In 1995 the Super Nintendo was at the height of its popularity and in that same year, Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) released a little gem of an RPG called Chrono Trigger. The game appealed greatly to RPGers who, at the time, were a very niche group (Chrono Trigger only sold a quarter of a million copies in North America, but it sold over 2 million in Japan). Yet over time more people played it. Enough that it became a cult classic and eventually one of the most sought after RPGs of all time. Chrono Trigger was mostly praised because of a fantastic team often referred to as the Dream Team. These people were Hironobu Sakaguchi, the famed creator of Final Fantasy, Yuji Horii, the famed creator of Dragon Quest; Akira Toriyama did the character designs (famous for Dragon Ball). Also joining the three famed designers were veteran Music Composesr Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda.
For years fans were wondering about whether or not there would be a Chrono Trigger 2. In fact, it was even a joke within Chrono Trigger. In the year 1999 Chrono Cross saw release in Japan and it was released in 2000 later on. Chrono Cross is a follow up to Chrono Trigger. It's not exactly the best sequel, but it does make for a pretty good game in and of itself. Unfortunately, it doesn't see everyone from the Dream Team returning. Sakaguchi still shows up to help produce and Yasunori Mitsuda still composes the score, but you're getting a very different game from Chrono Trigger.
Where as Chrono Trigger focused quite heavily on Time Travel, Chrono Cross goes a little deeper; focusing on FATE and focusing on the theory of multiple universes. It begins in such a manner that you can't help but be drawn into the story. After a bad dream, Serge awakes in the village of Arni. When he goes off to collect lizard scales for a friend and meets her on the beach, he's sucked into another world that is almost exactly like his own. With one small exception. In this "other" world he died when he was seven years old. What exactly is going on here? While in "Another World" he meets a girl named "Kid" (no, really, that's her name) who is in search of the Frozen Flame and out to avenge Lucca (Chrono Trigger fans should be very familiar with Lucca). The story gets off to a great start, and even throws in a really good twist. Unfortunately, hardcore Chrono Trigger fans may not be satisfied entirely by Chrono Cross's story. There are a few references (and a moment where Chrono Trigger fans will die of nostalgia as they basically run through Leene Square) but Chrono Cross is done in such a way that it makes sure you don't have to play Chrono Trigger. It's also done in such a way that some fans may not even see it as a sequel.
But the multiple worlds thing is quite unique in its own right. The game plays on it very well thanks to the idea that, for the most part, you're dealing with two worlds in which FATE has worked her magic very differently. You'll meet characters that do one thing in the Home World, but do other things in Another World. This is demonstrated when you meet a man who is into Voodoo in another world because he didn't go after that great white shark and become a fisherman. But what if he made the choice to go after that great white shark? Well, the Home World shows you what would've happened. Thus, this explains why in one world Serge exists and in another he doesn't. Simply put in his home world he was involved in an incident in which he survived. In Another World he clearly didn't survive.
The story can be confusing at times and Chrono Cross throws in a lot of characters into the mix. There are roughtly 48 playable characters in Chrono Cross. This sounds well and good because there's no way you couldn't find variety. You also can't acquire all of them in a single play through. This works in terms of thsoe who don't particularly care about character development. But if you're the type that does (as I happen to be) then this makes Chrono Cross's story resonate even less in the long run. There are so many characters that are important for nothing at all. There are some you'll literally go up to and speak with and they'll join your party. So many characters don't even have a story of their own. It's hard to care about any of the cast members in Chrono Cross. And you have to wade through the unimportant characters. When I was a younger RPGer I rather liked Chrono Cross's large cast, but sometimes less is more. You get a lot of variety at the expense of good storytelling. Simply put, Chrono Cross is a cast full of forgettable characters.
At least the game is fun to play. Chrono Cross utilizes a unique battle system. All the battles are contact based. Your standard attack is based on stamina. Each of your characters has a stamina gauge that has 7 points. You can string together a series of weak, strong and fierce. Depending on the strike depends on how many points deplete from your stamina gauge. Weak attacks take one, strong attacks take two and a fierce takes three. You may think you can just string together a weak with two fierce's but Chrono Cross makes sure you can't take advantage of it that easily. Your accuracy initially starts low. At best (at the beginning) your accuracy might be 72% for a weak attack and as low as 66% for a firece. As you make strikes your accuracy increases. The game pauses between strikes.
You don't have to do that, however. As long as you have Stamina, your characters are able to act. Meaning you can also cancel out of your standard attacks and use spells, defend or run away. The spell system in Chrono Cross is perhaps what makes it interesting. Every character in the game has an "innate." A color, so to speak. Either Black, White, Red, Blue, Green or Yellow. The system works in such a way that each innate is weak to their opposite, but also strong. For example, Black innate element spells are strong against white innate characters... but the reverse is also true. Red and Blue are opposites and so are yellow and green. They each also correspond to elements. Black spells typically tend to be dark based spells, white spells tend to be holy based, red is fire based, blue is water and ice based while yellow is earth and lightning based and green are wind and fauna based. Each character has an innate and they'll be stronger with attacks of their color... and weaker with attacks of their opposite. They'll also take less damage from their same innate, but more damage from an attack of their opposite color.
It's a system that sounds confusing but it's no different than any "Elemental Weakness," system any other RPG employs. As you go through the game you'll find several different elemental spells that you can allocate to your characters. Every character has an "Element table," that you can put spells on. Each spell also has a level. For example, the "Cure" Spell is a blue element spell that happens to be level 1. Meaning you can place it in the level one portion of a character's element table. Placing it in a level 2 will give it a +1 level up (but you really don't have to worry about that). Other spells such as say... the Blue Element "Cureplus" are of higher levels. In this case... 3. Put it in a level one spot and it'll have a -2 in power. Some spells can't even be placed in lower elemental brackets.
Each character has up to seven elemental levels in the element table. The higher the level, the fewer the elements you can equip for it. Level 1 can equip as much as eight elements, for example, but once you get to level 7 (or level 8) you'll find you might only be able to put on one or two element spells.
This makes it seem as though Chrono Cross is more complex than it actually is. It also makes it seem like the game would be ridiculously easy, but the element system also adds in another twist. You can only cast each elemental spell in your table once per battle. This means in order to cast multiple "cure" spells, you'll have to equip multiple cure spells in order to do so. Characters also have special techniques like in Chrono Trigger, albeit fewer of them and less of them can be combined. These are about the only things which really separate the characters, though.
You also don't have access to a wide berth of spots on your element table initially either. In the late 90's and early 2000's Square was experimenting with customization and level ups. Final Fantasy VIII made you use the junction system and had enemies level up with you while Final Fantasy X was making you use a sphere grid to increase attributes. Chrono Cross uses what's called a "Growth Level." Each time after you defeat a boss your growth level increases and your stats go up. After wards you're stats continue to increase for a set number of battles until they stop. After that you need to defeat another boss and obtain another growth level. This sounds like a drag, but if anything it makes Chrono Cross a smooth ride. The game isn't too challenging in and of itself anyway. More than that, it means that you don't have to spend hours to grind. So while the only way to increase your stats is virtually to beat bosses (and then do a couple of battles after said boss) it doesn't hamper the game in anyway. Plus, if you don't like grinding all the time, it's rather nice.
This brings about something unique in Chrono Cross... the difficulty. You'd think with the growth level system at least, Chrono Cross would be a fairly challenging game. It's not. In fact it's one of the easiest games out there. If you've never played an RPG and want to get a feel for the genre, Chrono Cross is a good place to start because it's just THAT easy. And there are a lot of things that add to this. The first being that there's a 100% success rate of running away from battles. You can even run away from boss fights! You still have to fight the boss, but if things are going bad, you can easily run away, reorganize your elements or change your characters and then go back to the fight for another go around. Wouldn't it be nice if every RPG let you do this? Likewise, your elemental spells are... a bit too strong. Even with only being able to cast them once, all it takes is finding the right opposite and each battle will come off as really easy. Even some of Chrono Cross's more challenging moments are made easier by a system that only appears complex, but can be taken advantage of by even the most inexperienced RPG player.
Chrono Cross is also a fairly short game. This is no surprise seeing as how Chrono Trigger was roughly 12 hours on a normal play. The main story of Chrono Cross clocks in around 25 hours or so. Even for its time this is quite short. Even with adding in side-quests you're still not going to get a much longer run time through that first time around. Luckily it also puts in a New Game+ feature that allows you to play through the game a second time experiencing new things (albeit, a game that was already ridiculously easy is made ridiculously easier). This can extend the game and make it longer, especially because it will take three play throughs to acquire EVERY character. Also, like Chrono Trigger, you can go and fight the final boss at any time and get different endings. There's reason to play through Chrono Cross again, but after that first run and one New Game+ run you might not feel compelled for a third playthrough.
Graphically there was probably no game on the original Playstation that looked better than Chrono Cross. The character models are absolutely gorgeous and detailed. The art style is also very well done, with characters also having a portrait when they talk that also looks rather cool. The FMVs are done by Pixar animation studios and they're the most gorgeous of all. Better than the presentation is the game's soundtrack. The main battle theme urks the shit out of me, but the rest of the soundtrack is some of the best music you'll ever hear in a video game. The writing in some of the dialog isn't always as sharp. Mostly because so many characters talk with accents. It's not that they have accents it's mostly that the writing tries a little too hard to accompany them. There are times when the writing expresses a bit too much strength in the accents that it's difficult to read... and in some cases to tell what nationality they're supposed to be.
On the whole, however, Chrono Cross is easily one of the best looking Playstation games out there. The only major problem with the game is that it just won't resonate well with those who loved Chrono Trigger. There are specific references but you'll hardly see any characters return, revisit a lot of old places (there are two in particular you'll recognize, though) and while the story recounts what happened in Chrono Trigger, it can be a bit tough to spot all the connections. It's a sequel, but Chrono Trigger fans might do best not to think of it too strongly as such. It's hard to deny, however, that Chrono Cross is an expertly designed game. With such complexity to the gameplay and the story it's definitely worth a play through.
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Sequel to the RPG hit Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross expands on the excellent story-line of its predecessor and combines cutting edge graphics with a dynamic battle system making it one of the most highly anticipated RPG's of all time. Featuring a story line developed by the creator of Chrono Trigger and Xenogears, Chrono Cross has been christened the Best RPG Creation by its development team. With multiple scenarios cast along a single story thread, and many different endings, each replay can result in an entirely new adventure. In addition, a brand new battle system makes combat smooth and innovative by introducing an elemental field system and combo system that gives the player unparalleled flexibility in their fighting options. The elimination of random battles also quickens the pace of the game, and places the choice of where to battle in the players hands.