Chrono Cross Review
Let's go back into the past, to the days when 16-Bit consoles ruled the video gaming industry. The Super Nintendo and Genesis were both known for a thing each. Genesis or all Sega consoles for that matter have been known to be systems with the best sports games. While Super Nintendo (and just that system itself) was known for its RPGs such as Final Fantasy 1-6, Lufia 1-2 and Chrono Trigger. Arguably the best RPG on the SNES, if not the best RPG ever, Chrono Trigger was a compelling game with an excellent story, a soundtrack that was never forgotten, and graphics that pushed the SNES beyond its limits. The game was delivered by SquareSoft, who is without a doubt the greatest publisher/developer ever. After the SNES' short death, and the PS' incredibly fast rise, Square continued to work on their success by releasing three Final Fantasy titles (including Anthology), Ehrgeiz, and Saga Frontier 1 and 2. Missing from all of that was a sequel to Chrono Trigger, hardcore gamers such as me wanted to know about a sequel to CT, has Square been caught up in all of this FF hype or are they planning something behind our backs?
After months and months of demand for a sequel, Square finally hinted to us that a new RPG that goes way back to the SNES, is in development for a sequel. Without a shadow of a doubt, gamers knew that this mystery title was a sequel to Chrono Trigger. Awhile later, Square revealed their project and indeed it was the sequel to the most acclaimed RPG ever, this title was called Chrono Cross. Square has said that this is a true sequel to Chrono Trigger, but it featured all new characters, uhh Square that is not a true sequel, they call those spin offs. But just when I though of that, Square announced that they will re-release Chrono Trigger for the PS. Purchasing this newly revised version, which is complete with brand new CGs and a new ending, will connect the two games together. Square says that Chrono Trigger's new ending will link CT and CC. Chrono Cross will be highly hyped when it is announced here in the US, the sequel to what is considered to be the greatest game ever doesn't need much hype, because the name "Chrono" and SquareSoft says it all. Chrono Cross is now available in Japan, read our import review and see if Chrono Cross inherits the RPG crown.
This game is stunning, I knew square would push the PS even more than FF8, and it shows. These are without a doubt the visuals the PS has seen. I though nothing could look as good as Final Fantasy VIII, but I was dead wrong. It seems as if Square has not only mastered the art of developing for the PS, but they keep on re-mastering that ability, by pushing the system further and further. When the game starts, it picks up with this beautiful CG that nearly makes me cry. The data compression is far superior to any other game out there, yes FF8 and RE3 included. That may not be a deep subject, but with a Square game it always is. Like all of Square's brilliant masterpieces, the backgrounds are pre-rendered, although the concept may seem old by now, it still finds its way into more and more games. Character detail is slightly better than Final Fantasy 7 or 8, but at the same time a hairs width below the two games. When the characters are on screen and not battling, they are definitely better than FF7's and are slightly better than FF8's. FF7's characters were super deformed, and had blocky bodies, FF8 had regular sized characters, but they were slightly rough around the edges. Chrono Cross has much better looking characters, but (there is always a "but") when they are fighting, they barely look worse. The only thing that keeps the characters looking better overall, is their polish, they all move fluidly and look great, but they seem a little jaggy on the outline.
Backgrounds though pre-rendered are as bright and lush as ever. Vibrant colors surround you everywhere in Chrono Cross as you wonder around a beautiful areas in the game. Many environments such as caves, are well lit and bring a more realistic look to the already rich visuals. Square has did a near perfect job with everything, like I said the only thing that holds them down is the somewhat jaggy characters.
Although I can't understand a single word of the text, I am judging the gameplay by the story that I know and the gameplay overall. First off, just to for the record, this "is" the best game ever. It beats all FF games, and any other game that you could name. Square has went beyond Final Fantasy or any other game, they have reached to what may be the PS' full potential. But don't think that it will end, they are doing the same with Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy 9. Anyway, onto the gameplay segment. Chrono Cross opens up with a CG and then lets the game pick up where the game's main characters are supposed to deactivate a crystal looking object, and then teleport out of the game. Shortly Serge will wake up in a brightly lit room. Then it is up to you to control him. Not only do you control one character, but you can actually have up to 45 characters join your party, three of whom fight. For those who want to see more of Trigger in Cross will be happy to know that CC takes place in the same area the CT did, you may even come across a few familiar areas, what more is that it has been said that a few cameos will make an appearance throughout your journey, by all time favorites from the first title.
The battle system is different than any other Square RPG out there. More like Xenogears than Final Fantasy, CC has a combo system which works by percentage. When you choose Attack, you have a few choices of percentage hits. Picking the higher numbers will result with a lower hit. Picking something like 100% will take far less HP than 61%, but the hit ration will be higher for 100%. Elements are also here, just like any other RPG, Chrono Cross also has magical powers that you can use. Restoring HP and Attacking with your element will cause the Magic level to decrease. You can raise it by connecting a string of your hits, when it is your turn to attack. What really kick ass, is that unlike any other RPG, and I do mean "any other" RPG, you can actually run away from any boss fight or any regualr fight. Yep, thats right, if you're low on life you can revive yourself and re-start the fight. What's unique about Chrono Cross, is that you don't get level ups. Instead your, HP, and Magic Level will go up every few battles. HP is the most common aspect of a character that grows most often. There is much more to be said about Chrono Cross, but I haven't been able to to get very far in the game, with the language and all. But what needs to be said is that, Chrono Cross really is the greatest game ever. SquareSoft has kept their promise, and they will definitely fulfill all of wishes when Chrono Cross is released stateside later this year around October.
The games creators who are also known as the "Dream team" have returned. Yuji Horii who is known for creating Dragon Quest, then we have Hironobu Sakaguchi who is known for his work in Final Fantasy games, Akira Toriyami is Chrono Cross' artist and Nobuo Uematsu is behind the awesome soundtrack. Which brings me to the sound, like Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy titles, Chrono Cross has an excellent soundtrack. Memorable tunes make this the best RPG soundtrack ever. Chrono Cross has not only showed me that it is the greatest game thus far, but I got more than what I expected out of it.
The control makes full use of the analog and Dual Shock. During CGs, FMVs, call them whatever you want, the controller will shake as either an explosion or another big event is occurring within the game. Holding down R3 and using the left analog stick will make your characters run, alternatively you can also use X and R1. The Right Stick doesn't have much use, the only thing that it could be used for is just for turning around while your character is in one place. Nothing complicated here about the controls, if you've played RPG before and who hasn't, then Chrono Cross will be easy to pick up.
After all this big hype in Japan, this is by far the most hype worthy title "ever". Square has released a product which is mush better than any Final Fantasy title, or any other RPG for that matter. Chrono Cross is a most memorable experience, this is not only RPG bliss, but video gaming bliss as well. Chrono Cross is expected to be released this Fall 2000 in the US.