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Crystalis GBC - Review

If Crystalis was a line of beers, the GBC version would be 'light'.

By: Greg Campbell


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 3
   Originality 4
   Plot 5
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Fairly Easy-Fairly Hard
   Time to Complete 7-21 Hours
Overall
7
Criteria
Crstalis GBC

  Ahh, Crystalis, the well-reviewed, yet barely heard of game when "RPG" is mentioned. This 'little gem of the NES', as some call it, has become portable, as well as redone. As a fan and avid player of the NES original, however, some of these changes haven't been so good.

   First, the battle system. The fighting is all done real-time, ala SoM where you choose your weapon, find the foe and stab/shoot it until dead. Gone are the days of switching swords to hit and hurt various foes. Everything except walls and most NPCs can be hurt by any of the five swords (Wind, Fire, Water, Thunder, Crystalis) with balls and bracelets to power up all swords (except Crystalis). Balls allow breaking down of walls (earth, ice, steel) and forming of ice bridges in areas where the water flows close together by charging the correct sword and shooting the 'bolt' in the right direction. Bracelets do everything balls do, but are more powerful, and use various amounts of MP per attack. The leveling system is the same as the NES version, with the hero getting various EX per kill and requiring more and more for each progressing level, up to 16 (Wow!). Second, interface. The menus in Crystalis are easy to navigate, with A as accept and B as cancel. On the main screen (where your Hero is controlled), press Select to go into the inventory screen, then choose one of four groups (swords, protection, items, spells) and do whatever you need to do. For using an item or spell, go to the screen with the item/spell, move the cursor to it, highlight it with A, cancel out of the menus and activate it with A. Repeat as necessary. Pressing Start on the main screen brings you to a listing of stats for your Hero (attack power, level, amount to next level, attack power, defense power [armor-shield], cash and if any negative statuses are upon you). This is also the screen to go to save/load your game; just highlight the save/load button, press A, select a slot, confirm it and the game is saved/loaded almost instantly. Getting around in text boxes is also easy. Press A to advance text boxes and accept decisions (like sell) and B to cancel.


Cavey
Use the force!  

   Thirdly, originality. In porting to GBC, changing the story and some details, Crystalis has lost some points for originality. The NES version has you trying to find yourself and get caught up in a war while doing so, while the GBC version has you as a 'war machine', awakening when the world is under attack by an evil wizard. See what I mean by 'light' so far? Fourthly, music/sound. Sorry to say, in an attempt to better them (from NES), they got worse. The music doesn't seem to fit the mood with the score for the whole game sounding like remixed versions of 1-4 tunes. Same with sounds. Things that appealed to me in the NES version (like the squeaking when hit, metallic ping with hitting a foe with a wrong weapon, the Refresh spell sound) are changed in the GBC version. Though some are tolerable (like the Refresh sound), most of the time you're better with the sound off (for those who played on the NES).

   Fifth, plot. The GBC version has a similar, yet fairly different plot than the NES version. Both are fairly linear, but the GBC version has all events explained thoroughly, leaving little to the imagination. This is fine for bringing new players to RPGaming, but tends not to go well with more avid players. Some characters have changed as well, taking on new/different roles. Also, some items have been changed, whether in areas attainable, graphic or/and function. Sixth, visuals. Another major difference between the versions. The NES version has bigger pictures for items and spells, along with a more futuristic blue background feel, while the GBC version is more of a medieval and 'kiddy' feel with yellow backgrounds for menus and drawings of swords and shields that look like they came from an average kid's coloring book. A few final small details. Flying creatures' flying animations are slower so most 'flying' creatures look like they're hovering, the view is smaller so the To Next won't be visible on the main screen, along with most of bustable walls. and the Thunder Storm attack (with the storm bracelet) doesn't slow down the game as often in the NES version.


Big bug
Ohmu!  

   Replay value is almost none if you're only looking for items, seeing as there aren't that many optional items. The replay value mainly comes from challenging yourself to play the game in a different way, like without ANY armor (which I've successfully done), without items, without using spells when not needed, reaching level 16 before getting the Flame Bracelet, among others. Otherwise if you aren't feeling like the challenges or finding items you missed, there's little more for you.

   In the localization department, the translators have done quite well. I haven't found a spelling/grammar error yet and I went through the game twice in 3 days from the start. I didn't see any parts of the game that made reference to outside the game world, so there wasn't much or any localization needed.


Needs new paint
Standard 8-But town  

   Onto originality. This game doesn't have much originality in it, but this one of the few console RPGs I know of that you can fly with a spell. This game has some challenge for those who are NES Crysalis vets, but Crystallis is still fairly easy in most parts. Harder foes have been removed (the purple gassers from Mt. Hydra), status conditions weakened (all status conditions are eraseable with one spell and most conditions are harder to get) and foes can be hurt by anything. I never needed a guide for either game, except for the Tornado Bracelet's location in the NES version. If you search every area you're told or implied to search in for something, you'll probably find it quickly.

   Since this is a remake, I thought it only fair to know some of what's been changed in the GBC version; Most things are minor. For items, the Alarm Flute is only findable now in a new cave off the first area, the Kirisa Plant is in a new valley, with walking mushrooms instead of bugs, Deo's Pendant is now Stom's Pendant, and can be found in a different location, the Necklace of Fate is needed to open a gate to an isle, the X-Ray goggles aren't a reddish pallate swap of the Gas Mask, some items changed (like glowing lamp to glowing light), Warp Boots aren't buyable in Leaf, there's a smaller listing (incomplete) of items in the manual and the item screen has gone from one screen with two sides to four screens, one with two sides. For characters, your role as Hero has changed from 'guy looking for self while helping others occasionally' to full-fleged 'he's our last chance', the sages (spellgivers) are in different areas, but close to their NES counterparts, and have more dialogue, Mesia (the Hero counterpart) is almost non-existant now, the beings of Oak are more forgiving, the guy who goes mining on Mt. Sabre looks different, NPCs tend to face toward the bottom of the screen when sitting, the Elder of Leaf has a more active role has a larger role, while the Elder of Shyron isn't existant and some characters changed rolls. For visuals, the flying creatures mentioned before, along with the storm and interface, with some item looks changed, as well as new backgrounds and interface screens. For sound, almost everything has changed and most of what has got worse. For foes, ones like Orange Medusas have been weakened and moved. For other things, dialogue is different, if you're flashing, you can go through 'shoot halls', when told you're hurt from a status element, the indication isn't easily ignored, the name entry field is bigger, when you die, you're forced to start at/near the last screen you entered, losing all EX gained and overwriting the save slot the game was last saved on and by selecting a ball/bracelet on weapons screen the corresponding sword will be activated. (Phew!)

   So, my final thoughts. Crystalis is worth buying for those who haven't played either version before because of the great adventure. It may be worth buying for those who are NES Crystal veterans for nostalgic value and to see what's different, but if you do, I suggest disabling the sound.




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