Chrono Trigger is my favorite game ever, hands down. I still play it once a year on the NDS. When I learned there’d be a sequel on the Playstation One, I was more than excited. Much like Final Fantasy VII before it, I gobbled up every bit of news that I could. Finally, in November, 1999, I had the game in my hands. Sadly, it failed to live up to every expectation I had.
First, the opening cinematic needs recognition. “The Scars of Time” is a fantastic orchestra song, powerfully using string instruments to capture urgency. I immediately restarted the game to listen to it again. While Square may have faltered since then in many ways, music composition was, and still is one of their strongest points. Unfortunately, everything was down hill from there. Fun fact, the clip of Serge running, blade extended (around the 1:20 mark) wasn’t in the North American release.
The game opened well enough, introducing protagonist Serge and the battle system. Serge makes his way to a beach where 10 years prior he nearly drowned. After a hot flash, he faints, and is transported to a parallel dimension where he did drown. There he meets Kid, and stuff happens. This is easily one of the most convoluted Japanese stories I’ve ever experienced. And believe me, I’ve endured some crap. I was with the story for about the first third of the game, then it completely lost me.
This isn’t really a spoiler because clips of it are seen in the opening cinematic. The antagonist is an anthropomorphic panther named Lynx. Ending the first act, he switches bodies with Serge and stabs Kid. The second act had Serge trying to get his body back while uncovering more about the diverging worlds. This was about this point I stopped caring. Up until then, I was having a hard time connecting with the game and the characters.
Cross contains 40 playable characters, taking three playthroughs to collect them all. This was a major negative for me. I constantly had new characters joining with varying degrees of uselessness, and old ones leaving. Particularly when Serge switched bodies, you lose everything. This only exacerbated the issue for me. Final Fantasy VI balanced the characters well by fleshing each of them out. Sure, I didn’t care for all of them, but most were fun, and the game required me to cycle them in and out. FFVII had enough characters for me to pick my favorites and ignore the ones I didn’t care about while not forcing them down my throat. Either mechanic works well. This does not. As for the battle system, it was bland and not fun.
The ties to Chrono Trigger made even less sense. Crono, Marle, and Lucca showed up from time to time, confusing the plot even more. The final boss was interesting, though poorly executed. Schala, Magus’ sister from Trigger, was merging with Lavos, becoming the devourer of time. One of the many hidden endings involved you doing something obnoxious in battle, freeing her instead of killing her. That was neat, but too little too late.
I took me a year to beat Cross, mostly because I wasn’t having fun. Eventually I powered through it, finishing the game, and getting the ‘good’ ending. I didn’t have enough patience to play again. I’ve considered it, allowing for a change in taste as I’ve matured to give me some new enjoyment, but as I look at my ever growing back catalog of games, I know it won’t happen. I hope the rumored sequel, Chrono Break, doesn’t come to pass either. You can’t go home again.
Were you able to follow along with the plot? Can you explain it to me in 500 words or less? No, really. Comment below!
Harle is a copy of Harley Quinn.