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Video Game / Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is another Spin-Off of the groin roastingly popular Final Fantasy franchise, and the first to appear on a Nintendo console since the release of Final Fantasy VI. Previously, the games in the Crystal Chronicles series tended to be action RPGs that focus on multiplayer action and co-operation, though later games have shied away from that requisite. Square Enix defines the series by stating that its entries exhibit new and different ways of experiencing Final Fantasy. It could be argued they all take place in the same universe as well.

The first game, released in 2003 in Japan and 2004 internationally for the Nintendo GameCube, is the tale of a caravan (made up of characters which you create) sent on a annual mission to replenish their village's crystal with myrrh. The replenished crystal could then protect the village from the deadly miasma that covered the world for another year. The adventurers carry the myrrh in their Crystal Chalice, which is mounted with a small crystal to protect them from miasma as they travel.

It gained infamy for the sheer amount of peripheral devices required to play the game with the maximum number of players in anything approaching a sane manner: four Game Boy Advances (which would act as individual screens for each player) and four GameCube-to-GBA connection wires. Oh, and three other people. Innovative? Yes. Practical? Yeah, no. (You could play with only two or three people, but it's obviously tougher than with four... Playing with only one player was also possible thankfully, so there was no need of a Game Boy Advance, and even comes with a Moogle to carry the Crystal Chalice for you.)

It should be noted that this game is similar, in many aspects, to Gauntlet Legends. The four races even correspond to each of Gauntlet's classes: Clavats to the balanced Valkyrie, Lilties emphasize Strength like the Warrior, Yukes are magic-users like the Wizard, and Selkies are speedy like the Elf/Archer.

The second game, released in 2008 for the Nintendo DS (under the lengthy title Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates), stars a set of twins named Yuri and Chelinka, two children of a great seer, out to stop an ancient prophecy under the light of an ominous blood moon.

The third game is My Life as a King, which was one of the first WiiWare titles, and the first Wii game to feature paid downloadable add-ons, and thus the "Pay + Play" mark. In many ways, it plays more like SimCity than an Action RPG. Its sequel, My Life as a Darklord, casts the player as a budding Evil Overlord who guides an army of monsters to defend a tower from invading heroes; it plays like a combination of SimTower and Dungeon Keeper.

Echoes of Time, a sequel to Ring of Fates, was released in early 2009 for the Nintendo DS and the Wii. Both games are functionally identical and can be played with each other via wireless connection. While the DS version was met with praise, the Wii version was rightly tempered for being a blatant port of the portable game, complete with two separate "screens" on the television.

Though it was delayed and extensively reworked, The Crystal Bearers was released in late 2009. It is a single-player action-adventure set far into the future of the previous Crystal Chronicles games, in a time where magic is dead, an industrial age is booming, and the Yuke race has supposedly been eliminated after a great war. The protagonist is Layle, a hero with an embedded crystal that gives him a strange power to manipulate gravity.

After essentially fading into obscurity and being barely referenced in the rest of the Final Fantasy franchise, both Sherlotta and the Undead Princess from Echoes of Time make cameo appearances in World of Final Fantasy, being the first character in World that comes from a spin-off rather than one of the numbered titles. Since then, the sub-series has seen somewhat of a return to the limelight. As of the time writing, eight Crystal Chronicles characters have appeared in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia (Chelinka and Yuri, Sherlotta and Layle; later Ciaran, Keiss, Amidatelion, and Jegran were also added), and a remastered version of the first game (appropriately labeled with the sub-title, Remastered Edition) was released on August 27, 2020 worldwide for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android.

    Games in the series 

Tropes common among the series:

  • Action RPG: With the exception of My Life as a King and My Life as a Darklord. The first is a city sim and the second is tower defense.
  • Aerith and Bob: Each tribe has its own naming conventions that range from the mundane to the fantastical, as expected from a game in the Final Fantasy franchise. However, even within tribes, both common and exotic names can be found.
  • Alternate Universe: Ring of Fates introduces the idea of an endless number of worlds, even one where the moon crashes into the Great Crystal. Sound familiar? It's possible that each game in the series is its own parallel world, though officially they follow a single timeline starting with Ring of Fates and ending with The Crystal Bearers.
  • Ambiguously Human:
    • Despite being being humanoid Planimals, Lilties are referred to as human repeatedly through the series. Princess Fiona is also half Lilty, half Clavat, which doesn't appear to be unusual.
    • The Yuke tribe is described as being disembodied souls inhabiting their armor, but this is only demonstrated in the last game, while other games instead treated them as hidding bizarre appearances with their armor as well as having children who grow up. However, the Submarine female Yuke body type in Remastered demonstrates this by making her midsection a feminine, dress-shaped cage with nothing inside it. Similarly to the Lilties, they are called one of the four human races.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The character designs are super-deformed and cute, the personalities endearingly quirky... and then the people you love the most die.
  • Charged Attack: The Focus Attacks, which are tied to the specific weapon being used. Some weapons will shoot blasts of energy, others make you leap to the target and perform a powerful attack.
  • Combination Attack: Basic magic spells can be stacked on top of one another for added effect (two Fire spells make a Fira {or Firaga with proper timing} attack, and spells of different elements can be combined to create a Gravity spell). The basic elements can also be combined with a Charged Attack for an elemental strike.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Ring of Fates includes Lich in a speaking role with callbacks to her status as a boss.
    • Artimecion is present in every title except My Life as a King and My Life as a Darklord. His dialog also seems to indicate he's the same Artimecion in every game, making him unusually long lived even by Moogle standards.
    • Amidatelion, one of the protagonists of Crystal Bearers, is named after side character Amidati from the first game.
  • Cute Bruiser: The Lilty race.
  • Deadly Gas: The miasma.
  • Elemental Fusion: Party members can layer their spellcasts on top of each other to combine their effects. While stacking multiple of the same spell simply produces stronger versions of the spell, combining different spells can result in radically different elements. Combining Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder produces the Graviga spell to flatten enemies with increased gravity. Combining Fire, Blizard, or Thunder with two casts of Life will instead cast Holyra to bombard the area with holylight.
  • Fanservice: The Crystal Bearers has a Beach Episode mostly featuring Layle stealthily assisting Belle in keijo, also known as "butt sumo."note 
  • Fantastic Racism: Selkies map approximately to Romani, in that they're typically nomadic, and stereotyped as being untrustworthy thieves. Many of them find this assessment unfair, but they're not exactly doing a lot for their case; in the first game, if you're not playing as a Selkie, then every person you talk to in the Selkie settlement will pick your pocket, and if you are, your mother will send letters with advice that amounts to "be a shifty bastard and never pass up an opportunity to hork someone's purse".
    Layle: Is stealing people's wallets part of the Selkie nursing method?
    Belle: I thought you were dead so I was holding it for you.
  • Fragile Speedster: Selkies generally qualify for this in the first game. They're the only race with a ranged charge attack (rather than actually leaping forward, they launch a blast of energy) and have lower defense than other races. They partly make up for this with improved speed and the ability to backflip over attacks.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Remember the Giant crab? The first boss? Seemed like kind of a pushover, didn't he? Then he learned Thundaga. Start running. It gets better, the same crab returns in Ring of Fates and Echoes of Time as an absolutely brutal boss.
  • Fur Bikini: Selkie ladies wear fur-trimmed tops.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere:
    • Raem. He's actually referenced in the events involving the Black Knight and Hurdy/Gurdy, but considering the random nature of the events and the fact that this could occur well before players even start to solve the poem-related puzzle in the desert to get the element needed to enter the final part of the map in the game means players could have forgotten about him when he's finally encountered.
    • More literally is the Meteor Parasite. It's a giant, polyp-like creature that inhabits the meteor that destroyed the Great Crystal. It's just a dumb animal - it has no stake in anything and is just there. Actually subverted. It's the source of Miasma that Raem used to create the conflict that the world now revolves around. He drew it to the world to destroy the protective Great Crystal, leaving its shards as places for towns and cities to form around while people huddle in fear so he can devour their memories.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Synthesis for top tier weapons are going to require players to have a guide on them to know where to find the materials and loot for each item or weapon. Doubly so when you have to rack up a certain amount of points to get the right amount.
    • Getting the fifth element is simple enough if you remember Gurdy's poem and story. However, you may not be strong enough at the time you learn the story to get it; so hope you've either got photographic memory of that story or a guide nearby by the time you're ready to tackle the notorious Lynari Desert. Or check your Diary, since the four individual verses plus the complete poem will be recorded there.
    • Monster weaknesses usually follow the same pattern as in main-line Final Fantasy games and tend to be intuitive. Others, though, practically require outside knowledge to predict. Some even have special weaknesses that only work once per fight, like the Lich: casting Gravity drains half of her health the first time you use it.
    • Family Jobs have two progression systems, a Relationship Values system with each of the four members of your family, and a Production Level system tied to your family's trade. If you increased the relationship value with one or more of your family members in a year, then the Production Level will increase in the following year, giving better goods and services. 7 of the 8 jobs go up to Level 3, so can be maxed out by the end of your Third Year with relative ease. The Alchemist job, however, increases in level to 12. This means if you increase your relationship with all members of your family at a normal rate, you'll be locked out of 3/4ths of the game's intended level up rewards, which include recipes for the best weapon design (The Greatest Weapon) and accessory (Ring of Invincibility) in the game. Unless you carefully cultivate your relationship with each member of your family one at a time, you will have to reduce your relationship with your family instead, then raise it back up, a process that takes an extra 2 years at least. And again, none of this is outlined in the game.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: All the tribes are called human in the games, but Clavats are the ones who look most human. Selkies are basically human as well, with the main difference being that Selkies have blue hair. Lilties are harder to justify, seeming almost plant-like with onion-shaped heads topped by leafy tendrils instead of hair, but there's at least one example of them having children with Clavats. Yukes are the most different; in earlier games they appear to have feather-covered flesh but armor conceals most of their bodies (including their entire heads and faces), but by the time of The Crystal Bearers they are essentially gaseous beings that possesses suits of armor; they are able to reassemble themselves if the armor falls apart, and if their body is damaged they can get a new body. It's not known if this is a reimagining of the Yukes, or if it is a result of being wiped out when their tribal crystal was destroyed (it's also possible that only Amidatelion is capable of switching bodies due to being a Crystal Bearer); there's not enough evidence to say either way for sure. Remastered adds the Submarine body type for female Yukes, which are visibly and undeniably empty suits of armor since their midsection is just a dress-shaped cage.
  • Improbable Age: This can happen once you're into the 104th year and your caravan full of Child Soldiers / Recruit Teenagers with Attitude haven't aged one bit, and that includes your mom, her mom, and the entire world. After all that time, your younger siblings will still be children. Invoking Really 700 Years Old can actually be possible.
  • Item Crafting: The original and DS games allow you to use scrolls and materials to create weapons, armor, and accessories with Blacksmiths or Tailors. The Crystal Bearers let you create Amulets, Rings, and Earrings at Moogle Shops but have a chance of failure or creating a different item instead.
  • Jack of All Stats: The Clavat race.
  • Jiggle Physics: Female Selkies have this, but it's difficult to notice due to the distant perspectives and fixed camera angles.
  • Level Scaling: When collecting second and third drops of myrrh from a given area, the player will find the enemies have grown stronger since their previous visit, new enemies will appear, and bosses will unveil more powerful attacks.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the main Final Fantasy series, but only in art style.
  • Lineage Ladder: A pattern referencing a line of grandfathers is used in the intro narration for the Mine of Cathuriges to convey how long it's been since the Lilties were warring:
    Narrator: When the grandfather of my grandfather's grandfather was still a child, no one in this land could challenge the might of the Lilties. They forged weapons of iron to bring the world under their dominion. But eventually the mine was exhausted, and the Lilties' unstoppable conquest ground to a halt. The Lilties' ambition vanished along with the iron. They abandoned the mine, where monsters now thrive.
  • Mineral Macguffin: The Crystals. Subsequent games show that they can do much more than keep Miasma away.
  • Older Than They Look: With Lilties, it's kinda hard to tell. This is highlighted with a Lilty NPC in Ring of Fates, who looks like a small child even by Lilty standards, but is actually an adult after the game's Time Skip. Meeth, the Lilty team member, is 40 years old but talks and acts like a little brat. She's more than capable of dropping that front when she gets down to brass tacks.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: The Lilty.
  • Pretty in Mink: The Selkies wear fur-trimmed outfits.
  • The Red Mage: The Yuke race. They cast magic faster than any other race, to the point that their magic is more effective than their actual weapons.
  • Roguish Romani: The Selkies, despite their Celtic name, are clearly a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Romani. They're also portrayed by the other races as completely untrustworthy thieves, and when you visit a Selkie town at one point the locals will quietly pickpocket you if you're not a fellow Selkie. If you play as one, you can get a letter from your mother urging you to steal everything that's not nailed down. Then there's the Selkie Guild in The Crystal Bearers, who primarily want to find enough treasure to establish their own authority separate from the Lilty kingdom and aren't above stealing it. Belle even tries to steal from Layle repeatedly (and sometimes succeeds). Keise is the only Selkie NPC in the series who doesn't live up to the stereotype, and is an outcast as a result.
  • Socialization Bonus: You could play the original game by yourself, with a Moogle carrying the myrrh chalice for you, but it was far more satisfying to play alongside friends so you could argue over who had to carry the chalice through the level. However, doing this required as many Game Boy Advances and GameCube-GBA link cables as there were players.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: 100% of a Yuke's armor is this.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization:
    • Clavats prefer sword and shield along with axes in later games.
    • Lilties use spears and other polearms, while Ring of Fates gives them clubs or ladles instead. Echoes of Time gives them weapons from both games.
    • Yukes use hammers. They also cast magic faster than other races, which is their real prefered weapon since they tend to have weak physical damage in comparison. Later games also give them a Magic Wand or a grimoire.
    • Selkies use racquets - as in tennis racquets. While they can be used as bludgeons, their focus attack instead has them launch a projectile at their target, which gives them the fastest, farthest, and strongest focus attack of any race. Later games give them bows.