This followup to Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles takes the mechanics developed in the first game, polishes them, and wraps them up in a new story and game for the DS. The overall effect is something that would be excellent from any other publisher, but is merely good from SE.
The main complaint from the first game (the annoying bucket), is gone. Whether in one player or multiplayer modes, your characters will all have a chance to play the game. The new one-player mode gives you a party of 4 characters, only one of which you control directly at one time. Changing controlled characters and spells are now just a touch of the lower screen rather than the convoluted menu system of the first game. Overall, controls have improved, though in the single player it's hard to juggle all of the players.
In multiplayer, every player (up to 4, everyone needs a card) controls one character of any of the 4 races. Each race has its own particular strengths, weaknesses, and special abilities that make them useful at some point in every dungeon. Although the game slows down significantly in this mode, it's the way the game is at its best, as all the characters can act intelligently, and the cooperative abilities start to shine.
The graphics of this game make full use of the DS's capabilities, and are the best I've seen on the system, a step up even from the acclaimed Final Fantasy III. Environments are well-defined, special effects are wonderful, and on the whole the game shows a good level of polish. The soundtrack is similarly excellent, but the voices get annoying very quickly.
Difficulty tends to ramp up at a reasonable rate, and never does the game get frustrating, which is amazing considering the variety of challenges in the dungeons. Dungeons are well-designed, and contain a variety of items to acquire and create for your characters, whose look changes depending on what they wear.
This offering from Square Enix is worth a purchase, especially with friends around to join in your game. Although it fits a fairly standard Final Fantasy formula, the game entertains just like its bigger brothers.