Chrono Cross Review
Back in 1995 Super Nintendo was the Playstation of game consoles. The system had support from almost every big name publisher, including RPG king SquareSoft. With Square came many good things for Nintendo and obviously the biggest being the immensely popular Final Fantasy series. While the whole world was dramatized by FF's rich gameplay, refreshing story and great soundtrack, people weren't expecting anything new from SquareSoft, until one day a new RPG was revealed. Chrono Trigger was this new RPG game and fans were amazed of it. Square had been teasing gamers all around the world with Chrono Trigger screens, new information which in a nut shell can be summarized in one word "hype". Chrono Trigger was never as hyped as any of the Final Fantasy games were, but there was still some hype surrounding this great RPG. The day finally came when Chrono Trigger was finally released to the American gaming audience and guess what? Chrono Trigger became one of the greatest RPG games ever created. Starring a young boy named Crono (no 'H'), Chrono Trigger was quickly hailed as Super NES' greatest videogame, and still by some the greatest videogame period. After the chic transition to Playstation, Square transferred their world-renown FF series with the seventh sequel and following that an eighth sequel. Square not only did FF games, but they also introduced a very lively fighting game Erhgeiz, which starred Final Fantasy characters as well as never before seen fighters. Ergheiz could be summed up as another Tobal game.
Square also introduced Brave Fencer Musashi, which was released in Fall of 98. This was an action/RPG that starred a brave little boy, Musashi. Along with that came Saga Frontier and yet another one. All of these great games are showing up, but where is the icing on the cake? The one game that lifted SquareSoft even higher to where they are today. Where is a sequel to Chrono Trigger? Ever since the summer of 1998, there have been rumblings on a sequel to Chrono Trigger, and when asked Square either said "no comment" or just plain "no". Regardless of what Square said, the rumors kept on flowing non-stop, fans were really getting ecstatic about this sequel, but once again Square denied the rumors. Until (if my memory serves me right), late 1998, early '99, Square said that a sequel to Chrono Trigger is in the works. All rejoice! Square has come out and said, they have confirmed rumors, and announced that a sequel to Chrono Trigger would be later released exclusively for the Playstation. This sequel was later granted the name Chrono Cross, this was were the anticipation began, a grueling one and a half year wait, for what may very well be the greatest videogame ever created. That time has passed now, and Chrono Cross has finally arrived to the US, see if the wait was well worth it, or did Chrono Cross fall flat on its face.
Square never seizes to amaze me when their amazing skills and what they do to hone them even more. They are undoubtly the only company to push the Playstation's limits this far. It was arguably the first company to push the PS's limits with FF7 and their legacy continues with Chrono Cross. Utilizing the more realistic feel, Square has boldly decided to use pre-rendered backgrounds in Chrono Cross as well. Just like FFVII, FFVIII and FFIX, Chrono Cross uses pre-rendered backgrounds which look just as good as those found in Final Fantasy titles. The environments are richly detailed and the pre-renders suit the landscapes perfectly. To accompany the landscapes, SquareSoft has managed to create characters that look incredibly well designed especially in battles. But as you can tell I gave the graphics score a 9.8 only because of the character details one fault.
When looking at your character still you can't help but notice the flickering which causes the characters body to very slightly jerk around, this effect isn't noticeable when moving and only noticeable when you are standing still and close to the camera. The character detail overall is exceptional, characters are all inspiringly designed and are some of best-dressed characters I have seen in ages. Serge for instance is styling a pretty neat red bandana, with a cool looking vest, brown gloves and nice looking blue pants. I may sound like a loon, for describing a characters clothing, but compared to Square's other games, particularly Final Fantasy VII & VIII, the characters in Chrono Cross have much better style. FF7 and 8 characters are very uni-colored characters, Cloud (FF7) was dressed in mostly blue, Barret was dressed in mostly brown, Selphie (FF8) was all orange, Rinoa was all blue, and the list goes on and on. Sad to say but the characters in those two games were dressed pretty boring, that my friend isn't the case with Chrono Cross. We have a portion of the character detail out of the way, what else do we have left? Well, the overall quality in which the models are designed is great, the bodies are well smoothed out and have connected joints and there is no visible polygon clipping.
In-game battle arenas are full of detail and have detail better than Square's past games. The backgrounds in the battles are real-time but look just as good as pre-renders. With that in mind, Square also managed to improve the character details during battles over their FF games. Serge and co. are fluidly detailed with much attention to detail paid to every on-screen fighter. The CGs stored in Chrono Cross are wonderfully compressed with Final Fantasy quality overflowing all over them. The computer-animated sequences are incredibly lush, with many vibrant colors displayed on the screen to really impress the viewer. The world map is another very nicely tuned aspect of Chrono Cross, it also portraits many vibrant colors, and get the gamer ready for what kind of atmosphere awaits in a certain place. What I forgot to mention is that not only do the in-game battles have great scenario detail, but in some spots of the world they also have great looking lighting source when the sun beams on the camera, it really looks nice.
Square is known for a variety of things, and pushing visuals is probably what they are second most known for. With visuals comes, special effects and Square has never let us down in the category before. Unlike FF7 and FF8 the special effects in Chrono Cross are livelier, colorful, and best of are eye-candy galore. When using an Element, the game will show you a great looking special effect, and there are some that are completely eye-candy. On a final note I want to leave by commenting Chrono Cross on its influentially designed weaponry, some characters such as Serge have very nice looking weapons, while others like Kid (yes that is her real name) has just a knife. Having said all of that Chrono Cross can easily go down as one of the best looking RPGs to date, but we all know that the first place position belongs to Final Fantasy IX.
There is no doubt about it that Chrono Trigger featured what may be said as the greatest RPG tale ever told. The game's great plot made it what it is today and that is why we the fans will never forget it. Fortunately the same can be said about the sequel Chrono Cross. Chrono Cross takes the Trigger formula and evaluates on it to the fullest extent. For starters with Chrono Cross, random battles are a thing of the past, that's right folks, no more random battles! Instead of not knowing when the next time you may encounter an enemy, the enemy is displayed on the screen for you to decide on whether or not you want to fight him or not. And make note of this my fellow readers; the enemies do not approach you, like I said just right now, you decide on the battle. While we are on the topic of battling let me state the fact that in Chrono Cross it is possible to run away from any battle that you choose, that is including boss battles, and the percentage of escape is 100%. But remember after escaping you have to eventually go back in, after you do your thing, this is great news for those who may have been down on energy and were not expecting a boss battle. That out of the way, lets talk about the combat system and how it works.
To my surprise I found the combat system to be quite easy to manipulate, and is quite an innovative if not reminiscent combat system. The fighting in Chrono Cross reminded me slightly of the combo styled fighting in Xenogears, where gamers have to select a variety of hits for a character to do. That is the case with Chrono Cross but in a different fashion, the attacks are combo based but they are done by selecting a certain number in percentage. For example: it is Serge's turn to attack the enemy, you open the attack menu and out comes, three percentage numbers. Make believe that they are 99%, 89% and 69%, here is the breakdown, selecting 99% will grant you a 99% rate in which Serge will make contact with the enemy, but the higher the percentage the lower the attack damage is, so there is some risking involved but is very simple. The combo factor comes in where a character has to use up his stamina so that he can't pull off any more moves, you would usually have about 4-5 moves to do, and remember picking all the higher numbers will result in a weaker finale, but a mix of both will take away a fair amount of damage. Instead of having things like Summons, Materia or worst of all Junctioning, Chrono Cross has a more user-friendly systems that uses Elements. Elements can either be bought or picked up from defeated enemies. The list of Elements includes, cures, antidotes, fire spells, ice spells, wind spells, earth spells, party boosters, and spells that will change your Innate property color. What's that you ask? Your Innate color is your elemental color, so if you have the color White as your elemental color that means you are susceptible to black, which is the opposite of white.
There are Elements that can change your color to green, black, blue etc., but only for a battle. Elements are key to winning battles easily, especially those that are Tech Skills. Tech Skill Elements are spells that only one character can do and nobody else, you can call it a limit break, since only one character can pull it off. These Tech Skills are also the most powerful attacks. Elements are also equipped manually not learned automatically. Straying completely away from the everyday RPG, Chrono Cross has no experience (EXP) needed to be gained. So after battles you will usually just get at least HP+1, and after a number of battles your whole party will gain a new level and advance by improving in many statistics such as, defense, magic, evade etc. After battles you are also presented with an option that asks you heal your party using some of your Elements. Chrono Cross isn't just an ordinary RPG game, this game is based on everything you do throughout your journey, and the decisions you make will be the milestones that decide which of the ten endings you will see. Yep, you read that correctly folks, ten different endings all depending on what decisions you make. Upgrading your weapons is more like Final Fantasy VIII where you have to "forge" various parts to create a weapon, but Chrono Cross doesn't require you to go on a scavenger hunt, the items can be normally found by defeating enemies. The same goes for creating armor and accessories, you have to have the right items. Shops will do you the honor of assembling and disassembling your weapons, armor and accessories, as well as sell you Elements.
You may have known this by now, but Chrono Cross also features a whopping 40 playable characters which can be thrown into your party at anytime using a device (Tele-Porter) that is handed to you around three hours or so in the game. The game's translation was done flawlessly, all the dialogue is easy to read and doesn't leave you hanging. Speaking of dialogue, I want to mention that each playable and key character has his/her unique accent in the text. Judging by what I have read, I can safely presume that Kid is an Australian girl because of her aussie accent, which includes words like, "bloody hell", "eh?", and the famous "mates". There are many accents such as a French accent and even an English accent. SquareSoft has made each character feel so life-like that it is a bit eerie though an awesome aspect.
(POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD)
The Story in Chrono Cross takes 20 years after Chrono Trigger's events. The game picks up with Serge, Kid, and Nikki in an area of ruins, their goal is to escape by finding the elevator. The gang finds the elevator and they are transported out of the ruins and on top of the top elevator pad. They take a look at the scenario while Serge walks up to the giant door in front of him and then collapses. Serge wakes up at his home, in his hometown Arni Village, he springs out of bed and then his mother tells him that his friend Leena is waiting for him at the dock. Serge heads of to the dock to meet Leena and she tells him to get her three Komodo Scales for her necklace, Serge agrees, and Leena tells him that she will meet him at the beach once he's done with his journey. After collecting all three scales Serge heads off the beach to meet her, but she is a step behind Serge and shows up late by a second. The two characters converse a bit suddenly when, Serge hears a voice, (this part is a CG) he gets up to examine it, and then he notices a giant wave riding on the shore, all of a sudden he uses some magic the wave calms down and once again Serge collapses.
He is found on the very same beach by a man who wakes him up, Serge gets up and makes his way back into Arni Village to find Leena. Serge enters the village and is greeted as a newbie visitor, what is going on here, why has everybody forgotten Serge, he was the most recognizable person in his town and now no one knows him. Checking back his home and asking for his mother Marge gets him nowhere either, so he decides to head off to the dock and find Leena, but to his surprise she thinks he is a visitor as well. After that Leena reveals a shocking revelation about a boy named Serge and his past. I'll let the rest be for you to find out, so you'd better buy the game if you want to know more, because you will want to.
In many locations, pre-ordering Chrono Cross would have scored you a pretty cool five track bonus music CD which features some pretty cool songs and is worth purchasing all alone. The soundtrack in Chrono Cross is without a doubt an equal to Final Fantasy IX's, both titles have exuberantly well composed music that set the mood of each environment with perfection. The songs aren't very repetitive and are pretty hard to get out of your brain. Overall I really love the soundtrack it could very well end up being the best soundtrack ever composed.
The control is the very same layout as Final Fantasy VIII's but it is customizable to suit your needs. Your default controls are X to confirm, O to cancel, Triangle to open menu and Square is to open the key items window at any time in the game. The game also lets you toggle between holding a button so your characters would run, or holding a button so your characters would walk. The control is really a piece of cake here, nothing to worry about.
Well, there you have it, an in-depth review of the most anticipated sequels in the history of videogaming. Every single videogamer MUST have Chrono Cross in your collection, I don't care if you are a sports fan and olnly pla sports games, I command you to buy Chrono Cross if you know what's good for your Playstation. Chrono Cross features polygon crunching visuals, the perfect gameplay, perfect soundtrack, and perfect replay value for an experience that can only be classified, perfect. Chrono Cross is truly a game with much heart and is a game of epic proportions, don't miss out on what has to be the best game of 2000. Chrono Cross is a game that will continue the Trigger heritage by being remembered as one of the greatest RPG tales ever told, long after the PS2.