Review: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King

System: Wii
Tentative Score: 3/5 3 (OK)

I haven't actually finished the game yet or bought any of the optional addons, so this review might change in the future.

In short, it's a very simple city sim in the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles setting. You play as a 10-year old king who uses the power of Architek (the magic to summon buildings) to rebuild a destroyed kingdom.

Using Architek magic require Elementite. Elementite can only be found in the dangerous dungeons full of monsters that surround the land.

As you're playing the king, you cannot yourself leave the town - invisible walls make sure of that. Instead you hire adventurers and create bequests for them to complete. These adventurers have their own stats and fight in the dungeons on their own. (And, if you ever read through the combat logs, aren't the brightest of individuals.) This means that you, the player, never see the insides of the dungeon and never see the monsters.

Most of the game focuses more on the adventurers than the town itself. In fact, there are only two buildings related to actual city-building: houses and bakeries. Every other building is related to the adventurers. For example, you can build shops that provide adventurers with the items they require to succeed in the dungeons. Others buildings offer additional jobs.

You control your adventurers by giving bequests. At first you can only give one bequest, but the number you can give increases as the game progresses. Sadly, once you move past a single bequest, the adventurers start picking which bequests they will be willing to attempt randomly, albeit quite enthusiastically: it's somewhat funny to watch the level 1 white mage explain how she's really excited to go tangle with a Level 12 boss required for the bequest she chose. Needless to say, she'll be visibly depressed when you tell her to go train instead of sending her to a nasty death.

The "random bequest" mechanic can be really obnoxious when your Level 6 Thief decides he wants to try the Level 14 dungeon while your Level 14 Warrior decides that exploring the Level 6 dungeon sounds like fun. But it gets even more obnoxious: changing jobs are done by bequest. If you want a specific adventurer to pick a specific job, you have to either offer a single "change jobs" bequest for one day (thereby leaving everyone else to be useless), or hope the one adventurer you want to change jobs decides that would be nice too.

The leaves your time in-game spent on the following loop:

  1. Skip past the basically useless reports.
  2. Assign bequests to bequest boards around the city.
  3. Run to the bequest boards and send the adventurers on their way as they'll otherwise stand around indecisively.
  4. Build whichever special building you need to advance the story.
  5. If you have Elementite to spare, build houses.
  6. Wander around looking for people willing to talk to you so you can increase morale which is required to increase the city level.

I haven't touched any of the downloadable extras yet, as they all cost money. While you do get a small description of what the downloads are, these are often vague and contain no pictures. Not having a picture isn't a big deal for things that add new dungeons (as you never see the insides of dungeons anyway), but it's really obnoxious for the two downloadable costumes. I'm not about to spend money on something I can't preview. Not even the official website contains pictures of the downloadable costumes.

It's also vague enough that you really have no idea whether or not you can even use the downloadable content. For example, the three additional races are only unlocked after clearing level 8 dungeons. I know this thanks to GameFaqs, as Square Enix didn't feel fit to explain.

Still, it's a fun enough game for $15. If you like it enough to pay another $15 to unlock all the rest of the content, go ahead, but do so at your own risk - as previously mentioned, I haven't tried any of it.