I tend to be critical of Chrono Cross, Square Enix's PSOne follow-up to the classic RPG Chrono Trigger. People immediately assume I'm critical because I hate the game, but the opposite is true. You know how adults lean in hard on kids who are smoldering with untapped potential? I'm the adult, and Chrono Cross is the kid.
In fact, I'm such a fan of Chrono Cross that it occupies the top tier on my wishlist for future game remasters. Square Enix has done a decent job giving us remastered versions of its PlayStation and PlayStation 2 RPGs, so every sunset that goes by without a Chrono Cross remaster is another sunset that finds me baffled.
I'm not alone. Twitter user "HellishRomance" recently ran some of Chrono Cross' pre-rendered backgrounds through an AI upscaler, and people are "Ahh-ing" over the results. Seems to me an "HD" version of Chrono Cross in the style of Final Fantasy 7 remastered and the upcoming Final Fantasy 8 remastered is feasible. This is a service you should be providing to humankind, Square Enix. Please get on that at your earliest convenience. (Just squash the "revamp music bug" ahead of time, OK?)
I ran some Chrono Cross backgrounds through an AI upscaler. I wonder if someone will try and make an "HD" version someday. pic.twitter.com/0eYeuCgHdx— Hyd ☆ (@HellishRomance) August 13, 2019
People might wag their finger at me for encouraging yet another port/remaster in an age where original IP's from triple-A developers are an endangered species. That's fair, but as far as Chrono Cross is concerned, a remaster also doubles as an act of game preservation. It's not an easy game to find and play. Currently, its status as a PSOne Classic means your options for a digital download are limited to the PSP/PS Vita and PlayStation 3. Even the original disc comes with caveats. I remember being unable to play my copy of the game on the PlayStation 2 despite its backwards compatibility.
Chrono Cross is worth preserving, too. Square Enix never made another game like it. Even its predecessor, the esteemed Chrono Trigger, is different. Chrono Cross' battle system still utilizes Tech attacks, but the combined strikes are no longer front-and-center. The Active Time Battle system gets the boot, and you no longer fight enemies where you meet them on the map. Instead, fights are carried out through a system that utilizes stamina points and color-coded affinities.
It's confusing, yes. Probably needlessly so. But "needlessly confusing" describes Chrono Cross accurately. I've always said Chrono Cross a great game, but a terrible follow-up to Chrono Trigger. Chrono Trigger is a wonderful shonen adventure that's easy to pick up, play, and understand. Chrono Cross stitches a lot of additional story onto the first game, none of which necessary beyond "What happened to Schala after the Undersea Palace fell apart?" 20 years later, I still don't understand the answer Chrono Cross feeds us.
See how easy it is to fall into an anti-Chrono Cross tear? Again, that's not my intent. Despite its flaws, it's a unique jewel from the best years of Square Enix's RPG output. Its large cast of recruitable characters make party-building tons of fun, its soundtrack has to be heard to be believed (Yasunori Mitsuda's "Scars of Time" is still one of the very best game pieces composed), and it's a very pretty-looking game that's clearly made even prettier with a little AI upscaling.
This November marks Chrono Cross' 20th Japanese anniversary. (And today is the 19th North American anniversary!) Maybe Square Enix will have a nice surprise for us. And maybe a potential Chrono Cross revamp will drop Kid's awful pseudo-Aussie accent, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
Sigh. There I go with the negativity again.
Banner image source: HellishRomance