Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
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|Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles:
The Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (ファイナルファンタジークリスタルクロニクル クリスタルベアラー?) is an action-adventure game for the Wii, first announced to the public at E3 in May 2006 and was released on November 12, in Japan and on December 26, 2009, in North America.
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Like its GameCube predecessor, Crystal Bearers features fully real-time combat, but unlike its predecessor, this game focuses on single-player, free-roaming, action-adventure gameplay. Enemies and regular civilians apparently are able to show emotion or status effects via symbols hanging over their heads, such as hearts for attraction or musical notes for satisfaction. The producers have suggested that enemies do not necessarily grow stronger as the game progresses, but that they gain a wider variety of tactics and abilities instead. It has also been shown that some enemies have the ability to hurt fellow creatures also opposing the player. This is part of a reaction AI system, in which different creatures react in unique ways to other creatures nearby and to the player's attacks. Telekinetic abilities feature heavily in the game. The player is able to perform different combat actions via telekinesis, including moving certain enemies against their will, making them use their abilities against other enemies, and utilizing various objects as telekinetic projectiles. The player is also able to perform some type of reaction element with creatures that will affect them in different manners. To further the telekinetic gameplay, the player is able to utilize his abilities to interact with the environment, such as to activate switches or grab onto ledges and other objects from a distance via an energy-based grappling hook; furthermore, he is able to perform such actions as moving civilians against their will. Civilians also share a trait with enemies in that they are able to attack the player when irritated by his actions.
Unlike other RPG oriented Final Fantasy games, this game, being an action adventure, does not have a leveling system; instead, the player can customize Layle's stats using accessories that the player makes using monster drops and other items that are found while exploring. The player can also increment the character's maximum HP by clearing miasma stream fights and collecting the myrrh of each area. Exploration and free-roaming are heavily focused on this game to the point that only 4 out of the 15 bosses in the game are actually needed to progress through the story and the rest are scattered over the world for the player to look for on his own. Based on the most recent video trailers and the general setting of the game, fighting in the sky is also a feature of gameplay. Quicktime events will also appear throughout the game, forcing the player to take necessary actions with the controller during certain events, such as aiming the remote and shooting demons while falling through the sky. It is been commented that while most of these events are for mere enjoyment, some must be completed in order to advance the story. Other gameplay aspects as hinted at by the trailers, including participation in minigames, traversing the land on chocobos (which can ram through enemies and some background objects), riding on trains and swimming.
The game is set far into the future of the Crystal Chronicles franchise, taking place in the same world as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, populated by four races. However, due to a war with the Lilty race, the Yuke race has supposedly died out, though that clearly isn't the full story. The setting has been recently described as a time when "swords have changed to guns" and the arcane arts are outlawed by the Liltian Kingdom. However, magic reappeared in to the world in the form of people born with the power of magic inside of them, these people were named by others as "Crystal Bearers" for a common trait crystal bearers had of being born with a random crystallized body part like an eye or a small section of the skin. In March 2008, an official advertising article about Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates noted that the Nintendo DS installment "sets the stage" for The Crystal Bearers.
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1000 years have passed in the events of the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. The destruction of the Yuke Crystal during the Great War, with its Tribe suffering apparent annihilation, had at last brought the victorious Lilties dominion over the world as they bring it into a new age of science and reason through machines called "crystal reactors," with the use of magic outlawed and rule over the Clavats and few Selkies who comply to the new order. In this new era of imbalance exists a rare breed of powerful beings called "Crystal Bearers", whose seemingly magical abilities have led them to be feared and scorned by the public. The young mercenary Layle is one such Bearer, who is hired to escort the new passenger airship Alexis, the pinnacle of Lilty technology and a symbol of their current dominance. However, the ship is suddenly besieged by a horde of monstrous birds, Zus. This leads Layle to jump off of Keiss's (his partner's) escort ship, shooting down the monsters with his sentry gun. As Layle falls towards the ship, High Commander Jegran was attempting to apprehend a young Selkie named Belle, who had taken a photo of his gloved arm. Just then, Layle lands on the deck, answering to an annoyed Jegran: "I'm the escort. You called for me." Suddenly, a portal opens in front of them, and a hand comes out. Layle uses his telekinetic powers to pull the hand out, and faces with a mysterious Yuke, whom he nicknames "Goldenrod". The Yuke takes the Alexis' crystal shards with a strange piece of crystal called a Crystal Idol. Layle fights her who flies away on one of zus. In the fight, Layle steals the Idol. The loss of the crystal shards forces Layle to fly the airship, with his own crystal powers fueling the reactors and safely crashlanding the ship in front of the capital. After the incident, Keiss receives a new job for him and Layle to complete, regarding Goldenrod. However, eventually learning her intentions are pure, Layle finds himself protecting Belle as she is being pursued for taking photographs that expose Jegran's dark secret which makes him a threat to the world.
- Layle (レイル Reiru?) Voiced by: Makoto Yasumura (Japanese), Darrel Guilbeau (English) - A Clavat mercenary and one of the eponymous Crystal Bearers a crystal located on his right cheek allows him to maniuplate the gravity of himself and others.
- Belle (ベル Beru?) Voiced by: Chiaki Takahashi (Japanese), Elle Deets (English) - A brown-haired female Selkie and a camera photographer, who finds to exchange information for her own benefit, stows away on the Alexis's maiden voyage to encounter sensitive information on Jegran that lands a bounty on her head and decides to travel with Layle to make a fortune off him, but she remains defiant and continues to pursue her next big story.
- Keiss (クァイス Kaisu?) Voiced by: Noriaki Sugiyama (Japanese), David Vincent (English) - A red-haired male Selkie and Layle's friend. Unlike other ones, He devoted himself to the Lilty kingdom, works directly with Jegran to rise up the ladder before being a military colonel.
- Amidatelion (アミダテリオン Amidaterion?) Voiced by: Atsuko Tanaka (Japanese), Caitlin Glass (English) - A lavishly decorated Yuke who is also a Crystal Bearer and supposedly the last of her race, nicknamed "Goldenrod" by Layle. She appears to possess the ability to bend space and conjure summons (her true crystal power) like Bahamut. Her goal is her race's revival for Crystal Idols to restore the Yuke Tribe's crystal. But during Layle's aid for restoring its Principle to save the world, Jegran turns her into crystal statue.
- Althea Sol Alfiraria (アルテア Arutea?) Voiced by: Noriko Shitaya (Japanese), Carrie Savage (English) - A Lilty with spectacles and the princess of the Lilty Kingdom with a crystal idol on her chest. Her mother died when she was young, and her father turned into statue by Jegran at the Alexis as a power vacuum.
- High Commander Jegran (ジュグラン Juguran?) Voiced by: Ryuzaburo Otomo (Japanese), Michael McConnohie (English) - The Lilty's megalomanical captain, attempting to take over the Lilty kingdom by turning it into a military state through his power of the crystals. One such attempt made him a Crystal Bearer after an accident with a crystal reactor crystallized his arm, giving him the power to turn living things into red crystal, creating a wave of radiation that harms the Crystal Principle. He kept his power a secret while acting on his scheme in secret. But, once seeing a reason behind the Crystal Bearers' existence and betrays his people, Jegran develops a god complex as he attempts to rewrite the Crystal Principle to his liking using his own Bearer powers.
- Cid (シド Shido?) Voiced by: Shinichi Kotani (Japanese), Doug Stone (English) - Lilty Kingdom's former engineer and Bridge Town tinker.
- Vaigali (バイガリ Baigari?) Voiced by: Naomi Kusumi (Japanese), Joe DiMucci (English) - Leader of Selkie Guild who sold information for the highest bidder, with a grudge against Lilties and dislikes Keiss' turncoats even more but Vaigali made an exception in Cid's case whom he aids as patron. Jegran turns Vaigali (who sacrificed himself to save Belle, Keiss and Layle) into crystal statue at the Aerial Prison Interior.
- Blaze Voiced by: Matthew Mercer - A Fiery Clavat bearer and formerly Layle's "worst partner ever" who chases Layle and Belle to the Rivelgauge Monastery and leaves, before Jegran turns Blaze into crystal statue.
The Crystal Bearers is intended to be a more "single-player experience", as opposed to the GameCube installment which focused on cooperative play. The game director stated he wants a more "world weary" protagonist, and wanted him to seem rugged, which influenced the hair design of the character. The game is intended to feature a more "mature" design to help bolster the heroic structure of the story. The game director wanted to make "an exhilarating tale of this great hero set against sweeping blue skies", which influenced many decisions in game design and story. The game's existence was announced at E3 2005 and at E3 2006 a short pre-rendered teaser trailer was included within a Wii games compilation video. In May 2007 a new trailer including gameplay was released and a few interviews with the developers were given. Since then no further information about the game has been given. Crystal Bearers has had no presence at recent Square Enix events or on the Square Enix website (the Crystal Chronicles developer blog has not made mention of Crystal Bearers since June 6, 2007") coupled with the developers of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King refusing to comment when asked about the status of The Crystal Bearers at the Game Developers Conference of February 2008, stating only that the public should "wait for a press release." In November 2008, in response to a section in the next month's issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly stating that the game had been "quietly canceled" Square Enix released a statement confirming that the game had not been canceled and that they fully intend to release it, although no release date could be given. A trailer for the game was packaged with the Wii version of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. It shows the game in a further state of development, and displays game characteristics such as combat, magic, puzzle solving, and an overworld, as well as traditional elements of the Final Fantasy series, such as the Cactuar and Bahamut. At the end of March, an official teaser site opened up. In Japan, a commercial for the game aired with the song We Weren't Born to Follow by Bon Jovi playing in the background.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers was scored a 30 out of 40 by Weekly Famitsu. The magazine praised the game's plot elements, with one reviewer stating, "The way the story develops, along with the unique characters and world setting, is brilliant. There are lots of little details to everything." However, the publication criticized the game's map, finding it difficult to pinpoint the player's location with respect to the surroundings. On its first day of release in Japan, The Crystal Bearers sold 26,000 units, which is about 34% of its initial shipment in the region. The Japanese version sold 43,705 units by its second week of release.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has received mixed and generally less favorable reviews from western outlets. X-Play gave the game a 2 out of 5, while Game Informer and IGN gave the game a 5.5 and a 6.2 respectively for the same reason of the game being an action adventure rather than an RPG. However, Game Trailers awarded the game a 7.7 and Nintendo Power gave the game an 8 out of 10.
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Layle: I'm the escort. You called for me.
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