By FateOfNever 3 Comments
That's right, this is the last (for now, at least) installment of -
Chrono Cross This! 6!
This is going to be a bit more freestyle. So, let's see where to start. (as a warning, this is going to be long. Really long.)
I'm done with Chrono Cross. I didn't beat it, I just can't keep playing it. The last thing I did was clear out the Hydra Forest in the normal world and go back and 'save' Kid. So much of the last two hours or so that I played just felt so downright half assed and shitty that I just can't keep playing. The hydra forest was bad, containing something like the equivalent of SIX boss battles in that place (two beeba fights, a fight with a giant dragonfly, a hectopus, the seven dwarves, and the hydra.) Then I went and saved kid and she told me she would have been fine even if I hadn't done anything, but she appreciated it (not that I get anything for this either) and then some kid comes and steals the elements from her element bar.
That particularly was where I just said I was done. I played for maybe a half hour longer, but I knew then I was done. The fact that the game acknowledges that the element bar is like a real, physical thing was so stupid. It's a bar that grows as you gain stars, and you socket elements in it so you can cast spells. Right? So... how is that a physical thing? Where does that go, physically, on a person? Do you tape it to your shirt? What goes on with it that makes it work? How can you steal elements out of it? Not to mention that the whole thing just reeked of "Oh, you mean like in FF7 when Yuffie stole your materia? Like that? Really?" After that though I went and hunted down the kid that stole it. This took me even longer than it should have because I started by going to the housing sector of the floating town, nothing there anywhere, then I went back over to the dragon hut where I was told that since she wasn't here she must be in the housing district (you know, the place I just came from) so I zipline down (because it seemed fun) then ran my way back up and over then, ran around there for a while, nothing, go back to the dragon hut, nothing there, then I WALK back to the screen I came from and then you see her run off to the housing district. Why did I not see this any of my three other times in this sector? This seems like a really poorly designed specific sequence you have to go through to get her. Anyway, I get her, I get the elements back and... nothing.
No. Really. Nothing happened. I got the missing elements back but I didn't get a new party member, I got no new items, nothing. What was the point of all that? To piss me off? To frustrate me? What?! Anyway. So, this is going to be kind of a recap of some of the things in the game that bothered me so much to the point of just needing to call it quits.
The characters in this game, by far and wide (but not all), are terrible. You've heard my rantings and ravings over the fact that every character talks funny. There's no reason for it, but they do it, they ALL do it, they ALL talk funny for some reason or another. I don't know where this piece of land is located where people from countries that don't even exist in the Chrono Trigger world have migrated to (French, German, British, Australian, so on, so forth, all there) but it's a shitty place to be. Beyond that complaint however I have two rather large complaints about the characters.
I don't CARE about any of the characters. I'm probably something like 15 hours in and I don't care about anyone. Not a single character. I don't care about the dog with a lisp that joined my party only because I gave it a bone. I don't care about the voodoo doll that joined me because of... something...? I don't care about the magician, the luchador priest, the science lady, the Australian thug. I don't even care about the main character, Serge. I just don't. Nothing at all has endeared me to a single character. In fact, if anything, I want these characters to lose this mystery battle of the fates or whatever this is billed as.
The actions of the characters are honestly borderline villainous. I started the game as a poacher killing off komodo dragons for their scales and ONLY their scales (and only ever one scale per dragon) so I could make a girl happy (and then killed the mother komodo dragon for good measure.) I broke into some innocent mans mansion to steal his stuff. I didn't even want to go but a mage that wanted to steal something from the treasury and an Australian tom-boy that wanted to steal the frozen flame dragged me there to be a part of their nefarious ongoings. And then I beat up a bunch of guards, if not murder them. Oh, and then I killed off an ENTIRE FOREST to save one girl. I'm not shitting you. I killed a hydra in the hydra forest, which apparently sustains the life in the forest somehow, and was then told that my actions have doomed the forest to destruction (as you can see in the alternate world where all of the hydras in the forest have already been killed off and now the place is a poisonous shit hole that can only sustain the most befouled life forms.) I destroyed a forest. So, poaching, thieving, probably murder, and now the destruction of an entire forest.
These are BAD people. These are not good people here, they are bad. They are evil people, even if they claim their motives might be good, they are evil. If they showed any remorse at all for their actions I might call them morally grey, but they don't. They don't care what awful acts they commit. They do it happy and carefree.
Beyond that none of them have any stories. None readily apparent anyway. Most of them are just sort of nameless faceless figures with different ways of talking. That doesn't endear them to me. That just makes me dislike them more. The only character that seemed to have had any story at all whatsoever, Glenn, I missed. I made the wrong choices and I cannot get him in my party any longer. Glenn has story, he has more story than anyone else in this game so far. And the designers decided that this guy, this one guy that actually has story, is OPTIONAL. It's almost disgusting that they would design it in such a way as that. If only one guy out of the first fifteen guys you meet has a story, don't make him optional, make him mandatory.
It all just feels so lackadaisical. I think the game summed up my feelings about a lot of the story stuff perfectly when I finally noticed on the status screen that it gives you a brief description about every character in the game (like wandering magician, psychic ex-wrestler, voo-doo-doll come to life, etc.) and all they could be bothered to think of and put down for Serge was "Silent Protagonist."
There are too many characters and too many of them are too poorly balanced. This is sort of a combat problem more than anything. When you have 40 characters in your game, balance them out. If you have 40 characters in the game, and you can get 20 of them on your team in one play through, but only 3 of them have stats that aren't total balls in combat, then why bother?
No, seriously, the degree to which I may be exaggerating is minimal. Guile, one of the guys I've been working with for a long time now sucks. His physical stats are bad. Really bad. Like 3 damage hits on 500hp monsters bad. He makes up for it by having a really high magic though. Which is then promptly thrown away in the gutter by giving him fewer spells than any other character. When your average character can have, say, 10 spells and he can only have 5 spells despite needing spells to be at all useful in battle, something is wrong. The Luchador Priest that had be super exited for the first time in the game turned out to be shit. He has lower physical attack power than Serge and only slightly better than Magus (I mean Guile. Really, I wrote this as Magus and then had to come back and add that his name is actually Guile.) His magic, however, is garbage. He casts spells of his affinity on full red fields for less than 10 damage.
Why give me choices if the game designers clearly felt there were right choices and wrong choices to be made. If a game is designed where you can go one of two ways, you can go left or you can go right, but going left kills you, so you can only go right, that's not a real choice. That's them wanting you to feel like you have a choice, but in reality, no, you don't. Except instead of only having two choices you have 20, and most of those 20 choices are the wrong choice. It's bad design. I already don't like the characters, so when the game tells me that I can't even use the characters that look interesting or seem interesting because they didn't bother making them useful? Fuck that shit. It's bad design and they should feel bad for it.
Ok look; I know that I'm early on in a JRPG. The story won't be in full blown awesome mode for like another twenty hours. I get that about most JRPGs. However, that does not mean that the story so far, 15 hours in, should be non-existent. There is nothing but uncertainty, questions, confusion, and an over all lack of a sense of direction.
I don't know if there are simply too many ideas going on at once here, but there's just too much and too little all at the same time. They've foreshadowed crazy end of the game stuff for me already. They've babbled on about the most inane shit. Things/terms get thrown around at random with zero context (who are the Radical Dreamers? Who is the Porre Army and why are they a thing (pssst, I know some things about them but only because of Chrono Trigger, this game doesn't do a damn thing to tell you about any of it though) and a bunch of other crap. It feels like they went halfway on developing this world, or this version of the world (as this is a parallel dimension to the one from Chrono Trigger.. or... something) but they just kept all of the detailed notes on what any of the finer points are or what they mean to themselves.
This is kind of a problem that happens when you play a character that has always been apart of a setting. The character should know all of this stuff. The character should know who and what the Porre Army is, they should know what FATE is, they should know who Lord Viper and the Dragoons are, and all this other random crap. But you, as a player, you don't have a clue. So if you just go through and treat the game as the character is going through it, nothing gets explained, or you have to really dig deep for some of it. But if you would go through treating the game as if the player is going through it, then the main character seems like a total freaking idiot to the world around him. Maybe I'm being a bit hard on it in this regard, but there are just so many things that have no answer or explanation and it just feels poorly written.
The Chrono Trigger References
This is a sequel to Chrono Trigger. Don't ask me to get into the details. All you need to know is that it's really not, but it really is. But it's really not. It was going to be. Then they got side tracked and then it's not a sequel, but it's billed as one. And the lengths they go to to try and make you think that it's a sequel is saddening.
You mean The Great Explorer Tomas the..something something number. He's just a one off thing. He's in the starting village gardening. That's all, he's just there and tells you who he is and that's all he does.
The Porre Army is a reference to the town of Porre in the southern part of the Chrono Trigger world. As it turns out, in some in between stuff that is NEVER shown, revealed, or detailed anywhere, Dalton from the Kingdom of Zeal finds himself located there and builds the town into a military state and creates an army that takes over the world. How do I know this? DS Version of Chrono Trigger's bonus ending and some half-hearted research.
Lynx directly references Serge as being "The asassin of time! THE CHRONO TRIGGER!" Yes. Serge, the main character, is the Chrono Trigger. Do I know what this means? Fuck no. Do I know why they used that term when the original Chrono Trigger was an egg that held infinite potential or some bullshit and then broke so that Crono could be saved from death? Fuck no. Does it sound real fucking stupid that they worked that 'phrase' into this game? Fuck yes.
Glenn, a knight in the Dragoon Army is more or less a direct call back to Frog (who's human name was Glenn. Dun-dun-dunnnn.) And he reeks of it too.
Magus is in the game as Guile. But it's not Magus. But maybe it is Magus. But it's totally not Magus because the developers said that he was originally Magus but then they had too many characters and so he's not Magus anymore. But the bonus DS Version ending in CT suggests that maybe it still is Magus. But the developers said no, so clearly it's not. He also looks like him. He even floats everywhere instead of running.
They remixed the Chrono Trigger victory music to be this game's victory music. This is slightly less offensive since the music is good and it's sort of like how the FF victory music is in just about every FF game.
And this isn't everything either. It all feels so much more like fan service and easter eggy inside reference bad-ness than in any way tying these two games together. It's done too often, too poorly, and without any real reason for any of it.
The Combat System
This is a bit more of a nitpick. The combat system is not great. It's not inherently BAD either. I actually somewhat enjoyed it up until I had a breaking point.
The short version of my problem with the system (go read all of my other blogs and their responses if you want to piece together the full picture) is that it makes backtracking far more of a hassle than it needs to be. Combat takes about the same amount of time fighting crappy things that pose no threat to you at all whatsoever and that you have far out leveled as it does when you're fighting something of comparable level. I'm just going to leave it at that since, like I said, details can be found in the other blogs.
It's Not All Bad
So much of this game is just annoying. If it was just one or two of these things maybe I wouldn't have so readily threw my hands up in the air. I don't expect, and didn't expect, this game to be perfect. There are just so many flaws and cracks that they all pile up ontop of one another that it makes it too hard to want to keep going.
That said, not everything in the game is bad. Visually this game is really good. The environments still look interesting and sharp. The corner of the world that they've created here is beautiful. The tropical setting is a nice change of pace and everything feels so vibrant and lively. It feels really good. The character designs, visually, are also pretty good. Characters look unique and interesting. It's a shame that their personalities suck and they don't even really have any reason for being around most of the time.
The music in the game is also really well done. I may have to listen to some of the later game music just to see how that progresses. What I've heard so far though is really good. It feels appropriate and almost 'right' for the settings.
Unfortunately, a game looking and sounding good, maybe even great, doesn't save it.
Or maybe my tolerance for bullshit in RPGs is just shorter than it used to be because I've played some truly better games now. I don't know.
I may add something more to this later, I'm not sure. This is all I can really think of for now. I think I may hold a poll to see which game sitting on my shelf I should try and revisit next. I'm not sure. All I know right now is that I have Chrono Crossed this middling game off my list of things I feel compelled to play.
(P.S. pictures getting added later.)