Review by shabulia

"Chrono Cross is the perfect model for what an RPG should be..."

Chrono Cross is the perfect model for what an RPG should be; beautiful, fun, enthralling, addictive, a great sequel, and rewarding. This game is just incredible. Everything about this game screams sheer quality. If you weren't around when this game, and its predecessor came out, let me shed some light on the "making of" back story. The members of Square got together with them members of Enix (the teams behind Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest were teaming up) and decided to make the ultimate role playing game. The result was Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo toward the end of its life. It was an incredible game and a fantastic success. Many fans loved Chrono Trigger for a number of reasons. This game was a blast to play, for starters. It had characters with depth and you really cared about what was happening to them. The fighting system had been overhauled from the standard RPG format. It was actually FUN to fight and not a chore. The story was immersing and the music was outstanding. Chrono Trigger paved the way for many role playing games to this day. As time went by, the inevitable sequel was announced for the Playstation. Not unlike its sequel, Chrono Cross came toward the end of the console life on the Playstation. But when word spread that the so called "Dream Team" would be missing some key players for the development of the new game, many were worried that the new sequel would not only be a flop but also destroy the classic name Chrono Trigger had created in the RPG genre. When the game was finally released many gamers were skeptical. Much to their surprise and astonishment, the sequel not only matched the original in quality and story, but even managed to surpass it in many ways. Chrono Cross was a hit and for many a good reason. If you haven't played it, you simply must find a copy and get started on one of the most engrossing adventures you will ever play.

It has been 20 years since the events of Chrono Trigger (SNES). Serge, our main hero, is suddenly ripped out of his own world and put in a sort of alternate world where he supposedly died years ago. Pretty grabbing beginning, huh? That's only the start of it. Just wait till you get to the midway point of the game. You thought it was a shock when a certain someone bought it at the end of the first disc in Final Fantasy VII? Try this game to get a truly shocking twist in an already gripping storyline! Also, left and right, new characters come in to make the story even deeper. And every character has a back story that ties into not one, but both universes. Choices you make throughout the game determine which of these characters will be able to join your party or only help you on your quest. And if you feel like you let a great character slip by because you didn't do or say the right thing, not to worry. Like its predecessor, you can play the game again after beating it with all your experience and items that you earned/bought the first time around. The second time around it's almost more fun because you just fly through the game and get to the stories of the characters you either missed or want to re-live. This is a stroke of genius that more RPG's should implement to add replay value.

The fighting system will feel very odd at first as there has been nothing like it before or since in an RPG. But once you get the hang of it, you realize its brilliance. You can plan your attacks and devastate your enemies if you choose the right combination of attacks and magic to use. It's so elaborate it would take either a year to explain, or a few solid hours of playing to really get the hang of. Just trust me when I say it adds to the fun factor in a way that is severely lacking in many RPG's. You can see your enemy on screen and then decide when you are ready to fight them. After you approach them, or they approach you, you execute your attacks and magic spells in whatever order you see fit. You are given a certain percentile on whether or not an attack will make contact with your enemy. The more you hit them, the higher the percentile goes. Also, lighter attacks are more likely to hit, but stronger attacks do a lot more damage. So you must choose your attacks carefully. Magic is a whole other story. Here is where the intricacy comes in. There is a field gauge that determines which type of magic will do the most damage. Spells are color coded and if you, or the enemy uses a certain color spell, it will do more damage as the fight continues to fill the gauge. Confused yet? I understand. Like I said, you just need to play it to understand it. But once you get it, you won't want to stop fighting. Fighting in this game is actually fun.

The story and fighting system are great. But let's not forget the graphics and sound. Without a doubt, these are some of the best graphics on the PS One period. And if you want it to look even better, play it on the PS2 with the texture smoothing on. It almost looks like it was designed for the PS2. Each character is detailed and different. None of the main characters are mere palette swaps. The detail is there in the backdrops too. Like its Final Fantasy cousins, on the PS One, we have 3D characters against 2D backdrops. This graphic style works very well for this game. Even though it is an older style, Chrono Cross still maintains a lifelike and full environmental look and feel. The fights look impressive even by today's standards as well. Each spell will remind you of Final Fantasy VIII's elaborate spells, but much much shorter. The textures are pure eye candy and there is no noticeable clipping anywhere. All of this adds up to a look that fits the mood of the game. Speaking of the mood, visually the game is a lot more cheerful than Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. Serge is not a dark and brooding character like Cloud or Squall. He is more like Chrono. He doesn't talk, but you get what he is supposed to be saying when other characters react to him. The sound is also amazing. Not only are the tunes great, but they are played by real instruments and not just synthesized music like the Final Fantasy games. Why more companies didn't take advantage of the Playstation's musical capabilities, I do not know. But Square does it in this game and they do it in fine style. Some of the tunes are strongly reminiscent of Chrono Trigger. Some are actually straight out of the first game, redone with the updated sounds of Chrono Cross. Others just give that same feel that Chrono Trigger had to offer; beautiful, elegant, fantasy mixed with adventure. Again, only adding more to an already superb role playing game. The musical link between the two games is especially cool because it really adds to the feel that you are playing a sequel of an already fantastic game. Another plus in the sound department is the sounds during battle scenes. When Serge slices through and enemy, it sounds powerful. Each punch or explosion has that bang factor and really adds to the fight.

To be honest, I could go on and on about the sheer quality of this game for hours. But that would mean less hours for me to play it. I have played through it a few times already and go back every year to play through it again. I can't say enough about how wonderful this game is. If you are a fan of RPG's, get this game. If you loved Chrono Trigger, get this game. If you love Square titles or the Final Fantasy series, get this game. In matter what the case is, GET THIS GAME!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/14/06

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