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TGS hands-on: Final Fantasy Ring of Fates multiplayer

Jem Alexander

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the Gamecube was a bit of a hit-and-miss title. Touted as a multiplayer roleplaying experience, the game required you to have access to four Gameboy Advances (and three friends) to fully enjoy. The lackluster single player mode meant many were put off before they even started calling through their little black books looking for GBA owning friends.

The franchise has survived, however, and has moved onto the Nintendo DS in the form of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates. We took advantage of the strangely short line (the game being out in Japan might have something to do with it) and played a 4-player multiplayer game with the Square Enix booth attendants.

Multiplayer seems to consist of co-operative dungeon crawler, with no sign of story or non-battle gameplay. Players can choose their character class, which affects their base attack style. Magic can be used by all players by picking up giant materia orbs, just like in the original. The action all takes place on the top screen while the bottom screen contains your stats. The bottom screen also shows how many of each materia you have and allows you to change between the different magics by tapping the desired orb on the screen.

Graphics are cutesy and resemble Final Fantasy III and IV very closely. Black and White mages have a very strange look to them - they appear lanky and ill-proportioned compared to other classes. Movement is very free, with the ability to jump all over the terrain easily. If you can't reach a ledge, however, your friends can always pick you up and throw you (as one Square Enix booth attendant loved doing to us) to where you want to go. In fact, you will never have to wait for a friend again as, if they're being particularly tardy, you can always grab them and take them with you.

Sadly, the game felt very shallow. The size of the levels and the lack of variety in your actions makes it feel quite restrictive. Other than defeating wave after wave of enemies, there's little else to do. We're hoping that the single player mode will be a little bit more exciting but, judging from the Gamecube version, that's not likely going to be the case. If there is an online mode for multiplayer, that might lure us back.

Overall, the game has some single player potential, but what we played of multiplayer was sadly lackluster. We look forward to playing it more - and in English - at a later date.

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