Review by Calamity
"A timeless RPG"
Chrono Cross is a game that was developed by Squaresoft in 1999/2000 and released for the original Playstation. It was a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger and was met with a very mixed reception. Some found the game to be a great game while others found it a complete disappointment that did not follow in the footsteps of it's predecessor Chrono Trigger. Being a huge fan of Chrono Trigger myself, I of course had to give the game a try. When I first finished the game, I had a okay opinion of the game. I didn't have a particularly polarizing opinion of the game. Personally, the game did not come off to me as great or terrible. It was just good. Not particularly memorable for being good or bad. Recently though, I gave the game a second try. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed after my second playthrough of the game. I had such a wonderful time playing through Chrono Cross that I felt the need to share my opinion of it and why I personally think it was not only one of the best RPG's for it's time, but also to this day still.
Graphics:10/10: The graphics in Chrono Cross are absolutely gorgeous. For it's time, the game had beautiful graphics. The environments in the game are just packed with detail and they are just so vivid and memorable. Beyond that, the character designs in the game are great too. You're bound to find a few characters who's designs you think are awesome. Most impressive of all though, is just the battle graphics of the game. Upon getting into a battle, you truly see the amazing attention to detail the graphic designers put into the game. For example, when battling on a beach and a battle starts...You'll first see a few seagulls fly above you and then the sun will beam and shine down on you. Then the battle will begin. It's things like this that just make the graphics in Chrono Cross so incredible. Even to this day I was so impressed by how incredible the graphics are in this game. Not just from a technical perspective, but in it's style and character designs too. I would be absolutely shocked if someone found the graphics bad in this game.
Gameplay:10/10: Chrono Cross is like most RPG's. It's a game where you'll progress from a town then to a dungeon. You'll generally purchase items in town, rest and of course see a few events from time to time. Then afterward, you will go on the world map and travel to the next dungeon. Whether by foot, ship or whatever. You will eventually reach your destination. Once you enter a area, you can then walk around and explore. In Chrono Cross, you'll travel with up to three party members in your party. Similar to Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross does not have random encounters either. When you enter a dungeon, all you have to do is come into contact with a enemy. Upon doing so, you'll then get into a battle. Battles in Chrono Cross are turn based just like Chrono Trigger, but that's just about where the similarities end. As you will quickly find out once you get into your first battle while playing Chrono Cross.
Chrono Cross really is it's own game. Even despite being turn based like Trigger and having the word Chrono in it's name. For starters, the game no longer has the ATB system from the Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger games. Instead, it's a purely turn based system. Fortunately though, Chrono Cross does some great things to distinguish it's battle system from other games of the same genre. In battle, you have what's called stamina. You always have seven points of stamina. Doing commands such as attacking or using elements(magic in Chrono Cross) takes up stamina. So you need to carefully balance your stamina usage out. Beyond that, the game is also different with how you attack. Once you attack, you'll notice you have three percentages to choose from. This is where a lot of strategy comes into play. If you choose one of the lower percentages, you'll have a lower chance of hitting. However, if you land an attack with that lower percentage option you'll do far more damage and your element level will increase far more. Attack with a higher hit % rate though, and you'll do less damage if the attack hits and your element level will not increase as much. Eventually, you'll run out of stamina from using attacks. Once you're about to run out of stamina, you can do a final physical attack before you run out of stamina and lose your turn or use a element. Elements in the game are basically magic. You can use them by raising your element level in battle. Once you raise your element level to a certain level, you'll be able to cast that element. Elements that are more powerful are generally higher leveled. This is another really strategic feature like the hit percentage feature. It's not only strategic, but just also a lot of fun. Both features make battles really demand your attention and make you really focus. These features both make you really think and interact with the game's battle system. Every choice is important. You are always going to be thinking about what percentage choice you should go with for your next physical attack or what element to cast. These strategic and thought provoking features of the battle system would be pointless if battles weren't that challenging though. Fortunately, the battles are fairly challenging in Chrono Cross.
Chrono Cross does have some challenging boss fights and normal battles. Honestly, I will admit the game is at most fairly challenging though. Early on, there are definitely going to be a few challenging boss fights. Boss fights that really challenge you and force you to think carefully about your decisions in battle. As the game goes on though, there's some overpowered elements you get such as Diminish that can really well...Diminish the challenge of the game. Despite that, some normal battles will also give you a fair challenge at times. Only a few, but definitely some of them. Not every normal battle will be a breeze either. There are also some tough normal encounters at times. Overall though, the game is still somewhat challenging and there's bound to be some instances where you really have to consider your choices in battles carefully. Chrono Cross's gameplay still has more unique features beyond it's battle system though. For instance, it's leveling system.
During Chrono Cross, you won't gain levels. That's right. Instead your stats will randomly increase after battles. However, they will only go up if the enemies you are facing are remotely strong. If they are very weak, you won't gain anything aside from money or items. Many criticized this change as being poorly implemented. Personally, I thought it was a fine feature. I too would have preferred levels, but there's nothing wrong with this system either. Either way, most try to criticize the stat gains as being a terrible idea because sometimes you won't get many stat gains. What people forget though, is that there's no random encounters in this game. You can easily avoid normal battles by not initiating contact with any enemies on the field. If you aren't getting worthwhile rewards...Then just avoid the battles!! Another problem is the people who were also expecting the game to be just like Chrono Trigger and were probably caught off guard. One example of something that may have surprised Chrono Trigger fans is how you get equipment in Chrono Cross.
Unlike Trigger, you do not just buy weapons from stores and equip them. Same with armor too. You have to forge weapons, armor and accessories throughout the game. Mainly by gathering materials from chests in dungeons, battles and sidequests/events. This crafting system in the game is done pretty well. If you search around a lot, you can almost always get the latest and greatest equipment from the stores. You don't even have to go out of your way to get the materials most of the time by doing sidequests. Just make sure to explore and get all the chests in areas. If you do so, you'll be well rewarded and quite happy once you visit the next store and realize you can craft better equipment. Speaking of sidequests though, the game is packed with them. Much more so then other RPG's out there. Not just because it's made by Squaresoft, but also primarily because of the sheer amount of characters in the game.
Chrono Cross boasts a whopping 40+ characters that can join your party in the game. Each of whom learn their own attacks, have their own strengths and weaknesses and last of all have some sort of story to them. Most characters get their ultimate technique in the game generally through a sidequest of sorts. So that's at least 20+ or so sidequests just from that. Then you consider the fact that the game has some optional bosses, areas and many other secrets to be discovered. As a matter of fact, the game is just loaded to the brink with replay value. Not only is this game at least 30+ hours long, but it also is filled with sidequests and just an insane amount of different endings. Chrono Cross has at least 10 or so different unique endings that you can get. Even better, the game has a New Game and Continue + option. Both add even further replay value by giving you certain bonuses that are not available on a normal playthrough. Still not enough replay value for you? Well, you'll also be pleased to hear that Chrono Cross at times has multiple routes you can take during the game. At certain points of the game, you'll have multiple ways to go about getting through an area. Your choices can affect which party members join you, how you may get through an area and also future effects on what may happen in the story later on. Ultimately, the game's gameplay is just excellent. There's really not too much to complain about regarding the gameplay of Chrono Trigger. Aside from just one thing.
Generally, the game gives you excellent hints on where to go. You'll never have problems figuring out where to go. Frequently, you may have to travel between two different worlds in the game. Even with that mechanic being implemented, the game still manages to provide adequate information that allows the player to figure out what to do. Near the very end though, the game just sort of tells you what to do, but not where to go. So near the very end of the game you sort of get sent on a wild goose chase trying to find what you're looking for. Personally, I got a little irritated at this. Since I get a little impatient at the end of games generally. Some may not mind, but I personally found it rather lame and extremely random. Despite this, it's not that significant of a problem in the end. Ultimately, Chrono Cross has excellent gameplay.
Story:9.8/10: The story of Chrono Cross is one that spans many generations of time and two alternate worlds. It's a story of how choices made throughout history affect time and how the future turns out. How choices we make can cause certain futures that could have potentially happened to suddenly vanish and be replaced by another future. The story also covers discrimination and how it can affect people throughout life. At a basic level though, Chrono Cross centers around a boy named Serge. In the beginning of the game, Serge is just a boy living at a seaside village. One day, his girlfriend asks him to collect some komodo shells to create a necklace. After collecting them, his girlfriend asks to meet Serge at the beach. Serge heads there only to find something he did not expect...Upon arriving, Serge is suddenly involved in a horrible incident and is hit by a massive tsunami wave and killed. Strangely though, Serge awakens. After awakening, he returns home. Only to discover...That nobody acknowledges he is alive anymore.
Eventually, Serge visits his grave and he meets someone named Kid. Who explains to him that he's in a alternate world where he died ten years ago. The journey then takes off from there and the plot evolves as the game goes on. As you keep getting further into the game, the plot progressively becomes more and more intricate. The game will throw numerous great plot twists that will catch you off guard. Not just that, but the game really does do a good job of having a story with characters you care about. Many criticize Chrono Cross for it's large cast, but I still think the game manages to develop a whole lot of characters even despite the insane amount of them present in the game. More specifically too, the game does an excellent job of developing the central story characters. Both protagonists and antagonists are incredibly well developed throughout the game and almost every major character in the game is interesting. Nearly every integral character to the plot of the game has a inspiration and reasoning for what they do. There is a whole lot of depth to the characters in the game and some characters pasts directly link themselves to other character's pasts in the game. Even despite the 40+ characters in the game, at least 15 of them are incredibly well developed. Which is an amazing feat. Many RPG's have trouble developing a cast of 4-8 characters. So imagine a game where they manage to get it done right with 15 different characters!!! The characters in the game are not the only amazing part of the story. So are the themes in the story.
Such as discrimination. Later in the game, you play from the perspective of another character. As this character, you will face a lot of discrimination from NPC's in towns. This different perspective in the game really gives a lot of insight to many of the NPC's in the game. At one point, they may have been nice and seemed normal. Playing as this other character though, you get to see the other side of these NPC's and you can truly see how terrible some of them honestly are. This adds a lot of depth to the NPC's in the game and makes them a lot more believable. Beyond that, this also links itself to the theme of discrimination. Which is something anyone playing the game can relate to. This is because at some point in time we have all faced discrimination. The game covers this theme and it implements it incredibly well into the game. As you play from the perspective of this character who gets discriminated against, you cannot help but feel sorry for them. Despite all the positives though, there is one minor flaw with Chrono Cross.
The very end of the game. Not the ending itself, but rather the final battle. Unfortunately, Chrono Cross has a anticlimactic conclusion. The final boss fight of the game feels unfulfilled and it certainly does not live up to some of the final boss fights from other RPG's of it's time. I wish the final boss fight would have been amazing. Sadly though, it just really isn't. That's the one wrong thing with the story. It's not too huge of a flaw, but it is a flaw regardless. A final boss fight should be done better then this. Especially considering all of the other amazing and exciting boss fights/confrontations in the game. Despite this though, the game still has a great main plot with a lot of exciting and unexpected plot twists. A lot of characters are greatly developed in the game too. The dialogue is really well written in the game too and the game has multiple endings. Each one being a completely different ending. Overall, the story of Chrono Cross is excellent.
Music:10/10: This game has one of the best soundtracks of any game ever. From the first to the last track, you'll be completely hooked. The soundtrack is so good that you are bound to probably obtain the soundtrack and listen to it all the time. All of the tracks in the game are just so incredibly good and catchy. Each of them feels like they convey a story of emotion. Every single song on the soundtrack fits whatever part of the game it plays at and it just totally sets the mood for those parts of the game. If it's a sad event, then the game will play a sad song that will truly make you feel sad. If you're fighting a boss, the primary boss song of the game 'Brink of Death' will definitely set the tone for you. As it's probably one of my favorite standard RPG boss themes of all time. The game also has amazing world map music too. Dreams of the Shore Bordering Another World is one of the most memorable songs in any video game ever. The soundtrack from this game is truly a masterpiece. I would definitely rank the Chrono Cross soundtrack in at least the top ten game soundtracks of all time. As for the sound effects, they are excellent. Sword swipes sound like sword swipes. Footsteps sound like someone moving. Everything is perfect as far as the sound effects go. In conclusion, both the sound effects and soundtrack of the game are spot on.
Overall:10/10: Chrono Cross is one of the greatest RPG's I have ever had the honor to play. It's an excellent and unforgettable adventure from start to finish. This is one of those timeless RPG's that will forever stand the test of time. At the time it came out, the game was absolutely amazing. Yet, still to this day it's just as incredible as it was for it's time. For starters, the graphics of the game are absolutely beautiful. Next, the gameplay is incredibly innovative. The game has a lot of innovations and it's strategic and challenging at times too. Aside from that, the game is loaded with sidequests and replay value. There's numerous different endings for you to obtain and a New Game/Continue + option for you to choose from. Also, the music of the game is outstanding too. Definitely one of the best game soundtracks of all time. Probably the composer(Yasunori Mitsuda's) best work still to this very day. Last, the story is excellent too. Throughout the game you'll meet a cast of characters who are unforgettable. There's also a great amount of plot twists that are all interesting and shocking. All together, Chrono Cross is a must play for any gamer out there. It's not only one of the best RPG's on the PS1, but I would also say it's one of the absolute greatest RPG's of all time. There is no excuse to not play this game. Even those who are not a huge fan of the RPG genre should give the game a chance. It's just that good. Many people say it's inferior to Trigger. However, that's because people cannot realize that Cross is really it's own game. Even though it references Trigger, the game is really it's own. It's so different from Trigger that it REALLY is it's own game. Despite that, it's a better game then Chrono Trigger in my opinion and is incredibly underrated because of the sheer fact that people could not look past what they expected out of the game. This is not Chrono Trigger 2.0...It's Chrono Cross. It's own game. The only reason to not give Chrono Cross a try is because you don't like good games though. So if you like good games, you definitely should play it.
+Breathtaking graphics. The graphics are still among the best to this very day and even of course for it's own time.
+Gameplay is innovative. Game has a unique battle system unlike any other that is strategic and very interactive. Also, a lot of fun.
+High replay value. Multiple endings, new game/continue + options, sidequests and multiple routes through certain parts of the game.
+Chrono Cross has one of the greatest soundtracks of any game ever.
+Excellent story with memorable characters. Lots of well done plot twists and well written dialogue to be found in the game.
-Somewhat anticlimactic final boss fight.
-Near very end of game the game for once doesn't tell you where to go, but only what to do. Leaving you to aimlessly search around for what you're looking for.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/12/12, Updated 07/12/12
Game Release: Chrono Cross (US, 08/15/00)
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