Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As a King

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The Wii Entertainment System offers such a wonderful opportunity to get video gamers off the couch. I’m not very into sports, so the obvious offerings of tennis and bowling, although pleasant, don’t capture my mind for more than a few minutes. My hope was for a video game that incorporated all the fun of questing, while actually moving my body around. I want to swing my sword, and maybe even do some of that walking that my valiant band of warriors are always doing. So far, I’ve been disappointed in the lack of RPG titles for the Wii, as well as the unavailability of the few tempting possibilities (like the Zelda offering).

There’s no availability issues with Wiiware, and so I decided to spend twenty bucks on a game or two. I got the original Legend of Zelda, because that was my introduction to the world of rpg’s, even if it is more of an ‘action adventure’ than a pure role playing game. I loved Zelda, and I was happy to be able to replay it. I’d forgotten, however, just how miserable my fingers were having to move using the directional wheel. OW! I ended up wearing a glove to protect my left thumb, but of course that made me clumsier than ever. Oh well.

Final Fantasy has been a series I’ve enjoyed ever since the first one on the NES, so when I saw Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (which I will refer to as FF King if you don’t mind – even FFCCMLAK is awful!) I was interested, and finally gave into temptation.

At first, all was well. I accepted that I wasn’t actually going to be fighting. That’s okay, right? I’m not a violent person. I don’t need to fight. The King decides who will fight in which areas, and I can do that. The King then spends his days designing his town, talking to villagers, and encouraging shop-keepers. In the early part of the game, that’s interesting enough. The mercenaries that the King sends out to fight will bring back resources necessary for building houses and shops to restore the town to its lost glory. I enjoy town design. It’s a feature I’ve really enjoyed in the Dark Cloud series, so I expected to have some fun with it in FF King too.

One day I played the game for about ten hours, quite happily. But after that the frustration set in. The warriors were getting picky. My best fighters wouldn’t sign up for the difficult dungeons, they just went out and did their own thing, continuing to gain experience points, but not showing up for work. I scoured the internet for help and all I found was that once you can get them to go out in groups (which takes a certain type of building), you can assign a low level fighter to lead the group, with your best fighters in the rear. The low-level warriors are always trying to go places they’re not ready for, so the pathetic little leader will show up at the assignment posting and you’ll get your good warriors to explore the right places. Of course the low level leader may very well die on each excursion, but they’ll recover in a day or so, or you can assign some other low level leader for the next day. This doesn’t seem like a very logical way of going about things, but it’s a game, not real life.

I discovered that my mercenaries also spent most of the day running back and forth inside the town buying equipment before they would go exploring, and then they’d have to come right back because it got dark. Sheesh. I demolished buildings and re-designed the town so all the weapon, armor and magic shops were close together, very near the assignment posts, and next to the tavern where they would create parties. That helped them get on the road a bit earlier in the day and get more accomplished. Certain levels of morale will keep the lights on longer in town, and your warriors will eventually be able to buy flashlights, but the game-day goes by quickly and often little is actually done.

Meanwhile the little King spends all his time running around boosting morale. This gets old after ten hours or so, and I found myself getting a bit motion-sick from the camera angles (although not nearly as bad as in Kingdom Hearts, which would be a fun game if it didn’t make me nauseous). Eventually my town was fully built, my warriors were all at levels that kept them from accepting any assignments, and I was tired of talking to the same townsfolk over and over. So I stopped playing. I might start over sometime: the beginning of the game is fun enough, but although I assume there’s a boss to be fought in absentia, and plot to resolve, I just didn’t care enough to go any further.

Would I recommend this game? Well it’s only $15, so it’s not a huge investment. I got a number of hours of game-time from FF King, and I may yet get a few more. It’s not much like a Final Fantasy game, it’s not much like a role-playing game, but it’s colorful and engaging for awhile. As for using the Wii’s ability to get us gamers off the couch – FF King was a dismal failure. There is only one function that calls for motion of the controller, and you don’t really need to ring the bell for Chime that way, a button press will do equally well. I did find I needed the nunchuk attachment in order to use a joystick for wandering around town, rather than the ever-painful direction wheel. Ho hum. When will I get to slash enemies with my Wii? I really could use the exercise.

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