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  • Chrono Cross Retrospective: A Serge of Destruction

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    If it’s not the first I’ve ever seen, it was one of the first I’ve ever beaten. One of the most underestimated and unknown RPGs is a proud bearer of the Squaresoft label. Yes, before Square Enix was a thing.No, it is not the Final Fantasy series. I'm talking about the "Chrono" series, more in particular, Chrono Cross


    Chrono Cross is a fantastic RPG that is not only beautiful to look at, but it is fun to play. With awe-inspiring screen shots, spectacular imagery, and enchanting music, this game is easily one of the best I've ever played. I’m not saying it’s the best, but it holds a special place in my heart.

    Don't Go Breakin' My Heart

    But, that stuff isn't the half of why Chrono Cross is important. This is first game I ever beat by myself, on my own, no help, no guide, and no brother-- in fact, I beat it before he did!(Now that I think about it, I’m not sure he ever did.)




    Granted, I did beat other games about the same time, but here's a little scenario of what my gaming life was all about during the 90's:


    When growing on games, I used to watch my oldest brother, Dennis, play everything. He would work his way through Final Fantasy 1, 2(IV), 3(VI) , and Mystic Quest on the Super Nintendo. He displayed his air skills with Mario's jump, Dixie Kong's funky hair, and Ryu/ Ken's Hurricane KickHe punched out lights in Final FightMortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct. Finally, when the Playstation came around, he put his skills to use with NHL EA Games and the famous Final Fantasy 7.


    Yes, Dennis was a gaming master. For fourteen years, I would watch him, open-mouthed, saliva frothing as he battled

    , King Koopa, and conquered his foes with Dhalsim and Glacius.


    However, whenever he approached the ending of a game, he would pause the game, turn to me and say, "Get out. You have to beat it for yourself if you want to see the ending."

    Crushed Hopes and Dreams

    My heart would be crushed. I would curl up into a ball and sob for hours upon hours, not knowing if Cecil, Rosa, Kain, Edge, and Rydia defeated the evil Xemus, not understanding what happened after Chun-Li faced off with M. Bison, and dying to know what horrors awaited Diddy and Dixie Kong. After all, he let me watch the end of Super Mario World. Why did he stop now?


    [caption id=attachment_2194" align="alignright" width="340]



    Honestly, it was kind of

    What better way to keep your little sibling busy without missing game time? Just simply convince the little one that watching a video game is just as awesome as playing.


    Still, this all raised a question in my mind as I mopped up my tears and broken dreams; why didn't I try to play a game? I'll admit, it enhances the gaming experience to beat something on your own, but really, was I worthy of such a task?


    After Dennis banned me from watching him beat games, I tried to play the games I wanted to see the endings for, but everything was much too hard. I was so YOUNG and FOOLISH! I didn't know to grind in RPGs like Dragon Warrior, I would mash on the buttons in a sad attempt to form combos, and I was slain by the simplest of goombas.

    Placing the Blame

    [caption id=attachment_2195" align="alignleft" width="300]

    Okay. This wasn't me...but I was used to seeing this.[/caption]


    I blame him, mostly. He always hogged whichever system we had, letting me watch him play. After a short time, I realized I was trying to pull off tricks my brother would on his best days. I was enthralled by the story, not the game play. He was far more skilled at these games- I mean, he had some practice. I decided if I wanted to beat a game, it would have to be one I never watched him play. Then I could go back and beat them the way liked to play.


    I had to develop my own style. I had to pick my own fighter, choose my own adventure. In essence, in order to become a gamer I had to discover and play a game on my own.


    I don't know why I picked up Chrono Cross. I'd never played Chrono Trigger. Quite frankly, I was afraid of RPGs. But when I first turned it on, a whole new world was opened up to me, and I fell in.


    One of longest games of my life(up to that point), I played night and day in order to defeat this game as completely as possible. Only after I purchased the guide, years later, did I find that there were multiple things I didn't know about and all of my efforts were fruitless, rotten, and smashed with a hammer.


    Getting in the Game

    Chrono Cross is an RPG sequel of the Square company's Chrono Trigger. It follows the journey of a young man named Serge, who becomes trapped in an alternate universe where he has 'died'.


     It is masterfully put together with a wonderful soundtrack that takes on a character itself.




    Serge ends up helping a girl called Kidd search for something called the 'Frozen Flame' hoping to find a way back to his own world. As the game continues on, he encounters a number of playable characters who can join the party. There are so many, it is impossible to get them all the first time one plays the game through.


    In fact, it is impossible. Certain choices a gamer makes can determine which characters they get as the game progresses. When a player reaches the end of the game, they can save it, and start a new game, carrying over everything the player found in the previous adventure, but the player pretty much begins at a lower level.


    When the player reaches a certain point of the game, it is possible to transfer all of the characters from the first game. That is the only way a true gamer can get them all!

    Get All The Characters!

    I continued to work my way through this RPG, taking in the story, discovering and exploring all parts of the map, and pressing on toward the end. Beating a game on my own proved to be one of the most thrilling experiences in my lame young life. (Don't judge.)


    I discovered the art of leveling up, magic allocation, and upgrading weapons. The game system was different than most I'd watched Dennis play. The characters equip armor, weapons, and accessories like most rpgs.


    The magic system required elements, and each character has his or her own 'elemental' specialty. Serge's element is white, which is weak again black elements. His use of white elements is stronger than any other character without the 'white' element specialty.Also, when a character starts off, he or she can only equip a few elements. Element usage reflects in battle; if a player can't hit the enemy, the element gauge doesn't go up. The more a character hits, the higher the level of spell can be cast.

    Moving Right Along

    Chrono Cross


    Plus, Serge and his buddies get to travel around the map getting all kinds of vehicles, party members, and different shenanigans. Serge's main concern is Kidd and her nemesis, Lynx.


    The story takes some interesting twists, and much of it is shocking as well as enthralling. I found myself rushing through the game to see what would happen next in the story; this wasn't a good thing necessarily. In my haste, I missed crucial moments in the game and forged through a bit under leveled. Of course, the thought of missing things in the game made me want to replay it in the New Game + mode. Also, after beating Chrono Trigger, I played through the game again and freaked out about the connections.


    Nothing is better than seeing something in a game, movie, or anything that you can recognize as a reference. You can take that to the bank. Really, think about it. But you have to have someone who appreciates it, otherwise, it's only you freaking out about it; which is still fun in my book. Perhaps I would have appreciated the references in the first play through had I beaten Chrono Trigger first, but alas -- it was at a time Super Nintendo games were getting harder to find.

    Hiccups in the System

    I digress. Chrono Cross


    As I made my way to the final few battles, my PlayStation fell prey to one of the many designing flaws most new technology has; it stopped working properly. It is easy to see where this story is going.


    Honestly, I should have prepared for such a problem, but at the time, I just wanted to beat the game. In lieu of revealing key plot points, I approached the final battle with knowledge, with satisfaction, and with earnest.


    Truth be told, I was more excited by the fact that no one had helped me with this game. I was hyped with the knowledge that I would be the first in the family to defeat Chrono Cross and bring Serge back to his own time.


    If you haven't played the game, I guess the things ahead are semi-spoilers that are vague enough that they shouldn't matter. Then again, the game was released in 1999. This game is almost old enough to vote in the US. But, you have been warned.


    Spoiler Alert!

    [caption id=attachment_2199" align="alignleft" width="249]Serge, Chrono Cross We had been through so MUCH!![/caption]


    Anyway, after everything Serge and I had been through, I wanted to save Kidd from her torment, release Lynx from his bounds, and end the horror of this twisted world. By using the obtained 'Chrono Cross' I completed the game with the 'perfect' ending. In order to use the device, my characters had to cast spells in accordance with the sounds of the Chrono Cross. When a player casts an element, a sound goes off and the meter is filled with that color. When the succession of the element casting is complete it is a rainbow of magical power, which surges through the enemy and ends the game.


    I had done it. After six different attempts, I had achieved my goal. As the end credits played, my next goal was to save the game and all of its glory in order to start a new campaign...to get everything I possibly could.


    And that is when the game began to skip and glitch.

    Chrono Cross: The System Glitch

    I recognized the signs. My brother was playing NHL and was on the verge of defeating the Nashville Predators when the game could no longer recognize the disk. It skipped through a slap-shot and shut off. He wasn't happy.


    I wasn't happy either. It took me almost a half hour to cast the stupid Chrono Cross in succession and I wasn't about to lose all of my progress.


    Then it dawned on me; I had read on the internet somewhere about PlayStations going buggy, or maybe it was Game Informer? I can't remember where now, but it was worth a shot.


    [caption id=attachment_2200" align="alignright" width="420]

    This was me too...only with a more positive outcome.[/caption]


    I stretched my fingers out to the PlayStation, and slowly inched the tips beneath it. Gingerly twisting the device, I managed flip the console upside-down. The credits finished.


    As I'm writing this, I feel the urge to play through it again, because...for the life of me...I don't remember the ending. I was too busy trying to save my progress. It makes me sad, actually, to think I was more concerned with saving all of the cool stuff I managed to get, but then I realized that it was something more than just 'stuff'. Everything I managed to pick up in the game was a small victory, and finding it was more difficult than slaying any boss monster. Granted, those battles were tough, and each was greeted with a challenge that made the victory that much sweeter, but all of that hard work makes the ending seem far too simple.

    Think about it.

    All of the energy put into RPGs, do the endings really satisfy? In most cases, I'd like to say no. The endings are anti-climatic, and often a let down. I want to know what happens next. Like in the movies, when the hero does what we all think he or she is going to do, and the day is won; we are all brought back to earth when the credits roll and a big THE END appears. But it's not the 'real' end. Who cleans up that mess?


    Chrono Cross characters

    Games are about the play, about the win.



    The end of Chrono Cross was bittersweet in many ways. I didn't want to leave the characters, I couldn't enjoy the ending, but I pressed the power button with one comforting thought; There are at least eight different ways to beat this game and each has a different ending.


    What do you guys and gals think?  What was the first game you ever beat? Any mishaps happen to you when playing? Let me know in the comments below!

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