Name: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates
Release Date (US): March 11th, 2008
Platform: Nintendo DS
Score: 67
Beat: May 14th, 2021
Written: May 20th - 23rd, 2021

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates is a prequel to the original Crystal Chronicles, taking place during the Golden Age, long before the miasma. It released in 2008 in the US for the Nintendo DS. The game expands on some of the mechanics of the original Crystal Chronicles (henceforth abbreviated as FFCC) as well as adding or changing FFCC mechanics. Ring of Fates (henceforth abbreviated as RoF) is a platformer hack n slash type of game, which mostly works. So, that means that the playable characters can now jump. The combat was refined, mostly for the best, I'd say, as you can attack much faster than in FFCC, which means that combat is much less... "tedious," I guess, I don't think that's quite the right word but oh well. Each race is more unique beyond stat differences and now boast a unique racial ability, Clavats are the same as in FFCC, though they no longer wield a shield; their racial ability is a charge attack not unlike in FFCC, Selkies now can double jump and wield bows instead of rackets; their racial ability is a charged arrow that shoots very far and deals extra damage, Yukes have a ball attack that seems to either deal no damage or tons of damage (physical vs. magic perhaps, but then how does it choose what to use?); their racial ability is something called "Magic Thread" which creates platforms and I think can be used for attacking as well, but I never did so, and Lilties cannot combo with their physical attacks; their racial ability is the "Lilty Pot," which can be used as a platforming tool and to create magicite, which leads me to the next gameplay change. Magicite is no longer reusable and is now a consumable item. For the most part, this is fine. However, in the final couple dungeons I found myself lacking Cure thanks to the enemies that must have Cure cast on them to be able to actually damage them coupled with no enemies that dropped them, making cure magicite is an exercise in tedium. There is a shop in Rebena Te Ra (which serves as the hub and you get to see what it looked like back when it was a spot of civilization and not a bunch of ruins like in FFCC,) where you can buy magicite, and Artemicion's moogle squad also is present in a few dungeons to serve as the Rebena Te Ra vendors away from Rebena Te Ra. There is also an actual story that is present throughout the game now.

In the audio and visual department, RoF is a few steps backward. I think this is mostly due to the fact it's a DS game while the original was on GameCube, so I can't really be too harsh on it. That's not to say the DS is incapable of having good music and the music in RoF is fine, but no where near the level of FFCC. The graphics are extremely hurt by the DS hardware. It's a 3D platformer on the DS, need I say more? I don't think there was any issue with conveyance of what objects or enemies in the world were, but things were kinda ugly. As I said, there's only so much you can do on the DS, so for what it is, it's not that bad. There is also voice acting now, which is pretty decent, I'd say. I hope Square Enix continues to remaster CC games because this game and Echoes of Time would benefit FAR more than FFCC ever would. The game would require some reworking to be playable on a non-dual screen device, one of which is a touchscreen, but I don't think it would be too hard.

The story is nothing too terribly special, though it is interesting actually having an ever-present story after the very open-ended story telling of FFCC. I actually don't have a lot to say about it, other than that the ending is a litte disappointing. I suppose it's a natural conclusion of some concepts introduced, but reversing deaths to make a super happy ending just feels cheap. Other than that, the game provides a lot of insight into what Rebena Te Ra was like during the Golden Age, long before its ruinous appearance in FFCC, which I think is the most interesting part of the game.

The gameplay is fine. The platforming was ok for the most part, it could be difficult to tell where to go sometimes due to the occasional target hidden offscreen, but traversing narrow platforms was a bit scary thanks to the d-pad. The more unique physical properties of characters basically meant that I just stuck to playing as Yuri, who could shred enemies with his very high attack, or Gnash for his bow attacks so I didn't have to get close to enemies. The consumable magicite is hardly a problem for most of the game as I tended to have more than enough. However, when the game introduces the enemies that require Cure to be cast on them to reveal them and therefore do reasonable amounts of damage, I started to run out of Cure pretty often, since no enemies drop it and making it through the Lilty Pot is either an excerise in tedium waiting for the game to choose to spawn the gems you need, then mixing them, or just mixing them because you're at a vent that only spawns the gems you need, takes a nonzero amount of time. Not to mention the game has to have these spots in the first place. The game trended towards easy, which I don't mind, but the final boss, continuing a tradition started in FFCC apparently, was very annoying. Except this time, there's no awesome theme to listen to while fighting the guy. There is a song, but it's not very memorable.

I didn't really have a lot to say about Ring of Fates. It's alright, it pushes the DS, but overall feels like a step back from its predecessor on the GameCube. There's only so much you can do when it comes to 3D games on the DS, but nowadays it's definitely not great. It's still worth a shot for a decent 3D action platformer on the DS and for more lore on the world of Crystal Chronicles. My next Crystal Chronicles game to play is My Life as a King, which released the same year as RoF's US release.
Also, did Kamiyama's newsletter in Yuri's house ever update? Every time I checked, it was the same "Echoes of Time in 2009!" thing. Liar, your letter never updated at all!

-Hat Kid

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