Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates - hands on

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube was, well, a bit problematic. Some great ideas - making an action-based, cooperative Final Fantasy - worked well. Others... like keeping your characters chained together by forcing them to stay in a tiny circle of light or take damage, or making everyone use a GBA to control the game, were not so great. Fortunately, the developers have learned from user feedback and are making changes to FFCC: Ring of Fates for the DS.

Since each player has his or her own screen, multiplayer mode is no longer restricted by the crystal-filled bucket that was such a pain to deal with in the original game. And since many gamers didn't get a chance to play the original due to the high barrier to entry, the new game won't feature a story that's directly related (though it does take place in the same world.) What story we have seen features characters so cute and childish, however, that we weren't really that interested anyway. Seriously, the protagonist seems to be about five years old.

So we're sure the story is going to put us to sleep, but from what we've played, the gameplay won't. The developers have promised a much stronger single-player game than the original, and what we've seen so far puts you off to a good start. The dungeon we journeyed though featured simple puzzles and exploration, and of course, action combat against monsters. While we can't comment on whether the whole game will be a cakewalk, what really is reassuring is how good it all looks and nicely it plays: the control is responsive and the combat is fun, with simple sword-swinging and downward thrusting as of the first dungeon.

Unfortunately the demo was cut short due to the huge number of crowds waiting (as long as two hours!) to play the game, so we can't report much more - but the game already looks as polished as a Square Enix game should. This isn't a half-assed DS sequel before the Wii game; it seems to be the real deal.