Review by RPG Critic

"The best PSX game and it still falls short"

Chrono Cross is an excellent sequal to Chrono Trigger; however, many of the elements that made Chrono Trigger a great game are missing from Chrono Cross. It makes one wonder about a very fundamental question: if it ain't broken, why fix it? Of coarse it is boring when a sequal rehashes everything from its predecessor in an exact way, but elements such as story depth an music are characteristics that are expected to be better, or at least on par, with the original.

This is another graphical masterpiece for Square. Although FMVs are somewhat sparse, it does not detract from the game's charm. The use of many lush and bright colors is noticable, particularly after the previous 2 darker Final Fantasy games. The prerendered maps are detailed and vibrant. Character animation and depiction is outstanding.

I had a problem with the soundtrack. Remember Final Fantasy 4 and 6 (US FF2 and 3)? I still remember about 95% of the songs from these games, almost 10 years after they were released. I remember almost 100% of the tracks from Chrono Trigger. Nabou Uematsu is noted for his superb musical skills, his ability to evoke emotion through music. In a game where no one talks vocally, music is needed greatly to illustrate moods. Unfortunately, the soundtrack to Chrono Cross is very bland, with no sticky songs whatsoever. I really have a hard time recalling the battle music to Chrono Cross, let alone any themes. Chrono Trigger had original themes for all of the different characters, themes that used many different instruments and many different styles. Yasunori Mitsuda uses practically the same instruments in every song. The Guitar, the fiddle/violen, and an occasional flute--this pretty much describes the soundtrack of Chrono Cross. Very few tracks even have drum beats. None of the tracks are exceptional like the Magic Kingdom, Magus's theme, Frogs theme. It is nearly impossible to differentiate between some of the tracks. To me the music was boring and failed to provide anything except an ambiance for the game: celtic style music for tropical set game. Very unfulfilling and very unmoving. This is unfortunate since the music is a defining point in an RPG, especially since it something that must be dealt with throughout the entire game. The only work of originality was the music atop Star Tower which feature a mystical sounding femal vocalist. Other than this, most of the tracks are interchangeable.

Walking around maps and dungeons was fine. I am going to spend my time elaboration on the battle system, a battle system that is hardly original, just a redux of one of Square's old tricks. The basic strategy of battle is that you can buy ''elements'' to equip to your characters. Even though each character possess an innate elemental attribute, they can equip almost any type of element. Basically elements are exactly the same as espers/materia/draw. You gain abilities though the elements, and any character can use them. I don't like this. I like my characters to be varied, like Chrono Trigger, not exactly the same, where the only difference between them is what element they have equiped. Lucca could only use fire abilities, Marle water...etc. This makes the characters more defined, it makes you think who it is you want to bring along with you. In Chrono Cross, all of the characters are interchangable, and even the status of most of the characters are similar. Because there are over 40 characters, some characters status attributes are almost identical making the selection of characters rather oblique. Also, spells regenerate after every battle, which means that you can use the most powerful spell in the game during every single battle. This takes away from the games challenge in an emense way. I did not die once during my entire 35 hours of playing this game. Give me a break, this is way too easy. Tech points was a much more effective solution to such a problem.

The only part of the story that is effective is the fact that it intertwines very nicely with the original Chrono Trigger. The plot not only progresses from the original, it expands. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of odds and ends and subtleties that Square integrated into Chrono Cross from Chrono Trigger. I applaud them for making the game a true sequal--unlike any Final Fantasy. However, this game fails to draw you into the characters with your emotions. The closest character you ever get to, the closest character you ever get to really know is Serge, and he is mute. The rest of the characters seem to just pop up randomly, and the fact that there are over 40 characters makes this a real problem. At least 10 of the characters are so stupid that it makes the player wonder why they are even in the game to begin with. These characters are practically useless in battle, and contribute little or nothing to the story. The main characters that you do have are also not necessarily ''main'' either. At one point in the game I have 6 characters join my party simultaniously, and I only ever used one of them--and even that was brief. When Chrono Trigger went in depth with it's characters, Chrono Cross does not, it merely skims the surface and shows you nothing under that. This does not work. They could have done the exact same game with only 12 characters or so, and it would have probably made the game better. Another problem with the story is the fact that it lags in many areas. Just as the story gets intriguing--you the player are being drawn into an awesome story--the game seems to just cut off, leaving you with your boat wandering around aimlessly with seemingly nothing to do. Although this is done to give the player an opportunity to do other side quests, it still causes the story to lag because you tend to wander around from place to place until you randomly talk to the right person, or stumble upon the right item. This was not necessary to allow player to do the side quests. The plot could have been more tightly woven together, rather than spread out. Many of the hours of gameplay are spent wandering aimlessly trying to find the right person to talk to. This gets aggravating as well.

Replay, extras, fun--10
Amazing amount of replay, tons of extras, very fun game.

I liked Chrono Cross and believe it to be the best game for playstation, but it's sort of ironic isn't it? The best game for the playstation is still worse than a normal RPG for the SNES. The problem is, I expect Square to outdo themselves--to revolutionize--not just make another game. Chrono Cross falls far short of revolution.

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Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/22/00, Updated 08/22/00

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