Monday, March 30, 2009

Final Fantasy Crystal Defenders

Crystal Defenders is one of the worst tower defence games ever made and should not be played by anyone.

If you're not familiar with tower defence games, they go a little something like this: monsters troop across the screen following a fixed path, and you as the player have to erect towers to shoot them down before they reach the exit.

Crystal Defenders replaces the towers with characters from the Final Fantasy Tactics games, and replaces the monsters with... well, monsters. It's a strictly by-the-numbers affair. If you've played a tower defence game before, you've played this one.

The catch is this: the very best tower defence titles are Flash games, and are completely free to play. Crystal Defenders costs money, it has graphics which would look awkward on a 16-bit console, and it's significantly simpler and shorter than even the most basic of its web-based competitors.

For your money, you get twelve maps (fully half of which are little more than palette swaps), six deployable units, no in-game help or tutorial system, no unlockables, no story or victory animations, and an endless loop of some of Final Fantasy's worst crimes against the musical world.

It's also blisteringly hard. With no kind of guidance or strategy advice, even tower defence veterans will have a tough time clearing 30 waves on each of the maps. The strengths and weaknesses of your units aren't completely clear. Working out which units deal physical damage requires luck, guesswork, and some knowledge of other Final Fantasy games. Debuffs on enemies aren't marked, making it tough to assess the effectiveness of indirect damage, and survival ultimately requires not just killing the enemy, but correctly calling where you'll kill them, in order to allow you to deploy money-gathering thieves. Luckily, the availability of the internet will allow you to completely trivialise the game by playing a perfect round straight off the bat.

Crystal Defenders is available on Live Arcade, Wiiware and iPhone, and I understand it's exactly the same kind of garbage on each platform. It's emblematic of Square-Enix's general contempt for the casual and downloadable market and I urge you to avoid it as though it were made out of babies.


Chris said...

I played the iphone demo and rather liked it, other than the lousy interface. Didn't have any problem finishing the sample level. *shrugs*

Anonymous said...

Christ - There is a world of difference in difficulty between the demo version and the actual game. Your smug shrug makes you ignorant. This game is actually really hard, but not impossible.

Anonymous said...

So, the game is too hard for you, and you call it stupid? Grow up.

Northe said...

i own the game and i really enjoy those moments when you are stuck on a level and need sooo much help to pass, its a good and hard game takes a while to finish too.

Jake said...

first half of the review its simple, second half of the review its hard? well that makes perfect sense. actually, i'm going on PSN to download the game right now. toodles.

Greg Tannahill said...

Simple as in lack of depth. Hard as in difficult to achieve success. Think of a game that consists entirely of seeing whether you can punch through a brick wall by hitting it with your bare fist and you'll be on the right track.

o K E N S H I N said...

People like you who automatically hate a game because its hard shouldn't be aloud to write reviews. I play this game on Xbox Live Arcade and have gotten all 200 gamer score/12 achievements, along with getting a perfect on all 12 maps.