Chrono Cross was a game developed by the “Dream Team” at Squaresoft (who is now Square Enix). The project was managed by several notable figures like Director Masato Kato, Artists Yasuyuki Honne and Nobuteru Yuki, Designer Hiromichi Tanaka and famed composer Yasunori Mitsuda.A spiritual successor to the legendary Chrono Trigger, the game was released in 2000 and was met with very favourable reviews. Re-released now on the PSN, fans and newcomers have a chance to experience Chrono Cross again in its original form.
The story follows Serge, a young lad from Arni Village who accidently discovers an alternate world where he drowned and completely ceased to exist. On his journey, he meets a spunky thief by the name of Kid who is searching for a mystical artefact known as the Frozen Flame. As he tries to make sense of things, Serge teams up with her as they travel between two parallel worlds to try to set things straight and save the world from destruction.
Magic is comprised of elements in this game and there are six types: red, blue, green, yellow, white and black. Each of them symbolizes a different power used to fight enemies (e.g. red is fire, blue is water, etc.) The field effect gauge in combat tells you about your environment and conveys intel like the monsters’ weakness as well as the effectiveness of the element. Opposite elements deal the most damage to the foes you fight on the world map. If an enemy is innately black, they are most vulnerable to white elements and so forth.
Battles follow a turn based format with a stamina meter for each of your party members. All monsters are fully visible on the open terrain with no random encounters. Any actions selected to either attack, defend, or use an element uses stamina and once it expires, the character must await their next turn. You quickly learn to be strategic as you balance the need to constantly switch from offensive to defensive tactics. Your weapons, equipment and other accessories are not purchased but forged by the various materials you find along your journey and from the spoils of defeated monsters. Party stats are boosted after victorious fight as there is no experience point system with character stats limited to a few increases before engaging a giant boss.
Though dated by today’s standards, the visuals were truly spectacular when the game was originally released. The game showcased the PSone at its best with smooth environments, detailed character designs and vibrant artwork. On the audio side, the soundtrack has stood the test of time and is an excellent accompaniment to the game that lends it the appropriate mood and setting. Still composing soundtracks for different video games, Chrono Cross is one of Yasunori Mitsuda’s finest works.
Chrono Cross is a charming RPG for casual and old fans alike and for newcomers who have yet to experience the title firsthand. What the game lacks in graphics is minor compared to its intricate plot, expansive worlds and stellar gameplay. As the PSone originals become harder to find, the addition of one of the best PSone RPGs on the Playstation Network is very much welcome and one that deserves a top spot on this year’s holiday shopping list.
Score – 84%