Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (ファイナルファンタジークリスタルクロニクル クリスタルベアラー in Japanese) is an action-adventure game for the Wii and was first announced to the public at E3 in May 2006. The game was released on November 12, 2009, in Japan and on December 26, 2009, in North America.
Like its GameCube predecessor, Crystal Bearers features fully real-time combat, but unlike its predecessor, this game focuses on single-player, free-roaming, action-adventure gameplay. Enemies and regular civilians apparently are able to show emotion or status effects via symbols hanging over their heads, such as hearts for attraction or musical notes for satisfaction. The producers have suggested that enemies do not necessarily grow stronger as the game progresses, but that they gain a wider variety of tactics and abilities instead. It has also been shown that some enemies have the ability to hurt fellow creatures also opposing the player. This is part of a reaction AI system, in which different creatures react in unique ways to other creatures nearby and to the player's attacks.
Telekinetic abilities feature heavily in the game. The player is able to perform different combat actions via telekinesis, including moving certain enemies against their will, making them use their abilities against other enemies, and utilizing various objects as telekinetic projectiles. The player is also able to perform some type of reaction element with creatures that will affect them in different manners.
To further the telekinetic gameplay, the player is able to utilize his abilities to interact with the environment, such as to activate switches or grab onto ledges and other objects from a distance via an energy-based grappling hook; furthermore, he is able to perform such actions as moving civilians against their will. Civilians also share a trait with enemies in that they are able to attack the player when irritated by his actions.
Unlike other RPG oriented Final Fantasy games, this game, being an action adventure, does not have a leveling system; instead, the player can customize Layle's stats using accessories that the player makes using monster drops and other items that are found while exploring. The player can also increment the character's maximum HP by clearing miasma stream fights and collecting the myrrh of each area.
Based on the most recent video trailers and the general setting of the game, fighting in the sky is also a feature of gameplay. Quicktime events will also appear throughout the game, forcing the player to take necessary actions with the controller during certain events, such as aiming the remote and shooting demons while falling through the sky. It's been commented that while most of these events are for mere enjoyment, some must be completed in order to advance the story. Other gameplay aspects as hinted at by the trailers include participating in minigames, traversing the land on chocobos (which can ram through enemies and some background objects), riding on trains, and swimming.
The game is set far into the future of the Crystal Chronicles franchise, taking place in the same world as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, populated by four races. However, due to a war with the Lilty race, the Yuke race has supposedly died out, though that clearly isn't the full story. The setting has been recently described as a time when "swords have changed to guns" and the arcane arts are outlawed by the Liltian Kingdom. However, magic reappeared in to the world in the form of people born with the power of magic inside of them, these people were named by others as "Crystal Bearers" for a common trait crystal bearers had of being born with a random crystallized body part like an eye or a small section of the skin. In March 2008, an official advertising article about Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates noted that the Nintendo DS installment "sets the stage" for The Crystal Bearers.
A thousand years have passed since the events of the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. The destruction of the Yuke Crystal during the Great War, with the Yuke Tribe suffering apparent annihilation, had at last brought the victorious Lilties dominion over the world as they bring it into a new age of science and reason through Crystal Reactors with the use of magic outlawed and rule over the Clavats and few Selkies who comply to the new order. In this new era of imbalance exists a rare breed of powerful beings called "Crystal Bearers", whose seemingly magical abilities have led them to be feared and scorned by the public. The young mercenary Layle is one such Crystal Bearer, who has been hired to escort the new passenger airship Alexis, the pinnacle of Lilty technology and a symbol of their current dominance. However, when the Alexis is suddenly besieged by a horde of monsters, Layle comes face to face with a mysterious Yuke named Amidatelion who takes the Alexis' crystal shards, forcing Layle to land the thing with his powers. Soon after, getting caught up with Belle, a Selkie wanted by the Lilties for taking pictures while on the Alexis, Layle becomes a wanted man as his impulse to settle things with Amidatelion get him on a quest which uncovers a conspiracy in the Lilty Kingdom that may threaten the future of the world...
- Layle (レイル Reiru ): A Clavat mercenary and the protagonist of the story, voiced by Makoto Yasumura in the Japanese version and Darrel Guilbeau in the English. One of the eponymous Crystal Bearers, a crystal located on his right cheek allows him to maniuplate the gravity of himself and others.
- Belle (ベル Beru ): A dark brown-haired female Selkie who is always with a camera. Though claiming herself to be a photographer, she finds and exchanges information for her own benefit. She stows away on the Alexis's maiden voyage and encounters sensitive information that lands a bounty on her head by Jegran, deciding to travel with Layle to make a fortune off him. However, she remains defiant and continues to pursue her next big story. Voiced by Chiaki Takahashi in the Japanese version and Laura Bailey in the English version.
- Keiss (クァイス Kaisu ): A red-haired male Selkie who is Layle's friend and partner. Unlike other Selkies, Keiss devoted himself to the Lilty kingdom, working directly under Jegran to rise up the ladder until he became a colonel in the Lilty military. Voiced by Noriaki Sugiyama in the Japanese version and David Vincent in the English version.
- Amidatelion (アミダテリオン Amidaterion ): A lavishly decorated Yuke who, as well as being another Crystal Bearer and supposedly the last of her race, at first appears to be the game's primary antagonist, nicknamed "Goldenrod" by Layle. She appears to also possess the ability to bend space and conjure summons (her true crystal power) like Bahamut. Her goal is the revival of her race through the Crystal Idols to restore the Yuke Tribe's crystal. But soon after, Amidatelion gains Layle's aid in restoring the Crystal Principle to save the world. Voiced by Atsuko Tanaka in the Japanese version and Caitlin Glass in the English version.
- Althea Sol Alfiraria (アルテア Arutea ): A Lilty with spectacles who is the princess of the Liltian Kingdom, having a crystal idol on her person. Her mother died while she was still young, and her father is sick with a mysterious illness, causing there to be a power vacuum which she is trying to contain while attempting to find a means to cure her father. Voiced by Noriko Shitaya in the Japanese version and Carrie Savage in the English version.
- High Commander Jegran (ジュグラン Juguran ): The megalomanical captain of the Liltian guard and the game's villain, attempting to take over the Lilty kingdom by turning it into a military state. However, after seeing a reason behind the Crystal Bearers' existence, develops a god complex as he attempts to rewrite the Crystal Principle to his liking using his crystal bearer powers that he gained from an accident whit a crystal reactor resulting in the crystallization of his arm . Voiced by Ryuzaburo Otomo in the Japanese version and Michael McConnohie in the English version.
- Cid (シド Shido ): Former engineer of the Liltian Kingdom who has a certain interest in Crystal Bearers, working as a tinker in Bridge Town. Voiced by Shinichi Kotani in the Japanese version and Doug Stone in the English version.
- Vaigali (バイガリ Baigari ): Leader of Selkie Guild, that sells information for the highest bidder, he has a grudge against Lilties and hates turncoats like Keiss even more. However, Vaigali makes an exception in the case of Cid whom he aids as patron. Voiced by Naomi Kusumi in the Japanese version and Joe DiMucci in the English version.
- Blaze: A Clavat Crystal Bearer with pyrokinetic powers and formerly Layle's "worst partner ever", teaching Layle the ropes of the mercenary life in the past. Though he makes a first minor appearance, after being taken into custody, Blaze is hired by Jegran to find Belle and silence her, tracking her down to the Rivelgauge Monastery where he confronts Layle and is defeated by him. He is voiced by Matthew Mercer in the English version.
The Crystal Bearers is intended to be a more "single-player experience", as opposed to the GameCube installment which focused on cooperative play. The game director stated he wants a more "world weary" protagonist, and wanted him to seem rugged, which influenced the hair design of the character. The game is intended to feature a more "mature" design to help bolster the heroic structure of the story.
The game director wanted to make "an exhilarating tale of this great hero set against sweeping blue skies", which influenced many decisions in game design and story.
The game's existence was announced at E3 2005 and at E3 2006 a short pre-rendered teaser trailer was included within a Wii games compilation video. In May 2007 a new trailer including gameplay was released and a few interviews with the developers were given. coupled with the developers of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King refusing to comment when asked about the status of The Crystal Bearers at the Game Developers Conference of February 2008, stating only that the public should "wait for a press release."
In November 2008, in response to a section in the December 2008 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly stating that the game had been "quietly canceled" Square Enix released a statement confirming that the game had not been canceled and that they fully intend to release it, although no release date could be given.
In early December 2008, it was announced that a new trailer for the game would be packaged with the Wii version of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. The trailer shows the game in a further state of development, and displays game characteristics such as combat, magic, puzzle solving, and an overworld, as well as traditional elements of the Final Fantasy series, such as the Cactuar and Bahamut.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers was scored a 30 out of 40 by Weekly Famitsu. The magazine praised the game's plot elements, with one reviewer stating, ""The way the story develops, along with the unique characters and world setting, is brilliant. There are lots of little details to everything." However, the publication criticized the game's map, finding it difficult to pinpoint the player's location with respect to the surroundings. On its first day of release in Japan, The Crystal Bearers sold 26,000 units, which is about 34% of its initial shipment in the region. The Japanese version sold 43,705 units by its second week of release.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has received mixed and generally less favorable reviews from western outlets. X-Play gave the game a 2 out of 5, while Game Informer and IGN gave the game a 5.5 and a 6.2 respectively. However, Game Trailers awarded the game a 7.7,Tech-Gaming graded it with a B- and Nintendo Power gave the game an 8 out of 10.