Can you believe it?! Crystal Chronicles is finally being released with online and cross-play! Yay! This extremely unique GameCube game that once required 4 Game Boy Advance to play is now becoming accessible with modern technology. Well, that’s what we thought.
In a throwback to the PAL days where people in Australia and Europe gamed on 50hz TVs out of technical necessity, Square-Enix has decided to bring back that restrictive nostalgia by region locking this game online. I live in Australia and this is what happened when I tried to play with my friend in the USA.
We tried everything we could and double and triple checked, but we couldn’t find each other. Not only can we not join each others lobbies, but we just don’t exist. She found a completely different person when searching my player ID (hello “Yoshi” if you are out there). What’s that, player ID? Can’t they just use the Switch friend list? Nope, too hard for Square-Enix. But wait, it gets worse. Square-Enix inexplicably made 4 different versions of the game, for USA, Europe, Japan and Australia / NZ and they are all region locked. Furthermore, the Australia and NZ region doesn’t even work with no servers at all. More than simply region-locking the game, it feels like they specifically went out of their way to make things difficult.
Is there a solution?
Thankfully yes, I ended up finding a work-around. Thanks to Michael K on Twitter for letting me know the game had different versions depending on the eShop region. After downloading the US version from the eShop onto my Australian Switch, I was able to play in the USA region. It worked easily and without lag.
Finally we could enjoy a relaxing walk by the lake. The game versions are so different that I have both the AU and USA versions of the game on my Switch menu now, and they use different save files, and even different folders when taking screenshots. It’s an absolute trainwreck and Square-Enix have left us to clean up their mess. The two game installations completely ignore each other as if we live on different planets. And yes, I can play on my Australian account after downloading the USA version from their eShop. That means you don’t need another Nintendo Subscription. For anyone wondering how to access other region’s eShops, here’s a tutorial. It might be worth doing even if you don’t care about FFCC itself, as you can grab some exclusive demos from the JP eShop.
So what went wrong? The single selling point of this was multiplayer and they couldn’t even do that properly. Not only that, but even when you do get connected, you have to replay a quest 4 times for each person to complete it in their game. That’s right, only the host keeps story progression. They somehow found a way to make the GameCube game even more inaccessible, with no local multiplayer, more loading, and a clunky interface both offline and online. At least they added expensive voice acting that nobody asked for. I hope you like it enough to watch a cutscene 4 times.
“Nah, let’s turn back.”
I’ll end this by saying an extra big fuck you to Square-Enix for region locking a game during a pandemic. Living through border closures is hard enough when we have loved ones across the globe, but region-locking a videogame that people were looking forward to with arbitrary limitations that were solved decades ago? Heartless and lazy. Avoid this port.