Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As a King Wii Review
The original Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles was notorious for its inconvenience. It was very much focussed on multiplayer, but required each player to have a Game Boy Advance at hand that acted as both a controller and a map. Many were turned off by these somewhat heavy requirements, but at the very least I think it would have shifted a few extra GBA’s in Japan, which was good for Nintendo if no one else. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (a direct sequel and one of the first WiiWare titles) doesn’t even have a multiplayer mode (though it is a possibility for the future, I‘m sure) and isn’t even a true RPG.
My Life as a King is more of a crossbreed of a game, with strategy meshed with role playing. You play the titular and mute young king and are tasked with rebuilding your town via some simplistic but effective options. Given its RPG roots, there’s also a story, but it’s average and generic and lacks voiceovers (save for some Zelda style sound bites) though its not completely without its charm, the Final Fantasy mainstays moogles, as well as a talking penguin, largely see to that.
Rebuilding your town is a simple case of standing on a highlighted area of appropriate size and shaking your Wii remote (classic controls are also an option) which summons Chime your loyal servant, then from some simple menus you select the building you desire, choosing the direction it faces and presto your new building is constructed. It’s nice and easy and, even better, it brings to mind one of the best RPGS ever in Dark Chronicle. Your residents will give you money every new day of which you can spend (amongst other things) on researching new equipment, which gives you something else to mull over in your virtual life as a king.
The role playing aspects allow you to chat with the townsfolk, which is worthwhile for some valuable knowledge and to raise their morale levels (which can get you some handy prizes) but it’s the dungeon crawling that takes centre stage.
Being a king, you don’t have to get your royal hands dirty or indeed bloody in those filthy dungeons, leave that to the lowly peasant adventurers, of which you can hire. Every morning, behests (a flowery word for quests in case your wondering) can be posted for your hired adventurers by again talking to that helpful Chime. Adventurers who’re sent out into those dank dungeons, will level up with fights and find items, very much in RPG fashion and usually by defeating the bosses, they‘ll get you a new usual facility for your town (which can have all sorts of useful effects, such as giving you access to new character classes or buildings where your adventurers can train). You never get to see any of this dungeon action taking place, though there is some helpful information that pops up on the screen from time to time to let you know what they’re getting up to.
With each day being just roughly five minutes in length, the prospect of trying out freshly built buildings, finding out just what the loyal adventurers (who didn’t manage to return before your bedtime) were doing in their exploits, as well as generally discovering the delights or indeed the grievances that the next day will bring, and of course watching your formally blank canvas turn into a bustling town. My Life as a King is a hugely addictive game that providing you enjoy it, will have a pull that is difficult to escape from once you’re sucked into its vortex. One more day, and after that just this last one and after that oh just one more won’t do any harm and so on you’ll likely be thinking to yourself (or something along those lines anyway) but will be sitting there three hours later still very much entranced.
There’s been a lot of gushing (actually I’m almost making myself feel sick here) in this piece up until this point, but that isn’t to say that My Life as a King is problem free. For starters, the king avatar is uninspired and I would very much have preferred to play as my Mii. There could have been a bit more music to listen to too (although the few tracks on offer are pleasant enough). Bigger problems include the fact that some people will find it far too limited and repetitive, whilst it’s hardly the most challenging game in the world either. The adventurers can on occasion be a bit dim too, showing their interest in quests that are far beyond their capabilities (though you can send them away to get experience) and taking far too long to prepare for quests, although the right placement of buildings can negate this somewhat.
A turn off to some is the heavy amount of downloadable content already on offer. But this certainly isn’t needed as without it, My Life as a King is still, a very substantial game that will last you longer than many full price games. So it’s very much left to just how much you want to get out of the game.
But problems and all, My Life as a King is an excellent early WiiWare game and a successful twist on the Final Fantasy formula that is pleasingly accessible, charming and has an addiction level that is almost dangerous, and yes I’m very much under its powerful spell.