Chrono Cross - Review

This Is What I Call 'Culture Shock'


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 10
   Originality 7
   Plot 7
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

<1-50 hours


Title Screen

   The long-awaited sequel to Chrono Trigger brought SquareSoft's 'Summer of Adventure' to a close; and what an ending it had. I'm very glad that I waited until it had been awhile since I beat the game to review it. It was SO awesome when I first picked up the controller (and had my first stint of a solid 48 hours of playing a game) I would have simply made every score a '10' and that would have been that. As I have reflected on this megalomonster of an RPG, I have come to realize that sometimes a story is better off, left alone...

   One of the only things that impress me about the game, in retrospect, is the battle system. It was sorta hard to get used to it in the beginning because I'd never seen anything like it. If you can imagine a mishmash of the Xenogears system, Final Fantasy VIII, and Chrono Trigger, you'd have something close to this. The things that it adopted from each game might seem to be the worst of them all but - when they're together - it's not so bad.

   As in Xenogears (or at least similarly), you have a stamina guage that determines what actions you can undertake in a turn. Ranging from -6 to 7, it can force you to use weaker versions of your basic attack, set you back so far by casting magic that the sun will rise before you do, or let you perform a pretty large number of average skills.
From Chrono Trigger (albeit much less prominently) you have the battle initiation rules - having to specifically run into an enemy on the map to fight it - and the Tech skills that combine several character's attacks into a massive can o' whup-@$$.
And lastly, you have the unsightly mess of having to 'collect' magic (much like the drawing system of FFVIII) and 'junction' it to your characters. The only thing that makes this not the most terrible of all things that could have happened is that you can purchase magic in shops and auto-junction it later (although this is done VERY randomly by the PSX).

I Wonder If This Forest Has Water Moccasins?
I Wonder If This Forest Has Water Moccasins? 

   To top off the already difficult task of junctioning magic/elements to your characters, the system that Square devised as your system menu is next in awfulness only to Legend of Mana. Taking the time to equip and unequip, or junction and rejunction elements to your characters in an actually useful manner can be dreadfully mindless; especially if you're in the groove of switching characters to suit the next major battle (based on the FAQ/Guide and the character's elemental property).

   As soon as I played this game (the very day it came out, in fact) I went online to GMO and bought the soundtrack. Quite literally speaking, CC has music in its' soundtrack. You could broadcast parts of it on a classical music radio station and not have anyone notice. The sheer amount of redbooking that it took to design even the intro movies' score is mind boggling. I can't describe in words how utterly awesome this soundtrack is. Yasunori Mitsuda = kewlies and such. The sound effects are extremely well done and get their point across very quickly. Like the sound that Dario's Gash N' Slash attack makes as your character is instantly slain... Not necessarily the most pleasant example, but it makes my point.

   The plot itself is well done enough, and is highly original unless you consider one thing. Taking it on its' base level, it is virtually identical to Chrono Trigger. Not only that but a good number of other things in the game were adopted from somewhere that it had already been done. The battle system is a good example of this.

   Theoretically based 20 years after the events of Chrono Trigger, CC revolves around the movements of Serge - the silent protagonist - as he is absorbed into a parallel dimension where he has been dead for a good number of years. Coincidentally (or not...), that date exactly reflects a time that he was saved from drowning in his own world. Combine this mystery with the spunky and vicious good-looks of the heroine, Kidd, and you've got a constant struggle to really realize what has happened.

What'd I Tell Ya? A Snake House!
What'd I Tell Ya? A Snake House! 

   In this game, translation is everything. Almost every character has some sort of accent or vocal inflection that tampers with the text of their dialogue. This game must've required hundreds of hours in the translation department. Every character has something to say to every other character and NPC, in every situation that the game presents, based entirely on their own personality and experience. I must bow in humble unworthiness.

   Unlike Chrono Trigger, CC really has no excess value of replay, regardless of the fact that the New Game + option carried over to this game, too. There is simply no reason to see anything beyond the general scope of the game because it is so unjustly small that you might not notice it existed even were you looking for it. Unlike CT's New Game + which carried over everything you had to the beginning, this only brings equipment. No collected magic/elements and no characters (unless you're sneaky enough to figure out how to import them later on). You start out a NG+ with only higher HP and Stars, and a few extra weapons. The only other reason to play the game would be to see the various endings (which I've not done).

   I must've watched the demo of Chrono Cross that came with Vagrant Story fifty times. The FMV is beautifully rendered as are the other game graphics. All-in-all, I'd rank the game beside FFIX in the scope presented by its' graphics. They are constantly evolving into some new thing of beauty and grandeur; few games can pull of the cinematic storytelling that CC does.

A Giant Serpent!.. In Disguise!
A Giant Serpent!.. In Disguise! 

   Chrono Cross is so simple and in the 'norm' of RPGs that it can't help but be easy. Very few (if any) of the battles are major enough to require much strategy. Anything that can kill you is being fought the wrong way. And - to add to the already drearily simplistic system - you can run with 100% accuracy from any battle at any time, regroup and heal, and start over again. Reminds me of the auto-resurrect function built into Legend of Mana. The game is so easy that you'll be done before you know it and the good old days of FFVII and the game packing the disc beyound your wildest dreams might be gone with it.

   In much the same manner as Chrono Trigger, CC's game time is directly effected by your choice in battling enemies and whether or not you're playing a New Game +. Obviously if you flee every battle you'll speed yourself up just as, if you were to run toward every creature on the map, you'd be up to your armpits in the the digits on the clock. Just use your best judgement and you'll persevere.

   Although not as epic and fantastic as its' predecessor, Chrono Cross holds an eerie charm all its' own. I can still remember the teary moments in the orphanage and the epic moments with the villain... But we get over the awe eventually and then the candy coating turns out only to be dye afterall...

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