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.
And, 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
Original Stream Night: April 12, 2022
Recruited this week:
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?
- We 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.