Colors have a hard life. Too many, arranged haphazardly, end up strongly resembling the gay pride flag. Then the awkward phone calls begin as you try to explain that you simply love hues, which sounds conspicuously like “Hugh” over the phone. Long story short, it becomes an ordeal.
Every so often, however, a game comes along that colors the screen in an aesthetically-pleasing manner without coming across as showy. Chrono Cross is that definitive color-friendly game on the Playstation 1. There are beaches and mountains and underwater locales, complete with caustic rays dancing about, all designed to use a large palette of vivid colors. Even the darker areas that sport intentionally duller color schemes are less bland-looking than the average playstation game.
Of course, art design requires more than just a palette. The character models need to be up to snuff, the areas available to wander aimlessly through (I seriously have no sense of direction) need to be well-crafted, and the music has to somehow capture and encapsulate the visual aesthetic for the art direction to truly be a success.
The models are, for the most part, very well-made, though there are occasionally characters who seem somehow lacking due to their normalcy. Those are few and far between, though, and it’s really an inevitability given the sheer number of playable characters (there are over 40).
You’ll spend a fair amount of time frolicking carelessly through imaginative areas, and, given the fact that combat is only initiated when you collide with one of the on-screen enemies, you’ll be given free reign to wander and explore the environment to your heart’s content. That is, provided nothing decides to chase you. On the other hand, many enemies run like an 80 year-old man suffering from osteoporosis and a sprained ankle, so getting away is rarely difficult.
Music is one point where Chrono Cross really shines. It’s a strange thing to say given the PS1’s limitations, yet the variations of songs from the Radical Dreamers soundtrack (which this game is loosely based on) complement the areas they play in superbly, and the same can be said of the many original songs you’ll encounter.
Storylines rarely become as detailed and strange as that of this game. It’s not a tale of two cities, but rather a tale of two parallel universes, and you died as a child in one of them. Shame on you. As the plot unfolds, you’ll have your curiosity piqued without being left unfulfilled, and there will always be something left to do, pushing you to continue playing.
Some portions of this game are crazy good. Like, tingly good. Provided the sensation subsides within 4 hours, there’s nothing to worry about. Otherwise, call a doctor if you’re a male, or consult with your local digital camera if you’re female. Ahem.
Once you’ve reached the end, you can play through again with your stats intact, essentially becoming a mean, lean, dead-in-another-universe-but-in-your-universe-seen killing machine. It’s impossible to recruit all of the playable characters in one go, so the replay value remains incredibly high.
Cutscenes are incredible, though I could swear that the ocean in the scene where you switch universes near the beginning is some kind of Square preset. Seriously, watch that cutscene, and then start a new game in Final Fantasy 8. Same ocean, right?
Here’s what you should do: