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Excremento avatar 3:47 PM on 12.02.2008  (server time)
Games That Defined Me -- Chrono Cross

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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