the secluded village for the first time, only to discover a world in which crystals are merely artifacts of the past and no longer exist…

The first FF Crystal Chronicles game let you play with GameCube and GBA, although if I remember rightly each played had to own a GBA and a cable to plug into the GameCube to work, it was expensive and the end result wasn’t really worth it. Then again, the GC-GBA connectivity was the console’s biggest failure so it was no surprise that it didn’t take off. Fast forward to 2009 and we now have 2 new machines which have yet to connect, until now…
Wii and DS owners can finally hook up through FF Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time both locally and online. It’s great to be able to do this and adds so much more to the game, which when played solo seems pretty lonely.

Players can use phrases via the stylus or Wii pointer to communicate with players, it would have been nice if the DS version added voice-chat, but then with Wii support…it just wouldn’t have worked that well. I have to say though, that the Wii version is a disgrace. It’s essentially the DS version with controller support. The screen is split into 2, but the map screen is twice the size of the actual game screen for Echoes of Time, its tiny…so tiny that you can barely read the text if you are on a big TV. It’s a shame since the game itself is great; it’s just squandered by a weak Wii version which ultimately brings the overall score down.

If you can somehow get past the tiny screen and don’t have a DS, then it’s pretty hard not to recommend the game. After all, you can trade items with friends over WFC and play in 4 different languages, even when a player selects a different language. It’s pretty smart and doesn’t discriminate, which is something that most online games fail to deliver.
Combat itself has been mainstreamed into more of an action RPG with a lot of button-bashing and item collecting. It’s pretty simplistic and repetitive, but more satisfying that the standard turn-based and random battles you have come to expect from the Final Fantasy series. You can avoid pretty much every enemy besides bosses, which are quite easy and have painfully obvious weak spots. You can customize your character with over 300 different items and costume combinations; it’s a pretty big addition and adds to the lifespan of mixing with your character. The story is fairly standard but does well in giving you a good enough reason to plough on through the game.

The rest of the game is more or less what you would expect from an RPG, travelling to towns, getting equipment, doing quests and so on. There’s sadly nothing that spectacular about it other than the fact you can play it with 3 other people off/online. I’m not saying that it does anything wrong, I’m just saying that it doesn’t break the mould of the genre, but Echoes of Time is a good step in the right direction.

The graphics for Echoes of Time are pretty impressive for a DS game, but the Wii is laughably the same. I wonder why the decided not to put as much effort into it or make it look any better? It seems a little cheeky for a game that costs £35 when the DS version costs £30. You are essentially paying an extra fiver to be able to use the nunchuk to move around and the remote to point and click at things, even though the pointer is a quarter of the size of the game screen itself. It’s ludicrous. Voice-acting is minimal and average, the rest is text based. Background music is typical of an FF game and it’s best presentation feature overall.

The Verdict

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is a good game, as long as you play it on DS. The Wii version is nothing more than a weaker version that really shouldn’t have been made. I hope this isn’t the start of what Wii-DS compatible games will become. So, forget the Wii version and just enjoy playing it on the DS. It has more or less everything any RPG nut would want, and best of all…you can hook up with 3 other people worldwide to play it with.