Crystalis (NES) review
"Out from a hundred years of suspended animation, our hero steps into a world overrun by mutants and under threat of an evil which hasnít fully presented itself yet. Journeying throughout the land, this prophesied savior seeks the respect of four wise men by collecting four mighty elemental swords. He will travel through labyrinthine caverns, and hostile lands, including the territory belonging to the impressive Draygonian Empire, which has oppressed its citizens and forcibly colonized its neighb..."
Out from a hundred years of suspended animation, our hero steps into a world overrun by mutants and under threat of an evil which hasnít fully presented itself yet. Journeying throughout the land, this prophesied savior seeks the respect of four wise men by collecting four mighty elemental swords. He will travel through labyrinthine caverns, and hostile lands, including the territory belonging to the impressive Draygonian Empire, which has oppressed its citizens and forcibly colonized its neighbors.
You are this warrior, the mighty God Slayer (read: Japanese title), destroyer of evil and defender of justice. Your journey will be a long one, but it is well worth the time and effort because Crystalis has more to offer than just your typical dungeon crawler Ė it presents a challenge that requires more than just brute force to overcome.
Crystalis is not a turn-based RPG, and as such, fighting can be a bit trickier here than elsewhere. While strategy is compromised somewhat in such battle systems, itís made up for with reaction time and flexibility. Skillfully dodge charging enemies and carefully aimed projectiles while at the same time, throwing attacks of your own and dodging the occasional harmful terrain.
Enemies come in various shapes and sizes. Eagles and other birds intermittently fly in a circle around you, hoping for a hit. Unless attacked. Then they home in on your position until you either manage to defeat them or shake them off entirely. Draygonian soldiers advance towards you, periodically thrusting sharpened blades in your direction. They are not easily lost, either, forcing you to kill them upon every encounter in most cases.
TBS or no, strategy comes into play somewhere, and Crystalis does a good job of combining strategy and reaction time in the same event. Many monsters have a weakness to one element only, immune to all others. Many such monsters tend to congregate together. And many tend to fight you all at once. In order to defeat them without taking much damage, you must quickly switch from one blade to another. Itís not as easy as it sounds, and equipping through a menu doesnít make it less so. Switching to a menu may provide a quick reprieve, but it may also disorient your upon returning, resulting in numerous hits as you try to reorient yourself.
And your health is not reluctant to rapid and copious decreases, either.
Even at max level, you take a surprising amount of damage within a short amount of time. Itís just a bit ridiculous, but it adds a tactical element not seen in most RPGs. You must be really good at what youíve been doing for the past 20 hours of play time, for your enemies will show no mercy at these upper stages. Slamming into a mummy netted me the loss of half my health, despite the superior armor and defense-boosting accessory I was wearing. It may be easier to heal yourself Ė your MP is through the roof Ė but if youíre not paying attention, things go downhill quite quickly.
Enough about fighting, though. Letís talk about exploring!
Just about everywhere you go may be plot-driven, but that doesnít make it any less fun. Meandering through convoluted caves ridden with numerous confusing, disorienting corridors, youíll often find yourself in the same place as before. You wander around in circles, seemingly aimlessly as you memorize the various routes and passages you can take through Draygoniaís mighty fort. Eventually you find the correct way, badly beaten and low on supplies from all the fighting you had to do. Only instead of salvation, youíre greeted by one powerful foe, just one of many bosses throughout the game. Defeating him, you let loose a sigh of relief, but then realize you canít save in this area. Your happiness rapidly turns to fear, and you begin to hope you find some rejuvenating item amidst the maze of twisted corridors and hidden traps.
This happened to me plenty of times throughout the game, though not all involved lack of saving. Regardless, you have to pay attention to everything going around you. Donít ignore the hostile group marching towards you, for it will result in pain. Donít neglect the treasure hidden throughout a dungeon, for it may save your life. But most importantly, donít ignore the citizens of the towns you visit, for they will inform you, albeit discreetly, of your next objective, provide some vague clue as to what you need to do.
Seemingly useless people will tell you of various rumors that later often to prove true. One tells you of a village populated only by women. This information may seem unneeded, especially when you acquire it so early in the game. However, later, you realize that it was indeed valuable, and youíll be grateful you took five seconds of your life to talk to these so-called ďrandomĒ people.
All of this is a lot to keep track of. But having the quick reflexes necessary to successfully defeat your opponent, possessing the memory necessary to navigate labyrinthine caverns, and having the patience for and knowing how to figure out vague riddles all add to the gameís esteem. It may not be a title traditional strategy lovers like myself are used to, but itís one that results in an immeasurable amount of fun and enjoyment. And in the end, thatís all that really matters.
Community review by wolfqueen001 (May 13, 2008)
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