| Posted 07/05/10 at 04:32 PM||Reply with quote #1 |
|So, what are some thoughts on Chrono Trigger's controversial sequel? Every gamer I've seen who has played Chrono Trigger and moved on to Chrono Cross seems to have either passionately adored it or violently despised it. Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen another game as polarizing - not even Killer7 (which is actually quite similar in some ways - both have highly unconventional gameplay, represent uncompromising pursuits of an auteur's vision in every element of design, and sport mind-bogglingly complicated plots).|
I just recently picked up the game again after not having played it extensively since middle school, and I've got to say, it holds up to my memories; I absolutely adore it, flaws and all. Dare I say, I love it even better than Chrono Trigger. I love its subdued, ponderous tone, I love its exquisite audiovisual design (including its absolutely, jaw-droppingly beautiful soundtrack), I love its surprisingly poignant little moments, I love its streamlined and engaging battle system, I love its (oftentimes-dark) evolution of the themes and ideas found in its predecessor, I love its sheer ambitiousness, and I love its deliciously postmodern ending. BUT, I understand that, like any work that follows through relentlessly on a very specific vision, it will not be for everyone, and certainly makes for an unusual followup to the crowd-pleasing Chrono Trigger. But I'm attracted to the unusual.
So, anyone else played this title? Any thoughts? Is it a worthy followup to Chrono Trigger, or not?
| Posted 07/06/10 at 01:43 PM||Reply with quote #2 |
|I was so excited to play this game when it first came out. The reviews were great, it's a sequel to one of my favorites. The graphics were the best of any PSX game I'd seen, the music was fantastic, and it has maybe the best intro movie I've ever seen in a game. I liked the Xenogears-like combat system, and the leveling-by-boss fights helped get rid of the grinding common to JRPGs.|
And as I kept playing, I realized I wasn't having fun. I didn't care about the characters, except for Harle, who disappears halfway through. The plot made no sense. The interchangeable characters weren't characters, they were speech impediments with polygons. And so on.
A few years later, I had the chance to borrow it and try it again. The music, it called to me. And surely it couldn't have been that bad.
Nope, same thing. Excellent "production values," but no game. No storyline. When I was thinking about it when I was writing on the history of JRPGs, I realized that what made Chrono Trigger so great was almost totally missing from Chrono Cross. Chrono Trigger doesn't take itself seriously. Time travel is one of the most-abused tropes in speculative fiction, and Chrono Trigger bypasses it by ignoring paradoxes and multiple dimensions and anything that makes it annoying, and sticks with what makes it interesting: dinosaurs fighting robots.
Chrono Cross, meanwhile, takes itself totally seriously, even when it's utterly absurd, like the interminable rock opera in the middle of the game. And if it takes itself seriously, all its flaws show up.
| Posted 07/07/10 at 01:11 AM||Reply with quote #3 |
|I can see your problems with the characters and I agree that the game could have benefited from either having less of them or having more development (I don't really begrudge the accents, because how else are you going to make such a huge cast feel distinct purely through text?) but I think that enough of the cast was sufficiently interesting to make me care about the characters I actually bothered using. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really start to care about the cast of Chrono Trigger until they received more development near the end, and the same is true to a lesser extent with the highlights of the Cross cast. Even some of the otherwise minor PCs had surprisingly poignant backstories or character moments - for example, Skelly, the undead clown who you can assemble over the course of the game.|
The plot, I felt, was insanely thought-out to the extent that only a bona fide madman could have come up with it. And again, coming from me, that's more or less a compliment. I like dinosaurs fighting robots as much as the next guy, but I have an immense soft spot for both complicated sci-fi sagas and naval-gazing ruminations on the meaning of life, etc. and often both at once, in a way that only a crazy Japanese intellectual can imagine. I also tend to prefer darker plots over happy-go-lucky ones, so there's that too.
I'm re-examining it on a subsequent playthrough, but I'm convinced that the plot had a very subtle postmodern streak running through it, right up to its most obvious realization at the end - the question of determinism vs. free will is explored while the game simultaneously forces the player to question which plot developments they can control through their choices and actions and which are unavoidable.
Most of all, though, I just loved the MOOD of the game. Every area had a FEELING to it in a way completely unlike any other game I've ever played. Quite often, it was even RELAXING to play. The art, music, animations and words came together in a really beautiful way and, for better or worse, it represented the thorough execution of a creator's specific vision, and there are very few games out there for which one can say that to be the case.