Crystalis is considered one of the great cult classics in the NES library, which is fine. The problem with the “cult classic” concept isn’t the game itself, but the idea that if you happen to not care for the classic in question, you’re somehow in the wrong (see: Earthbound).
Take Crystalis: it’s a decent Zelda clone with a gripping plot, tolerable (if not grindy at times) combat, and a colorful futuristic world that puts Hyrule to shame. But even with the game’s positives, the constant praise and adoration it receives feels unjustified.
You wander from town to town, killing enemies (charge that sword), collecting items, exploring mazes, leveling up, learning magic spells; typical role-playing fare. Despite the action-oriented approach to combat, leveling up takes ages, and while the landscape isn’t as overwhelming as Hyrule in the original Legend of Zelda, there’s still plenty of areas you’ll overlook.
Thankfully, the story – involving the end of the world, magic, and evil empires – is engaging and well realized for 1990. Frankly, the story remains the main reason to play Crystalis. Which isn’t to say Crystalis is a bad game or that people are wrong for loving it. Only that, maybe, it’s ok for some of us to not be so enthralled.
PUBLISHER/DEVELOPER: SNK GENRE: Action/RPG
RELEASE DATE: 04/13/90 – (JP), 07/1990 – (US)
ALSO AVAILABLE ON: GBC