Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition review: weird and magical

Chrono Cross started, let’s say, a difficult start. It was subsequently charged Chrono Triggerone of the most beloved role-playing games ever made, but even though the two take place in the same world, there is a big difference. Chrono Trigger was created by a team of developers including Final Fantasy master Hironobu Sakaguchi, long Dragon Quest steward Yuji Horii, and Dragon ball Author Akira Toriyama. It is often cited as one of the best games ever made. This star team did not continue with the series, though Chrono Cross was largely well-received at launch, his legacy never reaching the same heights as his predecessor. There has always been this strange follow-up with parallel worlds, a confusing story and far too many characters.

Which brings us to the new remake of the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC and PS4. Talsett Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition, the version is a rather light update to the PlayStation-era version, with updated footage, some quality-of-life features, and featuring long-lost text adventures. In terms of scope, it is similar to a remake Final Fantasy VIII which Square Enix released a few years ago. And just like that FFVIII, Chrono Cross is often a disrespectful follow-up that could do with another opportunity.

Chrono Cross is not a direct continuation of Turn on but a kind of spiritual successor that takes place in the same universe. The basic idea in the fantasy world of the game is the idea of ​​parallel worlds. In the beginning, the protagonist Serge encounters almost one version of his own world with one key difference: in this he died young. The story then becomes extremely strange and complicated from there, from an evil talking panther to a powerful supercomputer. Serge jumps back and forth between worlds and hires new team members (there are an incredible 45 characters to play) to try to learn the mysteries of his past and different worlds.

Reproduced footage (left) versus original (right).

It may be hard to keep track of the story, even by Japanese RPG standards, but it just had enough mystery to keep pushing me forward. This is especially true of the characters you will meet; many are underdeveloped, probably due to the large size of the cast, but discovering and meeting new team members is one of the highlights of the game.

Chrono Cross has various other things for the letter. The strange world is a fascinating place to explore, an intriguing mix of fantasy and science fiction full of beautiful backgrounds. The game has an interesting twist to the classic rotating battle, with an endurance system that forces you to make important decisions about how you use your available actions, and magic that works very much like a material in Final Fantasy VII.

And my goodness, the soundtrack is one of the best of all computer games, a magnificent collection from Yasunori Mitsuda that contains one of my favorite compositions ever, “Shore of Dreams (Another World)”. When that song starts playing on the world map, I always have to stop and listen for a minute or two. (Actually, I’m listening to it right now as I write this.) There’s a very special flavor of RPG games in the PlayStation era that (mostly) no longer exists, but it’s perfectly captured in Chrono Cross.

This all applies to the remake, but with some tweaks. The most obvious is the updated footage; the character models now appear to be sharper and clearer, while, on the contrary, the pre-published backgrounds now have a picturesque, almost impressionistic tone. (The designers used a combination of AI retrieval and manual restoration to achieve the effect.) I actually like the opposite, but it’s definitely a choice that might not appeal to everyone. You also have the option to switch back to the original 32-bit graphics though, annoyingly, switching between visual styles requires a complete reboot of the game. The CG clips also retain their original look, which can be a bit challenging if you are playing with more modern graphics options.

Radical dreamers.

Other changes in quality of life include speeding and automatic combat mode so you can focus on history and exploration. This is fine, especially for rushing past some of the boring chapters of the game, but the remake certainly lacks manual save features. I’ve been playing Switch, and there are some long gaps between save points that make the game feel more punishing than it needs to be.

Perhaps the most interesting addition is a little known game called Radical dreamers. This was a visual novel that was launched in 1996 exclusively on Satellaview, which is exclusively in Japan, a supplement for Super Famicom. This is a visual novel that was advertised as a side story Chrono Trigger, but it also sets up a lot of assumptions and characters in the sequel. In essence, it serves as a very welcome bridge between Turn on and Crossand now it is available with an official English translation for the first time.

Square Enix could certainly have done more to celebrate Chrono Cross in this package (type Chrono Trigger available on the Switch would also be a good touch for completers). But even in a package that is nothing small, Chrono Cross still a great game. And what made her stand out in the beginning – this complex narrative, the huge cast, the strangely convincing world – is what keeps her interesting more than two decades later.

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is available now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC and PS4.

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