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video game review video game review video game review video game review Video Game Review: Crystalis Publisher: Nintendo
Category: Role-Playing
Platform: Game Boy
ESRB Rating: Everyone    Release Date: June 2000

Overall Rating: 4 Stars out of 4

Review by Tom Allen
4 Stars out of 4

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 been made.

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 goal.

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 held.

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!

To purchase Crystalis from use the button below, or use the search box at the top of the left column

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