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Fazermint's random reviews: Crystalis (NES)

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PostFazermint Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:44 pm   Post subject: Fazermint's random reviews: Crystalis (NES) Reply with quote

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Fazermint's random reviews: Crystalis (NES)

Sup guys! I mentioned doing some game reviews on here, purely for the sake of the fun of writing and to hear the thoughts of those who have played the game in question, and possibly to show you a game you haven't seen/played before. Well here is my first one: Crystalis!

Game info:
Genre: Action RPG
Release year: 1990
Developer/Publisher: SNK

Known as "God Slayer" in Japan, Crystalis is a game with a confusing and forgettable plot but solid Action RPG gameplay. Action RPGs aren't really that common on the NES, as this hybrid genre didn't really have a foothold in the industry back in the NES era. That makes Crystalis a pretty unique game on the system, and it's really a recommended experience for any retro gamer. The game is also available on GBC. The GBC version has added some story and altered it somewhat (to the great dismay of fanboys), but the main reason for picking the NES game is that the GBC screen is zoomed in and hence reduces your ability to foresee incoming enemies and almost forces you into close combat.

The premise of the game is that you are some kind of hero that was awakened to save a post-apocalyptic world filled with mutated monsters. To do so, you need to find four elemental swords. Mmkay. It's not really clear what you are: a god slayer, as the Japanese title would imply? A magician, as the western game description tells you, EVEN THOUGH YOU DON'T KNOW ANY SPELLS? Nope, you're effectively a regular joe. Granted, you can be taught spells along the way, and you get to use magical swords. Only a HERO would be able to do that, right? Meh, hand ME a magical sword and I'll defeat any old villain. And I'm average as hell.

The basic premise is confusing, and the script is very rough around the edges. Clearly, you don't play this game for the plot. Progression is narrated purely by NPCs telling you to do X or find Y. Realistically though, NES games aren't known for their excellence at telling stories. It's all about action. And that is where Crystalis is at. The action is very solid, being comparable to the Legend of Zelda on the same system. You immediately obtain one of the elemental swords and can go out on a rampage, er, quest to save the world. The sword attacks are extended directly in front of your character sprite, and its reach is not very long. That makes it brutally difficult to engage in close quarters combat with your enemies. Luckily, though, your swords are magical. This means that you can charge up and unleash magical projectile attacks with your sword. That quickly becomes the best strategy for fighting: avoid direct contact with enemies, charge up a magical attack, and unleash it on your foes from a safe distance. I'm not sure if the game is intended to be played this way, but I refused to use regular attacks because of the danger I would put myself in by doing so. The only time regular attacks are useful is if your enemy is next to a wall, in which case you can pin them with repeated hits and kill them off.

Even so, the combat is very fun. There is another problem with the combat system, however: every monster is immune to one or more elements. This means that you need to open the equipment menu, switch swords AND elemental power-up, and then kill the monster. That's not so bad, right? It gets worse, though. There is NO WAY of telling which elements an enemy is immune to! The game will confuse you with the color of the monsters. Monsters generally come in colors corresponding to the four elements, so you may perhaps envision a cycle of water beats fire and so on. But nope, the game has no such thing. A red enemy may be immune to fire. He may also be susceptible to fire! This means that you basically will use your strongest sword until you encounter an enemy that is immune to whatever element you're using, and then you're forced to switch elements in a trial-and-error fashion until you get it right. Attacks that are ineffective are indicated with a clang. However, also this clang is not an entirely accurate indicator of immunity! You'll be appalled to learn that the programmers didn't incorporate a defense stat for monsters, but instead made monsters immune to all attacks from a player under a certain level. This was probably not out of laziness, though. It is basically a way of telling you you're underleveled and need to go grind before coming back. You can only be sure of this if all current elements are ineffective. This is mostly an issue with boss fights. That's also a pretty big problem. It's certainly frustrating to walk through a dungeon and reach the boss at the end, only to learn that your level isn't high enough to damage the boss. You then have to go out of the dungeon, level up somewhere, and come back.

These features may be cleverly invented, but it kinda gets in the way of having fun. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of fun to be had. It just could have been a smoother experience without these intended limitations. One last gripe I have with the game is that it barely gives any hints about where you have to go! I mean, sure, "Go to the Cave" hints towards going to the cave. So I find the cave, pass through it, and end up in a secluded area with a tiny house. The house? Empty. Turns out you have to talk to a specific NPC first, in order to trigger another NPC being at that house at the end of the cave. How do I know this? I checked an FAQ. Otherwise, I would be left to my own devices, checking every nook and cranny for alternate paths. Even if you talk to every NPC in town upon arrival, it may not be enough, because the trigger NPCs may themselves need to be triggered first. My advice: USE AN FAQ!!

It may sound like I'm generally negative about the game. I actually really liked the game, and I'm willing to call it one of the best NES games out there. I just think it's necessary to make the limitations crystal clear. At the point of release, these were innovative features and not necessarily limitations. However, those features don't really stand the test of time: If you play it now, chances are you'll find the game incredibly frustrating if you're not using an FAQ. While we're on that subject, Mike's RPG Center has a bullet-point walkthrough, game maps, and more.

The game IS good. The combat is fun when you get the hang of it, the graphics are more than decent for a NES game, and the fact that the game encourages some grinding actually works in the game's favor. The game's max level is 16, and you have an on-screen representation of the amount of experience needed to level up. Level grinding is one thing, leveling up whenever you encounter monsters of bosses that outlevel you, but there is also money grinding. All monsters drop coins that you can pick up. This money can be used to buy consumable items and, more importantly, new equipment. Upon arriving at a new town, you might find yourself short of funds for the equipment upgrades the shop has to offer. You can choose to go on with your current gear, or to head outside of town and grind for money. The money grinding was actually one of the most memorable times I had with the game.

To sum it up, Crystalis is an Action RPG that has aged quite a bit but still offers solid gameplay. I'd give the game a score of 8/10.

Have you played this game? Let me know how you experienced the game! If you didn't, I can whole-heartedly recommend Crystalis on the NES.
Hey. I'm Fazermint. And I'm Juicy!
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PostHeikki Posted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:17 pm   Post subject: Reply with quote

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Never played it but it seems quite interesting Surprised
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