Crystalis is a classic role playing game from the days of 8-bit technology. Originally published
by SNK on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game was one of those value-priced titles
you could find at Toys R Us for only 14 bucks.
I bought the game because I couldn't afford a normal $50 title. The front box art wasn't too
appealing, but the back of the box made it seem a little more interesting, so I took a chance.
What resulted was an experience that I still remember fondly to this day.
To my dismay, I couldn't find Crystalis in my limited NES archives, so I can't directly compare
the new Crystalis to the old Crystalis. Based on memory, however, I can say that about 98% of
the game is unchanged. One definite change is an additional end boss, for a total of two.
Let me list a few changes that I suspect were made. First of all, I seem to remember a certain
musical theme that was played either on all field areas or in all towns. That memorable tune
must have been removed from the Game Boy version, which is very disappointing, especially
since there is no apparent reason to do so.
I also seem to remember the NES game's magic flute resembling an ocarina, but the Game Boy's
flute looks more like the one in Super Mario 3. Of course, I don't care at all what the flute looks
like, but it would be interesting to have some insight as to why such invisible changes may have
What really arouses my curiosity is the game's simplest, earliest cave. While playing the Game
Boy version, I noticed that one hallway was particularly odd from a design standpoint. I wonder
if this oddity was Nintendo-induced, because without this oddity the cave's hallways would look
exactly like a swastika if drawn on paper.
If the cave was in fact originally shaped like a swastika, the original developers surely knew that
it was, even though one is not likely to notice from playing the game.
In any case, that one cave may have been altered. Again, this potential change makes no
difference, but I find it fascinating to ponder. (No, I am not a conspiracy theorist.)
In terms of game play, Crystalis is extremely fun. I got hooked on this game even more than I
did with Final Fantasy VIII. The game unravels itself with the disciplined and engaging
structure of a Shigeru Miyamoto game.
While the story takes a back seat to the game play, the play progression feels so natural that, in a
weird way, the experience practically feels like a well-crafted story anyway. The game is so well
designed that you find yourself never wanting to stop as you plug through goal after goal after
The interplay of items and swords and environments is so logical and creative that the game
never feels like it's recycling the same ideas.
If you have never played Crystalis, then you must get this game, even if it means buying a Game
Boy Color just to play it. You are not a true gamer unless you have played Crystalis all the way
to the end.
Note: I hope Nintendo considers raising the D-pad or replacing it with a control stick (one that
looks analog whether it is or not) for the upcoming Game Boy Advance. The amount of walking
in role playing games may or may not tire older players' fingers, depending on how the system is
I plan to do a follow-up story on a little experiment I'm doing, where I see how young Pokemon
players respond to Crystalis. Will they like it better than Pokemon? Tune in next time!