The next Square-Enix WiiWare title "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A Darklord" is now out in Europe for 1000 points (£7) with additional content costing more with Pay to Play scheme... A lot more.
Monsters have been forced into hiding in a tower by heroes and the "kind" Darklord Craydall offers to be sealed away into a crystal in exchange for their peace. Everything was peaceful until his rule is passed over to his daughter, Mira who wants to bring terror to the world. Before that, she will have to fend her tower off from the invading heroes...
Sounds like it blends in with the story in Life As A King, no?
Starting off the game for the first time, you're given the option to be given tutorial hints or not. With a number of Negative Power (NP), you can build a limited number of floors in your tower and summon monsters. There's different types of floors from the offensive that contain a trap or the supportive that helps out your monsters. The there's slots in each of these floors that lets you summon a limited number of monsters. Heroes then come queuing into the tower at regular intervals and you see a countdown just before they appear.
Things feel very slow at the early stages to the point where you wish there was a way to speed things up. Unfortunately there isn't one to the likes of sim games where you can increase how fast the game runs at but there is a "Battle Call" you can perform to get the heroes to appear faster. I guess this is understandable because you can feel a bit of stress on the Wii even at 10 levels and the maximum you can build are 25 levels.
It does eventually pick up pace pretty quickly as the heroes start to come in parties and with different jobs. Whenever one floor is taken up by a single hero, the others skip that floor and climb on up. Heroes come in all sorts of levels but usually at level one. Eventually they start destroying floors and arrive so quickly, you have to begin shuffling the floors around, rebuilding the destroyed ones and summon the right monsters to counter the heroes so you won't find yourself sitting idly. There's quite a number of rooms to build ranging from the offensive swinging iron balls to the support rooms that only allow one monster to be positioned.
You'll most likely lose a number of times - Especially in the side levels. Once they reach the dark crystal at the top, it's game over so it's crucial setting up the floors and summoning the monsters correctly. Every unit has their own strengths and weaknesses basically such as melee are weak against magic.
Then at the end of each stage, you earn Karma which allows you to increase the number of levels you can build your tower to or upgrade your monsters' levels.
As with My Life As A King, you can select which stage to challenge on a map and the story unfolds from there except this time, there are multiple worlds to play through.
The game doesn't quite make a good impression with the plain black screen at the start unlike My Life As A King where the camera scrolls over the kingdom with the civilians walking around. As you'll expect from a Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles title, the character designs are cutely super deformed. You can zoom in to crop the camera to an entire floor for a closer look at all the action. All the familiar enemies such as bombs and goblins are there.
However, despite having a map where you can choose which level to play, there isn't much variation visually although you do get to see the cycle between day and night in the background. For the most part of the game you'll be seeing the same monsters and heroes but the animations are smooth, lighting effects are spectacular and the textures look sharp - Especially the ones used for big heart shaped balloon at the top of the tower.
Mira has the original Japanese sound effects such as the "Saa! (Come on!)" and "Mou! (Geez!)". As cute as they may sound, they is repeated so often for every stage it gets pretty irritating.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A Darklord is a quick paced strategy game that offers quite a bit of replay value with its core package if you like to perfect your strategy. However, if you want extra content such as more stages, costumes and monsters, you're going to end up forking out an extra £40 at least which is pretty absurd on Square-Enix's part... Even just the two extra set of stages (with no new rooms or monsters) will cost you the same price as the core game. Funnily enough, the full set of downloadable content seemed to be made available on the same day the game was released but later disappeared... Perhaps they'll re-consider the costs?
Time Finished 18 hours
- Getting the tower just right is challenging.
- Good visuals with clean, sharp looking textures.
- Can speed up heroes with Battle Call.
- Can skip tutorial.
- Repetitive Japanese voice effects.
- Looking at the same models almost throughout the entire game.
- All download content costs almost 6 times as much as the game.