The controls are as simple as the story; you can hack and slash, use magic and use a strong charge-attack that takes magic points. That's about it. The six magic spells are available to you from the get-go and consist of a fairly generic list of familiar names. I'm talking about Cure, Phoenix Down, Fire, Ice, Lightning and one spell that will remove any ailment you have (no matter what type). You can choose between a few different types of basic weapons (sword, hammer, crossbow, etc.), add armor and do that kind of thing. In other words, the combat is wholly unspectacular.
While you will no doubt die when playing this, the game itself is never very challenging. From the game's easy puzzles to the push-over boss battles, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is a real breeze. In a lot of ways this feels like it was designed for a younger audience, the type of gamer that would normally be turned off by the epic story and political intrigue that permeates its way through the numbered Final Fantasy sequels. As a result, I never found myself investing in the characters. While I was there doing all of the fighting, it felt like the truly interesting parts of the game were taking place when I was away. To make matters worse, the game's big twist didn't make me feel any more connected to the characters. Ultimately I just gave up trying to like my character and got on with the mindless hacking and slashing.
For the most part the game's multiplayer is a lot of fun. But after going through the game I started to wonder if it had to do with the game's quality or the simple fact that adventuring with friends is always a lot of fun. Just look at how popular World of Warcraft is. The game is certainly fraught with problems, some of which could have been easily fixed. For one thing, the game features an annoying fixed camera angle that makes solving some puzzles much harder than need be. Would it have been that tough to give us a way of manually turning the camera?
Sadly most of the problems seem to involve connection issues. When I played the game online with friends I found the lag to be more than I was willing to put up with. Even when playing with a Nintendo Wii in the same room, I found that we would have regular connection issues. And then there's the matter of actually trying to play with anybody in the first place. Because you need to confirm friend codes, you can't just play the game online right out of the box. My friend and I had so many problems connecting that we eventually had sync the systems up locally just to get it to work. There's no reason I should have to jump through this many hoops just to play a game that is supposed to be all about multiplayer questing.
In case you haven't been paying attention to the development, Echoes of Time was originally set to be a Nintendo DS game. For whatever reason, Square Enix decided to port this portable game to the Wii. As you can imagine, porting a DS game to the Wii results in a number of problems, chief among them being the difference in graphics. Because it's basically a straight port, Echoes of Time looks best on the smaller screen. The graphics are sharper on the portable and don't look as blown up as they do on the Wii. Still, that doesn't mean that the graphics are good. While they are certainly passable, I wouldn't call this one of the better looking Nintendo DS games.
The rest of the game's presentation is equally bad. The sound effects are annoying, the voice acting is stiff, and the music repeats far too often. There's just nothing about the game's presentation that you will remember, and maybe that's a good thing.
Unfortunately what you will remember is all of the frustrating (and out of place) 3D platforming puzzles, the nonsensical storyline and the boring cinemas. The game is not so terrible that you curse ever putting it in your system, but it's also not good in any way. You will have forgotten large chunks of the game only minutes after turning it off for the last time. As much as I love the idea of a multiplayer Final Fantasy game, I demand more from my spin-offs.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is more than a really long title, it's also a multiplayer game with a whole host of game breaking problems. It is a game with a small cast of unlikeable characters, a boring story, lame locations and did I mention the technical problems? Echoes in Time is as mediocre as you can get. Surely you can do better than this.
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