Hands-on: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

Of all the shocks out of Nintendo's E3 presentation, perhaps nothing was as shocking as the revelation that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is still happening, and even happening in North America. Well, not really. But we must admit that even when we saw the demo station in Nintendo's booth, we didn't really ... believe it was real. And they even let us play it. Really. We played Crystal Bearers. Have a look at some new screens and then check out our impressions after the break.
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The game starts, of course, with a cutscene: protagonist Layle is bored in his airship, lounging about, until big phoenix-looking monsters materialize and start flying around the ship. Layle jumps on top of the ship with a giant gatling gun thing that he holds with some mysterious telekinetic power. He jumps off the ship, and the game gives control over to the player, as you aim with the pointer and use the B button to fire automatic weaponry at monsters. It's about as unlike any opening to a Final Fantasy game as anything could be, except for the whole petulant teen protagonist thing.

Then you land in a sort of town square, where an imposing Lilty named Jegran reveals that Layle is to be some kind of bodyguard/escort. A confusing battle ensues (entirely in cutscene form) in which Layle uses his weird mind powers to pull a "hostile" (a tall Yuke) out of some kind of portal, and the two fight by trying to toss each other around. At one point, Layle puts his hands through a portal of some kind directly in front of the creature, out of another directly behind it. The Yuke jumps up and flies away on one of the phoenix things.

The next playable sequence puts us back on the airship. After the ship loses power, Layle uses his super mind powers to levitate the entire ship, as he steers it through a twisting canyon area. It's like an extremely unresponsive racing game, or, to be more accurate, a game about scraping a giant airship against rocks.

After the successful landing (through a statue) of the ship, Layle is left behind in town alone. And then the actual gameplay starts. You can walk around in the town, targeting people with the pointer and picking them up by pushing a button and slinging them with the Wiimote. You can throw people and objects around -- objects respawn, and the people just sort of get up and look confused.

This is where our demo ended -- we couldn't figure out how to get out of this city scene, and we were kind of caught up with tossing random bystanders into walls anyway. We think the enemy-tossing combat will make for an interesting system, if ... nothing at all like anything else in either the Final Fantasy or Crystal Chronicles series.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.