28th Jun2019

‘Crystal Crisis’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

crystal-crisis-art

Crystal Crisis is a cute and chaotic new color-matching combat game presented like a one-on-one fighting game, but instead of pressing buttons to kick and punch, players arrange falling gems into matching colors to clear them from the screen and inflict damage on their opponents. Yes, this is Nicalis’ version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo… Only with a much more complicated game mechanic than the Tetris-like gameplay of THAT Street Fighter inspired puzzle game!

In much the same way that Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. combined characters from multiple franchises, Crystal Crisis features 19 unique playable characters from a myriad of games, including Quote and Curly Brace from Cave Story, Isaac from the Binding of Isaac, Astro Boy and Black Jack from Tezuka Productions and many more. All of whom pretty much, in terms of the gameplay, are indistinguishable from one another – after all, your not playing AS those characters, you’re playing a puzzle game that merely features those characters as “window-dressing”.

I say they’re indistinguishable but, BUT, there are some differences between characters – in particular the way the games “Burst Gauge” works.

crystal-crisis-screen

The idea is to build up your “Burst” Gauge with repeated combos to unleash more powerful attacks – now with a LOT of characters in this game that gauge is made up of three sections and you can unleash an attack after the first section is filled IF you hve the right character. However… there are some characters withing Crystal Crisis whose gauge’s only come in one huge, hard to fill, segment. Which means there’s a LOT of filling and a lot of waiting in particular to fill said gauge. A small quibble, but one that actually affected how I played the game.

Speaking of the game, if you’ve played Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo you’ll know how the Tetris-like puzzle aspect of the game works. Only that’s NOT how if works here. And damn if that change is bloody frustrating! Instead of lining up shapes to fill rows a la Tetris, you instead combine colours into blocks, strips and shapes and then hope (and sometimes pray) that the titular “crystal” drops in a colour that you need. For only when a coloured crystal touches a block, shape or strip of the same colour do those blocks disappear. See, I said Crystal Crisis had a much more complicated game mechanic!

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad and it’s not all a quasi Tetris rip-off. In fact Crystal Crisis does actually add something new to the familiar block-stacking mechanic – an all, new and innovative “wrap-around” feature, which allows you to move falling blocks outside the edge of the playing area so that it reappears on the other side. Which means you can split groups of blocks to make them better fit your needs. It’s a simple idea but one that adds much more to the gameplay, even making up for the use iof those goddamn crystals!

Featuring multiple single-player game modes, including Arcade, Survival Mode, Tag Team and Training Mode Local and online multiplayer options to play against friends, family members or challengers worldwide, Crystal Crisis is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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