Best Battle System
Chrono Cross Best Battle System

The truth behind any RPG battle system is somewhat of a paradox. While a title's combat design is often a key aspect in classifying it as an RPG, more often than not it is this same system which ends up as the low point of the game. RPG fans have been grumbling about random fights since the early days of the genre, and even the most innovative battle systems tend to become repetitive and tedious after extensive gameplay. Yet, every RPGamer has undoubtedly experienced that glorious magical moment in which the battle instantly rises above any flaws of its system. Your foe is pummeling you with spells as you scramble to heal dying characters and get in some attacks of your own. But most of your party is lying motionless on the floor, and healing items are running scarce. As you drop to critical status, you stare at your meager remaining hit points, taking a deep breath, and hit the attack button. Your character leaps forward, striking a critical hit, and your foe crumples to the ground, defeated.

RPG fans who have experienced the rush of these nerve-wracking battles knows the thrill of a narrow victory. Chrono Cross successfully brought gamers a battle system of such sheer genius and ingenuity that these battles become almost common in the course of the game, and yet retained their energy and excitement.

In the typical Square fashion of perpetual reinvention, Chrono Cross did away with such battle elements as Magic Points, ATB meters and even experience. Battle tactics became largely customizable, as players were able to place elemental spells on their personalized magic grid. And by linking a character's magic level directly to their successful attacks, a bit of strategy was required in order to reach a certain spell's magic requirement without running out of stamina. The utilization of opposing elemental forces, a constantly shifting magic field, individual character techniques and varied attack intensities to choose between all furthered this strategic manner, and yet the entire process was kept simple enough for inexperienced gamers to quickly pick up.

Adding to all this, Chrono Cross also introduced a leveling system which prevented characters from getting too strong too fast, eliminating a major stumbling block of previous RPGs. Gamers were no longer able to level up for hours, tearing through every battle with godlike strength. Instead, only a certain level could be achieved at each point in the game, effectively allowing the developers to regulate both character and enemy statistics. For the first time, battles could actually be planned to contain the aforementioned intensity. As well, to balance out this system, players were allowed the ability to escape from any battle in the game, have characters heal themselves automatically after encounters, and to avoid fighting entirely by dodging enemies in the field, eliminating the need for random battles.

All these factors kept the battles in Chrono Cross fresh and intense. By combining melee and magic with extensive customization and strategy, players were given a system which transformed battles into an art form. Chrono Cross has certainly earned RPGamer's award for Best Battle System of 2000.

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