Lets set the groundwork first. The age of the gamer typically plays a large role in their childhood experiences and how memorable things are. I was born in 1983 and was introduced to the NES at a young age, having got one for Christmas in 1988. This gave me hours upon hours of endless joy playing Zelda 2, Dragon Warrior, Contra, Star Tropics and many other classics. However, I had a lull in my gaming shortly thereafter. My parents refused to buy me anything videogame related (and still do!) after this original purchase. It took about eight years and a few thousand newspapers for me to finally save up enough money to buy an SNES (long after N64 and Playstation were already out). It was okay, but there were no new games available and the guy I bought it from had no rpg's to speak of, so I was left in the dark in that aspect completely. I had played Final Fantasy 2 a bit, at a friends place, but the only true rpg I'd ever played completely to the day was Dragon Warrior. I got an N64 shortly after getting my SNES after convincing my brothers to go splitsies. Again, no rpg's. I began thinking that my favorite genre was adventure-action (Zelda) and gamed only casually. However, in 2001, at the age of 17 I purchased a PSX and everything changed...
It was a friend who inspired me to do it. We were trying to *not* play burned games on his Playstation, even though it didn't have a mod chip. We tried many different things, but finally stumbled onto the "swap trick". Having seen with my own eyes that all it took was one "real" game, a CD burner (which I had), and a blockbuster account, I could have any game under the sun. Off to Microplay I went. Purchased my used PSX and NHL Faceoff 97 (the cheapest game in the store) and headed to blockbuster. Having heard all the hype about Final Fantasy VI, I went looking for it, but fortunately for me, it was out. What I picked up instead, is what I consider to be the absolute best game of all time (having only one flaw).
From the opening video
and and greatest music I've ever heard come out of a game, I was hooked. I played for hours and hours and couldn't put it down.
The story was epic and interesting and full of colourful characters (most of which were recruitable). The battle system, though designed almost exclusively for boss fights, worked very well. I still never get tired of Dash & Slash. The fact that all of your characters leveled up together and only from boss fights also meant that there was no tedious grinding or using crappy players just to get them up to an acceptable level. The graphics were exceptional for the time (especially the cut scenes) and the whole world was full of lush and beautiful environments, all of which are brought to life through the most amazing soundtrack of any game ever made to this day. It is the only soundtrack that I've ever downloaded and the only one that I've learned actually learned how to play some of the songs.
Now, it's important to remember that I hadn't played Chrono Trigger before. And the indulging experience of Chrono Trigger that set the bar through the roof for any sequel was non-existent for me. In fact, since my love affair with RPG's I have gone back and played many of the games that I had missed: Final Fantasy 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Lufia, Phantasy Star IV, Mario RPG, Dragon Warrior 2, and many more. After playing Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger is actually the disappointing game. It is really good, I give you that, but it really isn't better than Final Fantasy 6. And there characters are not type-cast rather than fleshing them out with real personalities. (The loyal knight, nerdy smart girl, free spirited princess, etc.) Chrono Cross, on the other hand has 44 playable characters, and though many of them are very one-dimensional, there are quite a few that have amazing backstories and development (Karsh, Kid, Glenn, Radius, Korcha, Zappa, etc. (On a side note, I heard a rumour they're both getting re-releases for PSP)
I even suffered my greatest memory card failure (losing over 20 hours of gameplay) during my first playthrough of Chrono Cross. Though, I now realize it was a blessing in disguise, as I figured out that the game was very non-linear having different branches of the story and realized that even though I had played the same thing twice, it had been almost completely different.
I now keep up to date a little better with my games and systems. I've played a crap-ton of rpg's for the SNES, NES, Genesis, PSX, PS2 and even the few for the 360. I love them for the story, the battles, the music and most importantly, the experience. At this point, I play them almost exclusively.
CHRONO CROSS!! Best game evar! Play it through without comparing it to Chrono Trigger and tell me you disagree. You won't be disappointed.