Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is a fantastic way to play this divisive sequel
Source: Square Enix
For many legacy video game enthusiasts, Chrono Trigger is considered one of the best RPGs of all time, if not the best. With a captivating narrative fueled by fantastical characters and high moral stakes, iconic turn-based combat, and next-gen platforming pixel art, it’s easy to see why this 1995 JRPG is so universally loved. Fans loved the captivating world and charming characters created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii, and Akira Toriyama and were eager to see where the series would go with a sequel.
However, when Squaresoft revealed Chrono Cross, the highly anticipated sequel to Chrono Trigger, some fans were surprised by the dramatic change in art, tone, and combat. The dark, medieval-inspired environments of the first game were replaced with bright tropical locations, and beloved characters like Frog and Lucca were nowhere to be found. With critical acclaim and unconditional adoration from gamers, a large contingent of the Chrono fandom hasn’t been too thrilled with the decisions to fundamentally alter the Chrono Cross experience.
Some of that deep resentment from Chrono Trigger purists surfaced again when Square Enix announced the HD remastering of this controversial JRPG called Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreams Edition. When Chrono Cross came to the US in 2000, I really didn’t understand the outrage (well, I was 9 years old). Reviewing this JRPG in 2022, I still don’t quite get it. Chrono Cross is a beautiful and strange game filled with dozens of memorable wacky characters. While certainly not perfect, The Radical Dreamers Edition was a fantastic way to revisit this divisive sequel.
Table of Contents:
- A misunderstood story
- A polarizing combat system
- Repackaged for a new audience
- Should I play Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition?
- relive a classic
- Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition
- relive a classic
A misunderstood story
Source: Square Enix
If you ask Chrono Trigger fans why they love the game so much, they’ll likely wax poetic about the fantastic storytelling and dense overall narrative. This SNES-era RPG cleverly blended elements of traditional high fantasy with intricate sci-fi to great effect. Focusing on a smaller cast of six playable characters, Chrono Trigger featured a compelling story of political intrigue, multi-tiered villains, and time travel. Without a doubt, there is something special about the way this game portrays its powerful theme of choice, consequence, and the inevitability of time.
In many ways, Chrono Cross astutely respects the core themes of Chrono Trigger while expanding upon them exponentially. Much like Crono, our silent protagonist Serge serves as our vessel for interacting with this fantasy world. Instead of a neat assortment of six playable characters, however, Chrono Cross opts for a much more ambitious collection of 40 party members. Needless to say, this massive roster features a complex web of interconnected story and character dynamics. I can certainly understand why this approach might be a bit off-putting for players who enjoyed the relative simplicity of Chrono Trigger’s storytelling.
Chrono Cross is a beautiful story that boldly and triumphantly underlines the importance of each one of us.
Chrono Trigger’s approach to three distinct time periods was innovative and unique for its time. However, in Chrono Cross, the time travel aspects are greatly amplified. Players are free to switch between two different dimensions, where events from the past influence the future. At the beginning of the game, players are teleported to another world, where our protagonist Serge has died. You are then tasked with visiting your own grave in a shocking and morbid scene. From there, the floodgates of time travel, dimensional rifts, and cosmic nonsense swing wide open.
At first glance, it might seem like the 40 playable characters and expanded themes from alternate dimensions are convoluted and unnecessary, but ultimately, I think that complexity allows Chrono Cross to shine in ways that Chrono Trigger couldn’t. The poetic dialogue continually pushes you to question your destiny, your decisions and your place in the world. We see firsthand how the unbridled interests of industry and corporations can permanently destroy our natural resources, and how the little things you do in your daily life matter to the people around you. Chrono Cross is a beautiful story that boldly and triumphantly underlines the importance of each one of us.
A polarizing combat system
Source: Square Enix
Another notable change that Chrono Cross reviewers often point to when airing their complaints revolves around a significantly divergent turn-based combat system. Chrono Trigger features a fairly simple combat system that fans of traditional Final Fantasy games were used to. Much like its approach to storytelling, Chrono Cross takes these core ideals and complicates them.
There was a quintessential turn-based combat formula for a long time that nearly every major JRPG adhered to. While many gamers, myself included, loved the classic turn-based battles in titles like Pokémon, Final Fantasy VI, and Chrono Trigger, as we entered a new generation with the launch of the PS1 and N64, it was clear that games had to try to evolve. those systems. Chrono Cross was a fascinating and downright polarizing attempt to alter the tropes of turn-based combat systems.
It’s obvious that this team had big ambitions for this sequel.
Seemingly inspired by the huge success of Pokémon, Chrono Cross introduced elemental weaknesses for players and enemies. Players have been given specific color-coordinated strengths and weaknesses that directly correlate to magical attacks. For example, red magic, which was usually fire based, was weak compared to blue magic, which was usually water based. This same rule was applied to other match types such as Black and White. Combine this elaborate system with consumable elementals and a stamina system, and you have a combat system that makes Chrono Trigger seem rudimentary.
As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And it’s clear that that’s precisely what a sizable number of Chrono Trigger fans felt about the drastic transformation of combat on offer in Chrono Cross. Whether you support these changes or not, it’s obvious that this team had big ambitions for this sequel. Sometimes ambitions are clouded by execution, but in the case of Chrono Cross, the growth and evolution of JRPGs over the past two decades has only strengthened the case for its innovative and groundbreaking combat system.
Repackaged for a new audience
Source: Square Enix
As someone who grew up and fell in love with gaming during the heyday of classic JRPGs, I have fond memories of titles like Legend of Mana, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy VIII, and many more. Unfortunately, from a technical standpoint, many of these once-loved titles suffer from glaring design flaws by today’s standards. Despite my substantial collection of retro games and consoles, I rarely find myself revisiting games I once loved for these very reasons.
Nothing will rival the grandeur of our nostalgic imagination, but for the most part, the team has done an exceptional job of improving and improving Chrono Cross’ beautiful locations.
Chrono Cross: Radical Dreamers Edition introduces a desperately needed set of quality of life features that greatly increase its appeal, especially to players who have never tried this game. fully automated battles, it’s never been easier to overlook some of the original game’s frustrating design choices. Thankfully, the days of banging your heads against possibly lopsided boss encounters and pointless JRPG grinds are a thing of the past here. You can let yourself be dominated and enjoy the narration.
Despite some extreme opinions online, I’m also a big fan of the revised 3D models and updated images. Nothing will rival the grandeur of our nostalgic imagination, but for the most part, the team has done an exceptional job of improving and improving Chrono Cross’ beautiful locations. I’ve constantly admired the stunning views displayed throughout the game, and it’s great to see these classic visuals reimagined for modern devices. Some areas are certainly more beautiful than others, but there’s no denying the renewed allure of this captivating world.
Should I play Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition?
Source: Square Enix
Overall, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is a vastly improved way to revisit this PS1 classic. Since this is a remaster versus a complete remake, there are still many glaring flaws from the original. Still, the quality of life improvements introduced with this version seriously smooth out the rough edges. It’s also worth noting that the frame rate issues that plagued combat with the PS1 version are still present with The Radical Dreamers Edition, but the option to double the game speed substantially solves this problem.
Although I enjoyed Chrono Cross when it was first released, I am enjoying my second experience with the title much more. The complexity of the individuals, their motivations, and the often uncertain human dynamics of these characters is something that certainly crossed my mind as a child. I’m thrilled that a new generation of gamers is immersing themselves in this magical world, and I hope Chrono Trigger purists give this divisive sequel another chance to shine. It may not be the best RPG on Switch, but it’s definitely worth it.
relive a classic
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition
A great way to try and give this game another chance.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition adds a number of quality of life improvements that make it one of the best ways to revisit this PS1 classic.
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