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Complicated
Chrono Cross is very much hit-and-miss.

In technical terms, it's excellent. Environments are vivid and gorgeous or suitably dramatic, the special effects are the best the PS 1 can offer, and the soundtrack is one of the greatest ever, video game or no. Combat uses an interesting weak/medium/strong attack system that builds up your characters' ability to use magical Elements, which can be swapped out or even purchased. And instead of level grinding, each boss fight levels you up so you stand a chance against the next one.

Cross's biggest problem is its plot, even ignoring how it deals with Chrono Trigger. For the first few hours of gameplay the story seems understandable enough, even if it involves hopping between timelines. But as the game progresses, more and more bosses seem to come out of nowhere, the rate of info dumps increases exponentially, and all of the scheming and backstabbing becomes bewildering, until you find yourself being shuttled from location to location and fight to fight without knowing why. It's as if there's two games' worth of story being crammed into one-and-a-half discs of gametime, like the developers had a ton of neat ideas they wanted to show you all at once.

The game's other problem is its characters, all 45 of them. Whereas Trigger gave us a core cast of seven to know and love, it seems like every other person you meet in Cross winds up in your party. And we must ask: why was the Mexican wrestler/medium included? The bubble-helmeted alien? The sentient turnip? Maybe a quarter of the cast are PC potential, with half at most usable as supporting NP Cs. The rest serve no purpose plot-wise, often feel completely out of place, and keeps the game from focusing on relevant characters. The fact that Guile's story was thrown out to make room for the talking dog and mushroom man is particularly baffling.

If Cross was just another RPG, it would be mediocre, as its merits and problems roughly balance out. But as the sequel to Chrono Trigger, it's infuriating for learning nothing from its predecessor. Chrono Cross has its enjoyable moments, but ends up feeling rushed and unsatisfying.
Considering you spent most of the time bawwwwwing about the plot and barely touch upon the most important aspect of every game ever made, the gameplay, this "review" is difficult to take seriously.
comment #1863 68.2.141.132 14th Feb 10
You play JRPGS for the Gameplay? lol

Though seriously, I can understand the guy talk more about the story since JRPG very much focus on it since the 16-bits era, and a "good" story is what players remember the most about games of the genre. A JRPG with a bad plot is going to be a lot more harmed by it than something like say, Gun Metal would.
comment #1868 Glowsquid 14th Feb 10 (edited by: Glowsquid)
The point of a review is to let readers know if the game is worth playing or not.

What's annoying is that in his first paragraph he starts describing the gameplay, then randomly spending 2/3 of the review complaining about the plot. He doesn't seem to even dislike the plot so much as whine "It's too complicated!". This whole review is incredibly nit-picky and doesn't even summarize the gameplay.

@Glowsquid

No decent video game's "bad" plot is bad enough to overshadow the gameplay.

comment #1871 68.2.141.132 15th Feb 10
But, but...I LIKED the space dude and plant people. D:
comment #2500 72.213.221.211 13th May 10
The 400 word limit really cuts down what you can say. A full examination of the gameplay wouldn't fit if it was all the review focused on.
comment #2581 Hylarn 21st May 10
Of course a bad plot can overshadow gameplay to someone who rates story as high or higher than gameplay, which is a perfectly reasonable and common stance among Eastern RPG fans. Just because you don't rate gameplay far over story it doesn't follow that those who do not are automatically wrong (or nonexistant).

A review of the story is perfectly valid and doesn't invalidate the review in the slightest. It's well-written and the points are valid, not whiny. Take your trolling someplace else, please.
comment #2583 ccoa 21st May 10
comment #2679 BattleMage 29th May 10
I admit, my knowledge of this game comes solely from The Dark Id's excellent Lets Play of Chrono Cross. But he managed to go into enough detail that I could have some sort of opinion on the game. Also I have finished Chrono Trigger DS, so more knowledge from there.

Cross feels like....Wasted Potential really. I admit, the production vales are AMAZING, and the gameplay actually seems to be quite good. And when it comes to the story, there are some genuinely good plot elements and concepts. Where this game trips and falls flat on it's ass, it the way they string it all together. The game employs some of the worst storytelling methods imaginable to try to hopelessly short out the overwrought and over complicated mess of a plot. It hits the absolute nadir at the end, with the ungodly plot dump that makes a confusing story worse. Villains are stacked up one after the other, each becoming worse and worse characters. And the cast. I am sorry, but 45 characters is NEVER, EVER a correct substitute for a smaller cast in a game such as this. Other games such as Fire Emblem can pull off a large cast, but not here. A smaller cast has room to develop, and can fit into the story much better. And as some of the people on TDI's thread said, having 45 characters is made worse by the fact that you can only have three in a battle at a time. I could talk about how the game treats the Chrono Trigger cast, but quite frankly, I don't see how I could get into that subject without going into a state of pure fury and rage.

Now my opinion does not speak for everybody. I can't really make that kind of judgement. But I just want to share my thoughts. Still. At least it gave us ZOAH.
comment #5505 Emperordaein 20th Dec 10
I agree with the review. The gameplay is okay. It's not bad, it's not great (even by JRPG standards), but the story and narrative is _so_ bad. Theres some good, but the few gems end up buried in the sea of badness. It almost makes me sad. Chrono Trigger deserved a better sequel. It makes me sad when I replay CT and finish it, to remember that "Goddamnit, Chrono Cross happens after all this and messes it all up."
comment #6212 Ghilz 2nd Feb 11
"And we must ask: why was the Mexican wrestler/medium included? The bubble-helmeted alien? The sentient turnip?"

So you can play the game with them if you like. Why be forced to use one of seven (or whatever #) characters just so you can get some hackneyed backstory that you probably don't care about anyway? Why not have the option, even if you never use it? I liked that little alien guy, although he became redundant once you got Serge back.

The story was crazy though. I remember when you freed the dragons and they were bad all along being the point where I sort of lost my mind. I don't even remember what exactly it was that I did at the end, and I cheated to get the good ending.

Doing away with level grinding was brilliant, but it does sort of expose how shallow RPG gameplay is and how little there is to really do. I never cared one bit about how the game dealt with Chrono Trigger's plot or characters. I liked CT, but I didn't fall in love with the characters or anything.
comment #6213 216.54.1.35 2nd Feb 11
Because the more effort put into a character which has no bearing on plot or development is less effort put into a character that could have used said development.

And also, so you weren't invested in the CT characters. Congratulations. There were plenty that were.
comment #6214 KingZeal 2nd Feb 11
Clearly a character with no hackneyed backstory or effect on the plot requires very little development time or energy. And in return you get more characters to play around with. I have never seen a shred of evidence that the number of characters had any effect on the plot of CC. Are there developer horror stories floating around somewhere?

Even in CT, Ayla, for instance, was completely superfluous after the events of 65mil BC. She was pretty much just there, just because. Did anyone actually care about this? Some people take their videogames too seriously.
comment #6215 216.54.1.35 2nd Feb 11
No, see, the script writers had to work under the assumption that the player could be using any character. As such, a lot of the dialogue from your party was basically just a few sentences fed into a Verbal Tic machine instead of lines created to fit each character.

This really cuts down on a lot of party interaction, and is possibly a reason for why the story of Chrono Cross is told so poorly: the characters that could say it well are unable to because the writers need to be sure that any character could be used. So while, say, Glenn could give some vital exposition on the Arcadian Dragoons, he can't because you might be using Razzly instead.
comment #6724 BlitzBlast 7th Mar 11
"Some people take their videogames too seriously."

...says the guy that's vigorously defending a game that's clearly flawed based purely on personal preference. Pot, meet kettle.

The review hit the nail on the head in regards to the hit-or-miss story line and the vast amounts of useless characters. Personally, I'd go as far as to say the reviewer was exceedingly generous, and that Chrono Cross was nothing more than a money grab with little substance. I also don't see the praise for the gameplay, seeing as I breezed through the game using basically nothing but strong attacks, and ignoring elements altogether.
comment #9252 hulkweazel 12th Aug 11
I agree with the comment above, the gameplay is pretty mediocre as well. Compared to Chrono Trigger's dynamic and challenging battles, the combat system designed exclusively for Chrono Cross is static, slow, and dull.

Gameplay was obviously designed just to take a back seat and leave room for the plot (and this is almost undeniable seeing how the levels and stats of your characters depend solely on how far you are in the story and you barely have to do anything at all). It's true that this prevents grinding but also makes the game completely devoid of any challenge, even for JRPG standars. It's absurdly easy. After you defeat Miguel in the Dead Sea, pat yourself on the back. You've already beaten Chrono Cross. The challenge is on a downward slope for the next fifteen hours. From then on, you are just coasting.

The latter bosses are for the most part just rushed palette swaps that make no sense and the two last bosses are downright terrible (the final boss doesn't even have exclusive attacks or anything especial about it, just some quite random gimmick to defeat him that was poorly implemented. And of course it's not even remotely threatening).

Even if you can pretend that the wacky nonsensical plot is not there, the gameplay does not make this a good game, because it's really subpar.
comment #9454 Ganel 25th Aug 11
I agree that the plot of the game was overly-complicated and merely dumped on the player in the final acts of the game, but in my opinion that didn't make it bad. Actually, I thought it was one of the most interesting and compelling stories told in a jrpg...action or plot-driven, of course, as I didn't actually see much character development throughout the game.
comment #11918 blackRacoon 16th Dec 11
Slow and dull? I actually liked the combat system, and this is coming from a guy who has played over a dozen different RPG series with many battle systems.
comment #12314 qtjinla15 14th Jan 12
"A review of the story is perfectly valid and doesn't invalidate the review in the slightest. It's well-written and the points are valid, not whiny."

That's a very poor use of reverse ad hominem...

"It's not bad, it's not great (even by JRPG standards), but the story and narrative is _so_ bad. Theres some good, but the few gems end up buried in the sea of badness. It almost makes me sad. Chrono Trigger deserved a better sequel. It makes me sad when I replay CT and finish it, to remember that "Goddamnit, Chrono Cross happens after all this and messes it all up." "

Baby's first troll...

"Personally, I'd go as far as to say the reviewer was exceedingly generous, and that Chrono Cross was nothing more than a money grab with little substance. I also don't see the praise for the gameplay, seeing as I breezed through the game using basically nothing but strong attacks, and ignoring elements altogether."

You're trying too hard, but I'll give you a 4/10.

comment #17062 nameless 3rd Dec 12
I completely agree with the review and I gladly include myself in the CT fans angry mob. CC managed to ruin my favorite RPG of all times, and it's something very difficult to forgive and forget (which is even WORSE).

I always liked CT because of its splendid balance between humor and seriousness and I considered it one of the most "complete" RPG around for that matter. Chrono Cross messed it all up with its truly unneeded "Gainax style" story-line where everything has to be unnecessarily dark, unsettling, philosophical and complicated.

The worst part of this it's that CC had a very great potential as a stand-alone game, but even in that case it needed a much better writing, pacing and less characters who stray from the main plot.
comment #17708 Crawler3333 15th Jan 13
Ah, Chrono Cross. My number one favorite RPG of the PS 1 (though, it competes very closely with Xenogears). I played Chrono Trigger first, but I still consider it to be generally inferior to CC. The battle system is just much more fun and unique compared to what CT did. The music and art are vastly more beautiful (that last one might not count, given what the PS 1 can do compared to the SNES). I adore the gameworld, the story, and how everything ties together.

Chrono Cross is what we call an Even Better Sequel. It takes a great SNES RPG and makes nearly everything better, more polished. The only things that aren't better are the ending and the infodumps at the end. Disappointing Last Level, in other words. Even the characterization I prefer, probably partly because I thought the characterization in CT was only okay.

Maybe I should use this as a template for a review...
comment #17709 doctrainAUM 15th Jan 13
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