Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition game review | Games

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Chrono-Cross is something of a holy grail for RPG fans – a sequel to the classic the trigger of a stopwatch, its 1999 release on the original PlayStation was only available in Japan and North America, and has been hard to find ever since. This lack of availability, combined with being overshadowed by the solid reputation of its predecessor, meant Chrono-Cross has been largely overlooked by most gamers.

So far, that is. Over two decades later, Square Enix is ​​finally making this “lost” game available once again, and this time European gamers can finally play. Chrono-Cross follows a young man named Serge, initially living an idyllic life in a coastal fishing village until fate takes him to an alternate world where he died a decade earlier. Meeting a noisy thief named Kid, Serge is drawn into an adventure that crosses realities, taking into account themes of revenge, fate, and humanity’s impact on the world around them.

It is clear from the start that Chrono-Cross had to be bigger and more ambitious than the trigger of a stopwatch just about every way. Where the latter followed his cast through a timeline, jumping between different eras, Cross weaves his story through others realities, actions taken in one world having an impact on the other. The vastly expanded roster of playable characters – 45 in total – is recruited from all dimensions, and unlocking them all will require using New Game+ to choose different paths and encounter them all.

For the purists, there’s also the option to play the entire game with the original PS1 visuals, which is actually a nice preservation of the game.

However, this push to be bigger, better, bolder, Afteris also partly responsible for Chrono-Cross not remember as fondly as Trigger – we often have the impression of doing too much. Its combat system, although still turn-based, uses a relatively complex system of “elements” – capsules equipped on a grid unique to each character, which determine the special attacks, items and other moves they have – coupled with a stamina system that controls the number of moves that can be made in each round. In addition to this, there are elemental types, Pokemon style, which affect the amount of damage taken or inflicted, and ways to manipulate elements of the battlefield. More confusingly, none of this is ever really explained to the player, and while some may appreciate the lack of grip, it certainly makes the game less accessible.

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition

Another aspect that can hold the game back, especially for modern gamers with no nostalgia for the original, are the visuals. While the trigger of a stopwatchThe intricate pixel art of has withstood the ravages of age, Chrono-CrossPS1-era 3D models, static backgrounds, and pre-rendered cutscenes made it harder to immortalize. Square Enix’s remastering effort is charitably low-key, with high-definition character models, improved character artwork for dialogs and status screens, and updated text formatting. up to date. The upshot is that this is a game that’s certainly playable on a modern HD or 4K display, but still feels very much like a product of its time. For the purists though, there’s also the option to play the entire game with the original PS1 visuals, which is actually a nice preservation of the game.

There are a few mechanical concessions and tweaks for modern gamers, though, with time-saving updates that have become commonplace in Square Enix’s other recent ports of classic RPGs. Encounters can now be disabled, allowing players to explore areas without regular battles, while time can be sped up, for faster traversal. These are optional, but can take some of the drudgery out of exploring.

the Radical Dreamers Edition also bundles in the eponymous text adventure, so far only available on the Japanese expansion Satellaview for the SNES. Originally released in 1996, Radical Dreamers: The Forbidden Treasure now serves as a kind of prequel or first draft of what became the full Chrono-Cross, with overlapping characters and similar events, even though the two games cannot co-exist in continuity. It’s a fun oddity, basically a choose-your-own-adventure-style visual novel, but maybe one for finalists only.

Yet, though he is sometimes hampered by his own ambition and sometimes daunting scale, Chrono-Cross remains a delight – a true hidden gem of an RPG that deserves more love and recognition than its previously limited releases afforded. It’s easy to get lost in Serge and Kid’s expansive global adventure, and while its retro visuals may make it a hard sell for gamers without an abiding affection for the game, it’s a highlight of both the genre and of the return of Square Enix catalog.