Review by Ofisil

Reviewed: 06/17/11

Solid Action\RPG. Nothing more, nothing less...

Crystalis is an Action\RPG developed by SNK. Many consider this game a cult classic that could actually sell much more if it weren’t for a game that starts with “The Legend” and ends up with something like “Zelda”! In a way they are right. Crystalis was completely overshadowed by the Zelda frenzy even though it’s a far better title than some other games I could mention. However I failed to see why people love it so much. Crystalis has some great –for the time- innovations, it is a solid hack n’ slash Adventure title, but it also has some very serious flaws that prevented me from worshiping it like most people do.

Story: 6.8/10
Presentation: 5/10

I could rate the plot of Crystalis a lot better because its one of the few NES games that actually had a plot. The problem is how the game moves on, leaving the -actually average- plot behind. The intro is probably the best part of the game, (and also looks good), since we learn that after a great destruction\war the world was nearly destroyed, so now what’s left of humanity tries to survive in a post apocalyptic world field with fierce mutated monsters. The people have built a hi-tech tower in the sky, to prevent any future disasters. An evil warlord comes forward and starts wrecking havoc to the already half-ruined world and it is then when you the hero of the game, wakes up from his cryogenic sleep and try to stop him. Now while the game starts quite good throughout Crystalis the plot takes a backseat leaving you to do certain simple stuff in order to get stronger but never really learn anything special about the world you’ll try to save. So while the game starts quite good it soon becomes a “kill the bad guy” RPG with little character interaction of no importance.

Gameplay: 4.5/10
Replay Value: 1/10

Crystalis is like any other top-down Zelda-type Action\RPG\Adventure game with only one big difference: It focuses mainly in the Action portion of the game, something that on its own isn’t bad, in fact many people didn’t like the Adventuring part of the Zelda games so this game would be perfect for them… if only it wasn’t so boring!!! The game isn’t exactly broken, although some bugs do exist… it’s a relatively solid title with some good stuff to say about it, at least for the time it came out. First of all there are tons of items to find, unlike the few items available in the first Zelda games, however none of them are really anything special. There are many swords that you can use but the only real reason to swap between them is to kill enemies that can be killed only with one of them, a boring process that will drive you insane in dungeons with different kinds of enemies inside. Problem #2 you character moves a bit WAY too fast making it very easy to get hit while you run around like Sonic The Hedgehog or something! Problem #3 the game is extremely linear and there is almost no reason to explore. Usually when in a dungeon, one road will lead to an item and the other one deeper into the dungeon… no fun puzzles or anything special like in The Legend Of Zelda.

However I can get past these problems, (sort of), if only there wasn’t another one which put the nail in the coffin for me, making me to stop playing it before completion, something that I rarely do. What’s this problem? Grinding!!! You see Crystalis is one of the few Action\RPGs of that era where you would gather EXP by killing enemies but the whole advancing system is ridiculously flawed. Two reasons: #1 You can only kill some enemies when you reach a certain level and #2 you have to do a LOT of grinding on some way too easy enemies to advance to the next level making the game stupidly boring!!! So, Crystalis, thanks, but no thanks!

Graphics: 7.2/10
Design: 6.8/10

The game starts with a wonderful and almost cinematic, (for its time), intro then you see your hero, (who looks like a heroine to say the truth), emerging from a wonderfully designed sci-fi cryo-chamber. Crystalis shows you from the very start that it’s a very good-looking game, with its nice and big sprites and colorful world. There is a small problem though. While most areas and creatures are nicely designed they lack character. Pigmen & forests, swamps and insects, mountains and golems, insects and caves… good-looking but blunt and forgettable. All this of course is my usual nitpicking… the game looks good, end of story :)

Sound: 6.8/10
Music: 5.2/10

The sound effects are just fine, what you would expect from a NES game of its time and nothing more. The music however was a big disappointment. Honestly I expected more from a cult classic title like this. Why? Well none of the tunes were good at all. Simple, monotonous themes that not only were boring to listen too but would get annoying too fast because of their length, which I think never passed the 20-30 seconds threshold.

[+]:
-Has a better plot than most NES games
-Solid Action\RPG with many items to find
-Good Graphics

[-]:
-The plot takes a backseat throughout the game
-Linear as hell
-Movement way too fast
-Boring grinding. Need to reach certain level to move on.
-Boring and repetitive music

Also Play:
Castlevania (GBA Series)
Golden Axe Warrior (Sega Master System)
The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES)
The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Game Boy)

Overall: 5.4/10

Crystalis’ cult magic never touched me. In my opinion it is just a solid Action\RPG of its era that needed a bit more polishing to become enjoyable. But you know… cult stuff only appeal to some people… maybe I just happen not to be one of them.

Rating: 5

Product Release: Crystalis (US, 07/31/90)

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