Review by Black_Crusher
I survived the End Day and all I got was this lousy t-shirt
This game is most likely the best game the NES has to offer, and that's even WITH its few shortcomings. I'm surprised it did as well as it did, since the advertising for it seemed a bit odd to me (The original cover's picture was really bad, for example.) I think that this is one of those games that have gained a lot of respect post-mortem via the internet over the years. There is also a remake of Crystalis for the Gameboy, but from everything I've heard it is inferior in every way. They changed plot elements and the music?! Blasphemy!
You first learn through the intro story that in 1997 the world was cast into a Nuclear catastrophe. (What, you didn't notice it?) The ensuing axis shift over the next 100 years mutated all the Earth's creatures into deadly monsters and plunged the world into turmoil. The survivors created a computerized flying tower and sent it into the sky, in hopes to protect the world in the future. A scientist then gets cryogenically frozen with a big "Do not open 'til doomsday" sign on his pod. Well, sure enough doomsday has come a' knockin' in the form of baddie Draygon, and our hero emerges from his pod in a small cavern right on the outskirts of town to attempt to take him down.
Fantastic! Everything is very colorful and pleasing to the eye. Little touches like the hero's legs disappearing when walking through tall grass are a big plus here. The item and spell icons look great, and the different swords you can get have cool power-up effects that resemble an atom. (where you are the nucleus and many electrons spin around you.) You'll also see some incredible places like a river of the dead made out of molten lava and a murderous desert complete with a pyramid. Some people like to complain about the hero's hair being pink, but I'm here to tell you that it's more purple or magenta than pink. And I know because I had purple hair for awhile back in the day too!
SOUND AND MUSIC: 11/10 (!)
Quite possibly this game's best aspect. No kidding, almost every song is an instant classic the same way that "The Guardian Legend"'s soundtrack is. The intro is instantly recognizable to anyone who has played this game for more than 5 minutes. The town's music is sleepy, the overworld's music gets you in the mood to kick mutant tiger ass, the cavern music is both upbeat and spooky.. I could go on for paragraphs about how good this music is.
The controls are very good, although sometimes I'd wind up on the save / load screen by accident when trying to access the inventory screen. Also, there is no "Talk" command in the game. All you have to do is run into somebody and the little talk pop-up screen will appear along with the Crystalis-brand "telephone ringing" sound effect. Sometimes when you want to get by a person you end up talking to them for longer than you'd like to, but overall this is an extremely minor factor.
What more can I say that hasn't already been said by everyone else's reviews? You are a scientist / warrior / magician who has just been thawed out 100 years in the future and it's up to YOU to save this new and frightening world. Nuclear havoc has done wonders for the economy too, since now most everything has reverted back to the middle ages! (Why is it that after every nuclear holocaust, everybody always goes back to middle ages?) Well, anyway in order to stop Draygon and his henchmen you'll need to assemble Crystalis, which is a kick-ass sword that unfortunately you don't get to use for very long since you get it so close to the game's end. So, we know how to make cookies- But how does one make a Crystalis, you ask? Easy! Just combine one parts Wind Sword, Water Sword, Fire Sword, and Thunder Sword into a bowl, mix it up REALLY good (you'll hear a lot of clinks and clunks if you're doing it right), and then put in the oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. No, not really.
To help you in your quest, you must seek out the four wise men and receive their magical swords. As mentioned earlier, you'll get one sword for each of the four elements. (Strangely enough they opt for both Wind and Thunder, but Earth gets the snub.) You can also grab power-ups for each weapon in the form of orbs and bracelets. These power-ups allow you to charge your sword's meter up more and grant some pretty devastating attacks to your enemies. They will also let you alter some of the game world too, like breaking down certain cavern walls or make ice bridges over rivers to cross. Some enemies can only be hurt with a specific sword though, which means that for some areas you'll be constantly swapping swords in order to destroy your foes. Oh, and one thing I'll say is that in order to damage some of the game's bosses you need to be at a certain level. So if you want to avoid monsters and not gain experience (in order to do a challenge or something), you won't be able to beat any of the game's bosses since your swords will simply glance right off.
Magic in this game is GREAT. One of my personal rules of thumb for my own games came from this one, and that is to have a lot of variety to your spells! You'll have magic that lets you heal, one that will protect you like a force field, one that let's you assume the appearance of many different characters throughout the game, one that will let you communicate through telepathy to others, and even one that let's you FLY AROUND!! What are you kidding me, awesome! You can also amass quite a collection of accessories to aid you like Rabbit Boots (lets you jump), a Warrior's Ring (increases attack), or a Gas Mask so you won't get hurt by one area's poisonous atmosphere, to name a few. One thing I'll say though is the inventory screen is not very well thought-out. By this I mean that you have about 50 slots to put items in, but you'll never have more than 10-15 at once. I always thought that this was sorta' pointless, but again it's not a big deterrent to Crystalis' gameplay.
A lot of people will jump right into saying that Crystalis plays a lot like the original Legend of Zelda (why must everyone ALWAYS compare everything remotely close to it to that game??) Here are some big differences that I can come up with off the top: The story for Crystalis is WAY better. There are more swords in this game, and can serve different uses aside from killing enemies. There is no magic at all in Zelda. Crystalis is a lot more faced paced too, and there's a hundred more townspeople to talk with and get information from. I'm not saying that this game is superior to Zelda (both are awesome), I'm just listing some differences that I've noticed is all.
This game isn't along the level of toughness as say an Ironsword or Adventures of Link, but it isn't really all that easy either. Some of the later areas in the game have enemies that can damage you for a ton, even with the better suits of armor on. I also remember having a lot of trouble with the pyramid level and its catacombs. Fortunately, if you talk to everyone you'll gain a lot in terms of where to go and what to do. And you'll also get a lot of the awesome story flushed out for you as well. Just remember that unless you level up by killing enemies, you won't be able to damage the game's boss characters. There also isn't a great deal of replay value, although that didn't really matter to me.
+Amazing and original storyline
+Maybe the best soundtrack of all NES games
+Many swords with helpful bonus usages (making ice bridges, etc.)
+An awesome repetoire of magic spells that are all useful
+Varied enemies and tough bosses.
+A good level of challenge.
-Inventory setup is a bit dopey
-Swapping out swords to injure different enemies may be a nuisance to some
-Boss monsters can't be damaged at all unless you've leveled a bit first
-You don't get the Crystalis sword until the very end!
I don't dish out tens often, but with a game as good as Crystalis, it's impossible not to. A game for the NES that is what Chrono Trigger was to the Super Nintendo, Crystalis will go down in the annals of gaming history as one of the very best.
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