Chrono Cross - A Mea Culpa for a Sea of Plot Holes

General Information[edit]

When we first started the Chrono Compendium in 2003, fan disappointment with Chrono Cross was still very fresh. As someone who only played Chrono Trigger for the first time in 2002, I took an open-minded approach to it, embracing both games from the desire to link them as an established canon, using the Compendium to centralize all the details, lore, and theories that would bridge the gap. There had to be value in this exercise, right? Cross was a beautiful game—the music was sweepingly romantic and poignant; the art style was delicious and popped off the PS1's renderer, and in general, the game's emotional flourishes struck heartfelt and sincere. My recency to the series spared me the betrayal that many Chrono Trigger fans felt when discovering that none of them served as player characters, and most were implied to have met untimely, tragic ends. Likewise, the Compendium's positive approach of seeking answers led the fans here beyond the point of simple frustration with the game's inscrutable plot.

The Compendium's Role[edit]

We instead focused our energy on drawing any link we could between games and events, no matter how tenuous, and building a unified set of principles that permitted all the events of both games to coexist in a beautiful framework—which also served as fertile ground for any fan works that would follow. This apologetic effort culminated with this feature, designed as a rebuttal to disenfranchised Chrono Trigger fans and celebration of Cross's strengths. The spirit carried over into development of Crimson Echoes, seen as the perfect opportunity to fill in the blanks with an interquel and exercise the Compendium's mighty grasp of temporal theory. The world certainly seemed to be heading in the same direction. Over the last twenty years, it seems as if displeased Trigger fans have grown smaller and smaller in number, while Chrono Cross and Radical Dreamers continue to be showered with fresh adulation. Mitsuda's arguably more remembered for his work on Cross than Trigger at this point; likewise, the game's HD remaster has brought it to a new generation of fans. While Trigger is still praised as rock solid 16-bit perfection (and perhaps the greatest RPG ever released in its generation), the heirs of the franchise—Kato and Mitsuda—prefer to speak much more at length about Cross, and view it as the torchbearer for what the Chrono series should mean for the fans.


To mark the HD remaster of Chrono Cross, Masato Kato and Yasunori Mitsuda began answering fan questions on Square Enix's Twitter account. Unsurprisingly, a large share of the questions were about specific plot points in Chrono Cross that the game never explained. Unfortunately, most of the answers were speculative and almost flippant at times; at worst, they're outright contradictory or silly. We're centralizing all the plot issues brought to light in the Q&A on this page as sort of a capstone to the entire Compendium's encyclopedia. It took this interview to finally convince us here, but it can no longer be ignored: The disappointed Chrono Trigger fans were right. Chrono Cross was the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy of the franchise:

  • The original characters were all given off-screen deaths or forgotten...
  • The future was made depressing and bleak, downsizing the achievements of the Chrono Trigger team, and...
  • ...all of it was poorly explained and thought out, a la "Somehow, Palpatine returned."

Great writing can very easily support those first two bullet points—after all, it's often exciting when a work's theme is completely inverted. Chrono Trigger was about rushing headlong into changing history for the better. How tantalizing, then, is it to imagine what the repercussions could be of doing that? Or, say, let's explore the concept of crossing into parallel worlds, instead of changing the timeline—again, a juicy proposition to break new ground in the franchise. But absolutely none of it is ever properly explained. We are simply given no details on why the state of affairs of Chrono Cross's world exist in this configuration. Every single machination that produces 1020 A.D. is completely obfuscated and, as we've come to find out through a Q&A done over 2022 and 2023, was never properly planned to begin with.

The Story's Problems[edit]

  • Schala is sucked into the Darkness Beyond Time by the defeated future Lavos in the Ocean Palace to be merged into the Time Devourer—but how and why? Is this a power every version of Lavos has when defeated? If so, considering that the Time Devourer is capable of ending all existence, why hasn't it already been done by some other planet's Lavos? Back to our Lavos—why was the defeated Lavos sent to the Darkness Beyond Time in the first place, having been physically destroyed by the Chrono Trigger team? How does this avoid the Grandather Paradox, considering Schala was sucked into the DBT prior to Lavos actually being defeated?

Kato revealed in that interview that he wrote Radical Dreamers—the precursor to Chrono Cross, in which Kid is similarly de-aged and sent to the future by an unexplained mechanism—as a completely original work, only christening it a sequel to Chrono Trigger after it had been done. This was apparently good enough to copy into the backstory of Chrono Cross when planning the game, evidencing that no real thought was given to the implications or exact way all of this got started.

  • How does Schala clone herself?! How does this action obey the law of conservation? And how does she send her clone through a Gate to 1004 A.D.? Was she drawing upon Lavos's power, and if so, why did Lavos allow it to happen?! And if she can create a clone within the Time Devourer's bubble grasp in the Darkness Beyond Time, why oh why doesn't she just teleport herself to safety? Did this process take 3 years, and that's why Kid arrived to 1004 A.D., or can Schala somehow open a Gate to any time period it wants, something only the Entity (and maybe Lavos) could do? Was Schala controlling Lavos to make this happen? And if so, why did she allow any of this happen to all, instead of simply defusing from Lavos and sending herself to safety again?

Same as the above—we're quite confident at this point that the details of Kid's "birth" were simply never thought out, nor exactly what happened to Schala and Lavos in the intervening time. We're at the point now where, if Schala wasn't in control, then her act of sending Kid to the future had to somehow circumvent all of Lavos's power, to the point that she should have just saved herself. And if she was in control, she had the power to do much more than sending a random baby through time, but consciously chose not to. One has to assume she had multiple personality disorder going on to entreat this.

  • How are Crono and Marle defeated by Dalton and Porre? The party beat him three times in Chrono Trigger (and this is with help from his golems); how does he militarize Porre and overcome the ebullient Kingdom of Guardia? What exactly does the Fall of Guardia FMV show? Is that the Masamune which is dropped? Who was wielding it? Crono was a katana wielder; only Frog historically uses the Masamune—was he present, somehow? Or did Dalton steal the old Masamune from wherever Frog left it after his passing in the Middle Ages? Why didn't Lucca help Crono and Marle fight Dalton, or did she, and somehow escape the battle with her life? Is Dalton even still alive in 1020 A.D.? Why wouldn't Lucca devote her research to undoing this part of history, considering Dalton was an outside influence to the timeline?

Theories abound for this one, and the Compendium has bent over backwards to try and rationalize it, but it remains an extremely unsatisfying event with virtually no explanation. The FMV raises a thousand more questions than it answers. Crono and Marle are two out of a party of three that defeated Lavos, a galactic threat and canonically strongest enemy in Chrono Trigger, outside of Spekkio. How could they be defeated by Dalton, especially if Lucca were to join the fray? "Dalton gave Porre technology"—but Guardia has the greatest scientist on earth working for their cause, Lucca Ashtear! There is just nothing to good to go off, here.

  • What was the panther demon that attacked Serge in 1006 A.D., considering there was no Lynx back then, and we see no panther enemies in the rest of the game? How did Schala hear Serge's random cries through the Darkness Beyond Time, and why did she even care about this random child crying? Was it because she knew Serge would be the one to eventually heal her via the Chrono Cross? If so, does Schala have absolute omniscience, or was all of Chrono Cross predestined? Schala ostensibly took this action to further Project Kid, so either she was trying to undo the Time Devourer but was under Lavos's control, or she was in control of Lavos but just actively resisting simply de-fusing herself and solving the problem; or, she had multiple personalities at war within herself? Was hearing Serge's cry just a stupid whim? Was it because she knew Serge would eventually go back to Lucca's orphanage and save Kid? If so, how did Kid survive the first time around without Serge there? And wouldn't Schala need predestined omniscience to know this again? How did Schala physically cause a storm to blow Wazuki off course to Chronopolis?! If Schala can manifest physical phenomena in the real world like this, why wouldn't she take a more active role in helping Serge to fulfill Project Kid?

So very much of Chrono Cross and Project Kid completely depends on Schala hearing Serge's cries in 1006 A.D. and blowing Wazuki and Miguel off-course to Chronopolis. Without this single act, Serge dies, and there is no Chrono Cross.

  • How did Kid rescuing Serge on Opassa Beach from Lynx in 1010 A.D. cause the dimensions to split? If it was the simple act of changing history, why doesn't every act of changing history cause a dimensional split? But wait, which version of Kid saved Serge, here? Was it the post-Chrono Cross, merged Schala/Kid? If so, how could this have happened causally before Serge actually used the Chrono Cross to liberate her from the Time Devourer? But seriously, what causes dimensions to split?! Was it some kind of arcane power projected by Schala from the Darkness Beyond Time, again? And as always, if she had that kind of power—the power to break a timeline in half—why not just free herself?!

Flat-out never explained, and literally the entire premise of the game rests on the dimensions being split. The whole mechanic or gimmick of Chrono Cross, boiled down—it's crossing between worlds, with no backstory ever provided for how those worlds came to be.

  • Why does Home World's future see the eruption of Lavos and destruction of 1999 A.D. restored? What exactly is it about Home World that dooms it to have the Chrono Trigger team lose their battle with Lavos, or perhaps never successfully challenge him? And how does this work, anyway—Lavos was defeated prior to the dimensions splitting, but not just physically defeated—he was cast to the Darkness Beyond Time, apparently! Does that not exempt him from being "copied", such that each dimension gets its own Lavos? After all, the singular Time Devourer is still sitting in the Darkness Beyond Time; what on earth is causing Home World's future to be destroyed by the Lavos eruption again, as shown in Lithosphere Investigation Report #27? Or was Lithosphere Investigation Report #27 just showing a hypothesized future event? (If so, how does that jibe with the implication in Chrono Trigger that human civilization in 1999 A.D. was completely unprepared for Lavos's eruption?)

GrayLensman came up with a badass theory to try and explain this—Armageddon-Branch theory, housed in Salt for the Dead Sea (in essence, only one version of the CT team was preserved when the dimensions were split, so no one was around to fight Lavos in Home World's future). But the simple fact remains that it's never explained, and to add salt to the wound, visions of Crono, Marle, and Lucca appear in-game and accuse Serge of being responsible for Home World's future destruction, which implies that versions of Crono, Marle, and Lucca existed in Home World! This accusation is likewise never explained.

  • How does the Dragon God retain a physical existence in the world despite being consumed by the Time Devourer? How does it cross over and do anything from within the Darkness Beyond Time? What was the Dragon God's true motivation? Why would it attack and stop Serge from reaching the Frozen Flame, if it was possibly aware of Project Kid and Serge's role in destroying the Time Devourer?

The Dragon's god motives are never explained, and it's hard to track what exactly Harle's role is in all of this, aside from regaining the Frozen Flame for the Dragon God and then disappearing. In the game, the Dragon God seems content to sit in Terra Tower and brood.

  • What exactly does an Arbiter of the Frozen Flame do? What mediation is there to be done between humanity and Lavos, considering Lavos can erupt anytime it wishes and assimilate humanity's evolution? Beyond the hypothesized introduction of magic to humanity's DNA in 3,000,000 B.C., what other point was there to Lavos ever interacting with humanity again, aside from destroying Zeal in 12,000 B.C. to prevent their becoming a threat to him? Is the creation of the Frozen Flame a standard part of the Lavos toolkit when crashing into a new planet, considering (as such a powerful artifact) it can be used by the planet's species to steal some of its power and challenge Lavos via magic as the Chrono Trigger team did? (Also, going back to the old plot hole, Kato states that the Frozen Flame was made of Dreamstone; how was there Dreamstone on earth held by Ayla's tribe before Lavos arrived, in that case?)

The Arbiter concept is given such hype in the game, but never explained, nor is it confirmed what Serge actually did when confronting the Frozen Flame atop Terra Tower. If Lavos is also trapped in the Darkness Beyond Time and is now the Time Devourer, what role does the Frozen Flame/Arbiter relationship even has, considering his entire purpose has switched to blindly wanting to destroy the spacetime continuum?

  • How did Belthasar plan all of Project Kid? How did Schala, from within the Time Devourer, know that Belthasar would initiate the Time Crash, realize what she was trying to do, and plan the rest of it out? How did Belthasar and Schala know that the Entity would somehow be able to pull in Dinopolis from another dimension to counterbalance Chronopolis? How did they know about the Dragon God of the Reptite timeline, and that its Elements could be used to create the Chrono Cross? If they could manipulate the Entity, why couldn't they just use a separate plan of some kind? If the Entity is that concerned about human influence, why did it allow humanity to continue after being tainted by the Frozen Flame in the first place; why didn't it pull in Dinopolis into the past to enforce a Reptite world and snuff out humans to begin with? And later, how could Belthasar have predicted the future actions of Lynx, the Prometheus Circuit, and FATE? How could Belthasar have known the above events would happen as well (Schala hearing Serge cry and blowing Wazuki off course to Chronopolis; the split of dimensions happening because Kid saves Serge)? If Belthasar knew all of this would go down, he must be aware of what exactly causes dimensions to split; why even include the dimensions splitting as part of his plan? Serge has to collect the 6 Dragon God relics from both dimensions anyway; if there's no dimension split, would it not have been much more efficient for Serge to collect the 6 relics in one dimensions, versus having to cross dimensions constantly? How would Belthasar have predicted Harle's creation and theft of the Frozen Flame? How would Belthasar be able to predict the Chrono Trigger team's ghost children's role in instructing Serge or appearing to him in the Dead Sea? Why even allow Home World to be created as part of his plan if it represented an abnormality that required Miguel to guard its version of the Frozen Flame, which seemed to have no real purpose in Project Kid and just represent a loose end (being eventually destroyed)? If Chronopolis was capable of destroying Home World's Dead Sea all along, why didn't they just do that to begin with? Why allow Serge's team to get close to the Home World Frozen Flame first?

Project Kid is possibly the most damning aspect of the game. Richard Honeywood revealed in an interview shortly after the game's completion that he encouraged Masato Kato to write some additional expository dialogue with Belthasar in Terra Tower, solely to explain what went on behind the scenes and show the player that he had planned the game's events to happen for purposes of creating the Chrono Cross. To many fans, this seemed like a retrospective justification of the game's otherwise-nonsensical plot. It smacks of the development team trying to cover for the game's events otherwise making no sense by simply declaring that "Belthasar did it". But it has a much worse implication.

Project Kid directly contradicts the entire theme of Chrono Trigger. The entire point of that game was that Crono, Marle, and Lucca were just some young people who decided to change the future for the better. It's in the name—Chrono "Trigger"; a person's willpower, their capacity to dream a better life, is what allows them to change their own future; it all hinges on their desire to positively act. The CT team openly speak of how dangerous and futile their mission appears, but are compelled to try and stop Lavos; they step forward into every chapter of the game aware of how fraught with danger it is, but steeled in their resolve to change time and save the world. Chrono Cross, on the other hand, was all planned out from the beginning by Schala in the Darkness Beyond Time, and later, Belthasar with Project Kid. Serge was always destined to cross the dimensions and assemble the Chrono Cross relic to free Schala. The player figuratively can set the game on autopilot; it's all on rails. If Crono, Marle, Lucca and the gang had decided to give up at any moment, then the apocalyptic future of 1999 A.D. would have remained. But in Chrono Cross, the entire story is spurred towards an uncertain villain and purpose. The player finds out extremely late in the game that the true enemy is the Time Devourer, and that every event leading up to that point was just a meaningless stepping stone on the way to that goal. When Serge thought he was assisting the Acacia Dragoons, saving the fairies, helping the Dragon Gods, healing the Masamune, purifying Marbule, or every other odd and end, he was really just being manipulated into freeing Schala.

The player barely knows what they're doing or why they're doing it for most of the game, and there is no thematic exercise of free will. It leaves Chrono Cross a poorly-connected string of sidequests that was always going to happen exactly as it did, an unsatisfying conclusion that completely undoes Trigger's message.

The Q&A's Disappointments[edit]

Hardly any of the questions above are new, but the Compendium took the stance of, "just because something is unexplained doesn't mean it's a plot hole—it might be saved for a future game." This changed recently with the Square Twitter Q&A with Masato Kato and Yasunori Mitsuda. You can find all the answers archived at this page. Several times, fans ask for more background about Chrono Cross, and the development teams either deflects the question, speculates wildly, or simply provides an unsatisfying answer that reveals a total absence of worldbuilding or internal consistency beyond what made it into the final version of Chrono Cross. Examples abound, but some of the most problematic answers are below:

  • "What is the Panther Demon" / "A leopard demon is a demon that looks like a leopard. It looks like a panther, but it is not just a panther." [Compendium] We still have no explanation of what this demon was or why it attacked Serge.
  • "Is Dalton alive and active on the continent?" / "Dalton must be very active on the continent, or rather, in the dark. I believe he was acquainted with Lynx and General Viper." [Compendium] Considering Porre is sent to El Nido to recover the Frozen Flame, then if Dalton is pulling the strings—why on earth would Dalton, a high-ranking member of Zeal's kingdom who would know how powerful it is, not personally go to El Nido to retrieve it himself using the full might of his magic? Why would he not have Porre literally tear El Nido to shreds and raze the entire chain of islands to dirt searching for it? And if Dalton is too incompetent to seize it himself, how did he manage to defeat Guardia fifteen years earlier? Likewise, if Dalton is stays hidden and only delegates, how was the Porre army able to overthrow Guardia in 1005 A.D., considering no one else in the Porre army can use magic?
  • "I think the Frozen Flame and the ancient Dreamstone are strictly speaking different things. Are they related in any way?" / "They are both part of Lavos that fell to the ground." [Compendium] This is an outright contradiction with Chrono Trigger, where Ayla's tribe possesses Dreamstone prior to Lavos arriving on earth.
  • "I wonder if Kid remembers that Serge saved her life [at the orphanage] when she was a little girl?" / "Yes. Yes, she did. I don't think Kid ever forgot. But since Serge doesn't seem to know who she is, and in fact he seems younger than he did that night, I guess she's still trying to keep it all to herself for now." [Compendium] This is a clear predestination paradox. Serge goes back to the orphanage and rescues Kid only because he started the adventure of Chrono Cross, of which Kid was a key part; Kid wouldn't exist otherwise. How did this happen the first time around, in that case? And knowing Kid's outrageous personality, would she really keep quiet if she recognized Serge as her savior from the fire?
  • "Why was Schala drawn to Serge's crying? Why Serge and not someone else?" / "It was Serge's crying that reached her at that moment. If she had not heard that voice, she might have disappeared, and if it had been someone else instead of Serge, it would have been a different story." [Compendium] The implication is that Schala was ready to just let herself be consumed by the Time Devourer and suicide if she hadn't heard Serge's cry as a child in that moment. What a pure coincidence! The entire spacetime continuum is saved because a little kid was randomly attacked by a panther demon, and an imprisoned princess of Zeal randomly heard it in a literal different plane of existence. I guess Schala didn't care about the billions of other "cries" that living creatures made—the cries of animals being eaten, the cries of babies after birth, the cries of all the other babies, kids, and adults that fell victim to tragedy on Zenan and elsewhere in the world from accidents or malicious intent; the cries of the mourning families after the Fall of Guardia; the cries of the fairies being displaced by the dwarves on El Nido, or the myriad other expressions of grief that take place every waking second in the world. No, this random child's cry somehow motivated Schala to put all of Project Kid into plan, even though she'd already begun the plan by creating Kid and sending her to the modern era. Was she constantly fluctuating between wanting Project Kid to happen, and just being satisfied with fusing with the Time Devourer and destroying all of existence? See the plot holes above. This is coincidence bordering on absurdity, and just silly in general. What if she'd heard the cry of a baby in the middle of Zenan, with no ship to blow towards Chronopolis?
  • "I'm still wondering where Kid and the rest of the characters are after the ending. What happened to Another World? I'm curious about that...that kind of uncertainty was one of the best parts of the games at the time." / "I don't think it is necessary to explain everything. As long as the minimum necessary information is clearly explained, I would like to leave the rest to the imagination of the audience." [Compendium] One can debate the merits of Kato's statement there, but one cannot argue that fans have been long disappointed by the ending of Chrono Cross. Did the dimensions reunify? What happens to the rest of the cast? What events are preserved in the new timeline, if they reunified? Do all the characters remember the adventure? What happens to the Frozen Flame? What happens to Chronopolis? What happens to the dead Chrono Trigger team members?
  • "I wonder if Serge has a vague recollection of his journey after the last fight, and then forgets about it? If so, does Serge continue to search for Kid?" / "I don't know. I think Serge's memories of the trip may fade little by little. That is why Kid is searching for Serge somewhere, wandering through many time lines. To meet again someday." [Compendium] Kato confirms here that Serge loses his memories, and that the ending FMV shows Kid searching for Serge. My brother in Christ, does Schala/Kid not remember that Serge is right there, with a known home address, sitting in 1020 A.D. in Arni Village?! What is there to search for? And why does Serge lose his memories? Do the other team members lose their memories? Is all their growth across the game not rendered completely hollow and useless if they forget about it all? Does Pierre regress to being a fake hero, for example?
  • "I wonder how Schala's pendant got to the Kingdom of Guardia, if it passed from Schala's hands to Kid's, who was swallowed by the dimensional vortex." / "There may have been another story where the Kid, Serge and others traveled back in time and crossed over to the continent before the Fall of Guardia." [Compendium] Where to even begin with this one? Not only is it a predestination paradox, but it also introduces the same problem to Chrono Trigger if we assume that Chrono Cross hadn't happened yet. From a story standpoint alone, can you imagine the absurdity of Serge freeing Schala, returning to Arni, and thinking, "wait, we need to take a couple further detours to make sure all of this could happen in the first place?" It's causally inconsistent and also, like the plot of Cross in general, destroys the point of Chrono Trigger that nothing changes in history until you personally ACT and become your own Chrono Trigger to make a better future. It adds yet another layer of determinism to the entire adventure, by having Serge retroactively set up all the pieces to make sure Project Kid could happen. It's also just a silly scenario to imagine in general. How are Serge and Kid traveling through time? Do they recover the Neo-Epoch? Can the Neo-Epoch magically go to time periods that the Entity did not previously enable, transcending the power of the old Epoch?

Far from resolving any of the game's mysteries, the Q&A just compounded the plot holes while virtually telling the fans to go imagine the other characters' backstories themselves. Characters who asked about Tia, Dario, Masa and Mune, the Reptite dimension, Pierre, Zelbess, and many more characters were told upfront to simply imagine the details themselves, and in many cases, Kato confessed to never having considered the backstories (even admitting to never clearly differentiating Demihumans and Mystics in the lore).

With this little attention given to the plot and its internal consistency, we have to ask ourselves at the Chrono Compendium—why should WE care? Why spend so much time and effort trying to add coherence to such a jumbled, contradictory plot, especially where it conflicts with the rules set up by Chrono Trigger or undercuts the theme of that game? It appears that much of Chrono Cross was written without any respect to a fundamental set of internal principles or in-universe logic, nor was it even fleshed out beyond what was shown on-screen for immediate effect. It's the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster with an inflated budget—the actors are big names; the CGI is great; the soundtrack is top notch—but the story? Utterly nonsensical, which kneecaps all the emotional poignancy of the game. Does anything the characters do matter in Chrono Cross, considering it was all planned by Schala and Belthasar, and in context of the implication that the player characters forget the entire adventure once it's done? If it didn't matter to the chief writer of the game, why should it matter to us?

Concluding Remarks[edit]

I used to joke about diehard Chrono Trigger fans who hated Cross, imagining that they would have preferred some rollicking direct sequel in the style of Dragon Ball Z, where Crono hops in the Epoch with some tasty snacks and jets off to fight a cosmic threat even bigger than Lavos. This was in imagined contract to Chrono Cross, which we argued possessed leagues' more of emotional depth and character quality. We also held that Cross successfully inverted the premise of Trigger by focusing on dimensions instead of time travel, and dealing with its unpleasant effects versus its simple application to save the world. Those notions are laughable at this point. Not only does Cross contradict the theme of Trigger by predetermining the entire plot of the game, its emotional moments have no impact in context of the nonsensical plot and inscrutable motives of the characters, nor does its mechanic of dimension-hopping ever receive justification or technical explanation outside of being a gimmick that inadvertently creates loads of plot holes and confusion. Thematically, it's simply a failed game. It looks beautiful, and the music lingers in the soul for years after one plays it through. But there is no remaining sense of adventure, nor satisfaction in reaching the end. There are only more questions—all of which, we now know, have no answers, or have "answers" that contradict one another and Chrono Trigger as well. Chrono Cross is best taken as a picture book with fantastic music for each page. Some of its ideas still remain tantalizing, like Lavos directly altering human evolution via a shard of itself, or the romantic idea of the Radical Dreamers staging heists in search of magical artifacts in 1020 A.D. But its theme and its story resoundingly fail, a bitter fact of which the creators have reminded us with the Q&A and HD remaster.

Chrono Trigger deserves a real sequel. It will likely never get one; the Dream Team caught lightning in a bottle when they made the game, and likewise, its placement at the end of the SNES's lifecycle allowed it to capture the full range of 16-bit technology available at the time to give it the maximum possible sensory impact of its medium. Not only are those conditions unlikely to repeat, but the gaming industry in general has settled into bloated projects, rife with microtransactions and planned excisions for DLC, with Final Fantasy itself becoming a repetition of the same indistinct worlds where crystal magic and technology are blended without truly colorful characters or unique civilizations that made them all their own satisfying universes to visit. Likewise, the scope of modern games does not allow for auteur-driven development, as was the case of Chrono Trigger, where the Dream Team could be directly involved in all aspects of production and make specific artistic decisions about the game's design free of corporate meddling (a leeway that certainly backfired with Chrono Cross, to be fair). We're largely past the day of bold visionaries realizing their unfettered designs with innovative techniques. Games are designed now with specific market targets and premises geared to attract the largest possible swath of fans, leaving them undifferentiated in any meaningful way and discouraging risk-taking in their gameplay mechanics or stories. The ground is simply not fertile for something like Chrono Trigger to ever happen again.

But we can still dream. Chrono Trigger would encourage us to, even if Chrono Cross would have us fatalistically believe everything was predetermined. We're free to exercise our own Trigger energy and not consider Cross to be canon in the imagined series of what Chrono Trigger could have been, if it had bloomed into a better franchise.

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From: Plot Inconsistencies

Thanks to StarSeeker for the puppeteer image