Chrono Trigger is fondly remembered as a classic. If you ever have trouble finding a port of the game, let me know because it can now be found on Steam and can also be found on the Google Play as well as the Apple App store. While the Chrono series was never given its proper due by Square Enix, players were given an excellent follow up to Chrono Trigger.
That game is Chrono Cross.
Released for Sony’s PlayStation console in 2000, Chrono Cross acts as one of the most underrated RPG’s of its era. Which if you think about it, doesn’t make any sense, as it currently sits with a 94 on Metacritic. This game was well received critically, sold well commercially, yet no one really mentions it as one of the best RPG’s of its time? It’s criminal. Chrono Cross more than holds its own and does its predecessor proud.
What’s been forgotten over the years is just how connected Chrono Cross is with Chrono Trigger. While it is widely considered a successor, at its heart, the game is a true sequel. This only becomes obvious, however, when the game starts to pick up in its second half. Various major characters appear throughout Chrono Cross from Chrono Trigger and play major roles. Chrono Cross, like its predecessor, focuses heavily on discovery but on a grander scale. Instead of 7 party members, there are 48. While Chrono Trigger involved visiting different time eras, Chrono Cross plays with the idea of working with a parallel dimension. The world is far larger and the game does an excellent job selling its various settings.
For a PS1 game, Chrono Cross is beautiful and boasts some of the systems best visuals. Characters and enemies are diverse, the surrounding environments are detailed and the city areas are well populated. Its kind of a shame that it was released at the tail end of the PS1 ‘s life cycle, because this could have really been a fantastic game to start the PS2 era. Another area where Chrono Cross shines is it’s music, this is flat out some of the best music in any genre of game. You can find the soundtracks anywhere on YouTube, take a listen, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
I will tell you what really separated Chrono Cross from its predecessor is it’s battle system. Chrono Trigger was simple, easy to learn, and took no time to master. Every character was affiliated with an element and the player just had to learn how to use that against the enemy. With Chrono Cross, it was a whole different ball game. While every character had an innate “color”, you would have to take in consideration what color your opponent was weak against and whether or not the color was amplified or weakened by the field you fought in. If the field was comprised of only one element, you could unleash a potentially devastating attack, as long as your characters all had that one element. Chrono Cross required actual strategy from the players to be successful.
Oh, and you had to do all of this while also considering your stamina gauge. Every action takes up stamina and depending on the action, it could deplete more than one bar. The only way to recover was to either guard or wait.
No longer could you just focus solely on offense because if the character goes below one stamina bar, then the recovery time is longer and it opens up your party to greater damage. If Chrono Trigger’s battle system seemed far too casual, then Chrono Cross will be right up your alley. Of course the best thing about the battle system is the return of the combo techs; the combining of abilities to unleash greater damage to the opponent, these can either be purely physical, elemental, or a combination of the two.
If Chrono Cross had one real flaw, it would come in the form of its experience system or rather lack thereof. Players gain experience and stat boosts in fights but only up to a certain threshold. Afterwards, your stats will become stagnate until you beat a boss, in which you will receive a greater stat bonus and then it allows you to continue to gain experience. To say that it is confusing and somewhat cumbersome is an understatement. I understand why the developers implemented such a unique system, they don’t want the players to become so overpowered by grinding that they ease right through a boss. Grinding is a common element in all RPG’s and I give Square Enix some credit for deviating. But it takes a LONG time to understand how the system works and there are at times where the stat boosts feel underwhelming, especially considering the difficulty of some boss encounters.
Square Enix is notorious for overlooking its properties. The Chrono series deserves to be either rebooted or continued, there is no reason why we are on the fifteenth iteration of Final Fantasy and have yet to see a sequel to Chrono Cross. Not only was this one of the best RPG’s of its era but it’s widely forgotten because its predecessor can be found damn near everywhere. Sony should look into porting Chrono Cross on the PS4, this game is one that should be experienced by new and old players alike. It builds on the lore of Chrono Trigger while firmly establishing itself as an must-play game.
This is a series that should’ve never been lost to time.