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    If it weren't for the majority of people who were born at the end of Generation X and the beginning of Generation Y, this debate wouldn't exist. I say this because we were the first generation to be brought up having wide access to televisions...and the fact that most of us wanted more interaction with it rather than being passive sacks of meat slowly roasting in the lovely radiation that it brought into our lives...much like the hotdogs at 7-11.

    Every medium has had at one point, neophytes and veterans that love to go back and forth debating entertainment value versus artistic value. Consider this my entry to be added to the ever increasing pile of games as art discussion. Even though the videogame medium isn't new, it was only recently that our beloved game industry surpassed profits that rival that of the movie industry. Yup, what was once a niche market has become mainstream and with it...more arguing.

    I love videogames. I love art. However but I can't pretend to know what art really is. Hell, so many people don't even realize that the definition of the word is so subjective as to be completely misunderstood by many who would use it to further one side or the other.

    There is just something about how the whole argument for or against games as art that I find completely revolting...to the point of hating the whole fucking mess. It gets so bad sometimes that I will purposely miss out on some excellent games because of the relentless battles of whether it is/isn't art.

    Don't get me wrong, I do believe videogames can be art, regardless of its entertainment value or sheer transparency as a work of pulp. My biggest problem is that people want to have a laser-beam focus on certain games or an aspect of them that they want to consider works of art...I don't think it's that simple, you can't pick one game and have it be THE example while not allowing all others a fair shake.

    Let's start with classic gaming. I can see the inherent beauty in classic games like Donkey Kong, Frogger, and even Burgertime. I'm not talking about the simple piles of pixels that make up the image you see on the screen (which to sprite junkies like myself are art), but in the manner in which you (as the player) interface with the machine. Even the guts of the arcade cabinet itself have a beauty that many people would argue whether it's art or not.

    Even with all of the arguments I just brought up, it seems that nobody wants to debate classic gaming at all. They're on an untouchable pedestal where it 'just isn't fair' to drag into the debates that focus on more recent games on sleeker hardware.

    The most commonly used example that I hear about is Shadow of the Colossus. It's already one generation behind but for most of us gamers, that SHOULDN'T matter. It's an excellent game and is gorgeous to look at. My biggest complaint about them citing Shadow is that these people are using a good game on a sexy piece of hardware for their argument about which games should be considered art. It's the same as bringing up Andy Warhol's Soup Can paintings...or Godwin's Law. It's so common that I feel that you've already lost the argument.

    All of the posturing and fighting over something so trivial as to whether you see it as art or not is in my opinion, ridiculous. When you become so focused on classifying the merits and artistic value of a game, you tend to become so shortsighted as to not pay attention to the other aspects that make the game up.

    Personally I don't see there ever being an end to the debate, but more or less an agreement between the both sides to disagree with each other. It's happened with all forms of mass media over the years, whether it be heavy metal music, comic books, or Fox News.

    I wish that people could approach the arguments with a bit more of an open mind instead of having set variables that need to be filled in order to classify it one way or another. Word.

    Let me get this out there right now. There is in my mind, no better example of a platforming game and no "Mario" game that comes as close to perfection than Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo. I love this game like no other, and I'm sure that there are thousands if not millions of gamers out there who would agree with me. However there is something serious that occurs when I play it that makes me despise myself entirely.

    My problem...my "hate" about Super Mario World is that I become a Super Mario World savant because of the OCD that this game brings out of my personality. I can't simply finish a red-dotted level and leave it be...I MUST finish them any and every way possible before I can move onto the next level.

    This behavior isn't merely limited to the fact that I can't leave a stage without being satisfied that I've finished it properly. It extends to the my atrocious behavior of having to travel back across the whole fucking map of Super Mario World, just so I can visit the "Top Secret Area"...I even do this in co-op play, much to the chagrin of anyone I've duped into playing with me.

    I'm not kidding...I've found myself sometimes travelling from places as far as The Valley of Bowser all the way back to Donut Plains to get Yoshi and some powerups. It's hardcore...and it's completely retarded. In fact, this may have been before I started exhibiting the other OCD tick I have about finishing levels that I mentioned earlier.

    Upon realization that the red-dotted levels had secret exits (which in some areas, was pretty damn easy to figure out) and that it meant that there was more than one path that would be cleared once you finished them...the game got busted wide open. Suddenly I found myself in Star World and Special World, which in my tiny, tiny world...I knew that I was seeing areas that few of my friends had ever seen.

    I would love it if I could have a playthrough that would emulate that of a normal 'happy-go-lucky' person does, trouncing through Dinosaur Land with no cares at all. Nope, can't ever happen. I am always compelled to play the game with machine precision, otherwise it just doesn't feel right to me.

    I love this game, I can't state that enough. It's seriously one of the most perfect games ever made, but I hate myself for loving every single second I spend playing it as soulless gaming machine.

    Well, RevAnt hasn't put up the Monthly Musings for December just yet (I'm assuming is forthcoming)...I thought maybe I could sneak this one under the radar of the astute readers of Destructoid, even though it's really the first of the month.

    I read the title of November's musings and thought immediately of something that I'm sure nobody touched on, Battletoads. Ok, hear me out, 'do the wrong thing' shouldn't necessarily be doing evil or violence in order to push a story along, but for me it was what guys like me had to do with our limited game collections in the late 80s/early 90s.

    Ok so, Battletoads. Everyone who knows me, knows I have this massive video game boner for the game and anything else associated with the genre. Well, when the game came out on the NES back in 1991, me and my cadre of pre-teen gamers (about 5 of us if I recall) were one of the first people in our school to get our hands on this game.

    I had no idea what I was really in for...but none of us really knew what to expect from this game, except for toads, battling, and whatever Nintendo Power told us through its short-lived comic series.

    We powered up the NES that fateful Friday evening and began playing, only to have our asses handed to us within the first 20 minutes...scratch that, the first 5 minutes when we realized that you could actually fall off the face of the f*cking planet on the first level by walking too far down.

    I swear we didn't put this game down until the following morning when it was time to shut off the NES to watch Saved By The Bell and eat Cap'n Crunch. Unbeknownst to us, there was another game in transit to our local arcade that weekend that would change the face of gaming forever.

    Street Fighter II came on the scene around the same time as Battletoads, and you might be wondering what the hell the two have to do with each other...but we're getting to that soon, I promise.

    Being the video gaming fiends that we were (some still are), it didn't take long for us to desire more and more time at the mall to play Street Fighter II. The fighting game bug had bitten us and we were powerless against its infection.

    What were we to do with ourselves now that we wanted a fighting game experience and there was none to be had on the NES?!? You got it, we invented a Battletoads fighting league. Talk about doing the wrong thing...we started using the 'friendly-fire' that Battletoads had to beat the shit out of each other repeatedly.

    It was glorious...and for some of us, BETTER than playing Street Fighter II! We'd start the game up and either proceed to pound on each other in the first level once you beat up the first set of pigs, or we'd go just a bit further and fight over the war-walker's leg to use as a weapon. We'd keep this trend going as far as the descent level where you're rappelling and you can still cause mayhem to your co-op partner.

    Sure, it might not be evil, but there is something to be said about our gaming generation that had to make due with alternatives to the games we REALLY wanted to play. We may not have had all the fancy consoles and games we enjoy today, but god-damnit we loved what we had and still reminisce about the friendships they helped solidify. Right or wrong, sometimes doing the wrong thing can feel so right.

    If there's one genre of games I think is getting the shaft over and over again that made me fall in love with gaming in the first place, it would have to be the beat 'em ups. These games were just notorious for eating a roll of quarters faster than a German in a Mentos commercial. The funniest thing is that many of us didn't seem to mind doing so.

    I wince when I think of all the cash that I've dumped into the arcades in my formative years playing these games, all of that cash that could have gone to something more worthwhile like delicious snack foods or maybe saved in my own pocket so I could afford more cartridges for my Sega Master System or my Nintendo. The biggest offence are the ones that I had beaten so many times before but I continued to play and play over and over again.

    Tonight's list are just those, the games where you too might remember playing through multiple times, but wouldn't mind going back and doing it all again...there's no better word to describe them than classic.

    Knights of the Round

    This game had it all for kids like me who grew up listening and fantasizing about Arthurian legends. You had Arthur with his well balanced attacking, Percival with his arm/shoulder guard and devastating axe, and finally that a-hole Lancelot with his long-flowing hair.

    I mean, this is just the start of the list today and I'm already breaking out a game that had character leveling, and a whole slew of pretty sprites that you just don't see anymore.

    The Punisher

    In my opinion, this is the only Punisher piece of media outside of the comic to be any sort of fun. I mean, who doesn't enjoy the idea of taking up the mantle of the Punisher or Nick Fury (Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and fighting your way through the criminal underworld of the Kingpin?

    Notably, this game was obscene with the amount of weaponry strewn about the levels. You had flamethrowers, pistols, MAC-10s, M-16s, and those are just the firearms...I loved this game, even when it got ported down to the Genesis/Mega Drive, except for the fact that the sexy ninja ladies got more clothing in the home version.

    Cadillacs and Dinosaurs

    In case you never heard of the comic series that was responsible for the birth of this game, Xenozoic Tales was a comic series that lasted about 14 issues back in the mid-eighties which featured a storyline of humanity retreating into underground cities for 600 years due to natural disasters and pollution. When the humans emerged, the Earth had been overrun with extinct species from Earth's past...most notibly, Dinosaurs.

    This game (another Capcom masterpiece) was great for the fact that it combined things that all male children who grew up in the 80s and 90s enjoyed: big cars, beating people up, guns, explosives, dinosaurs, and cussing. Yup, this was one of Capcom's first games to actually feature expletives in the game itself. Whether it be Jack saying "damn, I'm good!" or the boss in stage 2 saying a censored "fuck you!" it didn't matter, it had me laughing everytime.

    Warriors of Fate
    Based on the Manga (Tenshi wo Kurau), this beat 'em up took place in the Three-Kingdoms era of Chinese history with your character as the main protagonist for the Kingdom of Shu.

    Main difference for this game over the ones I listed that were the standard Capcom side-scroller beat 'em ups, is that this one was particularly gory. I'm saying like bad guys being cleft in twain if you perform a finishing move or are equipped with certain edged weapons. Not only that, but there is a metric fuckton of decapitations and fights where the enemy just blows up from the amount of awesome you punch into them. Any fan should seek this game out just for the violence factor. PERIOD.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    Following the huge pile of fail that was the NES game that all of us own, Konami sought to bring in buckets of coin with their first TMNT arcade game that would start a trend for the company. A trend that lasted through multiple ports of their arcade games, a Simpsons based arcade machine, and 2 modern-day ports onto Xbox Live Arcade.

    The first game that started it all was this one back in 1989. I don't know if any of you were around when it first started showing up in arcades, but I personally can remember going to Aladdin's Castle and dropping many a dollar trying to get past the first couple of levels.

    It wasn't until the game received mass distribution into locales like Pizza Hut (or Mazzio's Pizza for me in Arkansas) that I finally reached the final levels of the game. I can fondly remember the in-fighting that would happen between friends as to who gets to play a certain character. This was all new territory for kids like me and was generally quickly resolved until a certain other 'character specific' game came along, which is the next one on my list.


    I was lucky enough to have a few locations around me that had the full dual-screened, six-player cabinets for this game. There's nothing quite like the experience of playing X-Men with five of your buddies and not being the one that has to use Dazzler as your character.

    Personally, I was always hoping to either be Wolverine or Nightcrawler because they're two of my favorites, but I wouldn't mind being anyone else except for Dazzler, boy what were the developers thinking when they put her in? Couldn't they pick anyone else from the X-Men roster to use in the game?

    If you've been living under a rock your whole life, X-Men was an excellent beat 'em up that allowed you to sacrifice life points in order to use your mutant abilities, let you beat up on enemies when they're down, and had animation comparable with the television series, which was great for the time...plus dude, it had Marvel characters beating the shit out of other Marvel characters.

    Final Fight

    What else can I say about this game that hasn't been said already. We have so many internet memes that Poison himself has been responsible for, a whole genre of anime/manga called futanari, and a mayor that is so ripped that he makes Jesse Ventura look like a she-male.

    I'll tell you what I especially love about the Final Fight series...so many of these characters have eventually found their way to the Street Fighter Alpha (and SFIII) series that it makes me feel that one day, we might see a Final Fight game that does the same and lets you clean the city up using SF characters...well at least I can dream.

    Dungeons and Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara

    If the first D&D game that came out in the arcades wasn't enough for you, they came out with a sequel a few years after called Shadow over Mystara that blew the socks off the original. There were a few new classes over the original Fighter/Dwarf/Cleric/Elf that were in the original with the addition of the Thief and Magic User.

    The best part about this game is that they really tried to make an action-RPG on par with games that we'd only see on the PC. I just find myself lucky that I bought the import version of this game with the Drow titties intact.

    Alien Vs. Predator

    This game almost made my number one spot...if there weren't a game out there that completely steals my heart everytime I play it. This in my opinon, was the pinnacle of the arcade beat 'em ups made by Capcom.

    It takes place on a Earth of the future where the Aliens have landed and have begun to take over the entire planet. The only hope for the California town of San Drad lies in the hands of the hands of two soldiers (one being the same namesake of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the original movie), and two Predators who have come to Earth to hunt the Xenomorphs.

    I could always count on picking Lynn Kurosawa and making it through about 30% of the game on one credit before the difficulty got out of hand and it became just another quarter muncher like all of the titles before it, best thing is that it was in a game universe that I had grown to love over the years...just done really well.


    Ok so I may be a bit biased here...mainly because Battletoads on the Genesis (Mega Drive) and the NES is one of those games that instantly transports me back to my childhood in ways that other games have never even come close.

    The arcade version...is that game on steroids and methamphetamines. Picture a game you loved as a kid, but with ultraviolence, excellent sound, and graphics that blew the version you loved out of the water. I mean, you got to chooose between all 3 battletoads, and each one was a bit different.

    Where this game shined for me was the special attacks you could perform. Sure, the bad guys were still the palette swaped giant rats from the other games, but how you could dispose of them was the selling-point. Much like how you'd play games like Super Dodge Ball, you too could control your battletoad into doing special moves that would dismember said victims in the most entertaining of ways. I'm talking Army of Darkness / Evil Dead 2 gore here people...it was enough to make me have a bit of a geekgasm.

    Captain America and The Avengers

    I should have loved this game but the fact that the dialogue and health system were both so horrible, I just can't forgive it's sins. The line that kills me is the first battle with a boss character...in the first level it's Whirwind and the Avengers say "You cannot escape!" only to have the retarded villain quip back with "You will be the one's escaping"...it's just so dreadful I can't take it.

    Well, this concludes yet another Weird Kids Top 10 list. I hope you all enjoyed reading it. I know for certain that there are many of you out there that will disagree with some of my choices for this list, but keep in mind that this is in no way a definitive listing nor is it meant to be taken seriously. Its all for fun, just enjoy reading and take something away with you or leave a comment if you so wish.

    If you have a particular Top 10 that youd like to see email me, and Id be happy to oblige. Thank you again for reading. See you again next time!

    Back in the great days of my youth almost 19 years ago, when the NES was king and I was a portly little quiet kid. A kid who escaped everyday to the Mushroom Kingdom and Dracula's Castle to avoid my boring existence as a grade school child. I had very few friends and a non-existent home life so video games became a coping mechanism to help my personal development and became my best friend.

    The NES in today's world is considered archaic, dilapidated, old, and maybe even silly; to me, it was the best game console ever made (until the SNES that is). Many of the games that were there to be enjoyed were ones you had to beat within the time-span from when the power button was pressed to the on position to the time when you either:

    A) Accidentally Hit the Reset Button
    B) Had a Power Outage (prevalent in the south)
    C) The Connection Between Cartridge and NES Failed
    D) You Hit The Power Button

    If you didn't beat the game in that span of time, you had to start over from the beginning, usually World/Level 1-1.

    There were some games that did come with more advance features such as Battery Backup (which is now starting to fail in some of my older games ;__:) or Password Features that were great as long as you write it down exactly as it appeared, if not, back to World 1-1 Noob! There was however a way around this problem, the NES didn't generate heat much at all, the power supply did, so many of us started to leave the NES on all night long while we slept.

    I can remember going home from school on Friday night playing all day until I couldn't possibly go any further, shutting off the TV, the lights and everything else only to have the square cyclopic red eyeball of the NES stare at me all night like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey threatening to kill me while I slept. Today's list deals with those few games that forced me to do so on many occasions, I'll see you at the end.

    Goonies II
    While the original Goonies game was never released here in America, its sequel did manage to see the light of day. The story had you playing as Mikey trying to rescue the other Goonies as well as a mermaid from the clutches of the evil Fratellis who have escaped from prison once again.

    This game was long, and in most respects a pain in the ass to play when it went to its faux-3D rooms that you had to explore. Other than those, it was a really really fun game to play. If it wasn't for the repeating rendition of Cyndi Lauper's song from the movie, it would be a great game. The game does have a password feature but since it was a bit too complicated like most Konami games, if you messed up one letter or one character...it's back to the beginning of the game.

    Clash At Demonhead
    One of the more relatively unknown games I own on my NES, Clash At Demonhead was a real acquired taste. The game seemed majorly flawed by its graphics and stunted gameplay, but the story is where the game shined. If you've never had a chance to play this game, give it a little time and it will come to grow on you and become one of the best platforming adventure games you've ever played. Well, at least that's my opinion.

    This was yet another game that had no way of saving your game unless you really enjoyed entering a password that could have very easily been transcribed wrong. The risk was always just a bit too high for me to quit the game with a password. I even had a chalkboard in my room (whiteboards didn't exist back then) that I would use to keep track of all of my game secrets and passwords.

    Faxanadu was perhaps one of the first action RPGs that I played while growing up. Sure, I had spent a whole bunch of time playing Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, but this game provided more for me. The music and graphics used in the game were substantial for the time the game was released. This was perhaps one of the first games that I ever played that used music as more than just background filler.

    The worst part about playing any RPG on the old NES wasn't so much that it was hard, but the fact that so many of them used passwords instead of batteries to save your progress. Faxanadu was brutal because it used both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, AND punctuation marks in its passwords. I guess playing games like this set me up for the job I do today...making passwords for simpletons.

    Metal Gear
    Oh man the first Metal Gear was a nerdy kids wet dream, it had it all: simulated stealth, cigarettes, c-rations, 15 different weapons and a cardboard box you could sneak around in. The only problem, is that I didn't quite know all that was going on thanks to the lack of good localization (trust me the MSX version was much better). Kojima had a great game even for the 80s standards of Nintendo games, it was released under the Ultra label to get past Nintendo's embargo on game companies making too many games per year. As has been one of my favorite games all throughout my childhood.

    To get an example of how retarded the game's save feature was, here ya go. There was NO battery at all and when you called on the radio to get your password you got a string of 25 numbers that you would have to write down. 25 is a lot of stuff to write down and to input into ANY game. Here's the password that I actually used to have memorized so I could start the game with all the equipment if you don't believe how much work old games used to be: 5XZ1C GZZZG UOOOU UYRZZ NTOZ3. Tell me that's not a tad overkill...

    Ghosts & Goblins
    This game gets one paragraph, and only one because it fucking sucks how this game played me as a kid. I get to the last level and up the the boss only to be dragged ALL THE WAY back to the beginning of the game. At that point I turned the game off and went to bed angry. I got up and beat the game the next morning only to take it back to game store to demand a full return of my money. There, I said it, fuck this game.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    A game that I have only beaten once, ever, in the whole time that I have owned the cartridge. I even got punished because I was so late coming home that night because I was at the last level facing off against Shredder. In case you didn't know, TMNT also has a rather negative stigma as a really tough game that is unforgiving. Whether your hangups be on the level with the electric seaweed and the underwater bombs, or the multiple times that you have to witness screen flicker from too many sprites on the screen at one time, this game could fuck you up quickly.

    Do I even need to remind the people here that Raphael was a pretty worthless character because his sais had an attack range of maybe 3 inches? Its not so much that this game didn't have a password or save feature, but it was always tough for me to reach for the power button when I spent 3 hours getting to the 4th stage. At times I miss how tough games were, but then again I remember how mad some always made me and how often I would take all my aggression out on my poor defenseless controllers.

    Super Maro Bros. 3
    Ok, ok, I'm sure there are some of you calling bullshit on this one being here on the list, but lets face the facts here. Mario 3 is a simple game if you cheat and use the warp whistles, but what about the people like me who wanted to play the ENTIRE game themselves? I can recall with great joy the moment I made it above the clouds in World 5 and the triumph I felt after beating World 7 all by myself. If anyone was going to be tapping that sweet princess peach it was going to be me!

    Man, is it just me, but does it not take forever to beat every single stage in SMB3? What's worse is the fact that Nintendo in their infinite short sightedness decided that this game didn't need any kind of save feature! Thankfully when I bought Super Mario All-Stars, it remedied the problem and had a save feature for EACH Mario game on the cart.

    Little Nemo: The Dream Master
    It's no surprise that most of the games that I've put on my top 10 are some of the most despicable examples of hard games, and Little Nemo was no slouch in that department either. The game seems somewhat of a kids game until you get to the train on the Topsy Turvy level and spend the next 2 hours trying to figure out the whole pattern to it all to get to the next stage.

    I loved this game for the mere fact that you bribe the animals you come across to let you "borrow" them by throwing candy at them. Bee Mario? Sorry it was done back before the Wii ever thought of it when Nemo could become a bee himself. Oh man, there is just something about Capcom games from back in the late 80s that will always warm my heart to think about them.

    Bionic Commando
    I creamed myself when I played the remake of this game on XBLA in glorious HD and with 3D graphics. It is a retro-gamer's dream to have a game like Bionic Commando be remade. This is one of the most classic examples of a quality game, it had great graphics, sound, music, animation, and a somewhat plausible story featuring everyone's favorite punching bag: Hitler!

    There was no chance of me ever turning off my console once I started playing Bionic Commando when I was young. After spawn camping one spot in the first area to build up my life points (it took collecting 300 bullets randomly dropped by baddies), and collecting all of my equipment to cross the big span between the first areas to the final areas...I became a zombie. I would purposely leave my NES on just to prove to some of my friends that I had in fact beat the game. You see, back then it was easy to say that you beat a game, it was another point entirely to prove that you did.

    Ah, what can I say about one of the best games to ever grace the good ol' NES? It was one of Rare's first in a long line of awesomesauce that the company became known for so many years later. But there is a catch with Battletoads, this game was really fucking hard, not just a little hard, really really fucking hard. The game's length is pretty extensive too, I have yet to see a game like this where there are so many varied elements of gameplay. If there was one thing I could leave behind with Battletoads, it would have to be the speeder bike level.

    The game had NO password settings, NO battery backup, and was quite possibly one of the meanest games to ever allow multiplayer. There was friendly fire in this game in a time where friendly fire wasn't even defined outside the military. That never stopped my and my friends from just beating the shit out of each other though. I can remember playing just that first level almost like it were my very own version of Street Fighter II. With a game as brutal as this though, who could blame me?

    The Simpsons: Bart vs The Space Mutants
    If there's anything I hate more than poorly designed games, its poorly designed games that have no apparent way of beating them. That's were this awesome example of licensed gaming comes into play. The game looked great, but was nigh impossible to win at it. I can even think of the area in the game that always hung me up. It was right where you have to run up the dinosaur skeleton and make this unbelievable leap of faith. The game was very sparing with giving you extra lives but you go through them at an insane rate.

    To this day, I've never beat this game but I can recall having to leave my NES on overnight only to lose every SINGLE extra life that I had within 5 minutes, though no matter how mad I would get at this game, I'd still try to track down a copy.

    Well, this concludes yet another Weird Kids Top 10 list. I hope you all enjoyed reading it. I know for certain that there are many of you out there that will disagree with some of my choices for this list, but keep in mind that this is in no way a definitive listing nor is it meant to be taken seriously. Its all for fun, just enjoy reading and take something away with you or leave a comment if you so wish.

    If you have a particular Top 10 that youd like to see let me know! Id be happy to oblige. Thank you again for reading. See you again next time!

    Chrono Cross is just one of those games that deserve more dissection and more attention from the gaming world even though I'm sure it's been done before by many other contributors and writers here on Destructoid. This was perhaps the final RPG on the PlayStation that I fell in love with, seeing how it was released weeks before the PlayStation 2 was released in the American market.

    With Chrono Cross being the sequel / prequel / concurrent-quel to Chrono Trigger (time travelling in games and movies is generally a bad idea), there was an already rabid fan base that was just dying to get their hands on this game. I was one of these rabid gamers. I can recall fondly the amount of time I spent in my youth going on adventures through time as Crono, all of the times I beat the game, and the emotions that were tied to the game's characters.

    The feelings that were there as a 13 year old SNES gamer were realized again when Chrono Cross came out. I had hoped that it would be a true sequel to the game that I had grown to love, but as more and more details came out about the characters and setting, I was starting to feel let down. "Who the hell is Serge and WTF is up with the Harlequin character," I mused to myself angrily as I watched and read everything that was posted about Chrono Cross before its release.

    Now, I'm sure that I'm not the only person who used to track games from the day they're announced to the day it comes out. This was one of those few times that I was literally shaking once I had my copy in my hands. The mentality that says "I must forsake everything and everyone until I have played this game for at least 10 hours," took me over and I was a Square zombie for the next 4 days.

    Not seeing the forest for the trees, many gamers are quick to overlook the story of Chrono Cross as non-canon and having nothing to do with Chrono Trigger. Even I didn't realize that the events from Chrono Cross were majorly tied to characters and other events from Chrono Trigger. Turns out that ***MAJOR SPOILER WARNING*** Kid is actually a cloned version of Schala (Janus's sister) that was raised by Lucca and sent back in time to save Serge. We come to find out that the entire point of Chrono Cross is a plot set up by Belthasar (one of the gurus from Chrono Trigger) to save the universe. This game probably has the most tightly woven and cryptic story I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot considering I love Hideo Kojima games.

    Continuing on with more tie-ins between the two games:

    Ozzie, Slash, and Flea make cameo appearances.

    The Frozen Flame (which is a central part of Chrono Cross) is actually a piece of Lavos that was fractured from his body when he landed on the planet.

    There are allegories to a lost city known as Dinopolis which was a city of Reptites from Chrono Trigger.

    Crono, Marle, and Lucca appear as apparitions to Serge and the party before the final battle.

    The final battle in the game is between the party and the Time Devourer (which is Schala merged with Lavos).

    There is a New Game + mode.

    There are multiple endings depending on when you fight the final battle.

    This just goes to show you that the events in Chrono Cross should be taken a little more seriously, because to me this IS a true sequel to Chrono Trigger. But that's enough about story; let's get into what people initially judge all games on...the graphics.

    For PlayStation standards, the graphics were undoubtedly great due to the game coming out near then end of the PS1's life. There are wonderfully hand-drawn backgrounds layered in some of the most vibrant colors that you rarely see in any RPG these days. The FMV sequences remain some of the best that I've ever seen come out of Square, especially the scene where the newly embodied Lynx turns to Kid and stabs her in the guts.

    The characters are represented by 3D models that actually look like themselves from the game's battle sequences. It's great that Square decided to go this route instead of super deformed characters like we got in FFVII and FFIX. There's nothing worse than being ripped from a game by glaring differences like that.

    Perhaps the best part of Chrono Cross to me, and many other gamers out there, is the soundtrack. There has yet to be a masterpiece made by Yasunori Mitsuda to rival the work that he put into this game's soundtrack. Instead of the midi-sounding music that had become so prevalent on the PS1, Mitsuda took samples of instruments directly and at a very high bit rate. What you end up with are songs that actually sound like they are being played by those instruments. A great example of this is on the song 'Another Ami' where it sounds like the guitar in the song is actually being played (complete with fingers sliding on the frets), not a synthesized version of a guitar...this probably had to do with his fellow Xenogears musician Tomohiko Kira helping on a few of the more guitar heavy tracks.

    The gameplay was rich for an RPG. You have the usual suspects when it comes to travel, the overworld map, the in town areas, dungeons, etc. What made this game even more loved to those who enjoyed the original was that there were no random battles at all. The only difference being, that when you ran into an enemy, you would go to a different screen for battles instead of the menus popping up on the screen like it did in Chrono Trigger.

    Returning to the game from the original, were the tech attacks that all characters can perform that could also be initiated by tag-teaming with other party members, and you also saw a return of the magic system. The difference being that magic isn't something that you get from leveling up explicitly, you could also get them from shops, treasure chests, and as drops from enemies you fight.

    Overall, this is quite possibly one of my favorite games due to the fact that you always feel like you're actually having an effect on the game with each decision you make. Ultimately, not everything you do matters, whether you collect all 40+ people in your party, or if you choose to go up in an elevator rather than down, it really doesn't matter but it gives you the foreboding feeling that any decision you make could be the one that saves the world or destroys it. I would be happy if people gave this game its due respect as a true sequel to Chrono Trigger; to me it is and will always remain one of my favorite RPGs and a game that defines me.

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