Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King

Key events

LostWinds tops WiiWare chart

Blows raspberries in faces of others.

Nintendo's European marketing chief, Laurent Fischer, has revealed that LostWinds is currently king of the WiiWare chartcastle. The game is pointing and laughing at the likes of TV Show King and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King, who occupy second and third places respectively.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King

It's funny to think that back when Nintendo announced its WiiWare line-up, the 1500-point (GBP 10.50 / EUR 15) price tag for Square's peculiar role-playing city-builder was the cause of much outrage and hand-wringing. Once you're actually playing the thing, you soon realise it's a small price to pay for a game that could easily have been released on disc at three times that amount without anyone crying foul. My Life as a King is not without flaws, but between this and LostWinds perhaps we'd do better to consider WiiWare a console alternative to Steam rather than a rival to Xbox Live Arcade or PSN.

The game takes place in Final Fantasy's spin-off Crystal Chronicles world, where a poisonous gas - known as the miasma - has covered everything, unleashing hordes of monsters in the process. As My Life as a King starts, the miasma has lifted and our trio of heroes are returning to their abandoned home town. As well as the boy king under your control, there's also Chime, his teleporting mentor, and Sir Hugh Yurg, a Liltie warrior knight. In the centre of town is a giant blue crystal, which imbues the king with the power of Architek - the ability to conjure buildings out of thin air. Doing so uses up the crystal's supply of elementite, a resource that can only be found beyond the city walls. After some lengthy story scenes, which will charm Final Fantasy fans and annoy the pants off everyone else, you're finally allowed to get down to business.

As the king, you're not allowed to go questing, so instead you must build houses and then hire adventurers from the families that live in them. The game is chopped up into daily chunks, and each day allows you to issue behests - or kingly instructions - to your adventurers. Sending them off to explore new areas of the map, or to defeat the boss monsters they discover along the way, is a major component of this and your best way to restock your supply of elementite and unlock new building types. Progress soon settles into a pleasant cycle of exploring the surrounding terrain with your adventurers, while using the spoils of their quests to expand your town, increasing your population and therefore your potential pool of adventurers. Shops can be added to sell food, weapons, armour and potions, while specialised structures like the mage academies and gaming and training halls allow your heroes-by-proxy to change jobs, rounding out the available skill-base to include the obligatory thieves, black mages and white mages. You can make cash donations to increase the quality of a shop's stock, or to add new skills to the trainable options.

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WiiWare Roundup

Hands-on with all the launch games.

The launch of WiiWare - small games that you can download from the Wii Shop - is the fulfilment of part of Nintendo's promise for the system. As the hype was building before the console's launch, Nintendo made much of the idea that the system would encourage creativity and lower the bar for developers - allowing people to experiment with innovation without taking huge financial risks. A year and a half after launch, here we are. WiiWare allows developers to create small games - with small teams and small budgets - and then make them available online, priced at 500 Wii points (GBP 3.50, or EUR 5.00) and upwards. Speaking with us in Frankfurt ahead of the launch, Nintendo's European marketing boss Laurent Fischer confirmed that there was no content approval process - developers can create whatever they want, provided it passes the technical approval process and gets a recognised age rating.

WiiWare launches in Europe

WiiWare launches in Europe

Six games at launch - pricing inside.

Nintendo's WiiWare service for downloadable first- and third-party games has launched in Europe with six brand new games to try out.

The headlining duo are LostWinds from Frontier Developments, which earned itself a handsome 9/10 in our review, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King from Square Enix, which is a sort of RPG Sim City.

The other launch titles are Dr Mario & Germ Buster, a Wiimote-enabled remake of the classic Nintendo puzzler; Star Soldier R, a high-scores shoot-'em-up from Hudson; TV Show King, a basic quiz game from Gameloft; and Toki Tori, a puzzle/platform game where to play as a chicken.

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Details on each WiiWare launch game

Details on each WiiWare launch game

How they work and their features.

Since you've already stared lovingly at the European WiiWare launch line-up, some of which are due out on 20th May, we thought you might like a bit more information on each of the games. Prices listed are based on US and Japanese equivalents, as Nintendo was unable to confirm European pricing when we asked.

(Update 20th May, 7.17am: Pricing is now confirmed. The only two on this list not available at the 20th May launch are Pirates: The Key of Dreams and Pop.)

Dr. Mario & Germ Buster (Nintendo) - 1000 Wii Points (GBP 7 / EUR 10 approx)

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European WiiWare launch line-up

European WiiWare launch line-up

Eight games, but not all on 20th May.

Nintendo has announced the European WiiWare launch line-up, which is headlined by LostWinds from Frontier and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King by Square Enix.

Yesterday saw the launch of the US WiiWare service, featuring six titles, but we actually get eight in Europe on 20th May, missing out on the US' Defend your Castle and V.I.P Casino: Blackjack but gaining Dr. Mario & Germ Buster from Nintendo, Pirates: The Key of Dreams from Oxygen Interactive, Star Soldier R from Hudson and Toki Tori from Two Tribes.

Update, 12.05pm: Nintendo has been in touch to say "not all eight titles will be immediately available from the May 20th launch date". The wording in the press release was, "From 20th May onwards a whole host of brand new creative games from developers across Europe and the rest of the globe become available, including..." followed by a list. We've asked Nintendo to clarify which ones will be out when.

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WiiWare launching in US today

WiiWare launching in US today

One new game each week.

Nintendo will launch its WiiWare service across the US today.

It goes live with six titles, including LostWinds from Frontier Developments, and is set to receive one fresh game a week.

WiiWare behaves just like Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and offers independent developers a source of distribution for their smaller-scale and usually arcade-style games.

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Nintendo WiiWare Roundup

Final Fantasy, LostWinds, Eating, Pop, World of Goo, Strong Bad.

On 10th and 11th April, Nintendo of America invited a select group of journalists to a media event to experience the company's upcoming Wii, DS and WiiWare titles firsthand. While standing in a hallway before the event began, we caught a glimpse of NOA president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime as he was ushered through a back door and out of sight. Alas, Reggie never made a public appearance at the show. Like those who track the elusive Bigfoot, we were only able to capture a fuzzy cell phone photograph as evidence of his presence. But who is going to believe us? [Or care. -Ed]

Wii Software DLC system explained

Square Enix taking full advantage.

The Wii Software system for buying downloadable content for your games has been detailed, using the rather pricey example of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.

WiiWare launches in Japan

WiiWare launches in Japan

Nine titles now available.

Nintendo has launched its WiiWare Channel in Japan, offering nine fresh games for download.

These range from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles spin off My Life as a King, which sees you building and managing your own town, to Dr. Mario, which has you handling drugs. You can see some of games in action on Eurogamer TV.

The WiiWare Channel, called Wii Software here, will launch in the US on 12th May. Nintendo has yet to announce a European date.

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WiiWare gets Japanese launch date

WiiWare gets Japanese launch date

First batch of titles named and priced.

Nintendo has finally announced launch date and pricing details for the WiiWare game download service in Japan.

As reported by IGN, WiiWare will launch on March 25th with nine games.

Prices start at 500 Wii Points (GBP 3.50 / EUR 5) for Okiraku Ping Pong and Tenshi no Solitaire. Hudson's Star Soldier R will cost 800 Points (GBP 5.60 / EUR 8).

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Wii Fit date, bikes in Mario Kart

Plus Wii Ware games, Fire Emblem DS, DS download channel.

As well as adding Sonic to the Smash Bros. roster, Nintendo's Japanese press conference also brought us the local release date for Wii Fit, news of motorbikes in Mario Kart and a few details on the first games for downloadable service Wii Software (Wii Ware), announced this June.