After an eleven-year break, the spin-off series of the Final Fantasy franchise returns with the remastered edition of the game that started it all way back in 2003: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition. Given new life on the Switch, PS4, and mobile devices—with online cross play between the platforms—the remastered edition is an ambitious effort from Square Enix, to say the very least. Unfortunately, its own ambition may have ultimately proved to be its defining flaw.
Generally speaking, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition plays relatively identically to the original GameCube title—more a dungeon-crawling action RPG than the typical Final Fantasy formula. The crux of the original game was its multiplayer mode, which was truly where the game shined. Rather disappointingly, the remastered edition launched with a plethora of issues that plagued the online multiplayer mode, making it impossible to play the multiplayer mode for the first several weeks after launch (a problem that plagued Oceania region more so than other regions). That said, after ultimately patching the issues and correcting things, the game plays generally fine online; however, when doing cross-play there can be some hiccups here and there. Making this game a cross-playable multiplayer extravaganza was an ambitious undertaking for Square Enix, one that they ultimately failed to pull off.
Putting aside the multiplayer mode, the game’s single-player dungeon-crawling gameplay is every bit as superb as it was back in 2003. Fans of the original game will no doubt feel a sense of nostalgia as they make their way through the single-player campaign, encountering iconic characters such as Stiltzkin the moogle. Those new to the game will surely find Crystal Chronicles an easy game to jump into and get a good grasp of. The game is simple yet addictive. You are tasked with making your way through a variety of dungeons, defeating bosses, and acquiring some crystal for your chalice.
Crystal Chronicles feels like a game that was meant to be on the Nintendo Switch. One can’t help but the wonder if it may have been a better idea to focus on the Switch rather than have the game on multiple platforms. The game plays wonderfully on the Switch; however, when attempting cross-play, you are more than likely to encounter a variety of issues that will prevent enjoying the game to the fullest. However, playing between two Switch consoles, you are able to enjoy dungeon-crawling together as a party without much disruption.
Visually, the game looks a lot crisper and smoother than the original 2003 title. That said, there hasn’t been much of an overhaul here visually. The game for the most part looks like it did when it was originally released, just with a nice coat of polish to tidy things up.
Ultimately, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is not the incredible remaster we had hoped it would be (based on our preview of the title). However, the game is a fine dungeon crawler that will surely please fans of the original game as well as newcomers. It is just a shame that the game couldn’t live up to the idea of the cross-platform dungeon-crawling wonderland that we had hoped it could be. Sometimes, there is such a thing as being too ambitious.