chrono cross had things going for it like some interesting plotlines, great music and slick graphics for the time, but otherwise the battle system was annoying and the plot was a gigantic mess.
Yawn... The plot was not in your face like Chrono Trigger, it was more symbolic and had actual meaning.
Everything about Chrono Chross was better than its predecessor aside from maybe load times.
that's the problem, though. It tries so hard to be deep it becomes ridiculous. The plot is overly convoluted and all over the place with not much of a goal in mind.
and remember how in chrono trigger, there were a good five additional characters that, if a bit cliche, were all well developed, had purposes to go after Lavos, and were incredibly memorial?
well, in cc, there's a gigantic wave of random characters who, beside Kid, Serge, some other people, do almost nothing in regards to the plot, and many of them have by far some of the most dumbest character designs i've ever seen in any rpg (lol @ the alien and purple dog thing).
Translation: I couldn't follow it, so it must be bad.
Chrono Trigger is probably my 3rd favorite game, but definitely in my top 5. Tales of the Abyss is a very good game, I'm only about 1/3 of the way through the game and I have 15 hours in it. Haven't played Skies fo Arcadia yet, but from the sound of it I think Imma have to snag a copy off ebay.
Storywise out of the 2 I played I enjoyed Chrono Trigger more. I finished the game like 4 times already. The battle system is the standard turn-base system, but you get double and triple techs which are pretty unique. The main character pretty much adds nothing to the story except one part of the game. Tales on the other hand is all about the main character so far. The battle system of Tales is better IMO but can be complicated at first.
All in all I would say play all 3 of them, but play Chrono Trigger first as it's probably a shorter game than the other 2.