aCrystalis USA 188x266 Crystalis NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper: SNK

 July 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-G0-USA

Players:  1
Genre: Action RPG
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 3 megabit
Mapper: MMC3 (256k PRG, 128k CHR)

Requires Flash10

Crystalis (or God Slayer, as it was called in its native Japan) was different from the releases that the public generally expected from celebrated arcade developer and publisher SNK. Known primarily for action and war games, the company broke from tradition in releasing Crystalis, providing gamers with a slower paced, plot-driven narrativeCrystalis USA 009 256x224 Crystalis NES Nintendo Review Screenshot in place of the tanks and guns that usually populated well-known previous games such as Ikari Warriors, Alpha Mission, or P.O.W.  Combining gameplay aspects of The Legend of Zelda with Final Fantasy, it provided an innovative and mature approach to the adventure game that garnered much appreciation and respect from publications despite its fairly low sales numbers on release.

In the year 1997, the Great War destroyed civilization and brought humanity to the brink of extinction. A nuclear holocaust has shifted the earth on its axis, consequently resulting in horrifying mutations in most of the world’s living creatures. The survivors of this war shunned the technology that paved the path for this travesty, and began again studying the ancient ways of magic. With what they learned, the people erect a tower in the sky, armed with weaponry powerful enough to safeguard against the possibility of any such disaster happening again. Draygon, ruler of the Draygonia Empire, seeks to control this tower so that he may rule the entire world unopposed. Four great sorcerers, fully cognizant of the ramifications should Draygon succeed, created four elemental swords capable of fusing to create Crystalis, the most powerful blade to ever exist. Destined to wielded the legendaryCrystalis USA 244 256x224 Crystalis NES Nintendo Review Screenshot weapon, a boy emerges from a long forgotten cave, brought out of cryogenic stasis one-hundred years after the apocalypse. Despite his amnesia, he hopes to seek out the wisdom of the four sorcerers, discover the hiding places of the four swords, and liberate
the world of Draygon’s evil.

Crystalis utilizes the same top-down perspective as used in the non-shooter segments of The Guardian Legend,  in which the hero explores eleven towns (where he can talk to townsfolk, sleep at an inn, or purchase equipment), searches caves and dungeons (most of which house important items and bosses, or providing a thoroughfare to another area), and roams the overworld. Though combat occurs in real-time, experience can be accrued by defeating enemies, allowing your character become stronger by gaining levels in a manner similar to JRPG staples  (Dragon Warrior, et al). Combat moves quite quickly, however, making levels rise much faster than in games with menu-based battle systems. Fighting is also given a strategic element beyond mad button Crystalis USA 132 256x224 Crystalis NES Nintendo Review Screenshotbashing: many enemies are vulnerable to only one element, requiring the correct sword be used in order to defeat them. Swords can be charged temporarily by pairing them with the appropriate item, allowing for more effective hits, the ability to create ice bridges or destroy rock walls, and to launch large element-based magic attacks. Several magic spells can also be learned and are often required for solving different puzzles (for example, one particularly humorous scene requires the use of a transformation spell to become a woman). Though the menu system is cumbersome and has to be accessed far too often, the hero controls easily, and his capacity for smoothly moving in eight directions (unlike Mike in Startropics) makes lining up shots and avoiding contact with foes  effortless.

Crystalis features a relatively deep story by NES standards, and the character dialogue provides enough direction to prevent the player from becoming hopelessly stuck or lost. The graphics, many of them seemingly inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s manga/anime, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ – Kaze no Tani no Naushika), are cheerfully bright and rarely repetitive, with most areas featuring distinct designs that Crystalis USA 837 256x224 Crystalis NES Nintendo Review Screenshotinstantly differentiate them from one another. The cheery, up-tempo soundtrack makes good use of the NES’ hardware, featuring several memorable tunes that succeed in evoking the proper mood for any given area.

A fantastic yet sadly under-appreciated classic, Crystalis sits amongst the best of the NES’ selection of RPG and adventure titles, despite the tarnish on its name courtesy of Nintendo’s Gameboy Color port from 2000, which featured inferior play, a completely different (and awful) soundtrack, and a heavily altered storyline. The original Crystalis is a fantastic game that easily stands the test of time.

screenshot icon w text Crystalis NES Nintendo Review Screenshot50 Crystalis NES Nintendo Review Screenshot

flag us Crystalis NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotCrystalis
SNK, 7/1990
ゴッド・スレイヤー はるか天空のソナタ (Goddo Sureiyaa – Haruka Tenkuu no Sonata)flag jpn Crystalis NES Nintendo Review Screenshot
God Slayer – Sonata of the Distant Sky
SNK, 4/1990