We gave some time over to dedicated character recruitment during this update, so let’s answer this question once and for all: are the majority of characters in Chrono Cross useless? This assessment is separate from the battle system (where practically anyone can be useful if their color codes right to the area), and a dedicated look at whether or not this cast of weirdos makes any sense for the story. What do we got? Well…
Absolutely Plot Relevant
You can count on one hand the characters in Chrono Cross that are 100% relevant to the plot. On one side, you have the power couple of Serge and Kid, two crazy kids (oh… I just got that) that have somehow become the center of an omniversal threat to the cosmos. On the other side of the aisle, you have Lynx, Serge’s eternal(ish) antagonist, and Harle, his sidekick that may or may not switch sides/species. And, just because she seems to fit in here, we will also include Leena as essential. She could technically be replaced or expunged from the story, but Serge needs someone/thing to fight for and represent his idyllic home… so it may as well be Leena. There may be a little wiggle room here, but you basically cannot have Chrono Cross without these key players.
Marginally Plot Relevant
Next up we have the characters that may not be 100% crucial, but still definitely serve a purpose in the plot. For instance, Doc may not ever join your party (depending on your choices), but you need someone to keep the plot moving when Kid is poisoned. Similarly, Sneff serves the purpose of being a “weirdo” that is ultimately helpful when Serge has been transformed into one of society’s undesirables (a cat boy). Fargo, Korcha, and even Starky all come with particular modes of transportation, so they are vital for the same reason Black Manta was allowed in the Legion of Doom (owns a boat). Irenes sneaks in here so the demi-human plight has a pretty face attached to that bit of worldbuilding. And Nikki gets a slot for having a tragic backstory and the key to solving racism. These seven are all characters that could technically not exist in this story, but they come attached to important bits, so they are generally valuable.
Viper Manor Relevant
Here is a whole game unto itself. The raid on Viper Manor could comprise its own radical adventure for some dreamers, so it makes sense that lot of characters are tied to this section of the story. You could excise a whole group of these losers (they are literally losers; you beat the majority of them in fights), but their existence does round out the “team bad guy” of El Nido. Viper is the leader. Karsh, Zoah, and Marcy are the elite generals. Luccia is responsible for all monster/trap creation. Glenn and Riddel are the “maybe they’re not so bad” kids of the gang. Radius and Zappa are the retired generation that has some consternation with the kids and old ghosts. And Norris and Grobyc represent the good and bad of the Porre Military, which becomes Viper Manor’s enemy when they all inevitably defect to the side of the angels. You could probably cut these eleven down to like five and still have the same story, but nobody is going to complain about fleshing out the (redeemable) “bad guys”.
Might see in a JRPG Relevant
Every JRPG needs a little unrelated fluffery to offer a differing perspective from the obvious protagonist. Final Fantasy 4 would not be the same without toddler twins from a magical city, and Chrono Cross would not be the same without including its own share of interesting support characters. Steena is your typical priestess that knows everything about the surrounding area. Guile is the enigmatic magician who appears to have his own agenda. Orlha and Van both have potential plot hooks with seeing their interdimensional “siblings” thanks to the quirks of dimensional travel. And we have a few JRPG stock characters here: the spiritual bruiser (luchador, in this case), the precocious kid that admires a lead (and uses a boomerang for some reason), the dancer that is trying to achieve more (a Fire Emblem staple), and the “wannabe hero” that will eventually grow into being a useful party member. None of these characters are “essential”, but they are the spice that flavors the JRPG.
And… dang. Now look at all these losers. Leah is the only one that maybe could be relevant, but it is clear that she is little more than a shortsighted echo of a “real” Chrono Trigger character. Razzly the faerie is similarly marginally related to the plot, but the fact that you can leave her to be eaten without ever knowing she existed is pretty damning. And Sprigg is a cool denizen of another dimension, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting she even touches your party after her puckish introduction. Beyond that, Draggy, Janice, Macha, Orcha, Pip, Poshul, and Skelly are all wholly superfluous, and the only thing that could be lost between all of them is one gratuitous boss fight. And, strangely enough, Funguy, NeoFio, Mojo, and Turnip are all basically walking inanimate objects, and you really do not need that many characters that could slot into that hole. Most games don’t even have one talking vegetable!
So what’s the verdict here? Well, if we look at this chart…
A healthy 68% of playable characters in Chrono Cross are relevant in some way. And it sure looks like Viper Manor is the center of Chrono Cross! We already knew that!
…. And let’s not focus on the remaining percentage…
Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross Night 4
Original Stream Night: May 3, 2022
Recruited this week:
- Neo Fio
- Lynx (?)
Random Notes on the Stream:
- We are starting on a pirate ship full of skeletons. Note that this pirate ship was not initially filled with skeletons.
- Speaking of skeletons, BEAT wants to know how long this is going to take. It is week 4. It will eventually be 10 weeks. The poor summer child.
- Square Enix sold off Eidos/Crystal Dynamics and decided to get into NFTs right around when we streamed this. Writing this months later, we now know they are ill advisedly sticking to their NFT guns.
- Chrono Cross is good at using elements for post battle healing. Wild Arms 3 has no such similar process for expending leftover FP. You win this round, Chrono Cross.
- We find what’s left of Chrono Trigger’s Epoch in the basement of the library. Like every other reference to Chrono Trigger in Chrono Cross, this is sad.
- We were venturing through a swamp to get Neo Fio when Ample Vigour arrives
- Nobuteru Yūki was the character designer for Chrono Cross. I apologize if this entire Let’s Play is an insult to such an artist.
- Even Worse Streams presents Jackass starring Korcha.
- We eventually get to Water Dragon Isle. We have learned the dwarves are hellbound. Fuck dwesus.
- A solution to housing values tanking: tanks.
- BEAT talks about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time speedrun strategies, and how they are life affirming.
- The Sopranos Playstation 2 game is noted as ridiculous.
- At the volcano, Solt and Peppor can waste your time. It is indistinguishable from any other boss fight.
- Back to Zelda, and “go home and die” speed runs
- Castlevania Lords of Shadow lets you skip puzzles, and that is good.
- Let us all hate Sonic Underground and its cameo in Sonic Riders.
- I have the “IGN Watermark” copy of Wii Okami, and I cannot see that logo for my life. Took like ten minutes of staring!
- Would you like to be a boy, or cat boy? Serge is forced to be a cat boy.
- We close with Deptford’s post on Chrono Cross. Let’s consider this further foreshadowing.
Next time on Chrono Cross: Your mom likes cats, but not that much.