The February 2022 Nintendo Direct hit us early this year and I was very excited to see Chrono Cross getting a remaster. Chrono Cross is a game that takes place after the events of Chrono Trigger. It had positive reviews, but users weren’t too sure at the time. Most were hoping for more from Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross is definitely not Chrono Trigger, but this new title is probably not what they thought. While Chrono Trigger was a masterpiece and a much-loved game of its time, Chrono Cross was an innovative title of a game that focused on world-skipping rather than time-skipping. Does it still live up to our standards today?
Game Name: Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch (revised), Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Square Enix
Release date: April 8, 2022
This game is the definition of a mixed bag. Frame stutters everywhere, inconsistent use of new features, and inconsistent objects are scaled for better resolutions. It’s almost better to play with classic graphics for a solid 30fps experience, or so I thought. Some features are prohibited in certain areas. Speeding up and slowing down doesn’t always work on all maps or encounters.
Luckily, you can skip the cutscenes if you want, since you can’t really walk through them otherwise. When enhanced graphics look good, they look great. Most of the time, character models are the primary use that works well. Every character model in this game looks fantastic compared to the rest of what is scaled. JVMs are very inconsistent. Some are still stuck at the original 420p resolution, while others have been upscaled to 1080p – it’s a mess.
The game itself is still fantastic. I loved going back and entering the world with Serge and Kid and the other characters I loved in Chrono Cross, like Harle, Orhla, Norris, Karsh and of course Glen.
This game has many elements. Let’s talk about the most exciting part first, the combat. You choose three characters in your party from a decently sized cast. They have innate elements which signify which elements their special attacks are as well as which field effect element benefits them the most. You have a stamina bar that decreases with each attack you make, but each attack that lands increases your element level. When your element level reaches a certain point, you can use element magic or element technique. The level of element magic used will decrease the level of element you just accumulated. For example, Serge attacks three times and lands all three hits; he is now at element level 3. You can use any elemental magic or technique you have equipped on him that is level 3 or lower. Serge uses the fireball at level 1. He increases his element to level 2. When it is his turn again, you can attack or use the magic or the technique of the element from level 2 or lower. The fireball skill item now increases the field effect to a portion of fire.
Field effects help navigate the flow of battle. Serge’s innate element is white. If you use a white element, it affects the terrain and places white around the terrain for enemies and your allies. If you use enough magic or white element techniques, you can cover the entire field in white as an effect. If the field effect is all white, it enhances Serge’s attacks and his white element abilities. All enemies that have the opposite innate element of black now have reduced damage and take increased damage. It is important that you control the terrain effects because otherwise the enemy can take advantage of its constant elements. It seems confusing at first, but once you figure it out, it’s easier than it looks.
One of the best features of Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is the system of your choices that determines which party members you have access to. This means that to get the full cast of characters available to you, you’ll need to complete multiple playthroughs. My initial playthrough lasted about 24 hours and it takes about three playthroughs to get every character in your party. Fortunately, you don’t really need to earn experience points; you grind Gil (game money) and items in order to build your character the best you need. To fully grind the party system, it takes around 70 hours of playtime if you really need to tick that box. That’s if you know what you’re doing. I still remember a lot of what I did to beat the game when it released, even though it requires a lot of dialogue attention to progress through the game.
The story is quite interesting to discuss. In Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition, you assume the role of Serge. While doing his normal activities of trying to get around his hometown of Arni Village with Leena, he takes a nap on a nearby beach. When he wakes up, he finds he has entered a world where he died in a disaster ten years before. No one believes he is Serge except for a mysterious woman named Kid and an army tasked with killing a ghost, Serge being that ghost. He must now travel through this alternate world to return to the world he came from. You have a lot of choices early on, determining how you get to the home world and even if you want to return there in the first place.
With a huge cast, there are bound to be a few stars. Luckily for me I enjoyed a lot of the characters in this game and being able to use any character once you catch them and not needing to have forced characters in your party aside from the main character gives you a lot time to enjoy the characters this game has to offer. It is true that of all the characters, Serge, Kid, Lynx and Harle command the most attention. It didn’t make me dislike characters like Glen, Orhla, Norris, Nikki, and Riddel, who are still strong characters in their own right. There have been big changes in the quality of life improvement department. Like the ability to hook the teleporter to switch characters whenever you want, the speed-up option that lets you fight battles quickly, and the smart combat option to speed up boring encounters.
Something we didn’t get here in the West of the World was the Radical Dreamers game. It told the story of Serge and Kid before the events and times of Chrono Cross. This game was primarily a text-based choose-your-own-adventure game. It’s a nice addition and honestly one of the best reasons to get this game. You can see some of the characters in Chrono Cross and the concept of alternate realities that change based on your choices.
It’s worth it?
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is a mixed bag as it shouldn’t take that many resources to run this port. It appears to be an emulated port rather than a native port to take advantage of the superior resources these current consoles have. There’s absolutely no reason a PS5 or Xbox Series x should struggle to maintain 30fps stability on a game from 22 years ago.
I wish this game was better optimized because it’s a fantastic game with so much depth in its combat, story, and element systems. If you’re wondering which system this game would run better on, I’d say stick with the PC or Nintendo Switch versions. Since the Nintendo Switch version is already at a lower scale, it actually maintains stability more often than other consoles and that’s one of the reasons why I decided to go with the Switch version. If not, download it on PC and wait for the community to give us some mods to help maintain stability and make the game even better. I love this game and it’s one of my favorite JRPGs of all time. Give yourself a chance to experience this game.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Review disclosure statement: Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition was purchased by The Outerhaven for review. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please see our review guidelines/grading policy for more information.
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Enjoy the timeless adventure of Chrono Cross but with only a small amount of game upgrades and an AI upscaler that makes the game play as if your PlayStation is on death row. Great game but a sad remaster.
- Quality of life changes that make the story easier to live with
- The character models are amazing
- Includes Radical Dreamers localization
- Terrible optimization for constant stability
- The textures are not much different compared to the classic graphics
- Quality of life features have some weird cases where they don’t work. (speed up/slow down/auto battle)