Review by Ethereal Blue
"An excellent game, but a doubtful sequel for some"
Reviews for CC are kind of love-hate, for the main reason that lots of people were expecting a replica of chrono trigger with better graphics and a different story. Sorry to say to these people that Square isn't always consistent in its RPGs (read: Final Fantasy) and many of them change in format in each chapter. This said, I'd like to say that, though different from it's wonderful parent, chrono trigger, Chrono Cross is an RPG masterpeice, if you take the time to appreciate it...
Graphics (System-wise) 10/10
First of all, this is a game made by Squaresoft, and everyone knows their cut-scenes are always drop dead gorgeous and there's a cut scene at almost every turn. HURRAH!
Anyways, down to what's important: the in-game graphics. I'd like to thank Square for these graphics. Leagues ahead of Final Fantasy 8 and a bit better than Final Fantasy 9, the in game graphics are 100& pure eye candy. Battle graphics are beautiful, too. Spell effects range from short, but sweet, to moderately long and faint-inducing. Summons look awesome and aren't long enough to take a nap through (read: Eden of Final Fantasy 8) while traditional spells (I should be calling them elements, as they are called in-game but it's a force of habit for me) look nice and pretty for their limited duration.
Audio (System-wise) 10/10
This game will make you appreciate the violin and acoustic guitar. The music is WONDERFUL. The opening theme is so good it could make a weaker man cry. The standard battle can get a teensy bit annoying at times but you barely notice because of the awesome battle system(more on that later). All the composures are superb and every one fits the mood intended. From the hot hot beats(haha pun) of Mount Pyre to the tragic theme that plays whenever you must do something painful to self in battle (Like kill your father's best friend...oops shouldn't of said that, you'll have to play the game to figure it out). This game's soundtrack is my no.1 favorite game soundtrack of all time. beautiful!
Gameplay (Genre-Wise) 7/10
First of all, I'd like to say THANK YOU SQUARE! I hate random encounters and in this game there are, get this, NO RANDOM ENCOUNTERS! huzzah!
err...*ahem* anyways...The battle system. Let's start from the spell system, or element system as it should be called. Like FF1 and FF2, you buy your spe....err elements and attach them to your character. The only difference in this game is: you can attach far more than 3 spells...ugh...elements per level. I beleive the maximum is 10. Anyhow, you can also gain elements from battle and from stealing them. Each character and enemy has an element color and each element color has a reverse color that does double damage (ex:white does double damage to black and vice versa) There are also ways to change a character's element color (ex:TurnBlue). Elements of a character's matching element color will do more damage than other elements used by said character.
*Whew* thats lot. but wait! there's more! Simply dealing damage with your bare-bones weapon is slightly complicated! ho boy! alright, here we go. In battle, you use the attack command. A small window pops up with several numbered commands with %s next to them and element written under all of them...like this
okay. now the 1 means weak attack, this usually has the highest accuracy, 2 is moderate with moderate accuracy, and 3 isstrong with weak accuracy. Only strong attacks can cause critical hits. For each successful hit made, all the percentages will rise, making it easier for you to, say, land a strong attack after hitting an enemy with a weak anda moderate attack. If you miss, the percentages stay the same. Here's the kicker, though, you can only cast spells after landing a certain amount of hits. Each attack level thats landed adds its level to your element chart, charging up your element power. So landing two consecutive strong hits will enable you to use level 6 elements. Oh, you also have a stamina guage that determines what you will be able to do. It always tops off at 7.0 pnts. So anyways, If you do a weak attack, it drains 1 stamina point, a moderate attack drains 2 points, strong drains 3, If your stamina reaches 0, you can no longer make an action until it refills. An element can be cast using the element commad(of course) at any level of stamina but will usually bring you to a negative number of stamina points, making it harder to regenerate the stamina. WOW! This is a lot harder to explain than i thought it would be. Anyways, That's all there is to cover for battle. Aren't you happy?
NOTE!!! When you actually get into battle, this process will go a lot more quickly when you play, and it'll seem a lot less complicated so don't be scared of the ''complexity'' of it all. I'd explain growth levels but you should see FAQs instead, or else this review will be too long.
Okay, one last note: Those who were fans of FF8's weapon upgrade system will be happy to hear that all weapons/armor/helmets are forged from various materials found after battle and sometimes in chests. Accessories and helmets are equipped on the same grid by the way. Weapons, Armor, helmets and various other accessories can be dissassembled to get the raw materials that were used during construction: Very useful and saves a lot of hassle.
Did i mention no random encounters? Yes? GOOD!
Gameplay section is finished, Hurray!
Story (Genre-wise) 6/10
Sorry, CC fanboys but this is where it all kind of falls in on itself. The story, though followable, is unbeleivably complicated and for some, might require a second brain to understand. It all starts to wrap up in the end so you'll be able to understand it by then (hopefully).
There's also VERY LITTLE character development. Though full of clever plot twists and such, Only ONE character really develops at all, and she's not even the main character (she also dissapears for half the game but it'd spoil to complex story to tell you why now). The player is supposed to envision him/herself in the body of the leading man, Serge. This technique is brought to life the same way Crono of CT was brought to life: They both never talk whatsoever, leaving Yes and No the only words in their vocabulary (See the Golden Sun Series for more silent heroes). Anyways, I always find this technique always leaves the player at the helm with a sense that the main character is kind of flat...As for the 49 other playable characters, like i said, only one of them shows a lot of development in particular: Kidd, the Marle-figure of CC(They even have a similar hair style!). Dispite all this the plot and characters(though undeveloped) are still somewhat bearable enough for me to give this a 6 and not a 2.
Replayability (Genre/Series-Wise) 8/10
New game+ is back! That's right, once you beat the game, you can restart with all your previous stats and equipment. Aren't you happy? You start with the option to fight the final boss at any point in time with your pumped-up warrior. You also get the nifty ability to slow down and speed up time, in-battle and out-of-battle. This allow you to finish some of those irritating speed-based mini-games (damned dragons!) It isn't much, but mind you there are many different character storylines you can follow (You encounter 3 branching paths using 3 different characters early in the game, you'll get what i mean) so reliving the game to see what happens if you made that OTHER crucial decision is refreshing.
Pay close attention to the cut-scenes and you'll see a couple squares of different color in the background. I don't know if this is how they were designed so i didn't count this against the graphics (The cut scenes are still brilliant though so don't fret, graphic hounds).
Take note!!! If you love level-building, I don't reccomend this game. It features a final fantasy 2-ish stat-raising system.
A brilliant RPG that shouldn't be missed, but if you are easily confused, love level building, and/or hate big changes, i reccomend a rental before you should start planning the buy this classic gem.
This game is good for: Thinkers, people who like fast-paced turn-based (haha that rhymes) battle, graphic hounds, and Hardcore fans(not purists, though) of Chrono Trigger.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/06/03, Updated 09/16/03
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