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Crystal Chronicle on March 11th

With free GC-GBA link cable. Kirby Air Ride dated too.

Nintendo has sent out a couple of missives in the last few days highlighting forthcoming release dates for both Kirby Air Ride and, today, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

The more interesting of the two, Square Enix's FFCC, is due out on March 11th, and in an attempt to cut down some of the barriers to its peripheral-heavy multiplayer mode, for a limited time each copy will ship with a free GameCube/Game Boy Advance link cable, allowing players to control the game with the GBA and play it with up to three friends - the action on the main TV screen, stats and feedback on the handheld.

Apart from The Sims Bustin' Out, which roused the handheld chart briefly at the turn of the year, Nintendo has yet to make a particularly strong case for GC/GBA connectivity, which was its buzzword of choice at E3 last May. With that in mind, the European market's reaction to FFCC should be very interesting to watch...

Less interesting, according to the critics, is Kirby Air Ride, which landed in the US under something of a poisonous cloud to borrow from Crystal Chronicles, failing to hit higher than a 67 per cent average. An abandoned plasma screen running Air Ride for four players was one of the sorriest sights at E3 last year. We'll have a chew when it hits on February 26th and see if it's worth digesting.

(Footnote: readers with an eye for release dates may have noticed that both of the above titles are due out on Thursdays, not Fridays as is traditional. A trifling detail, perhaps, but we're not sure whether it's deliberate or some sort of recurring typo, so we'll be sure to mention it here when Nintendo gets back to us...)