Review: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Dark Lord

Final Fantasy as a franchise is forever branching out and taking entirely different paths. From the adorable minigame collections (Chocobo Tales) to the fighters (Dissidia), Square Enix is never afraid to create games other than RPGs utilizing characters or concepts within the universe. Upon playing My Life as a Dark Lord, a tower defense title obtainable as a WiiWare title, I am convinced that they can make any genre work, so long as they approach it with the right attitude and color palette. Having never previously played My Life as a King, I can’t quite compare it to anything I’ve played before, but rest assured, even through its sometimes intractable difficulty, it’s a whole lot of fun.

You step into the shoes of a female Dark Lord who means absolute business. She’s even got an army of Tonberries at her disposal, and we all know what happens when you mess with a Tonberry. Every instance of gameplay takes place inside a large tower controlled by the female Dark Lord, who you’ll become enamored with thanks to her adorable Japanese cries and the cutesy color scheme employed in-game. While this may be a tower defense game, don’t write it off automatically as another cookie-cutter entry in a faceless series of other games. This one is much different, and you’ll come to find much more enjoyable. As the dark lord, it’s your aim to prevent pesky heroes from entering your fortress. Oer the course of the game you’ll make new towers elsewhere and take on various side quests to aid in your path to becoming, well, the best dark lord the world has ever seen! All of this from an adorable, anime-styled girl. What more could you ask for?
To do this you place several different floors in a vertical tower along with minions and various resources. You must be careful with placement, however, because once you’ve placed floors or monsters, you won’t be able to withdraw them. They’re there for the long haul. When you begin a level, you are started with a level tower and nothing between you and the pesky enemies you’ll face. If they reach the top, that means they’ve reached your Dark Crystal, and you definitely want to avoid that.  You’ll need to strategically place various monsters and different types of floors to ensure that the adventurer has quite a handful to contend with should he want to reach your crystal. Once a hero has reached a monster, a battle will take place. Battles consist of a simple weapon triangle mechanic that ensures different types of monsters perform better against different adventurers.
You can choose from ranged attacks, melee, or magic when placing units. The real magic, however, is all in how you choose to arrange your floors and the monsters within. It’s there that the real challenge lies. You’ll need to match certain invaders with monsters of your own in order to slow their advances. If you find that you just can’t hack the challenge, the game will come to the rescue with some helpful pointers, such as using karma built up during heated conflicts to upgrade your units and to up the number of floors available to build in your arsenal.
My Life as a Dark Lord employs a gorgeous anime-styled art style, just like in My Life as a King. However, don’t expect any beautiful animations here or even any dialogue. Little is offered graphically save for minimal movement and some gorgeous character designs, but at least the music is engaging and cheery. I especially enjoyed the map between missions and the motifs surrounding the name of each excursion. I would liken the graphics to a GameCube title, like many other Wii games, though it would have been nice to see some facial movements from our adorable diminutive dark lord.

While this is a solid and challenging tower defense title for $10 of your hard earned cash, there’s a ton of DLC available that will cost you a bundle if you are going to deck out your tower even further, such astems that will allow you to supercharge your amount of negative energy to build with, and other accessories that can give you a leg up on your opponents. I’m not sure it’s a good practice to charge $2 her and there to make a game appear easier, but they’re there if you happen to need the extra help and I’m sure many will go ahead and fork over the dough since My Life as a Dark Lord can get downright nasty in some situations.

My Life as a Dark Lord is an entertaining and delightful excursion and a departure from the norm in that you’re finally getting to play the bad guy for once. It doesn’t rely on specialized Wii controls as a crutch and there are no fancy bells and whistles to speak of, but there is plenty of fun to be had in the Final Fantasy universe here, as well as tons of heroes to toss out of your ominous tower. Check it out.

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