Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King - Review  

Final Fantasy: Sim City
by Lucky Melchior

20-40 Hours
+ Fun and innovative gameplay.
+ Very good interface and interaction.
+ Reasonable price, downloadable title.
- Underwhelming storyline.
- Gameplay can feel repetitive at times.
- Soundtrack lacks variety.
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   In 2008, Square Enix released Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King as a down-loadable Wiiware title for the Ninrendo Wii. It is a city-building strategy RPG. The game is a direct sequel to the Nintendo Gamecube title Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Though gamers like myself who have never played the original title can still enjoy this title.

   You take control of a very young king whose land was decimated by the Miasma and events from the original Crystal Chronicles game. You have traveled far and wide with only two companions, your trusty adviser and loyal retainer. You now come upon an empty castle with vacant land centered around a crystal. It appears to be a land set aside for you by your father, the former king. The crystal bestows upon the young king the power of architek, which is magic used to build houses and other buildings. The actual story is simple, thin, underdeveloped and very much secondary to the actual gameplay. In fact actual story exposition only takes place on a few scattered days.

   The core of the game rather is its gameplay. As was said, you take control of the king. Your job is to build a city and govern it's citizens. Like many strategy games you have resources that you must manage. These two resources are elementite and gold. Elementite is consumed when the king uses his magic of architek to create buildings. The king obtains elementite by commissioning town citizens to be adventurers and issuing behests for these adventurers to explore dungeons. Elementite can be found exploring these dungeons and when a dungeon is cleared by defeating the boss,the king usually gains access to new buildings he can construct. Gold is obtained as tithes from the citizens. The more houses you build the greater the amount of tithes. You can also get bonus tithes each day for each time you max out the morale bar. The morale bar increases when citizens visit their favorite stores, talk to their friends or when the king comes and talks to them. Gold is spent on commissioning adventurers, issuing behests and funding research so shops can sell better equipment.

Building houses using architek Building houses using architek

    That is the basics of the gameplay. The game proceeds in days. A day begins with the king's adviser, Chime giving you a report of the adventurers actions and the finance/elementite expenditures for the day before. Then you issue the behests for the day which can be for adventurers to explore dungeons, defeat the boss of a dungeon, search for weapon or armor materials, even declaring a holiday for the kingdom and all other types of tasks. Then you walk around the kingdom for the day. You can construct new buildings such as houses, armor stores, a bakery and all sorts of other types of buildings. You can even build temples where you adventurers can become white mages or black mages. However, you must issue a behest for adventurers to change class. You can talk to the citizens to raise morale, commission new adventurers or even give the weapon store some money to research more powerful weapons, etc. The citizens move around the town and you can not control them. The adventurers will go into shops and decide which weapons or armor they want to buy. The adventurers will then set off on whatever behest they were told to do. Then night falls and this daily cycle repeats until your adventurers defeat the boss of the final dungeon. Overall the gameplay is fun and innovative, but can feel repetitive as the days quickly go by and you repeat similar activity. It can also be frustrating as you cannot directly control the adventurers and the A.I. is not always helpful.

    The soundtrack is generally pleasant though not exceptional. The biggest drawback to the soundtrack is the lack of variety in tracks. There are really only about four or five distinct melodies. This can become annoying as the days move fast and the same few themes repeat over and over. Thankfully, at least the main town theme changes slightly once when your town gets big enough. As for the graphics on they are good, but not great. The city is built in and around a 3d map. All the buildings and characters are reasonably detailed. Also may of the citizens have a slightly different appearance so as the visuals do not become monotonous. There are a few FMV scenes but they certainly are not as spectacular as many other SquareEnix offerings. Again the graphics are good, but not great considering it is on a next-generation console.

You can employ numerous adventurers. You can employ numerous adventurers.

   For the most part the interaction and interface are very good. You can play the game with various controller configurations. You could play with just the Wii remote or you could use the Wii remote with the nun-chuck accessory attached or you could even use the classic controller. In my opinion the nun-chuck is the best configuration as the controls are the most intuitive. I would avoid using the Wii remote by itself as the controls are awkward. Beyond the controls the game has an excellent menu system. All the menu screens are well laid-out and very detailed. For those who love to get lost in the minutia there are detailed logs which can tell you everything about what the adventurers did each day from what weapons and items they bought to turn by turn logs of their encounters with monsters.

   The game is overall fairly original, especially the gameplay. While games such as civilization and Age of Empires, combine empire building with RPG elements, few games, if any, combine sim city-like gameplay with RPG elements such as this game does. The game will probably take you a little over twenty hours to complete. My Life as a Kings has the reasonable cost of 1500 Wii points to download, which is approximately fifteen U.S. dollars. There is plenty of down-loadable add-on content which range from any between 100 and 800 Wii points. While some are just extra outfits for the King and his adviser, there are plenty of extra dungeons which when cleared will allow the you to build additional structures. This game has pretty good replay value considering the added dungeons and the fact you can structure your town a completely different way each time you play through it. Furthermore after you complete the game once you can start a new game using the cleared data and select different difficulty modes.

   Overall My Life as a King is a fun game, though not spectacular, that will offer a unique and enjoyable experience. Those RPGamers expecting a typical Square-Enix game with an epic story and stunning CGI movies should temper their expectations. But, those RPGamers with a Wii that are interested in strategy games may want to download this reasonably priced title if they are looking for some fun gameplay to pass the time.

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