One night I scrolled through the Game Marketplace on Xbox Live, searching for something to cure my Final Fantasy craving. Too lazy to drag out my copies of FF1-10 and bemoaning for the first time my choice of Xbox over PS3, I finally found the answer: Crystal Defenders.
If you’ve played Final Fantasy: Tactics (any incarnation of it, including A2), this game will be easy to grasp. A bit of warning though: it’s fucking hard. So how do you play? The layout is simple enough. You’re given a map on each stage and five different job classes to deploy onto the field, as many as you’d like as long as you have enough gold (Soldier, Mage, Archer, Monk, Time Mage, and Thief). Each map has a winding path in which waves of creatures travel and you must defeat them all. Each creature that makes it through steals one of your 20 crystals and once you’d down to zero it’s game over. There are 30 waves to get through, each creature stronger than the last and you’re able to level up each unit you deploy up to level 7. Each creature defeated gives you gold, with any Thieves you have near them at the time of their demise doubling the bounty.
At the end of each wave you are scored based on the number of crystals you have left, the amount of money you have, and the number of units you have on the field. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? I haven’t mentioned that some waves are airborne (can only be hit by Mages or Archers) or that some waves are resistant to certain types of attacks; the blasted White Puddings impervious to all physical attacks has been the root of my demise many times. I also need to inform you that each map adds a new quirk to the mix with the addition of a fork in the road. Luckily you’re also given two Espers you can summon…but with great power comes great responsibility and they’ll each relieve you of 5 of your crystals before they help you.
I have 20 hours logged into this damn game and I’m on stage three. It will challenge you and make you feel an honest to God sense of achievement when you clear that first map. With three worlds filled with maps to do, you can bet you’ll get your Points worth when you purchase Crystal Defenders.
Recommend for young gamers: No
Difficulty: Hard to Very Hard
Music: Familiar but repetitive