Viper Manor is an integral part of Chrono Cross. And, befitting such a centerpiece of the game, there are three entirely different, entirely separate routes to Viper Manor. You can scale a cliff with Guile, fight through a forest with Nikki, or storm the front gates with Pierre. All three routes have their own puzzles and challenges, and all three routes come with one new party member and distinct treasures (of the more physical variety, though making friends with Pierre is still the greatest treasure of all). And, given selecting any route means excluding your other two choices, it is 100% mandated that you cannot see all the content Chrono Cross has to offer on one play through. Unlike Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross has a significant reason to utilize New Game+ and play through this multiple-choice adventure again.
And then there is the other significant branch in Chrono Cross: do you hunt the hydra for Kid? And if you choose the obvious “Route B”, and decide not to start an ecological disaster for the strange thief lady you just met…. Well… nothing happens. There is no alternate scenario, you just get a handful of different characters (two quickly/mandatory, one other eventually), and the normal plot of the game continues aplomb, just minus a trip across dimensions to a swamp. Oh, excuse me, the plot does not continue exactly the same, as there is a gigantic plot hole (or at least plot confusion) wherein someone apparently acquired hydra humor, but the hydra in a completely different dimension still died, presumably of natural causes. So, to make a long paragraph short: one “branch” is clearly the “real” plot of Chrono Cross, and the other option is just an excuse to hide some characters behind a choice that is proven to never have been a choice at all. And, no, you do not get a bonus dungeon out of the deal.
And, ladies and gentlemen, that is Chrono Cross through and through.
Deptford hit the nail on the head during his guest stint: Chrono Cross is a game where “individual moments are great”. There has not been an update here where there was not at least something cool happening at some point. There may have been a boring haunted ship, but we got to use a magical luchador through it all. The Isle of the Damned may have been an annoying puzzle that was already outdated on the NES, but it came to an amazing climax with a ghost giant. Dragon hunting can get boring, but at least someone thought to include a rock opera in there. And, in today’s example, we have the fact that there are three whole separate scenarios with interesting locales, characters, and challenges in one branch of the game, and the next branch immediately after that has… Glenn as a consolation prize? It is a lot nicer to say that than “a fat lot of nothing”…
I cannot in good conscious call Chrono Cross a bad game. It is a game full of moments, all stitched together in a manner that make a lot of its other moments look terrible. The direction of the game is not great, and the plot barely holds together. But there are so many remarkable moments in between, it can all be forgiven. Lynx is a great visual design! Just don’t think about the thinly-veiled plot justification for “this cat man is a super computer and also your father” making absolutely zero sense! The resolution of Schala is something Chrono Trigger fans begged for for five years, so please don’t think too hard about the process of scientists in 2300 AD somehow forcing a space bug to birth a baby clone in 1005 AD on Lucca’s doorstop. It is ridiculous, but the only thing surprising about it is that the producers then didn’t try to paste on an even more ridiculous justification for Kid’s Australian accent (we know for a fact she grew up with Lucca in Guardia! Where would she even learn the word “strewth”!?). And, while we are on the subject of Chrono Cross somehow being good or bad because of its choices, consider the battle system, which is a germ of a good idea that simply never evolves into something that is consistent. How do you do the most damage in Chrono Cross? Playing with colors? Summons? Focusing on physical attacks? Who the heck knows. And I can certainly say this person that has devoted hours to the game has no idea. At least there aren’t any relevant super bosses!
So this is Chrono Cross. It is a mess. But is it bad? No, it has too much good to ever truly be bad. Chrono Cross is all over the place, but its marvelous highs justify its horrendous lows.
Oh, and the music is unequivocally, universally good.
… Except the battle theme, the song you probably hear the most…
Dammit! I’m going it again!
Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Original Stream Night: August 2, 2022
Recruited this stream:
- Pierre (in another timeline)
Random Notes on the Stream
- Ajvark joins us for a revisit to Termina “like from Majora’s Mask”. No, it does not get mooned.
- We’re going for Guile!
- This is the path of least resistance… and Guile is pretty cool. Still no Magus, though…
- Fanboymaster and I once again disagree on the merits of Final Fantasy 8 versus Final Fantasy 9 as we climb cliffs.
- “The plan is there is going to be ten weeks of Chrono Cross, and then I’ll start Xenogears.” Guess what is next week, ladies and gentlemen!
- As we return to Balthy’s library, we discuss that other Let’s Play that is going on.
- BEAT evidently did not read the Wild Arms 2 Let’s Play which features far too much twincest.
- After the Viper Manor raid, you know you are a certain age when you say, “Do you want to hear my funny ICQ story?”
- We recruit Macha and Glenn, and then head for… the exact same pirate ship we fought through the last time. No Hydra Marsh, no replacement for the Hydra Marsh.
- Let’s talk about how many crappy Blaster Master games are out there!
- I apologize for the fact that I did not rename Zoah to ZOAH on the previous playthrough.
- We swing by Marbule and talk about the terrible Marvel comics featuring Aunt May getting laid.
- “Is he strong, listen punk, he’s got radioactive spunk.”
- Brave Fencer Musashi is suggested as a next stream game around the same time Kid comes out of her coma. Now we know what is going to be played next, even if it won’t be on the site next.
- Caliscrub stops in just as we get Serge, Poshul, and Doc to fight Lavos.
- Is Lavos dead yet? We learn that Minecraft, Xenoblade Chronicles, and not much else is New 3DS Exclusive before finally seeing the “angry girlfriends ending” of Chrono Cross.
- The finer points of Guilty Gear, Venom, and Dizzy are discussed as we finally recruit the last character on the stream, Pierre.
- And, finally, the battle against Ketchop closes out Chrono Cross. Ketchop is not a lady piloting a giant old man robot.
Next time on Even Worse Streams: Let’s find religion!