Chrono Cross is the sequel to Chrono Trigger, which was released for the Super Nintendo in 1995. ChronoCross takes the series in a new direction as it expands the predecessor's focus on time travel for a story about alternate universes, as well as debuting a new turn-based combat system, a new art style and a very enlarged new cast of 45 playable characters. The game also includes several series staple features such the New Game Plus and series hallmark multiple endings. Released for the PlayStation in 2000, Chrono Cross received wide critical and commercial success, and went on to join the PlayStation's Greatest Hits library.
Chrono Cross follows a boy named Serge, and takes place in a tropical archipelago called El Nido. After a freak occurrence, Serge finds himself in an alternate dimension in which he has been dead for 10 years. While searching for the answer behind his death, Serge runs into a young girl, a thief named Kid. Together they set out on a journey to solve the questions surrounding Serge's death, as well as hunt down Kid's nemesis, a cat-man named Lynx, and retrieve an ancient artifact known as the Frozen Flame. After chasing Lynx for some time, Lynx gets the upper hand. He uses another artifact called the Dragon's Tear to switch bodies with Serge, and banish him to a strange realm known as the Temporal Vortex. Serge eventually escapes the Temporal Vortex, and begins searching for a way to get his body back from Lynx, which leads him to an area called the Dead Sea. There Serge does find the Frozen Flame, but it is guarded by a man named Miguel. After Serge defeats Miguel, the entity known as FATE destroys the Dead Sea to protect the Frozen Flame. Serge barely escapes with the help of the legendary Dragons. He is also able to retrieve his body with the aid of the Dragons, and then heads to a research facility called Chronopolis. There, Serge defeats both Lynx and FATE, which allows the Dragons to swoop in and take the Frozen Flame. It is then that the Dragons merge to form the ancient Dragon God and raise the massive structure known as Terra Tower, thus becoming the new primary villain(s).
Upon traveling to Terra Tower, Serge meets a prophet named Belthasar (the same Prophet of Time from Chrono Trigger). Belthasar divulges much information to Serge, including the history of El Nido, Chronopolis, and the Dragon God. He also informs Serge that a girl named Schala (the princess of the Kingdom of Zeal from Chrono Trigger) has been trapped in a place called the Darkness Beyond Time along with a terrible creature called Lavos, who was the primary villain from Chrono Trigger. It seems their presence together has caused Schala and Lavos to begin merging, and the resulting creature (later called the Time Devourer) would be capable of destroying all spacetime. Belthasar also talks about the role of Serge and Kid in all of this. He reveals that he created Kid as a clone of Schala, and set in motion all of the events of the game that have brought Serge to this point. He calls this plan Project Kid, and states that its purpose will soon be revealed. With this new information in hand, Serge defeats the Dragon God at the top of Terra Tower, then heads back to the point where he first encountered the dimensional split. There he finds apparitions of Crono, Marle, and Lucca- some of the main protagonists from Chrono Trigger. They tell Serge that the purpose of Project Kid was indeed to free Schala from the Time Devourer. Serge moves forward, and defeats the Time Devourer. By using the mysterious seventh element known as the Chrono Cross, Serge is also able to free Schala. Schala thanks Serge, and returns him to his home. Serge forgets the whole adventure upon returning home.
Chrono Cross' story plays heavily off the idea of the parallel dimensions found in the game. For a large portion of the game, the player can travel between the two dimensions, and will frequently encounter the same character in each dimension. Often times the two versions of a character will be very different, which reveals one of the game's major themes- every choice someone makes creates once future and destroys another simultaneously. The two dimensions represent two parallel worlds that are almost completely different, due to the diverging choices its inhabitants have made over the years, even though it is technically the same world. Chrono Cross also contains numerous references to its predecessor, Chrono Trigger. Many are obvious, such as the appearance of important characters such as Crono, Marle, Lucca, Belthasar, Schala, and Lavos. Other characters are mentioned in passing, such as Robo. Others still are referenced in a more subtle way- Frog and Magus are represented by other characters who are not at all related to them, but share likenesses. Events in Chrono Trigger are also referenced on occasion, and the ruins found in Chrono Trigger's futuristic era can even be found in the Dead Sea. Various items, such as the Masamune, also make a reappearance.
Similar to Chrono Trigger, Cross Cross has no random encounters. Enemies are visible from the overworld, and a battle is only initiated if the player makes contact with the monster. Chrono Cross’ battles revolve around the six elements in the game, which are designated by the six colors: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, White, and Black. Chrono Cross' magical system is centered around these elements, as each spell or item in the game is labeled under an element. Characters have a certain number of slots in which they can equip elements, and thus use them in battle. These six elements occur in three pairs of opposed types: Red/Blue, Green/Yellow, and White/Black. Every character and monster in the game has an innate element, and elemental attacks deal more damage to a character or monster of an opposing element. For example, a blue elemental spell will deal extra damage to a character whose innate element is red, and vice versa. Also, the game keeps track of the three most recently used elements, which is displayed in an upper corner under the label "Field Effect". Once the field effect becomes one color (that is, three elements of the same color are cast in a row), then elements of that color will receive a power boost. Summon spells, the ultimate attacks in the game, can only be cast if the "Field Effect" is entirely of the proper color.
Another big feature in Chrono Cross' battles is the stamina bar. Characters and monsters start each battle with 7 stamina. Characters have multiple levels of attack, consuming various amounts of stamina depending on the quality of attack. A character cannot act if his or her stamina falls below 1, and they will lose their turn until their stamina refills (which happens naturally over the course of other character's turns). Also, elements cannot be used until a character has landed a number of blows on an enemy, and they also require stamina to use. Thus, battles in Chrono Cross require players to balance the use of physical and magical attacks, while keeping his or her stamina in check. Also, a standard element can only be used once per battle. Characters do not gain experience points upon completing battles in Chrono Cross. Instead, participating characters receive a small boost to their stats. After defeating a boss, the player is rewarded with a larger stat boost to all characters. Also, weapons and armor are not purchased in shops as in most RPGs. Instead, players collect base materials from monsters they defeat (or from treasure chests), and must take these items to a blacksmith, who can forge them into gear.
Finally, Chrono Cross offers a New Game mode upon completion of the main story. Similar to Chrono Trigger's New Game , this mode allows the player to start the game over while keeping everything he or she has already collected- including items, elements, equipment, and party members and their stat upgrades. In fact, there are a few points in the game which require the player to choose one party member over another, and carrying party members over via a New Game is the only way to obtain all 45 playable characters in a single play of the game. Also similar to Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross offers multiple endings, and includes double and triple tech abilities between some characters.
Chrono Cross has a large cast of characters. Chrono Cross is well known for having an unusually large cast of playable characters, rounding out at a whopping 45. Unfortunately, it is also well known for the fact that most of these characters may as well be cardboard cut-outs. Because of the large cast, apart from Kid, Lynx, Harle, and Glenn (with Glenn only being fleshed out if he joins the group), none of the characters are very well fleshed out, and are mostly differentiated from each other by accents or bizarre speech impediments.
- Serge- the main protagonist of Chrono Cross. A silent protagonist with no personality to speak of.
- Kid- a young thief who is a clone of Schala, and was meant to help Serge in saving Schala.
- Lynx- initially the main antagonist, Lynx is in fact Serge's father, Wazuki, turned evil. PS, spoilers.
- Harle- the mysterious seventh Dragon in disguise. She manipulates both Lynx and Serge in attempt to free the Dragons.
- General Viper- the governor of El Nido and leader of the Acacia Dragoons.
- Karsh- one of the four Acacian Dragoon Devas. Also Zappa's son.
- Zoah- one of the four Acacian Dragoon Devas.
- Marcy- one of the four Acacian Dragoon Devas. Is the daughter of Fargo and the demi-human Zelbess, as well as Nikki's sister.
- Glenn- a knight of the Acacia Dragoons. The son of Garai and brother of Dario. Will only join the group if you give up on preventing Kid's death, though fortunately she is saved in either case.
- Riddel- daughter of General Viper and the Lady of Viper Manor.
- Radius- an old man who is hiding on an island known as Hermit's Hideaway. He has been retired from the Acacia Dragoons for four years.
- Leena- one of Serge's close friends from his hometown of Arni.
- Poshul- a talking dog. Poshul is also the first recruitable character in the game.
- Zappa- a blacksmith from the town of Termina. Also Karsh's father.
- Pierre- a swordsman who is one of three possible guides that can be recruited in order to gain entry to Viper Manor.
- Skelly- a skeleton whose bones are scattered around El Nido, and he must be reassembled before he may join the party.
- Van- a boy living in Termina. Van loves to paint.
- Greco- a former wrestler, who performs several religious duties in the town of Termina.
- Korcha- the local troublemaker in the town of Guldove. He is Macha's son and Mel's brother. Will join the group in Glenn's place if the player nobly sets out to save Kid's life.
- Macha- a resident of Guldove, and mother to both Korcha and Mel.
- Mel- the adopted daughter of Macha, and little sister of Korcha.
- Orcha- the cook at Viper Manor.
- Orlha- the bartender in Guldove.
- Doc- a doctor practicing in Guldove.
- Steena- a Shrine Maiden located in Guldove. She helps Serge along the way, providing essential information.
- Irenes- a mermaid demi-human from Marbule.
- Janice- a rabbitgirl monster trainer aboard the S.S. Zelbess.
- Nikki- the guitarist in the musical group called the Magical Dreamers. Also Fargo's son and Marcy's brother.
- Miki- the dancer in the musical group called the Magical Dreamers.
- Luccia- a cruel mad scientist conducting experiments on live animals.
- NeoFio- the result of one of Luccia's experiments. NeoFio looks like some sort of plant creature.
- Pip- a creature that Luccia had been experimenting on in her laboratory. Can evolve later in the game depending on elemental combat experience.
- Norris- a commander in the Porre Military.
- Grobyc- a cyborg officer in the Porre Military.
- Sprigg- a resident of the Temporal Vortex.
- Razzly- a fairy native to the Water Dragon Isle.
- Guile- a swordsman who is one of three possible guides that can be recruited in order to gain entry to Viper Manor. Supposedly meant to be Chrono Trigger character Magus in disguise before the design team added dozens of new characters to the game. Unrelated to that other Guile.
- Fargo- the captain of the S.S Invincible (Another World) and the S.S. Zelbess (Home World). Also the father of both Nikki and Marcy.
- Sneff- a performing magician on the S.S. Zelbess.
- Leah- an orphan living on the isolated island called Gaea's Navel. Would eventually grow up to be the mother of Chrono Trigger character Ayla.
- Mojo- a human-sized voodoo doll.
- Starky- an alien found on the Sky Dragon Isle.
- Draggy- initially an egg, which can be found in Fossil Valley (Another world). Can eventually be hatched into a baby dragon creature at Fort Dragonia (Home world).
- Funguy- the father of Leena's friend Lisa, who is turned into a mushroom-like humanoid.
- Turnip- a sentient turnip found growing in the ground outside of the Hermit's Hideaway.
Important Non-Playable Characters
- Belthasar- the mastermind behind the game's events. He created Project Kid and planned out the events that led to the Time Devourer's destruction.
- Dario- Glenn's older brother. Also one of the four Acacian Dragoon Devas.
- Miguel- found in the as the guardian of the Frozen Flame. Also Leena's father.
- FATE- a supercomputer made by Belthasar in the distant future. It is constructed using parts from the character Robo from Chrono Trigger.
- Dragon God- a biological machine that was created by the Dragonians in an alternate universe. Eventually splits into the six Dragons of El Nido.
- Lavos- the main villain from Chrono Trigger. It is sent to the Darkness Beyond Time after its defeat, where it merges with Schala to create the Time Devourer.
- Schala- the princess of Zeal from Chrono Trigger. After falling into the Darkness Beyond Time she merges with Lavos to create the Time Devourer.
- Time Devourer- the creature resulting from the merger of Lavos and Schala. Capable of destroying space and time.
Composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, Chrono Cross' soundtrack has received much praise, and is considered by many to be one of the best video game soundtracks ever composed. The official soundtrack contains 67 tracks spanning across 3 disks. In total, it contains roughly 3 hours of music. Though the majority of the music is new and fresh, there are a few tracks which subtly recall some themes from Chrono Trigger, though they too sound fresh due to how they've been reconfigured. Play! A Video Game Symphony has done multiple Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross shows. Time's Scar is always included as an opener.
- "Chrono Cross ~ Time's Scar ~"
- "Brink of Death"
- "Arni Village ~ Home World"
- "The Plains of Time ~ Home World"
- "Dance with the Lizards"
- "Reminiscence ~ Sentiments which Cannot be Erased ~"
- "At the Shore of Dreams ~ Another World"
- "Arni Village ~ Another World"
- "Transient Sentiments"
- "Lost Fragments"
- "Drowned Valley"
- "Termina ~ Another World"
- "Those that Passed Away"
- "Shadow Forest"
- "Snake Bone Mansion"
- "Victory ~ Gift of Spring ~"
- "Lost Child of Time"
- "Galdov ~ Another World"
- "Hydra's Swamp"
- "Fragments of Dreams"
- "Sailing ~ Another World"
- "Ghost Ship"
- "Dead Volcano"
- "Ancient Dragons' Fortress"
- 1. "Start of a Dream"
- 2. "Loophole between Dimensions"
- 3. "Termina ~ Home World"
- 4. "Dragon Knight"
- 5. "Sailing ~ Home World"
- 6. "Galdov ~ Home World"
- 7. "Marbule ~ Home World"
- 8. "Zelbes"
- 9. "The Amazing Magic Troupe"
- 10. "Slumber"
- 11. "Chronomantic"
- 12. "Predicament"
- 13. "Optimism"
- 14. "Isle of the Dead"
- 15. "Dead Sea ~ Tower of Ruins"
- 16. "Those Imprisoned by Fate"
- 17. "Light, Lost Already"
- 18. "Island of the Earth Dragon"
- 19. "The World's Navel"
- 20. "Gale"
- 21. "Victory ~ The Call of Summer"
- 22. "Marbule ~ Another World"
- 23. "Magic Granted by the Faeries"
- 24. "Etude 1"
- 25. "Etude 2"
- 26. "Magical Dreamers ~ The Wind, Stars, and Waves ~"
- 1. "Garden of the Gods"
- 2. "Chronopolis"
- 3. "Fates ~ God of Fate ~"
- 4. "Jellyfish Sea"
- 5. "Orphanage in Flames"
- 6. "Girl who Stole the Stars"
- 7. "Time's Dream"
- 8. "The Dragon's Prayer"
- 9. "Tower of the Stars"
- 10. "Frozen Flame"
- 11. "Dragon God"
- 12. "In the Darkness of Time"
- 13. "Life ~ Distant Promise ~"
- 14. "Reminiscence ~ Sentiments which Cannot be Erased ~"
- 15. "Radical Dreamers ~ Jewel which Cannot be Stolen ~"
- 16. "Fragments of Dreams"