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Video Game / Crystal Crisis

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Crystal Crisis is a color-matching falling blocks puzzle game from Nicalis made for the Nintendo Switch, with PlayStation 4 and PC versions released later. It serves as a counterpart to Blade Strangers and features characters from various games the company has been involved with, along with a few unexpected guests.

The game is designed for competitive play and blocks are cleared out when matched with a Crystal of their same color, similar to Puzzle Fighter. Scoring chains causes garbage blocks to fill the opponent's field. Those can't be cleared but turn into normal blocks after a few seconds. Characters can also build their Burst Meter to pull off a super move that can help them or hinder their opponent. There is also a unique mechanic where one can "wrap" their crystals from one side of the field to the other, allowing for more strategies such as splitting crystals in two on each side.

The story consists of an Artifact of Doom called the "Red Crystal" tearing open boundaries between worlds, forcing the worlds' heroes to band together to destroy it while contending with a group of villains led by Ballos who wish to claim the crystal for themselves.


This game features the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Badass: The Red Crystal, and The Doctor by extension, was never implied to be a planetary threat beyond its corrupting effects of anything exposed to it, let alone a universal one. Here, however, it takes center stage as exactly that.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Solange's eye-wideningly racy "outfit" gets toned down a bit to a still revealing but more conventional Chainmail Bikini look, as the original would be disturbing with all the characters save Atom/Astro rendered in a Super-Deformed style.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The final boss of Story Mode, the Undead Core from Cave Story, can use multiple characters' Burst Attacks.
    • To a minor degree, Isaac's Defense Burst allows him to randomly use the Defense Burst of other character.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Red Crystal, said to have been created for the sole purpose of destroying the universe.
  • Assist Character:
    • Jim gets assisted by his penguin mooks in his Burst moves.
    • When Isaac uses his Burst Attack he'll randomly summon either Mom or Monstro.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Ballos' Constrict may put the enemy under pressure for some time, but unless they put a surplus of crystals dead center on their grid all you've done is basically clear up their edges.
    • Jim's Arctic Barrage freezes the opponent for a while. It would be useful if it wasn't incredibly easy to be shaken off.
  • Big Bad: Ballos seems like he's this for the game's Story Mode. In reality, he's only a pawn to the Undead Core.
  • Boring, but Practical: Quote, Curly, and Tina's Burst Attacks are all different variations on "make some room on my board" and "dump some garbage on their board", but they're useful in just about any situation.
    • Johnny Turbo's Burst Assist basically consists of halving whatever countdown crystals' timers are on his board, which is nothing too fancy but will help in getting out of tight spots.
  • Canon Character All Along: Canon item rather, but the Red Crystal everyone is looking for is the same crystal created by the Doctor, the Big Bad of Cave Story.
  • Casting Gag: Johnny Turbo is voiced by Jonathan Brandstetter, the real-life person the character was based on.
  • Competitive Balance: Each of the different characters are balanced with both their Drop Patterns and their Burst Moves. Characters with very powerful Bursts have Drop Patterns that are easier to break up, while characters with Drop Patterns that don't make chains have more situational Burst Moves.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Three of this game's characters (Hunter, Ninja, and Elise) are from unannounced games that are still in development, yet they're making their debut here.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Certainly, Ballos is an unhinged Physical God of magic who has long since abandoned all conscience he once had, but even he doesn't want the the Red Crystal made of his concentrated influence, and certainly the Undead Core born of it, lingering around.
  • Falling Blocks: That must be matched with special blocks to be cleared.
  • Gatling Good: Thompson uses a tommy gun for his attacks.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: After you beat Ballos, the Undead Core AKA the Doctor shows up out of the blue to reveal that he's the true main antagonist and final boss. This is a complete reversal of their roles in their home game.
  • Guest Fighter: Both Atom and Black Jack from Tezuka Productions serve as this here.
  • Guide Dang It!: Unlocking characters is this mainly by how random the unlock process seems, though there are some consistent ones.note 
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The Doctor just doesn't want to stay dead.
  • Kid Hero: Both Astro Boy and Isaac.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Quote, the main character from Cave Story is playable and his name is plainly written out like it's nothing. In the original game, Quote's name was only revealed on the path to the Golden Ending. It's clear that Nicalis no longer considers Quote's name a spoiler.
    • Likewise, Ballos was also only revealed to those pursuing the Golden Ending, but is prominently displayed as a villainous representative for Cave Story.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Zombie, both in being a goof that's constantly doing Thriller dances, and also in having an attack pattern that's almost entirely one color that can easily set his opponent up for a huge counterattack. He also has Burst moves that let him set up a massive, one-color cluster of his own that can potentially one-shot his opponent.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Isaac's Bursts make him unpredictable. His Offensive Burst can scramble part of his opponents board, or just reverse their controls for a while. His Defensive Burst randomly picks another character's Burst for him to use.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Between various Nicalis games, a few Original Generation characters, and a handful of out-there guest fighters!
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Astro flexing his muscles is something of a stock pose for him. When scoring chains, Astro either does a roundhouse kick or fires his Finger Laser with animations that are straight out of Astro Boy: Omega Factor.
    • Johnny Turbo's Attack Burst has him pose with two discs the same way he does in the cover of his third issue. He also will say phrases out of the comic like "You're not even human!" and "Got that Arcade Feel, baby!"
    • When defeated, Isaac falls to the floor and The Lost is seeing flying out of him. When he wins, he instead pulls out and hugs Guppy.
  • Promoted to Playable: The infamous and long-forgotten NEC mascot Johnny Turbo, who has remained in limbo since the early 90's, not only makes his return in this game, but is also a playable character!
  • Retired Monster: In the game's credits, Ballos is seen happily working at a ramen stand, with Astro, Black Jack and even Quote having dinner there.
  • Shout-Out: Zombie's Theme sounds like a pastiche of Michael Jackson's Thriller. Some of his animations also have him do the appropriate dance moves.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Johnny Turbo is depicted as this, specially in the game tutorial where he informs you that after you finish the tutorial you get to unlock the best character in the game: him.
  • Spiritual Successor: Is considered this to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Much as the Code of Princess cast was in Nicalis' accompanying fighting game, the Cave Story crew takes center stage for this one, with Ballos being the Big Bad and the returning Doctor. Even there, however, Quote was treated generously in promotion compared to the other supporting franchises.
  • Stealth Sequel: To Cave Story.
  • Story Branching: Each fight in Story Mode lets you choose who you play as, leading to different fights later on depending on who's picked.
  • Weird Crossover: Characters include Isaac, Atom, Johnny Turbo, and a slew of others from assorted Japanese indie games.
  • Wham Line: In the Story Mode:
    Ballos: "You fool... WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" *cue the Undead Core's arrival* "Now, because of you... WE'RE ALL DOOMED!"