I’m hoping this will be a new series I can get going and I’m starting with something that, as will be a trend in this series, people seem to universally love, but I just can’t “get:” Chrono Cross. Now initially, I didn’t like this game because it didn’t feel enough like Chrono Trigger. I halfway expected it to be either a direct sequel to CT or be very similar in nature.
But it’s been 11 years…what is it I still really don’t like about the game? Well first I’m going to talk about what I do like so you won’t think I’m just trolling for comments.
What’s Good About It
The graphics are pretty damn good. Sure, Squaresoft’s done better before it, but that’s besides the point. They’re bright, colorful, animated well, and unafraid to use the entire color palette, which is something missing from many of today’s games sadly. To me, it looks like what Breath of Fire 3 would’ve looked like if it ever received a 3D remake. Yeah, THAT colorful and vivid.
The game also features an intriguing plot, though one I never got very far into (I think the last time I stopped at 10 hours in). There’s gotta be something to it, I believe, because otherwise most people would feel the way I do about it, but I’ll get into that later. The sounds and music are beautiful, appropriate, and sometimes pay a homage to Chrono Trigger.
It should also be noted that while it’s not a sequel to CT, it is a pseudo sequel to Radical Dreamers, a super famicom exclusive that was very weird and also an interactive fiction title. So basically, I like the graphics, music, plot, and even characters…so what is it that causes me to be ehh and meh about this one?
What I Hate About It
In the Atelier Iris and Ar Tonelico games, crafting wasn’t a chore and it was pretty involved depending on which one you were playing. In fact, it was one of the stronger elements of the game that kept you coming back. Both Final Fantasy 8 and Chrono Cross feature a crafting element rather than simply purchasing new equipment and it PISSES ME OFF.
What’s the difference? Well, in AI and AT, you get elements, parts, and all kinds of stuff constantly and regularly. Yeah, there’s some stuff that’s pretty rare until you get to a certain area of the game, but it’s often not set up to where you can only make ONE of many different recipes with that ONE item you found that you probably won’t find ever again or at least not for a while.
And that’s exactly what happens in both FF8 and CC. Actually, it’s worse in FF8 because often you have to steal from enemies that are hard to steal from that are hard to find themselves. This was an element I truly loathed from FF8 that I was disappointed to see come over to a title that already wasn’t living up to my expectations (again, because of the fact it wasn’t a CT sequel).
If there ain’t a frog knight and fat robot, it ain’t NOTHING.
Now, you might think I only hate it because it’s not a CT sequel. Well, the older I get, the less that matters. CT is its own thing and it deserves that. So while this was initially a problem, I don’t really care about that aspect anymore. But another thing that threw me, though not as much now as it did then, was the fact that, again like Final Fantasy 8, they threw away the traditional MP system.
There’s a positive and negative to this. The negative is that you have to set up a magic grid strategically (or just do the automated suggestion) and it’s a little weird getting used to it for the first time. The positive is that after combat you can heal with your elements if you’ve saved up enough energy, which means no real micromanagement outside combat.
That and it makes it more casual, which I didn’t really understand back in 2000, but it strangely makes sense today with more casual games on the rise. Even still, I’m none too happy about the MP system. Now there are varying reasons for this, but I’m just going to hop into my most hated one: where the fuck are the techs? For that matter, where are the combination techs?
Even the box art displays what the fuck I’m on about.
A long time ago somebody told me there were combination techs, but regardless of which FAQ I explore, I don’t see them. This was one of the more fun features of CT. Now again, no, it isn’t a direct sequel to CT, but you can’t blame someone for wondering where the fuck they were. Second, since there are elements, characters don’t have their own individual techs…well, not really.
Again, it’s all set up as elements, so it’s very strange how it operates. If I remember correctly, there are specific elements that can only be equipped by certain people, but again, you can’t combine them with other elements, which could’ve been really fun. Nevermind that the combat engine is kinda all over the place. Instead of having it where you fight right there on the field like in CT with the enemies moving about and having bars going then selecting who you wanted to fight and making it all actiony like that, they opted instead for a strictly turn-based/wait style that incorporated stamina, various attacks with different propabilities of hit %, and throw elements into the mix as well.
LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKING NUMBERS.
At first, that sounds kinda fun and possibly even innovative, but it isn’t and here’s why. There was another game that did this same style before it, but also had SRPG and survival elements: Betrayal at Krondor. And it did this very well. CC does not. Sure, it allows you to take down multiple opponents in one turn with this style and I don’t mind that at all. However, it makes it almost undesirable to use elements because, hey, might as well save that energy for post combat so you can recover automatically instead.
Meaning once again we’re treated to an “innovative” system to replace MP that focuses on not using magic. And by “once again,” I’m referring to FF8 and yet another aspect of it I loathe. But it gets better. So in most RPGs when you finish combat, you get experience, probably some gold and stuff, maybe some items…well, in CC you get most of that, but not experience.
No, CC decided to go the route of Final Fantasy Legend 2 and only randomly level you up slightly between some combats. So when I’m going back through playing it again recently, I notice that after combat every so often my max HP increases by 1. Yes, just 1. Sure, I didn’t need for it to increase at all as the enemies were incredibly easy, but seriously…just 1? And no strength, resistance, or whatever upgrades…no, just max HP.
Meet Serge. He’s an undesirable piece of pfart that has worse fashion sense than Tidus.
Well, not until I fought the boss at least, but then that just reminded me of the level up system in Vagrant Story. But again, VS was its own thing. So why can’t CC be, you ask? Again, with the word “Chrono” in the title, it was living up to heavy expectations. Would it maybe have been better if they just called it Radical Dreamers? Sure, probably. But again, most RPGers expect constant traditional RPG elements to be in their RPGs, even if they’re dealing with something totally new and innovative, especially back in the year 2000.
My only other gripe in the game comes in the form of, again, comparing it to CT. As far as I’ve played into, there are only 2 time zones. Remember, CT had 7. 8 if you include the side mission with Lucca. While the elements at play are still interesting and the plot is pretty awesome overall, you don’t get enough of a sense of variety. Think about it.
In CT, you had the prehistoric age, the dawn of magic, the age of knights, the age of samurai (which I never thought made sense but whatever), the day of the apocalypse, the post apocalyptic future, and the end of time. Really, 1999 doesn’t count, but what little you saw of it was interesting. Every area was a little different and a little the same all at once.
There were different enemies, challenges, scenery, tone, and so on. The way it was all put together…I mean, it almost doesn’t sound like it would work, and yet it totally fucking did and in a big way. With CC, there’s a lot going on, but you never really get the sense of variety. There’s really only a 10 year difference between the time zones and that’s not enough to really display a lot of change.
I’ve been feeling nostalgic, so lately I’ve been going back and playing Chrono Cross. All of these elements hit me at once and it was hard to say one way or the other whether I truly hated it or not. You have so many elements in its favor, but so many that keep me from enjoying it as well. I’m going to delve deeper and just get it done as I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but as it stands, I’m confident in my original rating for the game being a solid 7.0.