Codex Gamicus

The story of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is one tied deeply with the tango of Nintendo and Square.

Back when Nintendo was the only - or at least, the only good - game in town, Square was one of their pocket developers. Final Fantasy through to Final Fantasy VI, as well as miscellaneous other Square titles (many inheriting the Final Fantasy name, such as the Final Fantasy Legend series) all found their home on Nintendo consoles. But when the PlayStation came into the picture, Square jumped ship. Final Fantasy VII through to Final Fantasy IX came to the PlayStation, and the exclusivity continued into the PlayStation 2 with Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XII. To this day, while many later titles are multi-platform (such as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn), the Final Fantasy series is first and foremost a franchise that calls the PlayStation "home".

However, in 2002 it was announced that Nintendo and Square were reaching some sort of agreement. Hiroshi Yamauchi had begun accumulating money in a "Fund Q" to be used for enticing developers to stay close to Nintendo, and fate brought this money and Square together. A new company called Game Designers Studio was borne of Square and Nintendo staff; they were contracted to deliver three titles, and to push Nintendo's connectivity campaign (Game Boy Advance + GameCube = fun!). Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was the biggest of those ventures.

Decidedly different from any Final Fantasy the world had seen before, Crystal Chronicles is more Gauntlet than anything. Playable by one to four simultaneously, players are set in a semi-apocalyptic world where people must live their lives in refuge from a poisonous miasma surrounding much of the world. The miasma is pushed back by particularly magical crystals; however, these crystals are not perpetual in their magic, and must be periodically recharged with Myrrh. The adventure of the game is in yearly caravans that set out to collect Myrrh to protect their townspeople.

The biggest complaint towards Crystal Chronicles is undoubtedly the "investment" required for full play. It is very possible for a single person to play by themselves with only the game and a controller and a memory card; however, multi-player requires that each player use a Game Boy Advance as a controller. This, as well as the confusion some faced when seeing that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was not the Final Fantasy they were expecting, severely hampered the game's commercial viability.