Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition

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Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition – Review

One of the first, and arguably my favourite RPG ever was Final Fantasy VII by Square Enix. SEGA Master System and Nintendo 64 didn’t really have any similar titles, and it wasn’t until my early high school years that I finally got a PS2, and slowly but surely, Square Enix started making their way back into my life. Needless to say, I missed out on a lot of very popular RPG titles during the mid to late 90s. Twenty-three years after its 1999 release, I finally get to experience Chrono Cross, with the remastered edition Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition on Xbox, though it’s also available on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

First and foremost, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is a remaster, predominately focusing on updating the character models to bring them into the world of HD and giving us higher quality background music.

They’ve also added some gameplay enhancements, such as the ability to turn enemy encounters on and off, or even allowing the game to fight the battles automatically. The first menu screen gives you the option to change your graphical style to match the original, or use the newly updated graphics, as well as choose between the original 4:3 square TV resolution, stretch it out to fill a 16:9 screen, or use a zoomed function, which stuck with the older aspect ratio of 4:3, but did as the name suggested and zoomed in.

The “Original” graphics setting makes use of the original and somewhat flat character models, as well as the original artwork used during character interactions, which really helped drive home the fact that this game was created in the late 90s. Backgrounds and text were heavily pixelated while it was obvious that character models at the time had a lot more detail put into them, featuring true, but basic, 3D models to represent them.

The updated models feature more fine detail, though they still have the limited poly-count making up the characters themselves, the details on the face, for example, are much crisper, allowing you to easily distinguish the character’s facial features. Even the backgrounds appear cleaner with less pixelation and smoother lines, and the updated character portraits are more in tune with JRPGs that you’d play today.

On the main screen, players will also find a button for Radical Dreamers, and pushing this will transport us back to 1996 and allows us to play the text-based game released on the third of February, albeit once again with higher quality music. This was originally set as a side story for the original Chrono Trigger game from 1995, and it helps to flesh out two of the main characters, Serge and Kid. Though it really isn’t necessary to play, it is pretty awesome to see how RPG video games evolved in such a short time.

The controller mapping is fairly straightforward for the most part, as the combat system is turn-based and requires you to pick a character, a target, and how you plan on hitting them. The only real changes are to the exploration controls. The thumbsticks will allow or disable “random” encounters, or offer Battle Boosts for the left and right sticks respectively. Pressing them together will set your characters to auto-battle, and left or right triggers will change the gameplay speeds.

In saying that, there are technically no random encounters in Chrono Cross – you can see your enemies and you can actively avoid or approach them, regardless of the encounter mode being on or off. Returning to the main menu is a bit of a chore because players will need to hold *all* of the L and R buttons while simultaneously hitting the menu button – similar to how the old PlayStation had to be reset.

I’m not going to lie – I struggled to play such an old title, even with its remastering, and I don’t know why. It reminded me so much of those few times I got to play the original FFVII growing up, but watching the screen made me nauseous, and I struggled to get into it as a result. I know that fans of the Chrono Series will appreciate this remaster as they reminisce on bygone days and relive their childhood, but I also feel that time may have been better invested in a remake. It probably won’t draw in any new fans, but those who played the original will appreciate what Square Enix has set out to achieve.

The Good

  • Two games in one, with two different play styles
  • The original story is untouched
  • Additional enhancement to gameplay, such as turning off encounters
  • The ability to change from updated to original versions
  • High quality background music

The Bad

  • HD characters and updated backdrops still feel extremely outdated
  • Radical Dreamers is very niche in its play style
  • Hard to get into, and tedious to play

Written by: Mathew Lindner


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