March 28, 2008, Square Haven has ceased updates indefinitely. What you see below is an archived version.

Chrono Cross

Traditional RPG
  • 15 August, 2000
  • 18 November, 1999
A 138 total ratings
Write a Review

Gloria Chronorum

A Chrono Cross review Author: Ziyad Published: July 15, 2004
Sharing is Caring
link to this page e-mail this page Facebook delicious
It was a dark and stormy night. The winds howled in anticipation of what only the darkest creatures could fathom in their deepest hell-drenched confines?, wait?that?s not right. It was a cheery summer afternoon like many others, sun shining merrily in the azure sky. Well, either way, the Fates had deemed this tortuous day a blessing?s curse for I had at a moment?s notice received entry into a land vast and bountiful; aye, the land of RPG! The year, my dear friends, was 2000, and I had an important decision to make.
Enough money for but one, yet more than enough desire for all, I had in one hand a talk of the town?a first party gem. The situation deems it remain nameless, however, for in my other I held a long-awaited sequel to a game, rather ironically, I had never played, never touched, but merely heard of. And yet, it soon came to pass that Chrono Cross fell into my possession, my Playstation, and my heart.
Astounding. Granted, the character models, with development only a spit?s distance from the soon-to-be Playstation 2, left a little to be desired, an hour or two can be enough to get used to them. The real strength here, however, lies with the gorgeous pre-rendered backgrounds. Walking over a screen is like jumping from painting to museum painting, and each area so vividly captures its own character that the palettes must have been privy to some divine intervention. Even the world map, in all of its incredible detail, seems to demand I throw myself onto its sandy beaches and rocky valleys to leisure away afternoons at a time. In fact, every nuance is so perfectly executed that you?ll find optical illusions increasingly deceitful and sit in perfect shock, as I have, upon entering the Dead Sea?the only area in an RPG which has the honor of being my absolute favorite, largely in part to the visuals. Battle graphics are also suitable, and FMVs, eloquently placed are nothing short of breathtaking. This is shining success.
It is 20 years after Chrono Trigger, and, besides an astonishingly quick change in plate tectonics, you play a young man named Serge and his trusty swallow (the weapon, not the bird). Apparently a rather whipped young lad, Serge is ordered by his girlfriend Leena to gather some seashells and meet her at the local beach. However, after his arrival and a brief conversation, mysterious events find him transported to a world nearly identical to his own, but in which his closest friends fail to recognize him, and, to his own dismay, all declare one named Serge dead and gone for seven years and counting. As Serge travels on to discover the mysteries and secrets of this strange, yet familiar, world, he encounters a young lass named Kid, of Radical Dreamers fame, who befriends him on a great adventure which takes several drastic twists, a shuffle to the left, a wiggle over to the right, several nods in the direction of Chrono Trigger, and even a brush with fate itself (you?ll get that later and laugh, trust me). Altogether, this well-thought out plot starts picking up pace and never lets up, culminating to a fantastic last few hours. A joy for neophytes and an even greater treat for Trigger veterans.
Aye, it could?ve been so much more. Alas, with over 40 characters, appropriate development is, sadly, quite slim. Regardless, what is done is surely done well, but this faulty jab at the Suikoden series falls short without an appropriate storyline and a specified ?central characters? focus to support and unify it. Frankly, I don?t care if character #27 speaks with an ?-om? at the end of every word; I want to know who his cousin?s nephew?s roommate from band camp was and what the hell it was he ate for dinner last night. Nevertheless, memorable characters like Harle and Kid still leave an impact, but the wish to see your favorite minor character expanded is always dependably unfulfilled.
Variety is, for the most part, rather slim, and although the plot takes a rather linear stream, there is no discouragement for going off to explore the various islands of the El Nido Archipelago. Essentially, gameplay consists of traveling from locale to locale in exposition and furthering of the plot, with a few fun sidequests along the way and a dragon-feeding minigame to boot. Once you hit the last 1/3 of the game, everything seems to become more centralized plot-wise but outside breaks off giving you multiple sidequest opportunities, such as a (greatly difficult) optional boss and some Trigger d?j? vu. Once completed, the game rewards you with a few items for another play through via a ?New Game+? feature, which will also give you the opportunity to recruit characters unavailable before, and, in its predecessor?s fashion, beating the game at certain points will provide different endings, and the necessity to play through two or more times exists with some of the optional quests. Besides a few difficulty or slow-down snags here and there, gameplay remains tasteful and well-executed.
Battle System:
One of Chrono Cross?s greatest highlights is its battle system, a combination of Xenogears and the dream that things should only work once in a while. Combat revolves around stamina. When a character comes to an action, he or she will begin with seven points of stamina, with the option of a weak, medium, or strong attack that uses one, two, or three points of stamina, respectively, each with a lower degree of success than the last. If a character has at least one point of stamina remaining that turn, he or she has the ability to cast an ?element,? or spell. Before battle, the player allocates these collected elements to a character-specific grid which is divided into levels. Each one of these specific elements has a basic level, and by placing it elsewhere it will be strengthened or, if placed lower than its basic level, weakened.
There are three types of elements, the most common of which can be used only one time per battle, others which are consumable, and yet others which are designed to trap elements cast on your allies by enemies. In addition, Cross relegates each character an ?innate? color which designates how effective he or she is against an enemy of a different color. These come in opposites: black and white, blue and red, and yellow and green; they do extra damage to one another, so while a character?s attacks may be very effective against an enemy, this usually means that the enemy?s attacks do extra damage to the same character, adding a perilous feeling to combat. This, combined with the colors of the elements themselves also increases depth, for using a volcano spell with a character whose innate color is blue will easily weaken the attack, while a healing spell with a blue-innate character will restore more HP than it would with another.
Finally, levels and experience have been done away with, giving way to a SaGa inspired increase in individual stats after each battle. Maximum parameters are increased, however, by earning ?star levels? after defeating bosses. Clearly, as the number of bosses is a set amount, a few playthroughs are required to achieve exuberantly high statistics. Simply put, this is battle?original and fun.
As usual, there isn?t much to say for this category. In this instance, Chrono Cross controls smoothly with its pre-rendered backgrounds and menus are clearly constructed and easy-to-use. Nothing less than standard excellence from Square.
Oh! Glorious Mitsuda! How miraculous! Probably the most gorgeous, beautiful, and brilliantly composed music to ever grace a Playstation disc. Matching each track expertly to its locale, Mitsuda expands on the game?s various tones to present, among many other things, an amazing opening FMV, an incredibly moving world map theme, battle themes to avoid stagnation for hour upon hour, and half the reason I downright love that Dead Sea so much. Words can not express how incredible this soundtrack is. Only music.
And because I must, sound design is also well conducted, and, like other expected standards, does its duty and does it well. Oh, how nice it sounds to allocate an element.

Comments/Final Thoughts:
So now, as I look back at my decision, I can say with the utmost certainty that the same forces which led me to Chrono Cross were also responsible for other wonderful things, like my first play through Final Fantasy VII. Chrono Cross itself has a fantastic one-two punch of marvelous graphics and extraordinary music which reminds me, every time I slide in my dusty CD, why I play RPGs. A fantastic sequel, a tremendous story, and an experience not to be missed.
Total Score:
63.9/70 = 91.3%
Editor's Grade
dotted line "Astounding Graphics, Amazing Music, and a wish for about 35 less playable characters. A great stand-alone sequel and an RPG gamer's feast."
dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on ratings) | Rate it Now
Agree? Disagree? Submit your Chrono Cross Reader Review
Nerd Patriarch
Square Haven Editor
Member since October 19, 2002
User Profile

Post a New CommentPlease register or login to comment

Login here
or cancel
Forgot your password?