In the age of remasters, rereleases and remakes, there’s definitely been some winners and losers. Did you know that there was a re-release of goofy PSX RPG Shadow Madness on Steam, for instance? It’s terrible! Forget I even mentioned it! If you want something a little less terrible, though, there’s Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition, which could have used a little more TLC but will happily accept that TLC from the user, allowing PC players to reach their desired level of spiffiness. Console players? Er, they might be out of luck.
A typical errand to find some lizard scales for a friend eventually leads to fate finding young Serge. Things go a little wibbly wobbly and he finds himself in a world that’s not his own – a world where he apparently never existed at all. What’s more, there’s every indication that this split between worlds is just the harbinger of something going very, very wrong. As wild and crazy as that might sound, the truth is even stranger, so Serge is going to have to assemble dozens of companions in order to try and set things right.
Chrono Cross is an interesting beast, having been released during the golden age of Squaresoft’s development on the PSX. It’s the sequel to all-time classic Chrono Trigger and whether or not it survives a comparison to that legendary game really comes down to who you ask. This collection includes both a remaster of Chrono Cross and, for the first time, a full English localization of the game’s text-adventure prologue Radical Dreamers.
Let’s address the first and perhaps largest concern here: how’s the remaster? Well…it’s kind of iffy, actually. There’s plenty of new models to go around and the UI’s been touched up a little, but performance can be a huge problem. As something of a snob about that kind of thing, particularly on PC, that’s a dealbreaker for me…or it would be if we weren’t playing on PC. It doesn’t take much work to soup this thing up to a positively delightful level where it looks and runs like a dream, but it’s not going to come like that out of the box.
As for the console versions, well, those are stuck the way they are and that’s going to be a hard pass. Oh, and you might have heard something about the soundtrack being different, but rest assured that in-game all you’ll hear is cleaned-up versions of the tunes you remember.
Once you’ve got everything modded, it’s time to play! How’s the game? That’s going to depend. If you come in expecting a direct gameplay sequel to Chrono Trigger, you’re probably going to be disappointed, and even the plot connections to the original game don’t show up until much later down the line. Looking at Chrono Cross as its own game, though, it’s a pretty solid experience.
There’s a vast array of characters to recruit, so there’s plenty of options for building your three-character party. Each character has an Elemental color affinity, ranging from white, black, green, yellow, red and blue, with each of the pairs doing additional damage to its opposite and decreased damage to targets of the same color. Strategy involves loading up your characters with a variety of Elements, equipable spells with myriad effects that can be fired off during combat, and managing a balance between physical attacks and spellcasting. It’s a pretty good time once you get past how very unlike Chrono Trigger it is.
What about Radical Dreamers, though? Well, let’s be honest, if you care enough to be thinking about this remaster there’s a pretty good chance you already played the fan translation of the Super Famicom version that was released a couple decades or so ago. What you’re getting here is an official localization, so there’s something to be said for that even if you’ve played the fan translation. However, the plot and overall feel are about the same. We follow a group of thieves as they raid a manor searching for a mysterious treasure. Along the way, you’ll make choices that determine how the theft works out, including a little bit of combat. It’s a cute, well-written visual novel bonus that makes for a nice treat if you managed to miss out on playing it between now and 2005.
These are both solid games that are worth playing, even if neither is exactly Chrono Trigger 2. Stay away from the console versions, as mentioned, but with fifteen minutes of tweaking you can really turn the PC version into something special. If you’re willing to put up with that little bit of tinkering, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers edition can become a fantastic remaster of a classic JRPG adventure.