Review by skunknuts

Reviewed: 09/05/06

A fine example of action RPG at it's finest.

CRYSTALIS for NES

PREMISE
In the year 1997, the war of all wars came. Most people were wiped out, and in the aftermath mutants began to appear. The few remaining survivors gathered in little villages after creating a floating tower of justice. That didn't work out too well either, and the tower malfunctioned. I don't remember this stuff happening back in ' 97, but that's OK. Crystalis is good enough to make me suspend my disbelief and play on. Anyhow, 100 years passed, the mutants took over, and everyone is even more miserable than they were in ' 97. But lo, there is hope! In a hidden cave, frozen inside of a giant computerized stasis machine is our hero. Once you thaw, you'll come bursting out of a mountain-side in the back of a sleepy little town (much to the surprise of a bystander ). Let the mutant mashing begin.

GRAPHICS - 9
Nicely done - one of the better looking RPGs on the NES. The graphics are big and bold, and sport a lot of color. Everything is sharp, and there is a lot of variety throughout the game. Your hero happens to be of the pink-haired anime variety, and he’ll be doing a fair bit of sword swinging. Each blade you acquire throughout the game has several different unlockable powers, and each is effective and eye pleasing. A number of animated spells are available as well. Enemies all look good, and explode into bouncing bits as they are dispatched ( very satisfying ). Boss characters are great, and there are a couple BIG ones. All in all, everything is put together very well, and the game has a distinct look to it.

MUSIC & SOUND - 9
Crystalis has a nice mix of tune-age. Each song certainly fits it's environment - upbeat and quirky for the outdoor areas, mellow and reassuring for the towns, mysterious or dangerous in caves and dungeons. The composer did an admirable job. Sound effects are bouncy and fun to match the pace of the game. Everything works, and nothing detracts from the experience.

PLAYABILITY - 10
This is where Crystalis is really set apart from the competition. If you're looking for an excellent action RPG, look no further. This game is fast-paced and fun. Your character is nimble and he handles sharply. Combat happens in real time, and your dexterous hero will rain a flurry of blows on the enemy with ease. These qualities can make leveling and money gathering seem more tolerable, especially to those who aren't into the traditional RPG turn-based skirmishes. It would seem that SNK ( the developer ) wanted to make an RPG that anyone could pick up and play - even those who are only into action packed titles. Certain parts of the game even have obstacles that require timed jumping. Everything in the game was streamlined for speed - speaking to someone requires only that you crash into them ( there are no menus littered with "speak", "open", or "take" commands ), and the menus for items and spells are very quick and accessible. Although the game is quick and action oriented, don't be lulled into a button mashing zen-like state - there are some brain busting puzzles to be dealt with. Most involve doing certain things in the correct order, like obtaining an item, speaking to a person, etc., as most RPGs do. Others will require the creative use of some of your spells. These are especially nice, and if you're not thinking in the correct frame of mind, the simple solution will evade you for a long while. The game’s dungeons are also worth noting. There are some in the latter part of the game that are tough – filled with mutants of the worst kind, and so winding and convoluted that you’d be hard pressed to map them out. This game can get difficult, and you will be tested at times.

SUMMARY
Crystalis is a great action RPG for the NES. It is streamlined to be accessible, yet there is a deep, engaging game beneath the inviting framework. Racing around annihilating mutants is good fun, and the weapons and spells you earn throughout the game are unique and rewarding. The story gets interesting as things progress, and some surprisingly dramatic moments await those willing to play through all the way to the end. To this day, Crystalis stands tall as one of the high marks in the NES library - it's easy to sit down and get sucked into this one. I highly recommend you give it a whirl.

OVERALL - 10 out of 10

Rating: 10

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