Review by Super Slash
"An excellent game that any RPG fan shouldn't miss out on."
Chrono Cross is, simply put, a game you will either love or deeply hate. It is the sequel to one of the most popular RPGs, even today, Chrono Trigger. However, at least half of the people who have played this game hate it, and do so mostly because it is absolutely nothing like Chrono Trigger, and at first, the story seems like it has almost nothing to do with it. The game's plot really picks up as you go along though, and you'll see many CT references and such. To prevent spoilers, I won't mention anything further, but I will say that it's easy to see how this is Chrono Trigger's sequel, as you will find out when you play the game. The story starts off with a boy named Serge, in a dream he's having. He wakes up after a scary experience in the dream, and is then told by Leena, his childhood friend, to gather three Komodo Scales for her. After doing so, something strange happens, as he is warped to the same location in another dimension. He must now find out why everyone reacts differently towards him, why nobody knows him, and find out the cause of it all. As far as the battle system goes, it's quite simple. Each character has three types of attacks: weak, strong, and fierce, and each one has a better or worse chance of hitting. Weak, obviously, has the best chance of hitting, while fierce has the lowest. You can tell how much of a chance each attack has to hit by looking at the percentage to the right of each one. As you land more attacks, the percentages rise. For example, if you attacked with a weak attack, then a strong one, you'd have about an 80% chance of landing a fierce one. However, you can't just spam attacks; you need Stamina. Your stamina is indicated by the blue bar below your character's health. Each character starts the battle with 7, and each type of attack drains it. Once your character's stamina is depleted, that person's turn ends. Depending on the speed of the foe(s), your character's attacks may be interrupted, causing you to potentially screw up your attack combo. With each attack that lands, your Element Level rises. Elements are basically your spells (and techs) in the game. There are six types: water, fire, grass, lightning, shadow, and a white one, which I guess you could call holy.
In order to use elements, you must first set them to a character's Element Grid. There are 8 element levels in total, and you'll get more slots and element levels as you progress through the story and level up. You can't just set whatever elements you want to whatever element level you want, however; if you do so, they might be weaker than normal. For example, if you were to set a Level 5 element to a Level 1 slot, there would be a "-4" next to the element name. This means that the element will be considerably weaker when used. In order to use elements in the most effective way, you should set them to their proper levels. Of course, the opposite also applies; if you set a Level 5 element to a Level 8 slot, it will have a "+3" next to it. This can be really useful for certain ones like Strengthen and Eagle Eye. Not only are there normal elements, but there are also techs, which are pretty much just like the ones in Chrono Trigger. Dual and triple techs still remain, but in fewer number than CT's. In fact, there's such a small amount that there's a good chance you'll never use one on your first playthrough. Not only that, but you'll also obtain a few summoning elements throughout the game. However, only a character of the same innate as the element's attribute can equip it. An innate is basically the element type of a character. Finally, there's the Field Effect, which is affected by the use of elements. In the top-left corner of the screen, you'll see it. When it's completely filled with any one color, that element type's damage will be increased. However, it's really not necessary at all to put the Field Effect to use.
Another thing a lot of people dislike about the game is the overwhelming cast of playable characters. There are 44 in total, and most of them don't get any real character development. With so many characters, though, you can't blame Square at all for not giving a majority of them development, and it's not like it's needed for every single one. The ones that *do* need development get it, and they get it well. A good example is Serge, or even Kid. They both play a large role in the story. The story is filled with many twists and turns, and ties with Chrono Trigger well. Some of the things you may not understand on your first playthrough, and there are some things you may never understand at all, but the fun of that is finding out what things mean. =P The game also has a superb soundtrack, arguably just as good as CT's. Yasunori Mitsuda doesn't disappoint once again; even if you don't like the game, you may very well respect the soundtrack that Yasunori Mitsuda has composed. This game isn't too much harder than Chrono Trigger, but on a first playthrough, there are quite a few bosses that could give you a run for your money. Generally, though, the difficulty in this game isn't overwhelming. In this game, your characters don't really "level up". Instead, they get stars, which is essentially the same thing, but you only get them from bosses (and not every boss gives you one). When you first obtain a star, every character in your party that is alive gets their stats increased, then you can fight a few battles with any kind of enemies and get some health increases.
For the last set of bonuses you get for level-up stars, usually your actual stats will be upgraded, and not your HP. It may not seem like much, but by the end of the game, you'll have over 40 level-up stars on your first playthrough, meaning that all of the possible stat bonuses will *really* add up. After beating the game once, you can use the clear file to start a New Game + playthrough. It's the same as a normal playthrough, only you start with all of your elements, equipment, items, money, and stats (key items do *not* stay, however), with some other additions. You get the option to slow the game down by holding L2, and speed the game up by holding R2. I don't know why the slowdown feature exists, honestly, but the speedup feature allows you to go through the game much faster than before. The significance of this is to get the rest of the 12 endings, just like Chrono Trigger. From the start of the game, you have access to the final boss at any time that you can access Opassa Beach. This gives the game some replay value that it wouldn't have normally. Overall, this is a really excellent game with a few minor flaws that do not take away from the enjoyment. Get it, and if you're a fan of Chrono Trigger, I'd recommend giving it a chance before regarding it as a crappy game.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/05/09
Game Release: Chrono Cross (US, 08/15/00)
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