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Chrono Cross (PlayStation) artwork

Chrono Cross (PlayStation) review


"Although Chrono Trigger is commonly regarded as one of the best RPGs of all time, half of the game’s fans have never even bothered with its sequel, Chrono Cross. Nerds all over the Internet whine about how much it “sucks” and even go as far as making up lies; from claiming that it is not at all related to Trigger and the plot is meaningless. "



Although Chrono Trigger is commonly regarded as one of the best RPGs of all time, half of the game’s fans have never even bothered with its sequel, Chrono Cross. Nerds all over the Internet whine about how much it “sucks” and even go as far as making up lies; from claiming that it is not at all related to Trigger and the plot is meaningless.

Well the games aren’t exactly the same. In the matter of fact if you completely remove the storyline and all of the cutscenes nobody will ever guess that the two are related. Chrono Cross’ biggest strength is what is gets shat on for the most, the fact that it is a completely different game. The lead characters are different, the battle and experience systems are different, the world is different, and much more. But that doesn’t make it suck. Actually this new approach turned out to be better than Trigger!

MYTH #1: CHRONO CROSS HAS A TERRIBLE STORYLINE THAT BARELY MAKES ANY SENSE.


I was originally going to put “and doesn’t relate to Chrono Trigger” at the end, but I don’t feel like discussing that since it makes so many obvious references to the SNES classic that you have to be mentally retarded not to catch them. The game puts you in the role of Serge, a 17-year old boy who just woke up from a nightmare. Moments later his girlfriend asks him to find komodo scales so she can make a necklace. Suddenly Serge is transported into a world where he has been dead for ten years. His journey to find out what exactly happened eventually becomes much more complicated than this, involving fate and tying perfectly into Chrono Trigger.

But unlike most RPGs this is a great plot. People complain that it doesn’t make a lot of sense and isn’t involving, and although the latter is true it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. First of all Serge goes from being your everyday teenager to someone who doesn’t exist anymore, so initially he’s not supposed to know what the hell is going on. Secondly the plot was created so that Trigger vets could figure out what’s happening as the game progresses. So instead of figuring out that Crono is Serge’s brother halfway through the game (don’t worry, that isn’t true), the game won’t hold your hand and will make you put the pieces of the puzzle together by yourself. Unless your IQ is super low this is much more enjoyable than watching the game unfold everything right in front of you.

Even if you haven’t already played Chrono Trigger this is still a highly accessible game. Since the characters and settings are different you can forget about all of the Trigger related bullshit and focus solely on finding out what’s the deal with Serge being dead or not. Either way you win.

MYTH #2: THE BATTLE AND EXPERIECE SYSTEMS ARE AWFUL!


This is probably the part that is smacked the hardest. It is considered to be slow and lack any sort of tactics, but the exact opposite is true. Chrono Cross scraps the boring ATB system that’s present in far too many games and replaces it with the awesome stamina and elemental systems. Every character is given seven stamina points and the option of three attacks with different stamina costs. The weakest attack (coincidentally called “weak”) almost always hits and only costs one stamina point, but using a stronger attack doesn’t always guarantee a hit and costs more. This is where strategy comes in; obviously it’s easier to pull off seven consecutive weak attacks, but your character will most likely be interrupted multiple times by enemy attacks. Then there’s the element system, which allows you to allocate whatever elements (AKA spells) to whoever you want. Successful attacks open up different areas on each character’s element grid, allowing them to use different spells. Thanks to this system battles are always strategic, which makes bringing the right elements very important. Luckily battles never drag on for long and are always fun and intense.

Lets say for a moment you’re in a battle, getting your ass handed to you and don’t feel like dying or resetting, which will cause you to lose a lot of your progress. That would suck, right? Fortunately this is never a problem, because you’re allowed to run away from ANY battle in the game, even the final boss! This might sound absurd at first, but in reality it works wonderfully. Although bosses will force you to fight them again seconds later (if no action is done), you still have plenty of time to pull up the menu, heal/reallocate elements, and then battle again. This also saves a lot of time and can be a very useful asset and definitely beats dying and resetting.

Probably the best aspect of the game would have to be the unique experience system. The reason I don’t play too many RPGs is because I HATE spending HOURS fighting battle after battle in order to level up. Well Chrono Cross basically says “fuck that” and eliminates any sort of experience. After major battles, such as bosses, you will receive a star and your whole party’s stats will increase. This way you’re always at the right level and you NEVER have to worry about leveling up. Don’t listen to those who say it ruins the tradition of RPGs, because if you enjoy spending hours accomplishing nothing you shouldn’t be playing awesome games such as Chrono Cross in the first place.

MYTH #3: THERE ARE 44 CHARACTERS AND ONLY THREE DEVELOP. THAT’S ABSURD!


This statement is actually true. There are forty-four characters and very few of them develop. But I don’t understand why people make such a big fuss about this. If you think the number of characters is a problem there’s a simple solution – don’t use them! There are clearly one or two characters of each element type that are significantly better than the rest, so why don’t you just stick with them and ignore the others? I agree that ľ of the characters should be left out, but since it’s so easy to ignore them I don’t see this as much of a problem.

There’s also the New Game+ feature that allows you replay the game so you can view the other possible endings and get every character. Haters whine that the game lacks replay value since this mode is pointless because you’re already playing through the same game with all of your levels and most items, eliminating any challenge. I do agree with that, but the game is still at least thirty hours long, plus there isn’t any leveling up, which means that there’s more game than your average 30-hour RPG.

MYTH #4: THE MUSIC SUCKS!


This is partially true. Chrono Cross features one of the best, if not the best soundtrack in an RPG. But similar to almost every soundtrack one or two songs suck, and the two not-so-good songs are the most common ones in the game. One is the battle theme, which is absolutely painful to listen to. The other is one of three or four world map songs. It definitely isn’t horrible, but it’s certainly not a pleasure to listen to.

Thankfully the rest is just great. I normally hate video game music and usually mute the television and crank up my own music, but this time I actually listened to most of the songs and enjoyed them. I even tried to learn one of them on the guitar at a point and downloaded the soundtrack. Now that’s saying a lot!

MYTH #5: CHRONO CROSS IS THE MOST OVERRATED RPG OF ALL TIME.


Chrono Cross certainly has quite a few noticeable flaws. Every other character joining your team at some point will probably annoy many gamers (even if it isn’t that big of a problem), as well as the horrible battle theme and think for yourself storyline. Some Trigger fans might also be disappointed at the fact that the gameplay is completely revamped and the main characters aren’t the same. But you have to look at what it does right, which is possibly more than any RPG ever. It basically takes away any annoyance and delivers a fun, highly accessible, and deep adventure. For some reason you might join with the haters and bitch that the aforementioned problems makes the game “Chrono Crap”, but if you appreciate it for what it is you’ll have a blast.

Rating: 9/10

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Featured community review by Halon (February 11, 2006)

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