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Chrono Cross - Demo Impressions

Change for a popular game

By Alex Kimbel, RPGamer Writer

   When Square announced they were working on a sequel to Chrono Trigger, fans rejoiced. It had been a long time coming, and fans were finally getting what they wanted. But, at what cost? Could Chrono Cross live up to its predecessor? How different would it be? What would it have in relation to Chrono Trigger?

   First of all, a lot has changed. The battle system has been remade, the game features all new characters, and naturally, the graphics are done differently. But, one must remember that different doesn't always mean "bad." Though Chrono Cross isn't completely like its predecessor, what it does it does well. At least in the demo.

   Battles are done in a similar way to Final Fantasy VIII, except for the fact that you can see the enemies before you encounter them. Once you do encounter them, the transition from regular field to battle starts. It's pretty enjoyable at first, but after awhile it tends to seem a bit monotonous. The full-polygonal battles are done in great detail, however, and the spell and attacking effects are very pleasing to the eye.

   Actual gameplay in battles is done similarly to that of Xenogears. You can select three different strengths of attack, each having a certain probability of connecting. The strongest attack takes up 3 points of stamina, the normal attack takes up 2, and the weakest attack takes up 1. You start out with 7 stamina each battle, and while attacking takes it away, every time one of your other party members attacks, the characters with under 7 will regain some. There is a lot of strategy to this, as you must use each character to regain the stamina of the others. Got it? Good.

   Magic is also very different, and works with the stamina system as well. Each time you attack, your magic, or "Element" meter builds up a level. Each level on this meter has varying strengths of magic power, the highest level being, naturally, the strongest. And again, depending on what level of Element you use, different amounts of stamina will be taken away.

   Unlike most turn-based battle systems, character can attack and use Element whenever they please, as long as they have enough stamina to pull everything off. The battle system is fresh and innovative, and incorporates a bit of strategy into what may seem like a typically simple battle system.

   Aside from the battle system, the demo was typical RPG fare. Run through a dungeon, explore the main characters' town, and take a peek at the world map. And oh, speaking of the world map, it's very reminiscent of Chrono Trigger's. What can be seen is colorful and vibrant, as tiny versions of the characters walk around.

   Not coming as a surprise, the demo features clips of scenes from the full version of the game as a finale of sorts. One scene in particular stands out. Serge walks into Lucca's house (a 32-bit prerendered version, of course) to find that it's on fire. He walks into a hall and on the wall are child-like drawings of the cast of Chrono Trigger. He looks at the one of Lucca, a door opens, and Serge walks in to find his rival, Yamaneko.

   The demo answered many questions, but left us with many more. All we have to do is wait now, until that gleefull Winter date approaches.

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