- slide 1 of 7
When you start a new game of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, the first thing you need to do is choose your character's race and gender. There are male and female versions of four different character types. Clavats are sword-fighters which are recommended for beginning players, while Lilties are spear-users, Selkies are the best jumpers and Yukes are the best with magic attacks. For the record, I went with a male Clavat as my lead character, and filled out my party with a second Clavat, a Selkie and a Yuke when given the opportunity to hire on adventurers.
- slide 2 of 7
Coming of Age
After an intro scene, the main character appears and you learn that it is time for his/her coming of age ceremony. Go around the village and talk to everyone, then exit to the upper left and make your way to the forest to undergo the trial and meet up with Sherlotta. First things first, though--once you enter the forest, a Moogle will appear and ask if you want to learn about combat. If this if your first time playing, you may want to go ahead and go through his tutorial.
There are three chests in the first room, including one at the top of the ramp. When you're ready to leave, place the stone on the pedestal and take the upper right exit. In the next area, head towards the right again. Defeat the group of three enemies and attack the switch that appears to open the gate to the next area. Before you leave, again, check the room for chests. This time the ramp is home to two different chests, one of which includes red, yellow and blue stones.
Proceed and prepare yourself for an upcoming boss fight. This one isn't too hard. Your best bet is to jump and try to hit him in the head for maximum damage, though any attack will hurt him somewhat. His basic attacks are easy to avoid, though if you jump on his head when he's stunned, make sure you jump back off before he stands up to avoid a nasty explosion-style attack. You shouldn't have any trouble, but even so, the nearby chests contain healing items. Take him down and you'll be rewarded with a ton of loot. Exit through the newly-opened passage, where Sherlotta is waiting for you, seated atop a giant crystal. For completing the trial, she gives you a little shard of crystal as a reward. Afterwards, head south twice to return to the village.
- slide 3 of 7
Searching for a Cure
Unfortunately, when you make it home, the celebration gets cut short as Eryll collapses shortly after greeting you. Her condition turns out to be something called Crystal Sickness, and the people of the village can’t make the medicine she needs since they don't have all the ingredients. Guess whose job it is to go looking for them? Yep, you know it. Exit the village to the bottom right, and once you're on the world map, head north towards the town. Make sure you have a look around and talk to the townspeople here. You can check out the shops and add some new members to your party, and you'll also meet a couple of people near the fountain who think there's a monster in the aqueducts. File that information away for later.
Your ultimate destination is the library, which is located at the extreme northern end of the town. Once you get there, you'll see a scene and meet Larkeicus, who might look somewhat familiar. He inquires about the crystal that Sherlotta gave the main character, and then agrees to help you with the medicine on one condition--he needs you to help him with an archeological task afterwards. Obviously, the main character agrees, and is then instructed to find a Buffasaur Horn. Buffasaurs, as it turns out, like to live in water and is weak to magic. He offers to give you a tutorial on casting spells, which will definitely come in handy if this is your first time through the game. Afterwards, go chat with the two people near the fountain again, then exit town and head for the aqueducts.
There are a few new types of puzzles included in this dungeon, including posts that need to be hit several times to activate and are time-limited (meaning you need to hit a switch or perform some other action as quickly as possible) and color-coded spheres that need to be attacked with the corresponding magical spell (i.e. Fire for Red or Thunder for Yellow).
- slide 4 of 7
- slide 5 of 7
Most of the puzzles are fairly easy to work out, but there is one that can be quite annoying if you have AI companions. In the area with the large locked door, there are five switches that need to have boxes on them, and only three boxes available. The nearby switch raises two platforms, each of which contains a box, but you need to act fast to push the box off the platform before time runs out. The annoying thing is that AI companions will constantly get into the way as you try to move it. Eventually, you'll get it, though, which will allow you to grab the key and eventually reach the area's boss.
During the Buffasaur battle, the AI companions more than make up for their earlier ineptitude by constantly pelting the beast with magic, particularly Blizzard-based spells that can freeze him. That allowed me to simply unload on him like normal, dodging his attacks when necessary. He was down in a flash. Grab the Buffasaur horn and you'll automatically exit the Aqueducts. Get back to the library, give Larkiecus the horn, and he'll make the medicine. Take it, return to the village, and Eryll will be healed.
- slide 6 of 7
Paying Off Debts
The next morning, it's off to the library to repay the favor and help Larkiecus with his errands. Speak with him and he'll explain that the city is located between two mountains, each of which has an ancient ruin on its peak. However, the ruins have been damaged, and he wants you to visit both locations to repair them. Before departing on your journey, make sure you upgrade your gear.
First up is Ice Mountain. In the first area, proceed north and jump on the handle to open the gate. In the second room, freeze the pot and toss it into the water. Continue on, using freeze pots as necessary to solve the various puzzles. There's one puzzle here that requires you to freeze and melt the ice several times, and it can be tricky. Just make sure you note where the underground switch is before you freeze the water, then move the block over top of it before you melt it. The rest should be easily reasoned out. Once you get to the save point, get on the zip line, and jump off at the right time to land on the ledge below. Exit south, defeat all the enemies, and a block will appear up near the ruined archway. Push it into the center and a pillar will rise up out of the ground.
Report back to Larkiecus, and you'll learn Fire Mountain is your next destination. Once you get there, head to the right in the first room and use the exploding barrel to open the passage to the next area. Here, use the water barrel to douse the fire, then quickly and carefully jump across to the other side. The platforms fall, and if you wind up in lava, you'll take major damage. Jump and grab the level to make the exploding barrel appear, and use it to move on to the third area.
Continue on in like fashion until you get to an area where the enemies are carrying exploding barrels. Here, you need to defeat the enemies and use the barrels to blow up four blocks, each of which covers a switch. Step on them all, grab the key and continue north. In the next location, simply grab the water barrel and high-tail it upwards, dodging enemies along the way. Put the fire out, save, and proceed for the boss fight against the Lava Spider. Honestly, this fight was a piece of cake, as my AI companions pelted the monster with Blizzard spells and I alternated between hitting it with the nearby water barrels and hacking away. After the battle, collect the loot, then grab a barrel and jump onto the giant switch to reach the summit. Push the block into place and once again you'll be back on the world map.
- slide 7 of 7
With both pillars now up, return to the town library and talk to Larkiecus. With your debt paid in full, its time to head back to the village. However, the story sequences that follows your exit from the library clearly foreshadows that the old man was up to something sinister. Sure enough, when you return home, another scene plays, and when the main character awakens the next morning, he finds that the crystal has shattered, nearly all of the villagers are gone, a new tower has sprung up on the horizon and that monsters have been spotted in the library. What in the world is going on? The only way to find that out is to delve deeper into Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time.