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Tycho / on Fri, Aug 15 2003 at 1:31 am

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From Another Human Being

I just wanted to remind people that they were reading Penny Arcade.

We spent most of the day playing Final Fantasy:  Crystal Chronicles, which is to say, we spent most of the day learning to play it.  As an import genre, bringing an RPG over from Japan is a fool’s errand.  Plunging into menu trees four deep, and then realizing your adventures have somehow produced a carrot is a unique experience that combines ordinary thought with a sort of contorted brain yoga.  It also raises troubling questions about vegetables.  However, as I’ve stated before, even the most rudimentary successes with an alien interface give one the impression that they are a magician.

It was a combination of Gabriel’s bottomless affection for the title and Travis from Videogame Depot‘s timely execution that brought it to us, and I am pleased to say that we can now drop things from our inventory with a very high rate of success.  We can also filet a goblin.  We can even filet and cook a goblin simultaneously, by combining a “strong attack” and fire magic.  Spells and special abilities are targeted in the playfield by a circle that corresponds to the player’s color, and two or more players may combine the effects of their action by properly timing their attacks.  It works in ways you’d expect, like multiple fire or cure spells creating a more enhanced version of the spell.  It also works in ways you don’t expect, like combining different attack spells and producing another type of damage altogether.  It’s fun to experiment, and it’s even more fun to land such unstoppable energies on an evil rodent.  You can read about a few such combinations in the only GameFAQ available for the game, as those are pretty much the same ones we came up with.

The game is beautiful, and any attempt to capture that here will either fail outright or venture perilously close to poetry.  With four races and a handful of outfits for each gender, each character is easy to identify and brims with unique animation.  Even just looking at the menu makes me want to sing a song.  It really is a jewel for the system, something that shows what the machine is capable of when someone takes it seriously.  They’re saying February for the US release, I think we might have mentioned that before, presumably for the prodigious volume of localization they need to do.  There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t mention, like how you have to choose your parents’ profession or how you can spraypaint moogles.  As much as I’d like to shake you by the shoulders and reveal all, I’d rather leave much of the mystery in reserve.

Since we’ve both beaten Kotor now - with opposite Force polarities, of course - the portion of our history that was dense with comment on the title is (probably) over.  By way of a final word on the topic, I just want to say that Bioware has not only outdone themselves with the game, they’ve probably outdone Lucas.  They don’t make me regret my nostalgia for the Universe, rather, they reward me for it and remind me why I invested myself so in the first place.                       

(CW)TB out.

only when i pedal past them

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