Review by CFClone
"Chrono Cross, a.k.a. BEST VIDEOGAME EVER!"
Let me get right to the point. Chrono Cross is, in a word, spectacular. I doubt anyone who has beaten the game at least once will disagree. The reason for this being that it pulls off almost everything perfectly! It accomplishes a task that I’ve never seen an RPG, much less a videogame accomplish. It excels in the graphics, story, gameplay, music, length, and replay value departments. Now, on to the actual review…
Chrono Cross is a very unique game, and the battle system shows this. First of all, CC features two things I wish every RPG featured. The first being, you can see all the enemies onscreen before you fight them. This was featured in Chrono Trigger, and Chrono Cross thankfully follows in suit. Secondly, and more importantly, you can escape from almost any battle at any time. For instance, if you’re getting the crap kicked out of you by a boss, you can just run away. There’s no waiting, you just leave as soon as you select the run away option. Brilliant! Why other games can’t do this, I don’t know…
The actual battle system, too, is a sight to behold. At first you’ll probably be a little confused, but don’t worry, once you get used to it, it’s a blast. The system IS very complex, though, and albeit hard to explain. Well, to start, you have six elemental colors. Each of the 44 characters that you can get is assigned a color, which makes you have to alternate characters depending on what boss you fight. For instance, Serge is assigned the white element, so if he were to fight a black elemental, he would be severely damaged by its attacks. Of course, the same thing goes for the monster he is battling. At the end of the game you’ll have eight levels in your “elemental grid”, the place where you put your spells. Each level will have a certain amount of slots where you can place spells, and each character has their own special Techs, double Techs, and triple Techs. Yeah, just like in Chrono Trigger… However, double and triple Techs are sparse, though very impressive. Also, you have the ability to summon monsters later, but it’s not as easy as it seems. The summon monster has to be the same color as the player, and the entire field has to be that color. Oh yes, the field effect. The field effect is a little Circle within a circle within a circle located at the top left of the battle screen. According to what color element you’ve used, the inner most of the three circles will fill in with that color. So, if you use a red spell such as fireball, the innermost circle will turn red. If you use a black elemental spell like Free Fall, the red that filled in the inner most circle will be pushed out into the second circle, and the black elemental will take its place. The reason this is important is not only because of summon spells, but because depending on how the field effect is filled in, the boss can do more or less damage. It’s very hard to understand just by reading about it, I’m sure, but once you get to playing, you’ll get it in a jiff.
Fans of Chrono Trigger will find that their favorite spells from Chrono Trigger have made their way back into Chrono Cross. Luminaire baby, yeah!!! You’ll also encounter some familiar bosses from the first game, which is nice.
Speaking of bosses, the ones in this game are… wow! You just have to see them to believe them. They start out cool looking, but some of the later ones will have you blurting out expletives in disbelief of how sweet these monsters look!
Battles, although this seems to be the trend of late, are not the only interactive part of an RPG. This game features two (very alike in looks, but very different in every other way) dimensions that you get to explore. Chrono Cross features lots of dungeons, most of which are fairly short. Puzzles are strewn throughout, adding a certain something that really spices up the gameplay.
The villages, though few are all very alive, and since there are two variables to each village, there’s a lot to explore. You find characters, elements, and all sorts of neat things in villages. Sometimes it’s fun just wandering about, talking to people, because these folks usually have something intelligent, moving, or funny to say.
All in all, CC has the ability to tell a great story, while never casting you out from the gameplay.
The story of Chrono Cross, whittled down to its most basic aspects, is as follows. Serge, the “silent protagonist” of Chrono Cross, accidentally uncovers a wormhole into another dimension while he’s at the beach. He comes to find that in this other dimension he has died, and in an effort to uncover the mystery, a devious plot that will decide the fate of two worlds unfolds.
Of course, this doesn’t give you any idea what to expect, and it shouldn’t, since I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise for you. It’s hard to explain what it’s like really. The story has lots and lots of twists, always throwing you little clues, but never quite revealing the big picture. It reminded me a lot of Xenogears, or an episode of the X-Files. But even more than those two, this game will surprise you. There are quite a few plot twists, and they’ll mostly happen in obvious places (places with a big scenario leading up to).
This game has a certain something that just manages to knock your socks off. Some of the plot twists just hit you in the face at high velocity, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The story just makes you want to keep going, get past all the side quests, and move on to see what’s next. And in most cases, you can do that. And in the New Game + you can explore the side quests, which add layers to the characters.
For those of you that have played Chrono Trigger, you’re in for a treat. While Chrono Cross doesn’t feature any of the same characters, they definitely play into the story in one way or another. We also get to see some of the same foes from Chrono Trigger, and a certain mystical sword is also making a return. It’s a truly great thing for those who have been waiting for a sequel for five long years, and even if you’ve never played CT, the story makes perfect sense. It just won’t have the same impact when you hear certain people mentioned…
Other than the ever-developing story, this game has some very, very deep themes. The theme of Chrono Cross is fate, and how your life might have changed if you had done things differently. More notably, however, is the “hidden” theme of segregation. It never pops into the foreground of the story, but it’s always there. Near the beginning of the game you are introduced to the demi-humans, a subspecies of human that mostly works all day just for food. You’re quickly made aware that the demi-humans are looked down upon and disrespected, and even feared. Later in the game, you get even more of a taste of what it’s like to be them, and you can feel for these characters even more. It’s truly masterful how the CC team has implemented the theme, especially since it never comes off as being preachy. Bravo, Square!
This is one department that had me a little worried. When I first heard about this game, it was a week after I had gotten Final Fantasy VIII. And having played and beaten Final Fantasy VIII, I was starting to get the impression that Square was putting too much work into dazzling graphics and over the top FMV, and not enough work into the gameplay, the story, and the replay value. I was actually worried that Chrono Cross would be packed with FMV and gorgeous one and a half minute summons. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I would trade a solid plot line for flashy graphics any day. And when I saw the commercials, which showed off FMV only, and this further confirmed my fears.
Thankfully, I was wrong. When I picked this game up I came to find that the game did have FMV sprinkled throughout (all of which was very impressive, I might add), but not to excessive levels. I also came to find that the in game graphics were the most impressive graphics I had ever seen in a videogame. Colorful and lush backgrounds coat the world(s) of Chrono Cross, and the character models are very detailed and blend in well with the backgrounds. The characters themselves look colorful and while that may not seem too important, it really compliments the game. I was really tickled by the fact that I could see myself in mirrors, and witness some very cool lighting. The water effects, too, are notable, as I’ve never seen anything like that in a videogame (some little kid jumps in the water, and it actually looks like he’s swimming and diving).
The battle graphics are also detailed and colorful, more so than any other RPG I’ve ever played. This game has over 40 playable characters, and all of them have unique movements and spells. It’s amazing just watching yourself play, because it feels as though you’re playing a game that’s way ahead of its time. It feels like you’re playing something that’s not even supposed to be possible on the old Playstation. Square has upped the ante as far as graphics go with each passing game, but this is… well, this is just somethin else.
The music score in this game is simply fantastic. There’s not a single track that doesn’t fit into this game. I thought the music in CC wouldn’t be able to touch CT (my former all time favorite score), but after Chrono Cross, I think I don’t even remember Frog’s theme. Oh, wait, yes I do! NOTHING WILL EVER OUTMATCH FROG’S THEME! But Chrono Cross does feature many tracks that are just wonderful. I actually found myself not pushing on the dialogue in some scenes, in fear that the music would change. That’s something I’ve never done before, not even during Chrono Trigger.
REPLAY VALUE 10/10
Chrono Cross is jam packed full of optional characters, side quests, hidden items, branching points, and even has multiple endings. I’ve been told that the game has about ten endings, and though I’ve only uncovered two, I must say, this game is incredibly deep, and has replay value up the wazoo! Chrono Cross also has the New Game + feature, ala Chrono Trigger. With this feature, you can unlock several more endings, characters, side quests.
I’ve also discovered upon playing the game the second time through, that the translation team did an excellent job on this baby. As you may or may not know, each of the characters in CC have varying dialects. And depending on which character you have in your party during a conversation, the different dialects are apparent. I don’t know how Square pulled it off, but it’s simply amazing. Sometimes, if a character has anything to do with it, he/she will even add something to the conversation. It’s truly an achievement to witness, especially since the translation was already great to begin with.
I think that if you read through my review, you pretty much get the drift of what I think of this game. However, if you didn’t let me sum it up for you in one sentence. Chrono Cross is (in my opinion, as always), the best VIDEOGAME ever created. It does everything right. I’m sure you’ll come across a few reviews that give Chrono Cross annoyingly low scores. I hate to make a point of things like this in a review, but it just really bothers me. I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE GIVE EXCELLENT GAMES LOW SCORES JUST BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE LOVES THEM, JUST SO THEY CAN BE DIFFERENT. I respect people’s opinions and all, but giving Chrono Cross a 4 is absurd. By now you probably know whom I’m talking about, but I don’t care. I have a suggestion to make to you. Instead of reading the reviews that compliment Chrono Cross, read the ones that say it’s “terrible”. I bet you won’t find a single solid point made against this game.
Go buy Chrono Cross, now! You won’t be disappointed!
Until next time, my friends! – ChronoFrank clone
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/22/00, Updated 08/22/00
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