May 22, 2008

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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (Wii)
Square Enix, May 12
By Glenn "White Mage" Given production@hippopress.com

Hey Squenix you got Sim City all up in my RPG!

What a weirdly amusing mess. Fans of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the Game Cube will be taken aback by the radically hands-off nature of My Life as a King, which backs out of the real-time multiplayer combat in favor of force management and town building.

Trepidatious of the battlefield strategy of Final Fantasy:Tactics your role is reduced to outfitting a clutch of dungeon spelunking adventures of various stereotypical classes and ordering them out into the wild. Successful sojourns into increasingly difficult dungeons reward your kingdom with treasure to pay the troops and facilities and the element Magicite which powers your hovel-raising city zoning board powers thereby allowing you to recruit more adventurers. A lovely sustainable economic model this is not, as it finally shows the root motive of all Japanese fantasy; a fierce top-down capitalist-military who ďliberateĒ the resources of the surrounding environment and transform the wild forces of an ancient and beautiful world into trinkets and glowy swords.

My Life as a King is a wild stab into hybrid game territory with mixed results. Itís hard to feel accomplishment even when youíve just slapped down a row of medieval tract housing ícause itís the peasantry that is having all the fun what with the stomping of monsters and such. Sure, you can always neglect your conscripted hordes for a vague sense of kingly amusement but itís just not visceral enough. There is the requisite amount of RPG and city managing statistics porn but, meh, unless I can punish a neighborhood by shutting off its water and closing down a fire sub-station, the glee of city design is lost. Still, itís an ambitious attempt and deserves a nod for bravely forging a new path, but, wait the unnecessary downloadable pay-to-play add-ons end up costing more than the original title purchase price? For shame, Squenix, and you had such a fun portmanteu to use. B- ó Glenn Given