Name: Crystal Class (65.00% in 2 votes)
Company: TGL - Japanese
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: Lamuness
For those non-H Anime-style game fans, you probably have heard of TGL's famous masterpiece - Farland Saga with great graphics and 3d isometric strategy battlefields. You might have also heard of some cute cute girlie games created by TGL which is designed primarily for young girl audiences (examples include Daiundoukai, Eko-no-Kids, Manaki-neko and a few others). If you combine the 2 together, you get Crystal Class.
The Saint Faria Royal Academy (all girls school) is created by the Queen so that strong and powerful ladies are trained, be it warriors or martial artists or magicians. You are Lauto, the teacher of the Crystal Class, one of the many classes in the academy (others are named such as Rose class, Pearl class etc). Your responsibility is to train your 6 young students into powerful but sensible people so that they will have a good future after graduation.
At first you might think that this is some bring-up simulation, but actually it's not, sort of. The game is mainly a strategy game in which you take your students out to practice their combat skills with monsters, or compete with students with other classes. The battle engine used in this game is a 99% imitation of the Farland Saga engine. However, this engine is much much more simplied. You do not have to worry about height differences because there is no hi-low elevations in the battlefields. Animations are very simplistic. In Farland Saga all the effects and animations are shown on the map itself. In Crystal Class, there is just a simple CG of the person attacking and yell things like "Take this" etc. Very often you will find secret items on the battlefield so you'd better do some decent explorations in every stage before you clear it.
What is also implemented in this simple strategy game (and also to compensate the simplicity) is the AVG part. Very often (especially at the beginning of the game) will your students encounter certain events, and you, as the teacher, are the one to be asked for advices. Your responses will affect their impressions towards you, and as well as relationships with other collegues. Both are important in that the former affects their confidence in battle (however, over-confidence will result in bragging which will result in negative effects), and the latter...if the relationship between 2 students reach the max, they can unleash a powerful combo during battle. Also, after each battle, you can pep talk with your students which of course will affect the appropiate parameters.
Compared with other strategy games, Crystal Class is a very simple SLG. There is not a lot of choice in weapons and items compared to other SLGs. However, judging from the humorous dialogues and cute young character designs, it is safe to assume that this game is mainly targeted to young girls. Nothing is intense nor agressive in the game...no blood no yucky and offensivestuff etc. So I guess the simplicity is alright for a SLG game for young girls. However, even though it looks cute, do not underestimate the difficulty factor in the game. Most players will struggle quite a bit at the beginning of the game. This is because at the beginning my attacks miss way too frequently compared to the enemies' attacks that it's almost unfair. But as you go along in the game things start to get smoother.
Graphics-wise, Crystal Class did a great job with the high-quality graphics. The characters are really cute (remember that this is a game for girls). The monsters are nothing ugly or horrific or disgusting. The battlefields are rendered very nicely (probably because there are no elevations in this game or else it will look like blocks). The music is nice (but gets boring after awhile), and the COMPLETE use of voice tracks is a definite plus to the game. The overall feel of the game is neither too cute (like sanrio games...damn those are not games at all~!) nor too violent (like mainstream war games) and I think this moderation is appropiate for girl games like Crystal Class.
Now, the drawbacks. The strategy part, as I said before, is slightly over-simplied. Don't expect too much strategy gameplay from this game compared to the mainstream war games. It would be better if more elements are implemented into the game. The fighting effects (slashes, lightning bolts etc) needs improvement: too plain and mediocre. However, overall these minor problems did not affect the quality of the game too much. Probably my biggest complaint is that the game is too slow. Recommended requirement is 133mhz 32m RAM. It still hesitates in loading things on my P200MMX 64m RAM (dammit they load MIDI bgm ***off the cdrom***?!). This can result in CD drive failure because bgm keeps on reloaded whenever it is replayed plus reading graphics and voices at the same time...sigh. If I were the programmer I would definitely not do multi-reading from cdrom drive.
Despite the minor tidbits, Crystal Class is a very humorous, cute and simple strategy game designed for the young female audience. There are some really nice elements in this game such as the relationship parameters, the humor factor and the complete use of voices. It is a nice game to play if you are into cute cute girlie stuff and if you are not too demanding into strategy gameplay and insane 3d groovy battle effects. You should really try this game if you are a girl (or a guy, doesn't matter at all, hell I am playing it myself~!) and are first-time strategy gamers. Now, don't say PC-Games are for guys only~! hehe
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