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The Crystal of Kings

version: jp - year: 2001 - developer: brezzasoft - format: crystal system- condition: good - rarity: hard to find

The Crystal of Kings runs on the little-known and short-lived Crystal System

 

The Crystal System (left) is approximately half the size of SNK's MVS System (right)

 

It uses much smaller cartridges

 

Actually the Crystal System is itself about the size of an MVS Cart!

 

Copper Edition (normal damage) refers to the amount of damage you can take. You can decrease that amount by setting the game on Silver or Gold (harder). Aside from this, there is a selectable difficulty option (from very easy to very hard)

 

The default selectable characters are well characterized and each play very differently

 

Cocco rides an overgrown rat and uses a bow as a weapon. Similar to a hobbit, he might not look threatening but he can be a very good character to use

 

Justicia is one of the hottest babes in slash'em ups history! Silicon has never looked so good ;) Here, look at the beautiful light reflections on the floor

 

Try not falling off the raft while Castlevania-like Mermen armed with lances will jump out of the water and attack you

 

Bosses are most of the time huge and highly spectacular. The Black Knight isn't big by any means but he is very powerful

 

To uncover this hidden character, aim for the bad ending and then he'll eventually try to stop you from grabbing the last crystal. Defeat him and he'll become selectable on your next game (highlight Lustro Furia and his portrait should changeto this guy)

 

He looks like Tusk from Killer Instinct 2

 

Leave the graves alone if you are in for the good ending

Review - The Crystal of Kings was developed by a company that originated from SNK called BrezzaSoft which was owned by Playmore before its dissolution.

The game runs of a Jamma-compatible MVS-style board called Crystal System, for which only two games were released (The Crystal of Kings which is the focus of this review and Evolution Soccer).

If 2D side-scrolling fighters such as Golden Axe, Knights of the Round, The King of Dragons or D&D ring a bell, then the ingredients of this game will instantly be familiar for you. Replace hand-drawn graphics with rendered characters and backgrounds (Killer Instinct-style) and you should get a pretty good idea of how this game is.

Graphically, the game is impressive. Be it for the fast scrolling, the amazing transparencies effects of rivers and waterfalls or the huge bosses, the overall impact of the visuals is strong.

Obviously, the Crystal System is a much more powerful hardware than the MVS board and this is visible right from the beginning when a huge tower collapses on your path with an amazing 3D effect. If more effects such as this one had been implemented, this game would have been unforgettable (the programmers were probably still getting used to the new hardware so they probably didn't really push it).

If you played games with rendered graphics Donkey-Kong Country style, you'll probably be aware that the characters on screen tend to look a little stiff and again, this will be noticeable here as well although the effect doesn't look as bad as in other games which use the same technique.

There are about 8 levels to go through and each has a distinctive setting and is characterized by an amazing level of detail and is enhanced by a beautiful use of the color palette.

The music is epic in all of its stereo glory and it truly adds a lot of atmosphere and punch to the quest.

At first, gameplay could be mistaken to be simplistic as you have your usual array of buttons (attack, magic and jump) which can also be pressed simultaneously (attack + jump) to deliver a special attack which can't be deflected (it takes some health out though).

Also, you can perform Street Fighter II-style moves to deal even greater damage. Powerful and spectacular spells can be performed to tear through bosses although your magic meter will rapidly be depleted. Some very handy fairies have the ability to restore your magic meter, to restore your health bar or to increase your firepower so make sure you always look for them and free them. Just try not to run into the evil fairy since it has the annoying habit of mixing your controls up-side down…(I hate her!)

Moreover, at times some spells will shrink you to the size of a smurf or will turn you into a clueless frog, ready to get its green-ass kicked repeatedly … Besides these little annoying episodes, it won't be long before you finish the game, probably destroying all you can from chests, to bushes, torches, tombs and corpses. It will even be possible to kill fleeing soldiers, villagers and wild animals. And since many of these will give you gold, coins, or health, you'll probably end up doing it, regardless of any ethics… From this point on, things will get very interesting.

There are actually 3 possible endings (at least I came across 3 of them after many hours of play).

If you kill everything that moves, innocents or foes you'll turn to the dark side as your crystal will become black and you'll end up taking the place of the bad guy (this is maybe the coolest ending though!).

If you refrain yourself from killing innocents, but still go for the coins and gold, you'll probably end up getting to the normal ending.

To get to the good ending (it took me some time to figure that one out!), you'll simply have to ignore most of the destructible things and ignore the coins and gold as well… True heroes go out there to face evil and death to restore peace to the land and not to kill innocents or to become rich!!

Depending on how you behave in the game, and depending on how many lives you use and how much time you take to finish a level, you Crystal level will either go up or down. It must be maxed-out (or close to that) in order to get to the good ending.

To conclude, The Crystal of Kings is a great fantasy hack'n'slash, set in a world very similar to that of the Lord of the Rings. It's addictive, and easy to pick up and for that it will appeal to many casual players although true champions will want to give this game more than a shot and play it several times, discovering the real depth of the gameplay system.

It is really unfortunate that the Crystal System has been abandoned because this game, beautiful and fun as it may be, only uses a fraction of its untapped potential...

Bottom line: An amazing side-scrolling fantasy fighter which only fault is to run on an obscure and hard to find system. 9/10

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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