Category Archives: Chrono Cross

Chrono Cross 03: The Planet

Get 'em!You can’t say Chrono Cross doesn’t have its heart in the right place.

Sometimes things get complicated. Not to spoil a twenty-year-old game for anybody, but the main plot of Chrono Cross is a tale of time travel, an intergalactic parasite, and two warring realities that are either inadvertently or deliberately feeding that previously mentioned parasite until it can destroy not only the world, but all of space and time. If Serge fails in his duty as the silent protagonist, not only will 1999 AD face destruction, but also everything that has ever existed backwards and forwards in eternity. But no pressure, dude, not like you also have to deal with the fact that your dad is a mutant cat that wants you for your body, or that the most reliable friend you have is continually being poisoned and/or brainwashed. Not like you have a lot going on in the midst of this cross-dimensional crisis!

But there is a consistent throughline in Chrono Cross: the environment is getting wrecked by humans. The first thing you have to do in this game? Murder some local lizards so your girlfriend can have a nice necklace. The last thing you do in the game? Repel a gigantic flying tower that is somehow powered by an alternate universe where dinosaurs lived in perfect harmony with nature, and it is only here because the planet felt so threatened by humanity, it needed a “super dinosaur” to battle a nation founded by a super computer. … Okay, yeah, things get complicated quickly here, but the message is the same: humanity is a threat to the planet. Over and over again, Serge is presented with a world where people are surviving and living their best lives, but the world is suffering for it. You will kill the local lizards (and their mama!). You will destroy the Dragon Tower and its attendant super dinosaur. You will save the world. But the world might not be 100% on board with these outcomes.

Steal awayAnd this is all perfectly encapsulated at the Hydra Marsh. Kid is poisoned, and the only way to cure her affliction is by killing the last remaining hydra. You can see the difference in Hydra Marshes thanks to dimensional travel (and there’s even a friendly dwarf near Kid’s hospital if you need it spelled out immediately). In the world with the hydra, the swamp is a vibrant location home to many kinds of creatures (albeit most of them are actively trying to kill you). In the world where the hydra has already been hunted to extinction, only true monsters remain, and the swamp has become lethally poisonous. You know what is going to happen if you hunt the hydra on Kid’s behalf. Your world will become worse, and a great many other species are going to die. And, to be more than clear on this sad fact, Chrono Cross does not make this a simple “background” possibility: when you inevitably kill the hydra, the dwarves of Home Swamp will be displaced, and you will then be tugged into a war between homeless gnomes and besieged fairies. With the hydra dead, the viable world is shrinking, and more problems arise immediately. Kid may be saved by hydra humour, but an entire society is going to collapse without it. As the planet cries out in pain, more and more people suffer in ways they never, ever expected…

And, as I played this section a couple weeks before I was in France during a heatwave that escalated over the Summer of 2022 to watching Europe practically melt off the face of the Earth… Well… I can’t fault for Chrono Cross for having at least one clear message.

Maybe we should do something about this whole “humans threatening the world” thing…

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 3

Original Stream Night: April 26, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Korcha
  • Greco
  • Razzly

Random Notes on the Stream

  • We all hate Korcha.
  • “There are ranks of -cha”… but Mel does not rank.
  • First dimension hop! Get used to seeing this FMV!
  • It's nice hereFinal Fantasy 13 borrowed some ideas from Lost… Bad ideas. Like fake funerals.
  • Beeba are racist. Just realized that tonight.
  • So many bosses in this stupid swamp. Basically wall-to-wall boss fights of no plot importance.
  • A discussion about Ogre Battle naturally segues into a discussion on how great Queen is
  • There is a discussion of Keenspot and Keenspace and the sheer level of insanity contained therein.
  • We have a boat! Yay! But waves are “moving like a fat guy’s back”.
  • A pirate ship of deadbeat dads is where we close for the day.

Next time on Chrono Cross: Skeletons of all sorts of varieties.

Squawk

Chrono Cross 02: The Raid

Party with a rockstar!The raid on Viper Manor is the totality of the plot of Radical Dreamers (and for more information on Radical Dreamers, tune in next article/Friday – Giggling Goggle Bob). Kid, Serge, and some magical boy venture into the lair of Lynx the Probably Cat Man, and, by the end of the adventure, they are all fighting over a magical artifact in the ruins of a lost civilization. They are in the basement. It was a long night. Regardless of how this all happened, with Chrono Cross being a sort of remake/expansion of Radical Dreamers, it seems only natural that a good portion of the game would be given over to what was the entirety of the previous game. And does it work? Well…

This series of essays is meant to say positive things about Chrono Cross, so we are not going to address the issues involved here. Like, it would be unsporting to point out that, divorced from the context of Radical Dreamers being so important (which would have been accurate for at least the entire American audience), Vipor Manor fails to justify its inclusion. The ultimate finale of this raid is discovering that there never was a legitimate treasure to steal, and Kid is fatally poisoned for her mistake. That is a huge plot beat… but one that could have happened practically anywhere. And if you are not stealing treasure from this creepy old manor, you are just… what? Annoying some soldiers in their home? Chatting with a weird librarian? Fighting a strangely high number of sentient doors?

But there is a lot to like here. The dragon feeding minigame, for instance, is one of the few minigames in Chrono Cross that isn’t a complete waste of time, and it does an excellent job of breaking up the “intro” dungeon from the “real” raid. The costume change into soldier garb is handled oddly (everybody has to redress every time a battle starts?), but it does afford an interesting espionage vibe for the general proceedings (and stealing door codes). And speaking of vibing, the fact that Vipor Manor is such a perilous place during your night-based raid, but is practically little more than an overgrown town during the day illustrates just how perfectly this section of the game sets the mood.

This isn't too badAnd, while it can take up a lot of time (watch that stream), the encounters are location appropriate. There are trapped chests, doors, and some manner of evil lamp that descends from the ceiling. The presence of a literal army of NPCs negates the solitary tension that permeated Radical Dreamers, but there is never a point during this adventure in Chrono Cross where you feel safe at the manor. Even when solving some of the stranger puzzles in the basement, there is the feeling that you could be forced into a battle with a slightly-larger-than-regular robot at any time.

Character introductions are also a huge part of the raid. Lynx is seen for the first time after some small amount of buildup; but we also have initial encounters with General Viper, Luccia, Pip, Marcy the Final Dragoon, and the venerable Harle. We even include one helpful old man that can be easily recognized by fans of Chrono Trigger, Balthasar the “prophet”. There is a lot to take in at Viper Manor, and someone had the good sense to space these luminaries out across the adventure.

And couple this all with the fact that there are three different characters/routes into Viper Manor (thus becoming the main reason you would ever try a New Game +), and you can see why Viper Manor is the centerpiece of Chrono Cross. So much of this game feels half finished, but Viper Manor is the one place that feels complete.

Could there ever be a version of Chrono Cross that matches the incredible breadth of this mansion raid? The world will never know…

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 2

Original Stream Night: April 12, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Kid (temporary)
  • Nikki

Random Notes on the Stream

  • Now we are 100% in the HD version, featuring Lucky Dan.
  • Ample Vigour stops by for the first time during our Chrono Cross phase.
  • Solt and Pepper appear as BEAT utters the phrase, “built to fail, motherfucker.”
  • A complete discussion of GameFan and its amazing management style occurs.
  • Italian Elon Musk will save us all.
  • Art Wars! Character portraits vs random background upscales. Why do things look the way they do?
  • YummyWe vote “rock star”, so Nikki once again becomes part of the party.
  • Fanboymaster says Chrono Cross’ original design called for 60 characters… let’s not imagine that world.
  • Nikki should be Slash should be David (Bowie).
  • Caliscrub stops by
  • Legend of Mana vs. Chrono Cross is likened to a videogame “toy” vs. prestige production.
  • Skullduggery frame is acquired. We will use this forever.
  • Radiata Story elves may or may not buy you a sandwich.
  • An in-depth discussion on the meta nature of Star Ocean and its 70 sequels is mentioned.
  • “Good graphics do what they are supposed to do.”
  • As a point of fact, I will not accept insulting Darkwing Duck.
  • To elaborate on what I would not remember during the stream, I was talking about early Newgrounds hit, Pico’s School.

Next time on Chrono Cross: Get up on the hydra’s back.

Alas, I knew him

Chrono Cross 01: Introductions

Looks niceIf 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.

Slash and tearBut 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
Night 1

Original Stream Night: April 5, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Poshul
  • Leena
  • 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.
  • This is not a jokeAgainst 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:
    Shakes

    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!

If only