If the long-running Final Fantasy series immediately brings to mind endless games featuring androgynous male heroes and hours upon hours of story dialogue, then you'll be pleasantly surprised by the latest release for the Nintendo Wii.

If the long-running Final Fantasy series immediately brings to mind endless games featuring androgynous male heroes and hours upon hours of story dialogue, then you'll be pleasantly surprised by the latest release for the Nintendo Wii.

Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers shifts from tradition - it's an action-oriented adventure game with far fewer role-playing-game trappings than its predecessors. A real-time combat system uses the Wii's unique remote to draw players more deeply into the story, and a number of interesting mini-games keeps them captivated.

Players assume the role of Layle, a human male who wields telekinetic magical powers thanks to a crystal imbedded in his right cheek.

Unlike many Final Fantasy protagonists, Layle is not a man thrust into the path of greatness or challenged to discover his great destiny. Rather, he's a mercenary hero who knows his value in a world that despises his abilities - all the while relying upon his powers for help and protection.

The story moves briskly in the beginning, setting up a mysterious opponent who seeks to use the powers of the magic crystals around the world to restore a long-lost civilization.

What initially seems like a straightforward rivalry eventually develops some emotional depth, as Layle and his traveling companions discover a conspiracy that threatens the future of his entire world.

This game was designed around the Wii, and it does a pretty good job of mixing up the usual Wii Remote wiggling and shaking with a combat system that's both simple to learn and execute. Players use both the Remote and the Nunchuck controllers to move Layle around the battlefield and simulate his telekinetic powers with moves mimicking the character's on-screen actions.

Unfortunately, as with many action games, the combat can become a bit repetitive at times. Players could also use a few extra fingers from time to time to effectively manage moving, fighting and seeing the battlefield. A battlefield camera that doesn't always make it easy to aim attacks or see opponents can cause frustration in heated conflicts.

Visually, The Crystal Bearers stands out as one of the better-looking Wii games. The characters are detailed and expressive, and the environments are well-designed. The script and character voices distract a little, leaning a bit toward the cheesy side.

But most players will overlook these deficiencies, because the adventure and evolution of the characters is a journey worth taking.