Review by shneepshnop

"Shneepshnop provides a truly unbiased review of the controversial game Chrono Cross."

One of the problems with sequels is that they will always be instantly compared to their original. This being said may have doomed Chrono Cross from the start. Another problem is that when you start to play a sequel you have certain expectations for it that are based upon its predecessor, that are usually unrealistic. After years of absence Squaresoft released Chrono Cross. I bought it the day it came out, sped home, closed the door to my room, plopped it gently into my PSX, and then played virtually nonstop for 30+ hours. When the door finally opened I emerged from my room tired and disappointed. I couldn’t understand how Chrono Trigger could be so great but Chrono Cross so bad. I put the game back into my collection of PSX games where it was ignored for 3 years as it slowly accumulated dust.

One week ago I decided that enough time had passed for me to give Chrono Cross a try, again. As I plopped the cd into my PSX I was feeling unsure, but I went in with a clear mind. I told myself I would look at this game as its own game and not as a sequel. I told myself that I would give Chrono Cross another chance. I read some story walkthroughs before I begun playing so I had a little better understanding of the game. Well, you want shneepshnops unbiased review of Chrono Cross? Well my friends, here you have it.

Story - 22/30 Embark with me friends, to the land of confusion!
The story here is probably the most complex/confusing story I have ever read/played through. I’m not saying its bad; I'm just saying it is difficult to understand. Throughout the game characters make little hints towards different parts of the story. Looking at these like any normal person would, I figured since they were short quotes they were unimportant, that was a mistake. Little comments may not seem like much but they explain a lot. One of the things I learned here was that attention to detail is extremely important.

In order to fully understand the story it helps to understand this. When Lavos crashed into the Reptile fortress in Chrono Trigger he killed off all the reptiles. But imagine if this didn’t happen. Lavos never crashes into the fortress, never kills off the reptiles, and since the reptiles aren’t killed off they become the dominant species of the planet and kill off the humans. If Lavos does crash into the fortress, he creates an ice age, thus killing all the reptiles, and allowing humans to become the dominant species. You see the results of this happening can be created by doing or not doing something (Lavos crashing into the fortress or not crashing into it). There are 2 paths that can be taken: 1 where the humans become the dominant species, and the other where the reptiles become the dominant ones. Each one of these paths is called a dimension. And every time in Chrono Trigger where the Hero’s of Time (kids from Chrono Trigger) did something to affect the past or future a new dimension was created. Keep this in mind.

As far as Chrono Cross is concerned you are this boy Serge. Serge comes into contact with a warp hole that transports him from one dimension to the other. In this new dimension he has perished and has been long since buried. Confused, he decided to understand why. Before he has too much time to think it out he is attacked by some troops who were told they would find him here. Serge is on the verge of being killed until a spunky young girl named Kid saves him. Kid hears what Serge has found out and agrees to help him figure out what happened to him. It is very hard to explain the story because doing so would cause the leakage of many spoilers. But hopefully this is enough to get your mind thinking. If this interested you, you should play this game because it only gets better. Overall the story is interesting.

Where the game begins to fall apart is with the characters. There are 44 characters that you can play as in Chrono Cross. Obviously developing every single one is impossible. There are only a handful of characters that the player will learn about, and this was a bad idea. Note to video game makers: Don’t create interesting characters if you will not fully explain them and incorporate them into your games. If you are not Serge, Lynx, Kid or Harle you will play little importance in the overall story of this game. Sure the other characters make little appearances here and there, as well as provide some useless input every now and then, but for the most part they are just along for the ride.

The story here is good. There are good characters but since there are only about 4 of them that really center around the plot, all the other ones are useless. Squaresoft would have been better cutting down the amount of characters and incorporating everyone on this new list of shortened characters fully into the game.

Gameplay – 5/20 My god. What a garbled mess.
Make no jokes, the gameplay here is awful. The battle system is terrible and excruciatingly frustrating. It is similar to Xenogears where you can attack with different strengths of attacks. There are strong, medium, and weak. The stronger the attack the more stamina it takes up, and the stronger the attack the less likely it will connect. Once you use all your stamina your turn is over. What is frustrating is that enemies will constantly interrupt your combo of attacks with stupid, childish moves that waste time and really slow the battle down. You can use magic, but not in the traditional RPG way. You junction magic attacks to each character’s slots. 1 magic spell takes up one slot. When you use a spell you cant use it for the rest of the battle. Allocating elements to each character is painful and time consuming. Every time you switch characters you will have to switch all of the spells over manually. There is an auto-allocating feature but it is crap, and I wish you luck surviving through using it.

You get armor and weapons like you do in Final Fantasy 8. You find pieces to make the item out of, and then you bring them to a blacksmith who will forge the item for you. There are only about 5 different weapons for each character. This lack of diversity is dumb and you will spend hours fighting on remote areas hoping to land a couple of screws.

Another problem is the world map. It is small, very small. There are a whopping 4 towns in the entire world. You can access almost every area the first time you get a boat. This is unacceptable.

Another problem is leveling. It is now unnecessary. Instead of gaining levels through combat you now gain a little boost in a random stat area after a battle. You have no control over which one increases; you just hope it’s a good one. You can fight a guy in the last area of the game and when the battle ends you may gain 3 hp’s. You can also go to the first area where the game begins and fight where you can also gain 3 hp’s. See the problem? Well don’t worry too much about this, the fights are easy. I ran away from every single fight and still beat the game, only perishing once. This brings me to another point; you can run away from battles, every battle, even the last one. This is helpful if you run into an unexpected boss whom if you are not prepared for, you can escape, restructure your characters, then attack again. This is the only good thing about the gameplay.

The innovating, interesting combat system in Chrono Trigger is long gone, and it has been sadly replaced with something terrible.

Funfactor - 7/15 Shneepshnop likes good stories. Shneepshnop hates bad gameplay. Shneepshnop is confused??? Arrrrrggggg!!!
Um, this category is tough. The gameplay is terrible so playing the game is not fun. However I was really interested in the story so that made putting up with the terrible battles worthwhile.

Graphics – 11/15 Kingdom Hearts FMV’s + The Contra Adventure Graphics = Chrono Cross.
The FMV’s, like any Squaresoft game are top notch. The character designs are good, but not great. The town detail and background elements are lifelike. The graphics during battles are terrible. One would expect all of these areas to be great but they aren’t. Odd.

Music/Sound - 15/15 I avoided every battle not because I didn’t want to fight, but because I was afraid to listen to the battle theme.
The music in Chrono Cross is easily the best music I have ever heard in a video game, hands down, bar none. Yasunari Mitsuda returns from Chrono Trigger to deliver a breath taking score. Some of the tracks here are incredible and will give you goose bumps, because they are that good. Take the intro music, the Another World theme, or the Dragon God theme all as examples. I would love to meet the person who created the music here so I could, with one hand, shake his hand. What would I do with the other hand? I would then proceed to smack him upside the head with it for creating the most god-awful battle theme I have ever listened to. When the first battle began I had to frantically search my messy room for my remote so that I could mute the TV and save my sanity. It is terrible. It sounds like there is a bunch of people bent over, with their pants down, farting in a rhythm. Yes its that bad. However, the overall music is too good to be ruined by one measly track.

Controls – 5/5 Let us not worry about the controls in an RPG.
In Rpg’s controls are limited. Precision button inputs are not crucial to your survival. Therefore control here is largely irrelevant. It is good never the less.

Replayability – B5/5 There are plenty of extra goodies here.
Mwahaha. Chrono Cross, like the original provides plenty of replayability. There are multiple endings, a New Game + feature, and new battles the 2nd time around. If you enjoy replayability this game is for you.

Conclusion – 69.5/100
I am avoiding my normal review format of listing any pros or cons about this game that stick out in my mind and it will be replaced with some tips, that if followed, may make you Chrono Cross experience enjoyable. Since most people despise it.

1) Have realistic expectations. Chrono Trigger was a masterpiece and was one of a kind. What do you think are the chances of the Chrono Triggers sequel being the same? Not much. If you go into Chrono Cross expecting another Chrono Trigger you will have to wait in the room of disappointment every time you play.
2) Look at this game as its own game, and not as a sequel. Try to limit the comparisons between Trigger and Cross and your gaming experience will be better.
3) Don’t get swallowed up in the hype. Chrono Cross was one of the most hyped games of all times. This is a terrible thing to do for a game because people will create unrealistic expectations about the finished product, thus becoming disappointed overall.

Well we all make mistakes. I hated this game the first time I played but I like it now. It is not my favorite game, nor is it one of the top 10 games I have ever played. It is however a good game that was hurt by its many flaws. They need to make a sequel to this game. There are to many loose ends that need to be tied up. Like specifically what happens to Guardia Kingdom when it is overthrown? Where is Magus? He was in Radical Dreamers but he is not here now. How does Lucca die? We think in a fire but is that for sure? Chrono Cross needs a sequel. A sequel that should be the last game in the Chrono series. Sadly I wonder if this will ever happen. The people who made Chrono Trigger/Cross have parted ways with Squaresoft, each side taking certain rights to the game with them. The hold over the name for the 3rd game in the series called Chrono Break, has recently expired, with Squaresoft saying they have no intention of relinquishing it. But Squaresoft is not sound financially. They know they could make money off of another Chrono game, so they may be saving it as a last resort. Who knows? Only time will tell…


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/01/04, Updated 04/01/04


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