Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition, a timeless masterpiece | Review

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition, a timeless masterpiece | Review

Chrono Cross

If there is a historical period to which many JRPG fans link most of their fondest memories, it is certainly the one between the late 90s and early 2000s, when in particular on PlayStation there was a dense production of titles entered the Olympus of the medium. We are not only talking about the third generation of Final Fantasy, but also about titles of the caliber of Suikoden II, Grandia, Star Ocean: The Second Story, The Legend of Dragoon, Vagrant Story ... Those were other times, however, times in which the growing popularity of this genre did not guarantee commercialization all over the world, and in particular in Europe several other major titles have never arrived.

Square Enix has always been very active in reviving its most successful classics, but recently it is including reissues of more niche titles in its lineup. In recent times we have had the opportunity to get our hands on titles that stopped in the US, such as SaGa Frontier and Legend of Mana; hoping that sooner or later the turn of Xenogears and Parasite Eve will also come.

With this Radical Dreamers Edition, Square Enix offers us a remastered and enriched edition of Chrono Cross, one of the most known and acclaimed games actually of that golden age, but which for some reason never managed to land on our market. Much of its notoriety is due to the fact that it is the sequel (although not all fans agree on the definition) of that masterpiece that is Chrono Trigger, but Chrono Cross itself was in fact one of the best JRPGs to come out. for PS1, although not without flaws.

The story of Chrono Cross puts us in the shoes of Serge, a young and silent protagonist who for no apparent reason is transported to an alternate version of his world, a universe parallel where he discovers he died 10 years ago. After this revelation, he will find himself teaming up with the turbulent adventurer thief Kid, with whom he will set out in search of the mystical Frozen Flame and Lynx, a menacing metahuman mysteriously linked to Serge's fate. In his attempt to return to his dimension, the protagonist will find himself involved in an adventure that will reveal his true role in the canvas of that double world.

Unlike Chrono Trigger, which focuses on time travel in different eras, Chrono Cross takes root his own narrative progression on dimensional travel. The two parallel worlds, in fact, have developed with differences; an object or a character absent in one could be present in the other, and vice versa. Later in the game, some characters who join the party will also have the unique opportunity to confront themselves in the alternate world.

Just the great variety of characters is, in hindsight, one of the few discordant notes of the narrative apparatus. In fact, more than 40 characters can be recruited in the game and, as can be guessed, a satisfactory in-depth study is dedicated to very few of them.

Battle of elements

Chrono Cross demonstrates its will in the gameplay as well. not to rest on our laurels, introducing a completely renewed battle system compared to the predecessor. At each turn the characters have at their disposal some stamina points and three different types of attack: weak, medium and strong; as the power increases, the degree of accuracy decreases, but the more they score, the more it increases. Central role is played by the elements, which characterize both attack and defense spells, but also the characters themselves. Allies and enemies have an innate element that characterizes them, so it will be essential to take this into account to optimize turns and distribute spells to the party.

The game system is actually much more complex than that, but describe it in all its details and nuances make very little sense. Suffice it to say that this is a sufficiently complex battle system that requires a good dose of planning, especially when it comes to bosses. So much so that this is probably the first JRPG in which we found the possibility of escaping even from the boss fights, to regroup and try again, without having to load the last save.

One aspect of Chrono Trigger, however, was maintained: enemies are visible in the environments and most of them are potentially avoidable; an aspect that significantly streamlines the experience, especially considering that it is a game that relies very little on grinding.

Radical dreamers

One of the most Interesting about this remaster, especially for fans of the original, is the inclusion of Radical Dreamers - Le Trésor Interdit, a kind of textual visual novel that was only released in Japan. And when we say textual we mean in a literal sense: the events, descriptions and dialogues are expressed through simple text, with a few static images and background music tracks; even our actions, including those in combat, are performed by selecting from a menu of options. It only takes a handful of hours to complete it, but starting it again unlocks new choices to be made that will lead to different endings.

It is not easy to describe how Radical Dreamers fits into the frame of the series, especially without spoilers. It must be considered that it was born well before the release of Chrono Cross and had to be a sort of sequel to a possible timeline of Chrono Trigger (those who have played it will have understood what we are referring to). It is in Radical Dreamers that Serge and Kid are first seen, and there are several elements that directly connect him to his predecessor, such as the presence of the character Magus. Therefore we recommend playing it if you have already completed Chrono Trigger.

Only later was it taken as the foundation for the creation of Chrono Cross, which however expanded and modified the incipit of the story and brought it at very different levels. Chrono Cross has therefore become the canonical chapter that is linked to Chrono Trigger, while Radical Dreamer has been relegated to a sort of “What if” of a different parallel universe. So don't expect a chapter that adds interesting details to the canonical lore of the series.

As you can imagine, given its nature, it can't be said to have aged well by modern standards. However, if you appreciate the narrative adventures on the D&D genre or the game book, you will be able to rediscover a simple and potentially fun game, which offers an interesting alternate story. While it doesn't add much to the main game experience, it's a welcome little touch from Square Enix, who also took the time to translate it for the West.

The test of time

Contents aside, the most important update of Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition obviously concerns the visual sector. As already seen for Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, this version contains polygonal models in HD that make their figure on the screen, always considering that it is a game for PlayStation. For the occasion, Nobuteru Yuuki (character designer of the original game) has created new high-definition artwork for the characters, which we see in the dialog boxes and in the menu; in addition to being very expressive and a real joy for the eyes, they will be able to wring more than a nostalgic smile from you, starting with the main menu. We are only sorry that a gallery of images has not been set up to admire them properly.

The biggest challenge, as expected, is the pre-rendered backgrounds that have been treated with a filter that softens the stretching effect, although obviously it fails to work wonders. The effect is fluctuating depending on the location, and if in some cases the blur is annoyingly noticeable, as in the world map, in general we are faced with an acceptable result. Different speech for the FMV movies that remain substantially anchored to the quality of the format for which they were conceived, now obsolete.

However, if, for some reason, you prefer a more retro experience possible, the game still gives the possibility to deactivate these graphic refinements.

The return of the maestro

To better take care of the sound sector of Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition, Square Enix asked for the collaboration of Yasunori Mitsuda, the excellent composer of the original game, who wanted to give the project a substantial contribution, not limiting himself to refine the audio quality of the tracks. That of Chrono Cross is in fact one of his most iconic soundtracks, to which he is understandably fond, so much so that he dedicated an entire concert to him in 2019 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the game.

For the remaster they have been added 7 song arrangements and a new song entitled "Dreams of the Past, Memories of My Soul", performed by the enchanting voice of Aisling McGlynn of the choral group Anúna.

To complete the package we find the now common, but always appreciable features that meet the different approaches of the players, easily activated by pressing a button.

To proceed faster in the exploration it is possible to speed up the game action (function already present also in the original , but only after completing the game for the first time). Battles with avoidable enemies can be disabled, so even touching them in environments won't trigger fights. And if you really want to whiz through the game while sparing yourself its challenge level (which we don't recommend), there is a feature to simplify the fighting that will make the enemies of real moles unable to hit you.

There is a function to simplify the fighting. autosave, but for some reason that eludes us it is not possible to save at any time during exploration, so you will always have to rely on save points.

Powered by Blogger.