If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
… Which is not how we normally handle our opinions on Even Worse Streams. But I can attempt to parlay some kind of understanding with Chrono Cross through brief essays related to a night’s stream.
It’s… kind of like apologizing! To a 20-year-old video game! That maybe doesn’t deserve it!
Whatever. Let’s talk about Chrono Cross’s excellent opening.
And, no, we’re not discussing the in medias res “final battle with Lynx” that kicks off from the moment you start a new game. The true opening of Chrono Cross features Serge, Leena, and a healthy amount of lizard genocide.
Serge awakens in pastoral Arni. It is a fishing village populated with friendly folks, a giant dog, and a patient chief that is willing to teach anyone about synthesized magic. The goal for the player is evident (meet girlfriend, find way to bribe girlfriend into happiness), but the scale of what can be done within the confines of a scant few houses and two open areas is daunting. You can learn about a man’s dreams of being the best fisherman around, and how that has influenced his standing in his family. You can listen to an aspiring poet recite her works while waiting tables. You can steal from one yappy puppy to give to a two-tailed dog with a speech impediment (who, it should be noted, is the first talking dog in this universe). The only combat available here is the previously mentioned magic tutorial, but there is so much to do that doesn’t involve Serge drawing his swallow, you would be forgiven for assuming Chrono Cross is not your traditional battle-based JRPG.
But fighting is available soon enough. Leena tasks Serge with a mission to hunt down lizard scales, and hunting is literally involved. Lizards and Nu-like Beach Bums haunt the place, and you are welcome to hone your physical skills on a respawning army of ineffectual “monsters”. Poshul the Pink Doggy can come along, too, if you want some practice involving a partner in your ecological assaults. And there is treasure to find! It is everything you could ever want from a JRPG… but with one important difference: it doesn’t matter.
At the start of Chrono Cross, Serge is not saving the world, his town, or even that all-important girlfriend. He’s just… doing some junk. Running errands. Talking to townsfolk. He is performing the exact same actions as many JRPG heroes, but he is doing it for the most miniscule of purposes. He’s just “doing stuff”. He is being human.
And in a game where eventually Serge is going to conquer every monster across two different dimensions and potentially all of time, that is pretty impressive.
This is JRPG 101, of course. There are any number of games, from Breath of Fire 2 to Final Fantasy 15, that initially establish a polite, safe world before everything goes to absolute hell (sometimes literally!). But Chrono Cross does go out of its way to create the potential for a “pacifist” JRPG. There can still be combat. There can still be treasure. But it is in pursuit of… simple goals. No world saving. No big bad. Just your peaceful little village, someone to care about, and doing what you can to make her happy.
And then everything does go to hell… But at least your hometown survives! In two dimensions! That’s not bad!
Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Original Stream Night: April 5, 2022
Recruited this week:
- Lucky Dan
Random Notes on the Stream
- This starts as the absolute original Chrono Cross, played on a Playstation 1 disc in a Playstation 2.
- It will be seen again, but the intro for Chrono Cross is aces.
- … And then the PS1 game fails when it has to “load” dialogue. Oh well!
- Enjoy seeing a quick sorting of my PS1/PS2 digital memory cards as we load up PSN Chrono Cross.
- Against all odds (well, 6%), we have the exact same party as the first PS1 playthrough.
- BEAT notes Spec Ops: The Line has the best in medias res intro.
- I apologize for not naming Poshul “Snoop Dog”… but it would not have fit.
- Wouldn’t save points in real life be fun? Or we would never get past Sunday…
- Our first “discussion” of the battle system notes that percentage odds are lies.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog 06 Final Boss Victory Music is mentioned. Let’s call this foreshadowing for a future stream.
- BEAT notes that Time Spinner is something that might be worth looking into.
- Here is the shake slide:
Yes, I am responsible for those shake pictures, too (well, technically just one shake picture).
- Lucky Dan causes a brief discussion about palpable faith.
- Thanks to a Save/Load issue, we are going to spend the last twenty minutes of this stream in the Bend of Time screwing with Triple Techs that will never again be seen on the stream.
- And before this night’s finale, please enjoy seeing what I named all my Chrono Crossers back in 2000.
Next time on Chrono Cross: Let’s steal from the richest guy on the island! In HD!