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  • Chad Myers

Game Review #346: Crystal Crisis (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Nicalis, Pikii

Publisher: Nicalis

Category: Arcade, Fighting, Puzzle

Release Date: 5.28.2019

Price (at time of review): $29.99 Digital ($39.99 Physical)

Buy Crystal Crisis from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Crystal Crisis from Amazon here.

Who Ported Puzzle Fighter II In 3D?

In the late 90s, I was able to try out Capcom’s Puzzle Fight II Turbo, which was a puzzler where they pitted fighters against each other, but they fought through the puzzles rather than using their fists. The game’s name was a parody of Street Fighter II Turbo, because the game used their roster of fighters, and also fighters from Darkstalkers. This was a very rich and inventive idea that I quite enjoyed. So, of course, I’ve wondered if there would be sequel, as I haven’t seen the game in years.

Along comes one of my favorite game publishers Nicalis, who have also gotten into creating games with their exclusive line up. So, as Nicalis seems to be moving in on bringing us new games and trying to hit different genres, of course they’d tap into something unused that we’ve been waiting for, like Puzzle Fighter. That’s where their new game, Crystal Crisis, comes in as a sort of sequel, pitting fighters from their roster of games against one another in a battle using puzzles.

Crystal Crisis Could End Us All!

The story begins with an absolutely brilliant narration by Peter Cullen, the one and only voice of Optimus Prime. There is an all-powerful red crystal that has torn open multiple rifts and portals all over, bringing heroes and villains together in battle, fighting for control of the crystal.

Now all the villains are rushing to get their hands on it to control the world and bring devastation, the likes of which we’ve never witnessed. The heroes are working to get to the crystal so it can be destroyed, and in turn, order can be restored to the world. The story mode is easily the weakest thing here, with only the narration and the small openers between the fighters to lay out the story. I needed more to lay the foundation.

Burst Through the Colors & Classics

Crystal Crisis is a puzzler fighter, but at its core, it is a puzzler with which, if you’ve played any of the classics—classic titles like Puyo Puyo, Dr. Mario, and of course, Tetris, the latter being one of my all-time favorites—you’ll feel right at home. You have the Tetris grid we’re used to, and you have to match the colors, but the only way to clear out the colors is by taking a crystal-shaped bomb and touching it to the same color, wiping out all the same-colored crystals that are linked together. There’s also a hexagon-looking bomb that will eliminate all the colors on the board that you touch it to.

Two things that were very inventive were the ability to go through the walls—so if you go through the right, you’ll pop out of the left—and if your falling pieces are lateral, you can split them by pushing them to the edge and going through the right or left. This was a game-changer that may not be new to this game, but I’d never seen it in a puzzler before.

So, past the core mechanics we are left with battling it out to progress in whatever mode we choose. By building up your breaks you will earn combos that can work to help enable your grid or help you by disabling your opponent; for example, you may be given one of those special bombs that clears out a color, or you can disable your opponent by temporarily turning all of their colors gray and black, so they can’t see what they’re doing. Also, building four pieces into a square and then breaking them will make for a large move against your opponent.

Mastering when to use these bursts and how to build them up will be key in moving forward and being successful in the game. So, where Puzzle Fighter used capcom’s characters from their fighting games, Nicalis has chosen to use their own characters from all of their games, like my favorite, Isaac from The Binding of Isaac, also Astro Boy and Black Jack from Tezuka Productions, and even some that haven’t come out yet.

Find the Crisis In the Modes

The game has a lot of options and a lot of modes, and this helps give more towards replay value beyond just playing through the story mode a time or two. We start with eight characters, and unlock the other seven. You can choose several unique single-player and multiplayer game modes, including Story Mode, Arcade, Survival, Tag Team, Versus Mode, Online Versus, and more! Tag Team was one I played a lot and enjoyed quite a bit. It played similar to a Marvel vs Capcom game where you switch between fighters.

The game was a lot of fun, I only wonder if the community will grow so online matches are easy to find, as the times I tried, it was hard to find a match. The options allow you to look at artwork and design choices for the game, and there is even a way to change the colors of the blocks to help people play that are color blind! For a new IP, this is a strong entry that I can see only getting better if they choose to pursue a series.

Audio & Visuals

This is where the game shines, as Nicalis really knows how to dress a game to make it very appealing. The soundtrack is great, with a lot of catchy upbeat tunes. Each character has their own musical theme, and the voiceover work is very strong, with a highlight being the narration done by Peter Cullen, as I mentioned earlier.

The visuals again are high quality, with all the characters and puzzles being dynamic 3-D, and the colors just pop off the screen—everything here is gorgeous! Each character has their own stage, and some outshine the others, like having a Godzilla-type monster battle behind you while you fight it out.

It’s A Wrap!!!

The package as a whole is Triple A, as Nicalis knows how to handle their IP’s, and you can tell they handle them with a lot of love. The production value is high, and they even pushed back the release to add more to the game in way of characters, story, and more. But I can’t help but feel that this has that freshman feel to it, and I hope the second game is a homer—if they move along with the series—but I still had a lot of fun overall, and it’s a solid experience for puzzler fans, fighter fans, and especially Nicalis fans. I’d recommend buying the physical copy, as Nicalis always has manuals included with special goodies inside as well. So, make sure this is added to your collection now!

Score: 8/10

Buy Crystal Crisis from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Crystal Crisis from Amazon here.

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*Review Code Provided by Nicalis

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