Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition - How does Multiplayer Work?
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition is out this week - a re-release of a series spin-off famous for its multiplayer component. Back on the Gamecube, you and up to three friends could party up together and form a caravan, if you each had a Game Boy Advance and a link cable.
Square Enix revealed last month that the remaster does not support local multiplayer like the original release did, stating the co-operative functionality would be online only. This was disappointing to those hoping they could relive their childhood, playing around the same TV with friends. But if the online multi was convenient to use and well-implemented, perhaps the sting would be lessened somewhat. The short of it is, though, is that this is not the case.
Below we'll explain how Multiplayer works with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Note that Crystal Chronicles is somewhat a strange game, so explaining everything in detail gets a bit dense. Also, we'll update this article with further clarification as needed.
We also suggest reading our full review for the game, which touches on these multiplayer functions.
How Multiplayer Worked in the original Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
Before we can talk about how the multiplayer functionality works in the re-release, we need to explain how it worked originally, for those unfamiliar with the game. In the Gamecube version of Crystal Chronicles, you would create a caravan of up to 8 user-created characters on your save file, saved to a single Gamecube memory card. All eight characters would be residents of the starting village of Tipa, and each character would be a member of a different family profession: blacksmith, alchemist, tailor, etc. When you played the game in local co-op, you and your friends would pick characters from the eight created for your shared save file. Of course, each played needed their own Game Boy Advance and a Link Cable.
You and your friends would start in Tipa, exploring the town, talking to your respective families, managing your equipment, and all that. You would then head out, all together, to the world and start navigating the various dungeons dotted along the world map. In each dungeon, your caravan would pick up a drop of Myrrh, a game mechanic that effectively moves the game & storyline forward. As your caravan completed these dungeons, not only would you be progressing the game's storyline, but each player would collect items, equipment, and artifacts to power up their character. Everything could be done in lock-step, and everything for each character was all saved to a singular memory card for the Gamecube.
An additional mechanic in Crystal Chronicles is that of your characters' family trades, which could also be improved in tandem as you and your friends played through the game.
How Multiplayer Works in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition
In the new Remastered Edition, there is no local co-op. Also importantly, each player will have their own save file local to their device. This means each player has their own Tipa village, their own set of eight characters residing in the village, and their own caravan. You cannot explore town areas in co-op - it is all done in single-player, individually. The only places that can be played in co-op are the dungeons. Also note, in order to play online co-op on the console versions, you need either PlayStation Plus or Nintendo Switch Online.
So, let's say you want to play with friends, and you each prepare your characters in your starting towns, individually. Now, each of you is set to explore the first dungeon. You want to team up with friends, so at the first dungeon, you create a lobby to invite your friends to the game. Whoever wants to join you can do so, after they've also individually set up their caravan and town. Friends can accept your invite, party up with you at the dungeon entrance, and then you can play through the dungeon together.
The game uses an ID system similar to Friend Codes and can be used to add players while creating friend-only rooms. There is a relatively simple follow system in place as well, where after matchmaking, you can follow people you've played with and invite them to later dungeons. You can also already join dungeons in progress, too.
It should be noted that unlike the original game, players cannot trade items with other players, other than food and magicite used for casting spells. You can use a storage Moogle in town to trade items from your own character to another one of your eight characters on your own save file, but not to other players.
Here is where things really get a bit awkward. In the dungeon, you and your friends playing in online co-op will gain items, equipment, and artifacts individually. The main issue is this: only the host will get the drop of Myrrh at the end of the dungeon for their caravan. Those who tagged along will NOT get the drop of Myrrh. Collecting Myrrh is, briefly, how you progress through Crystal Chronicles as a game. You need to collect it to move the plot along, open up new areas, and ultimately get to the final dungeon/boss.
What this means, practically, is that the host is progressing both the game and their character. Those tagging along are only progressing their characters, but not the game. If those tagging along want to collect the Myrrh drop, they have to either do the dungeon themselves or host their own run through it. If you're trying to play through the game as a whole in lockstep with your friends, like you could on the GCN version, what this effectively means is that you'll end up having to redo dungeons many times over, swapping out who is hosting, so that everyone can collect the Myrrh drop for their own save file.
If you want to keep your party and go to the next dungeon, you cannot do that easily. Instead, you must disband the lobby group, form a new lobby at the next dungeon, and team up again. The game does allow you to keep your party together if you want to replay the same dungeon again, but only in that case.
Ultimately, what this means is that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition no longer works well as a fully multiplayer game, because only one person actually can progress the story at all when playing in co-op. Instead, it is seemingly designed expecting players to mostly play through the game in single-player, while occasionally teaming up with friends for a dungeon here or there if you want to grind for items, equipment, or artifacts.
If two different people are at two different points in the game - say one person has progressed 7 years while the other has progressed 2 years - they can still team-up, as long as they both have access to the dungeon. However, only the host will progress their game file, while the player joining the host can only get equipment/items/artifacts.
Having one player create all eight characters of their own caravan also leads to further oddities with the game's family trade system. Since only one player can control any individual member of their own caravan, family trades must now be improved by the player taking control of other members of their caravan, rather than having friends control those members.
This sort of design can work in some specific circumstances, if you set your expectations properly. If you were looking at Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition as a game you could play with your friends from start to finish, know that you'll likely have a lot of headaches in making sure each person is progressing evenly, constantly re-banding your team at every dungeon. If you play Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition mostly in single-player in order to progress your own caravan, occasionally teaming up with friends to grind items, then it generally works for that. That doesn't seem to be what many players were hoping for, however, and it seems at odds with how the game structure was designed originally.
Online Function and Limitations
Note: We are still testing this functionality as public servers go live
Our early copy of the game used test servers for the online component, which showed some mixed results. Sometimes, connections would work without issue through a dungeon run. Other times, lag was prevalent, disconnections common, and at one point we were booted out of the boss arena due to a connection issue. It remains to be seen how solid the online components now that everything has been transferred to launch servers, but our experience was mixed.
We have not tested this thoroughly, but reports are that the online multiplayer is indeed region-locked, as indicated on the game's official website. Which region software you download will affect who you can team up with, and it is software-based. You cannot change your platform language/region to change your player ID region in Crystal Chronicles. However, early playthroughs of the game were using test servers and not the live servers, so maybe things function differently once the game is live to everyone, but indications do not seem good if you are hoping to play through the game with a friend in another region.
If you haven't already, we strongly recommend checking out Bryan's review for the game as a whole.