Review by Deschain80

"An unbiased review"

Introduction: I felt the need to review this game from an unbiased standpoint, as with the release of any Square RPG, people are quick to throw praise, without taking a serious look at what aspects players may not find enjoyable. I do not think the people of Square are the ''Almighty Beings of Videogaming''. They are a company who specialize in RPG's. They are generally good at what they do. However, I do not think their games (or any company's) are absolutely perfect. Not every one person will enjoy the same things. Therefore I will not review Chrono Cross from the perspective of a zealot or fanboy, but rather as a gamer. Now on with the review.

Chrono Cross is the sequel to the highly acclaimed Chrono Trigger, which was released in the heyday of the SNES. Many RPG enthusiasts consider this period to be the golden age of RPG's, with FF6 and CT usually named as the best of the best. It goes without saying then, that CC had lot of expectations to live up to. Unfortunately though,
I feel it falls a bit short of its predecessor.

From the opening sequence, one can easily see that no expense was spared in the production value of this game. Chrono Cross is visually stunning, with an intriguing graphical and conceptual style. The folks at Square always bring out the big guns when it comes to their latest
games, and CC is no exception. From the introductory scenes to the final battle, CC pushes the aging PSX hardware to its very limits. If there is any fault to be found in the graphics, it would probably be that many sets and locales appear to be recycled from FF8. The town of Termina for instance, should give many a gamer FF8 flashbacks. Aside
from that, the graphics are nearly flawless. Sound too is superb, with a few remixes from CT even sneaking in.

Storywise, CC never quite achieves the grandeur of CT. Serge, the main character, stumbles across a portal to another world which seems the same as his own world except that he doesn't exist in this one. He gets mixed up with a mysterious girl named Kid, and crosses paths with Lynx, a
dark and brooding half-cat demi-human. It's interesting, but just not as fun as the time travel concept of CT.

It is when one gets down to meat of the game, that the real flaws start to show. CC introduces unique battle, advancement, and magic systems. The battle system is the best of the three. Each character (up to three in your party at one time) is given a stamina meter, and the option to attack or use Elements, which serve as magic. Attacks can be dealt in three levels of power - weak, medium, and strong. To prevent abuse of strong attacks, each one has different percentage chance of connecting. Weak attacks are easy to pull off, while strong ones are harder. However for each successful hit, the percentage rates of all the other levels increase. For each attack you make (successful or not) points are taken off your stamina meter. Strong attacks take off a large portion and weak vice versa. This is a very well done system and a nice innovation to the standard formula. The other systems however, are more hit and miss. Magic is handled similarly to FF7 and 8, where
any character can cast any spell, barring techs (special individual moves - think limit breaks. Magic spells are contained in Elements which can be mixed and matched for each character. This I feel, causes the characters to
lose a little individuality. Some may not mind this though. If you liked this method in FF7 and 8, chances are you won't mind it here. I point it out however, because this is not a Final Fantasy game, so it feels a little derivative.

Then there's the advancement system. By far one of the worst aspects of this game. Instead of using the traditional experience points, your stats and HP
are gained in increments after each battle. Eventually you stop gaining anything from normal monsters, which makes these battles a chore. To advance farther, you must defeat bosses. After the defeat of a boss you get a marginal
increase in stats and HP. Afterwards you can gain more stuff from normal enemies until you peak again, then you must defeat another boss. To keep you from languishing at low levels, the game throws boss after boss after boss at you. Needless to say, unless you enjoy long, drawn-out boss battles every 30 minutes or so, this gets a little tedious. I think this game would have been much better off with the traditional EP system.

There are I believe over 40 characters to acquire throughout the game. Most ofthem though, have all the endearments of a cardboard cut-out. I really could not
sympathize with or understand most of the supporting cast. And Serge has all the personality of a doorknob. As mentioned before, any character can equip any Element.
Characters are also given an innate element color. There are six colors: Yellow, blue, red, green, black, and white. So your characters are inherently weak against opposing colors, and strong against the same. Each element cast causes the ''field'' (displayed in the upper left corner) to change accordingly. If all three spaces are filled with same color, any character with the matching innate color becomes more powerful and later in the game, they can cast summons. Opposing colors are also made weaker. This unfortunately leads to much frustration when an enemy disrupts the field you just took three turns to build, and is unnecessarily complicated. The final flaw I feel worth mentioning is the weapons. Again borrowing from FF8,
new weapons are made from a combination of materials found scattered about the world. Again I felt this was a pointless complication, as if the designers were just making it complicated for the hell of it.

Overall Chrono Cross is a very good game. It has memorable moments, an engaging story, and an innovative battle system. I did enjoy it quite a bit. There's even
replay value to be had with multiple endings and such. I just felt that there were a few issues which needed to be addressed which so far haven't been. RPG fans should
enjoy CC, and Square nuts will look right past the flaws, but I just can't imagine anyone looking fondly back on this game the same way as Chrono Trigger.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/23/00, Updated 08/23/00

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