Genre: Action RPG

Publisher: SNK

Total time played: 12 Hours

Short review:  A fast paced action RPG that could have been the best game on the system if it weren’t for a few fatal flaws.

Interesting links related to Crystalis

I picked up this game at a yard sale in the late 1990’s while working at Sears.  One of my co-worker’s, Jason, said it was one of his favorite games of all time.  Playing this game in 2014 there were 2 saved files on the cartridge, Jason, from Sears and Wes, my college roommate.  I have a memory of trying to play this game years ago and really liking it but the battery that saved the game wasn’t working.  But, almost 20 years later there were still saved games on the cart, so my memory is incorrect and I have no excuse for not playing Crystalis before now.

This game plays very much like Zelda meets Final Fantasy.  It is very fast paced and I never found myself wishing the text moved faster or that the character walked faster.  I even found the “grinding” when I had to kill enemies over and over to level up didn’t take that long.  About 2-3 hours into this game and I was ready to call it the best game on the NES.  But, then things got tough.

First, the save feature took me forever to find (hit select and then start) and when you die you never really know where you will start the game again, the checkpoint system remains a mystery to me.  When playing Zelda and walking around with low health there is a constant beeping that will drive a man insane.  You won’t find that beeping in Crystalis.  But, as annoying as the beeping was in Zelda I now see that it was necessary. I can’t tell you how many times I died unexpectedly because there was no warning I had low health.

When visiting towns you talk to the villagers by simply bumping into them.  At first I found this to be such a time saver.  In games like Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior you have to hit a button to engage conversation.  But, shortly into the game this became a nuisance as I would just be trying to walk and would accidentally bump someone and have to scroll through dialogue.

Much like every other NES RPG there are towns sprinkled throughout the world and each contains items, weapons and armor that you can buy to make your character much stronger.  However, nowhere does it tell you which weapons/armors are the best or what any of the items do.  How in the world was I supposed to know that a Statue of Opel brought me back from the dead?  There is also no map which makes navigating sometimes a little tricky.  Although, you learn a spell early on that allows you to travel instantly between towns, very helpful.

There were several times throughout the game I had to use internet walkthroughs as there was no direction as to what I should be doing.  Sometimes a character would say “I can’t find my son” or “I need a special flower” but I didn’t know where to find said items.  Sometimes I would just have to walk over a random spot in the desert or forest and sometimes I would have to use the “change” spell to turn into a different character and speak to someone.  I never did learn the names of the 4 characters I could change into, I just used trial and error.

As I got closer to the end of the game I realized I had missed an entire town which contained some items necessary for beating the game so without the internet I would have just given up.

The pacing, action, story, and music are all top notch but there were just a few little gripes that kept me from giving Crystalis a perfect score.  But, it is definitely a game worth playing.


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