Crystalis Week: Things To Do

I don’t hesitate to call Crystalis the most rewarding game from the NES era. I never grow weary of replaying it and noticing something new each time. It’s fun just to mess with the game, and here’s how to mess with it most effectively.

Crystalis has a few interesting glitches and codes, including a warp trick that lets you jump to a dozen different locations in the game. Simply hold A and B simultaneously on controller one and then press A on controller two, and you’ll warp to a new area. This is useful in some ways, though you’ll often run into enemies beyond your level.

My favorite warp spot is an underground cave where the hero is stuck in the water. He’d normally have a dolphin to ride, but the warp trick plants him in the canal by himself and leaves him immobile. There’s nothing to do but listen to the gentle music and ponder life until you decide to warp somewhere else.

Games of this era often let players name the main character, and it’s an open invitation to insert themselves, rampant profanity, or whatever dumb joke they can devise. If you want a laugh when you start up Crystalis, enter “Jesus” as the hero’s name. It’ll make sense very soon.

Unfortunately, the joke doesn’t really hold up after this initial scene. Well, not unless you pronounce Mesia’s name as “Messiah.”

I like how Crystalis envisions a future where the favored pets of humans are not cats or dogs but rabbits. They show up in villages, having weathered a century of catastrophic shifts in the planet’s ecosystem without obvious mutations. As Watership Down told us, rabbits will never be destroyed.

You can talk to the rabbits once you gain the appropriate spell, but at first they’ll just say “kyu kyu,” which is apparently the closest onomatopoeia to the annoyed grunts or contented teeth-gnashing noises rabbits can make.

This sound appears to be something invented for Crystalis. “Kyu kyu” is a sound effect often used for squeaking noises, but modern rabbits aren't known for squeaking. Perhaps these bunnies are mutants after all.

The Change spell lets you switch to four different forms: Stom, Akahana, a Draygonian soldier, and a female version of yourself. It’s very useful in a variety of situations, but it’s also worth experimenting to see just how Stom and Akahana react to meeting themselves or how typical townspeople greet an imperial guard.

You’ll also discover this odd response if the hero poses as a woman and talks to the elder of the dwarf village. Is “Da gon derin?” mere gibberish? Is the dwarf flustered by the heroine’s beauty? Is he trying to summon a Lovecraft horror? Is this an in-joke, as with Cloud saying “Zeno..gias” and alluding to Xenogears in Final Fantasy VII? Is Dagon Derin the never-made follow-up to Crystalis?

I suspect I beat the final boss of Crystalis more than any other enemy in a video game. That wasn’t because of the battle itself, though it’s an impressive climax. It was because I wanted to see the ending and listen to the music.

Crystalis doesn’t deliver any last-second plot twists or long-winded denouement after the last boss falls. You’ll see a few scenes, some congratulations, and images of the world you saved. You’ll also get a great closing number.

It’s a catchy theme, picking up the beat of the Crystalis title screen music and rolling through five or six different hooks. The accompanying scenes recall key moments in the storyline, and you’ll see the hero’s dolphin friend and Deo the rabbit roaming happily in the world you just saved.

I usually wanted more of an NES game once I’d finished it, but the ending of Crystalis also left me wholly satisfied. While a sequel would’ve been nice, the game felt truly complete and without lingering questions. It still does.

Now, of course, I wonder if the seemingly hopeful final shot in fact shows the hero and Mesia watching the remains of the floating tower crash to earth, thus destroying civilization in spite of all their efforts. There’s your last-second plot twist.


  1. vitaflo8:14 PM

    Just wanted to say thanks for these. I love this blog post series.

  2. Chris8:14 PM

    These posts were a great read. Thank you!