Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles made its debut on the GameCube in 2004, which I actually remember was the motivating factor in my purchase of that console. The title differed a great deal from the main series in tone as well as gameplay, offering gamers a chance to participate in multiplayer aside from the single player storyline. Four years later, Square has been busy at work on the side series, premiering Ring of Fates on the DS as well working on the upcoming title My Life as a King for the debut of Wiiware.
I had some reservations about this game as I found myself a bit disappointed with the original GameCube offering, but much like a few years can make you forget that the ex you still pine over losing used to forget your birthday, the break from the series had blurred my initial negative impressions enough to make me optimistic enough to be excited about Ring of Fates. Hit the jump to find out why my love affair with Square runs hot and cold, and if this title is worth plopping down your dollar for.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates
The two main protagonists, fraternal twins Yuri and Chelinka, begin the story as young children under the care of their father in a small village. Toshiyuka Itahana's super deformed character design fondly reminds me a bit of Square's Tarutaru race from Final Fantasy XI, and everything starts so simply I found myself thinking perhaps the game was aimed at kids rather than adults (although Square has said the Crystal Chronicles series was purposely designed to focus on action, making it easier for non-RPG fans to play.)
While multiplayer has never appealed to me as a Final Fantasy fan (I guess I'm antisocial when it comes to my RPGs,) Ring of Fates offers it for those of you who enjoy it. You can compete with up to four players (local Wi-Fi only, however) in the game's caves and dungeons, as well as use the Mog Trader function, which lets you trade moogles back and forth with friends after designing them using the Moogle Paint feature (you can do this in-game when you meet new Moogles.) Moogle Paint is ok, although it seemed to me more like an excuse to use the touch screen for something (other than movement controls which make sense, that is.)
While Ring of Fates has its share of flaws, it still stands as a pretty solid entry into the DS action-RPG category. The music, story and character design stand up to the usual Square standard, which I always enjoy. Since Square has been so crazy about spin-offs these days, I was expecting this title to feel a little hollow, but it actually comes through. Had the oddly unnatural use of the touch screen not been an issue, I think I would have gone from liking to loving it, but in the long run it's a flaw worth looking past.