Author Topic: Chrono Cross  (Read 2521 times)

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2018, 09:44:25 am »
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Chrono Cross's atmosphere... I don't know where to begin. How do we even create such a thing? There's been plenty of games before and after, but I can't give advice as to creating art like this.

I think this is the argument for Chrono Cross. The storyline is overly convoluted (which plagued several late-PSX era jRPGs) and suffers from third act text dump, but you're absolutely right: the atmosphere of Chrono Cross is one of the best, if not the best, of all time. It foregoes your traditional jRPG high fantasy quasi-European post-LOTR shtick and turns it on it's head with a highly diverse Polynesian-esque tropical environments. To this day, when I think of the warm sands and gentle blue waves of the beach, I can't help but think about the flowers of Another World's Arni Village, the sand and waves of Opassa Beach, and the vibrancy of Lizard Rock (and North Cape).

What it lacks in character depth and story, it excels at creating a vibrant world. One I wouldn't mind revisiting.

I've heard that Baten Kaitos on the Gamecube comes close to replicating the magic of El Nido, but can't vouch for it, as I haven't played it.

Chrono Cross is a very good game. It has flaws (pretty much plot and character related), but it's a stellar game in its own right. What schism exists between Cross and Trigger is simply because Trigger has flawless execution all across the board. It does everything right - there's no weak area (and just about the only complaint I hear about Trigger is that it's too short at around 30 hours): innovative combat that is still engaging today thanks to the tech combo system, an engaging and original storyline, some of the best 2D sprite graphics of the era, an amazing soundtrack, etc. Chrono Trigger simply did everything right.

I think this is what creates a disconnect between Trigger and Cross. To repeat the success of Trigger on a balancing scale (referring to balance as the above points, plus some) would have been capturing lightning in a bottle twice.

PrincessNadia78

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2018, 02:48:16 pm »
I do really enjoy the game, but yeah I do also feel it tried to make Trigger more complex than it had to be. The atmosphere is great but there are also too many characters. I wish they had only concentrated on a few: Serge, Kid, Leena and Guile are the ones who come to mind. But I do really enjoy the game, in fact now I want to play it again!

kolt54321

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2018, 08:14:47 pm »
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Chrono Cross's atmosphere... I don't know where to begin. How do we even create such a thing? There's been plenty of games before and after, but I can't give advice as to creating art like this.

What it lacks in character depth and story, it excels at creating a vibrant world. One I wouldn't mind revisiting.

What schism exists between Cross and Trigger is simply because Trigger has flawless execution all across the board. It does everything right - there's no weak area (and just about the only complaint I hear about Trigger is that it's too short at around 30 hours): innovative combat that is still engaging today thanks to the tech combo system, an engaging and original storyline, some of the best 2D sprite graphics of the era, an amazing soundtrack, etc. Chrono Trigger simply did everything right.

I think this is what creates a disconnect between Trigger and Cross. To repeat the success of Trigger on a balancing scale (referring to balance as the above points, plus some) would have been capturing lightning in a bottle twice.

I'm curious to hear why you find the characters a bit shallow in Chrono Cross, but not in Chrono Trigger. Did you find the ones in Trigger to have more depth? I had the opposite impression.

Acacia Sgt

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2018, 08:28:20 pm »
Well, it's true, CC characters have more depth. They're 3D, unlike Trigger's 2D. They do have a Z-axis.  :lol:

Anyway... huh, that's probably a first I'm reading about when comparing the characters.

kolt54321

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2018, 08:55:48 pm »
Well, it's true, CC characters have more depth. They're 3D, unlike Trigger's 2D. They do have a Z-axis.  :lol:

Anyway... huh, that's probably a first I'm reading about when comparing the characters.

I just think that Chrono Trigger's characters are to the point, which is great for the game. They don't start talking about what would happen if they would have become a fisherman - that would take away from the focus, and confuse us more than it would help the plot.

Which seems to be what Chrono Cross does. On the flip side, what do we really know about Chrono's personality, or Lucca's? Outside their occupations and pixel art, I mean. Cross has examples like that (Fungey?), but there were more than enough NPC's that had actual backgrounds, outside the plot. I felt for that fisherman, yo.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2018, 08:57:50 pm by kolt54321 »

Acacia Sgt

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2018, 09:03:46 pm »
I just think that Chrono Trigger's characters are to the point, which is great for the game. They don't start talking about what would happen if they would have become a fisherman - that would take away from the focus, and confuse us more than it would help the plot.

Which seems to be what Chrono Cross does. On the flip side, what do we really know about Chrono's personality, or Lucca's? Outside their occupations and pixel art, I mean. Cross has examples like that (Fungey?), but there were more than enough NPC's that had actual backgrounds, outside the plot. I felt for that fisherman, yo.

Well, can't comment on Crono, being the standard silent protagonist and all that, but with Lucca I would think she does have depth. There's stuff like when she's reactivating Robo when they discovered him or the incident involving her mother. There's probaby more, but I don't remember right now.

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2018, 11:54:14 pm »
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I'm curious to hear why you find the characters a bit shallow in Chrono Cross, but not in Chrono Trigger. Did you find the ones in Trigger to have more depth? I had the opposite impression.

Personally, I think Trigger trumps Cross in the character department for several reasons: (1) there are less of them, so the impact of each character is better felt (7 characters versus 45); and (2) each Trigger character has a very clear arc spread out over the entire game. Even Crono, although, as silent protagonist, you are supposed to infuse your own personality with his. Because there are less characters, it's easier to get attached to them. Their stories also unfold over the course of the game. They aren't paper thin, per se, moreso tropes... but that was also the expectation when it came to SNES-era jRPGs.

Then, in Cross, you are inundated with characters. Half of them have zero story, and for those that do have an arc, it's so freaking hard to care because there are so many of them. Look at Van and Greco, for existence; their stories are short and wrapped up in two cutscenes apiece. They have arcs, but they are essentially hollow and there's no reason to care about the characters. Unless you're Kid, Fargo, or Harle, your character/story arc in Chrono Cross takes a grand total of 30 minutes each, if that.

I think that's where it comes from for me. Comparing Chrono Cross to games of the same era like Final Fantasy IX or Legend of Dragoon or Lunar: SSSC, the characterization of most of the PCs are just lackluster.

That being said, to each his own. Trigger was nothing stellar when it came to it's characters, but it was easier for me to care for them since their stories unfolded over the course of the game instead of a single sidequest. Mostly, at least.

Chrono Cross is a lovely game. I enjoyed trying to get all these optional characters in NG+. So collecting them was quite fun and, for some, perfectly acceptable.

Just my two cents. I don't want this to sound like I dislike Cross or it's characters, because I don't. I LOOOOVE Chrono Cross and, although it didn't grab me quite like Chrono Trigger, it is a WONDERFUL game.

maggiekarp

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2018, 12:08:29 am »
Trigger's cast wasn't "deep" in the traditional sense, but it worked because of the dynamics between each other and the rest of the world. I compare them to characters from One Piece a lot, where they do each have a back story, arcs, clear desires and such, and you can picture what each character would do in different situations, but the main enjoyment comes from watching them as a team more than "THIS CHARACTER IS SO REAL".

Cross's characters are literally meant to be interchangeable in any given situation through the course of the game. So even if there's a character you like before they join your party, or an inkling of depth, they do hardly anything to differentiate themselves after that, and because you can only have 3 at a time most of them are like accessories you can't throw away.

So even if the PREMISE of certain Cross characters are more interesting than those of the Trigger cast, they're realized very poorly in the game itself.

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2018, 01:44:32 am »
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Cross's characters are literally meant to be interchangeable in any given situation through the course of the game.

This is a perfect summation. One I hadn't even considered.

kolt54321

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2018, 08:32:00 am »
Trigger's cast wasn't "deep" in the traditional sense, but it worked because of the dynamics between each other and the rest of the world. I compare them to characters from One Piece a lot, where they do each have a back story, arcs, clear desires and such, and you can picture what each character would do in different situations, but the main enjoyment comes from watching them as a team more than "THIS CHARACTER IS SO REAL".

Cross's characters are literally meant to be interchangeable in any given situation through the course of the game. So even if there's a character you like before they join your party, or an inkling of depth, they do hardly anything to differentiate themselves after that, and because you can only have 3 at a time most of them are like accessories you can't throw away.

So even if the PREMISE of certain Cross characters are more interesting than those of the Trigger cast, they're realized very poorly in the game itself.

In 90% of most games (FF6 included), none of the party matter aside from the hero, barring certain scenes. I mean, even in Trigger you can assemble your team, and one or two characters are always "interchangeable". Certainly they had chemistry among themselves, but did they really interact with the world, aside from the main storyline? I think Cross did the "you have impact on the world in different ways" better. Even if it was short and fleeting.

What's interesting is that I liked Baccano or Ping Pong the Animation over One Piece, and it probably comes down the same set of preferences. More characters doesn't mean better (I mean, look at Cross) but they can also give a set of perspective in the world. I'm a fan of the focus being all over the place lol.

Aside from that though, that's fair, and a good way to look at it. I think it comes down what someone's looking for in a game. I agree with both of ya that Trigger had a smaller, much more well-defined cast that allowed the player to care about them more. Cross was premises and brief stories for each. I personally love the latter and think that it puts a broad amount of perspective in a game (I'm there for the world, not the team after all), but it definitely departs from the standard that the main cast should be cared for. Thanks for the clarification :)

Or maybe I just can't take criticism about this game (sigh)
« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 08:43:56 am by kolt54321 »

maggiekarp

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #25 on: May 24, 2018, 08:34:58 pm »
Oh yeah, if we didn't still like Cross for one reason or another we probably wouldn't even BE here.

BUT YOU SHALL STILL BE BULLIED RELENTLESSLY FOR YOUR PREFERENCE

kolt54321

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #26 on: May 24, 2018, 08:39:24 pm »
Oh yeah, if we didn't still like Cross for one reason or another we probably wouldn't even BE here.

BUT YOU SHALL STILL BE BULLIED RELENTLESSLY FOR YOUR PREFERENCE

Haha, true. I definitely am the one who intruded and said "well, are you really right...?" originally, so it's on me :)

Lord J Esq

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2018, 09:49:17 pm »
The existence of this thread is fascinating in itself, as is people’s thoughts on Cross. Back in the day, the Chrono Compendium was the biggest defender of Chrono Cross you were likely to find in the fandom. But now it’s sort of like all of these repressed resentments and complaints are coming out of the woodwork. It’s actually a little eerie, because it reminds of #MeToo and how people often try very hard to convince others and even themselves that they feel a certain way about something or someone, when the underlying truth is very different.

I used to think I had a hot take on Chrono Cross, but nowadays y’alls do a pretty good job of summing up my points: The game’s aesthetics are beautiful; its feeling of peaceful loss and ruin is haunting; its soundtrack is one of the most underrated RPG soundtracks period; and it has some really interesting story ideas and a good premise…BUT the direction and execution of the game were generally poor; the playable cast (with a tiny handful of exceptions) is completely forgettable; the plot falls far beneath its potential by being way too messy; and (of course) it doesn’t feel like a sequel…thus making Cross the weakest of the three games for me, albeit one that I still like (though, for what it’s worth, I’ve only ever played it once, and I think I’m only ever going to replay it once, and then I’ll be “good” with it; in contrast I’ve played Trigger several times and Radical Dreamers a few times (even counting all scenarios as one play-through).

However!

Chrono Cross’ strongest quality, yet also one of its most invisible, I think, is the same quality that makes the [deeply flawed and overall not great] Star Wars prequels as interesting as they are: The creator behind the original wasn’t content simply to make “Original Part 2.” Kato tried something very different, very much in keeping with his own artistic vision for the series, and, as an artist who takes artistic integrity very seriously, I have a lot of respect for that. I respect that this game is the sequel Kato wanted to make, and that, for all its shortfalls, it was innovative for an RPG at the time and it had a strong vision driving it.

We learned a lot from this game: Don’t have as big a playable cast as possible just for the sake of having a big playable cast, because it isn’t actually fun (or the amount of development to make it fun would be wasteful). And, more difficultly, we learned that fans have dichotomous expectations for sequels: They want something both different and the same, and it’s very hard to walk that line. And we learned that polish matters. Radical Dreaamers is  better game (IMO) than Cross, because, despite being much smaller in ambition than Cross, and arguably even farther away from the feeling and tonality of Trigger than Cross, it is well-polished and does a good job living up to what it aspires to be.

kolt54321

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2018, 11:28:48 pm »
The existence of this thread is fascinating in itself, as is people’s thoughts on Cross. Back in the day, the Chrono Compendium was the biggest defender of Chrono Cross you were likely to find in the fandom. But now it’s sort of like all of these repressed resentments and complaints are coming out of the woodwork. It’s actually a little eerie, because it reminds of #MeToo and how people often try very hard to convince others and even themselves that they feel a certain way about something or someone, when the underlying truth is very different.

I used to think I had a hot take on Chrono Cross, but nowadays y’alls do a pretty good job of summing up my points: The game’s aesthetics are beautiful; its feeling of peaceful loss and ruin is haunting; its soundtrack is one of the most underrated RPG soundtracks period; and it has some really interesting story ideas and a good premise…BUT the direction and execution of the game were generally poor; the playable cast (with a tiny handful of exceptions) is completely forgettable; the plot falls far beneath its potential by being way too messy; and (of course) it doesn’t feel like a sequel…thus making Cross the weakest of the three games for me, albeit one that I still like (though, for what it’s worth, I’ve only ever played it once, and I think I’m only ever going to replay it once, and then I’ll be “good” with it; in contrast I’ve played Trigger several times and Radical Dreamers a few times (even counting all scenarios as one play-through).

However!

Chrono Cross’ strongest quality, yet also one of its most invisible, I think, is the same quality that makes the [deeply flawed and overall not great] Star Wars prequels as interesting as they are: The creator behind the original wasn’t content simply to make “Original Part 2.” Kato tried something very different, very much in keeping with his own artistic vision for the series, and, as an artist who takes artistic integrity very seriously, I have a lot of respect for that. I respect that this game is the sequel Kato wanted to make, and that, for all its shortfalls, it was innovative for an RPG at the time and it had a strong vision driving it.

We learned a lot from this game: Don’t have as big a playable cast as possible just for the sake of having a big playable cast, because it isn’t actually fun (or the amount of development to make it fun would be wasteful). And, more difficultly, we learned that fans have dichotomous expectations for sequels: They want something both different and the same, and it’s very hard to walk that line. And we learned that polish matters. Radical Dreaamers is  better game (IMO) than Cross, because, despite being much smaller in ambition than Cross, and arguably even farther away from the feeling and tonality of Trigger than Cross, it is well-polished and does a good job living up to what it aspires to be.

J! Welcome back.

I haven't had the privilege to see CC grow over time, but that's what I gathered regarding reviews at the time vs. now.

There's one question that's still on the table though - how on earth, with all its flaws, did Chrono Cross receive 10's and praise across the board, being one of the only 10's GameSpot ever gave, and just short of game of the year award, where a single 9.5 brought it down from the title?

There's nothing about this game that should work. Despite Kato emphasizing that it is a new game, Chrono Cross, instead of Chrono Trigger 2, it never worked. Everyone graded it as Chrono Trigger 2, and no one did their research. A mess of a plot dump, too many characters, everything we've mentioned.

And yet it received tens like it was Chrono Trigger.

Personally, I think I saw Kato's passion in this game, and maybe the other reviewers did so too. I'm not into art, but I can see passion, and a vision for something different. He failed, but he tried like his life was on the line. I'm not as interested in his performance to what the goal was as much as the goal itself.

Like you said J, there's a few appreciation threads out there (resetera too, some old members like Ishida on there), but mostly how bad it was compared to Chrono Trigger, how it failed as a sequel.

I will never forget how I felt when I first played this game. It makes me glad to hear that people used to praise it, though blind praise is never good. I think the hate now is more bandwagon than the praise that used to come with it, but who knows. I'm definitely biased.

Somehow, even though it's 20 years old, the fact the consensus changed makes me sad.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 11:34:11 pm by kolt54321 »

Razig

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Re: Chrono Cross
« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2018, 11:40:35 pm »
Something I'd never really considered until now: Trigger was a huge team effort by multiple writers, while Cross was a one-man show (or at least it seems that way to me—Kato gets all the credit/blame and no one else is ever mentioned).

I also get the feeling that Kato didn't have to answer to anyone during development. Could Cross's biggest problems (convoluted plot, uneven pacing, bland secondary characters) have been caused by there being no one to rein in his excesses?

I wonder what could have been, if Cross had been a team effort instead. I appreciate Kato having a strong vision and attempting to see it through, but it's obvious the task was too big for one man. He ran afoul of budgetary and/or time limitations and had to seriously rush the game's final stretch. Since this is the freshest thing in the player's mind when he or she finishes, I suspect it tends to sour the overall experience among those who only play the game once. The game definitely gets better with repeated playthroughs, but many players probably didn't give it that chance.

I think that's probably why opinions are so strongly divided on the game: the one-time players make up the "It sucks" camp, and the returning players make up the "It's great, but flawed" camp.

Edit: Let me clarify that I loved the game even on my first playthrough. I'm not saying one has to replay it to enjoy it. But first impressions matter, and if someone didn't like it the first time, they probably wouldn't feel inclined to go through it again.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 01:45:26 am by Razig »