Back in 1999, a new edition to the Chrono series was released in the form of Chrono Cross and now 23 years later, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition, a remaster which includes the text-based visual novel Radical Dreamers has come to Nintendo Switch. A classic title in the RPG genre, it brought forth the modern era that allowed a whole new generation to experience a slice of the golden age of console RPGs. A clean remaster with added features await, however there is a flaw behind the development which has led to suboptimal performance.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition remasters the art, models, and the background music from the original PS1 release. Everything about the game is true to the original; the game that defined my early ages in my gaming journey and has taken my top spot as my favourite game of all time. The developers have kept the core of the game alive with almost everything being the exact same gameplay wise, and the revamped aspects just tie everything together.
There are new features that speed up the process of playing the games, which includes a speed multiplier that can speed up or slow down the basic gameplay, the ability to have element slots always filled, and even completely skip battles. I personally recommend not using some of these on your first playthrough in an attempt to to keep it as pure as possible, but definitely make full use of them on New Game+ to experience parts of the story that you missed as a result of your chosen paths.
Combat in Chrono Cross is your basic turn-based action, however there are some tweaks to the formula that help define it into its own thing. Your party has a bar that fills up to seven and goes down to negative seven, and it fills up at a set rate based on their speed stat when other party members take actions or goes down when performing actions. Each successful hit fills up your element slots depending on the strength of the attack to an equivalent degree. The elements are functionally spells and attack actions which, when used, take a full seven actions on the bar.
If all party members reach negative numbers, the enemies get a free round of attacks, then everyone is back to seven in their action bar. Enemies will attack at random intervals, sometimes interrupting between your attacks, and if the character that was attacking is damaged, their to hit % is reset back to their base levels. During the attack action, you have weak, medium and strong options which will have varying to hit % that increase slightly as you hit consecutively, for you have a high risk-reward by going straight for the strong attacks, or you could safely build up the % for a higher accuracy chance.
There’s a lot of strategy to go through, especially once you factor in elements, and this really defines the unique combat of Chrono Cross. There is so much to dive into on a mechanical level, and then balancing your team across the 45 playable characters, and the innate elements that each have a weakness and strength against a different element. Honestly just go experience everything there is to Chrono Cross.
But speaking of experiencing Chrono Cross, the story is a tale that spans across two different timelines, one where your player character has died and the other where you obviously survived. There’s a lot to explore across the two timelines, seeing how one event caused a drastic change across both worlds. The same characters could be completely different where one choice changed their future which can be seen by the fisherman in your home world, who gave up being a fisherman after the player character died and started praying to a voodoo doll.
Included in the remaster is Radical Dreamers, a text-based visual novel that, while separate from the timeline, acts almost as a bridging point between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Being purely text based with static images scenes can feel like a chore at times to progress through, unless you really get into the story. Ultimately though, the inclusion of Radical Dreamers is a nice add-on which helps provide context between the series as a whole.
- Keeps true to the original
- New additions to streamline gameplay
- Intuitive combat system
- Great story with the Radical Dreamers addition
Unfortunately, in the process of bringing Chrono Cross to the modern era, there are some minor performance issues with frequent frame rate drops during combat and cutscenes. These issues stem from the original being difficult to port as the graphics and programming data was not in a complete state, which was discussed over on their official Twitter account. However, some players have been able to mitigate some of the issues by placing the game into graphical mode; hopefully there is a patch in the future that fixes these aspects.
One of the key features of Chrono Cross is that there are over 40 playable characters to choose from; personally, I love all of the unique designs and character concepts, such as Grecho the Luchador Priest, or Mojo the living voodoo doll. This however does leave players with choice paralysis as you have to pick and choose between all of them, while only having two open spaces in the party until you reach New Game+. Also, it takes a minimum of three playthroughs to unlock all of the characters, which can get tedious at the best of times.
- Too many characters
Final Score: 9/10
My personal biases aside, Chrono Cross is a must play if you enjoy RPGs, with multiple story endings, options to speed up gameplay, keeping things fresh with a new party each playthrough and a compelling battle system. While the AI upscaling has caused a couple of performance issues, the process overall was successful in keeping the original skeleton of the PS1 release while providing it with a fresh coat of paint. Chrono Cross is a classic that’s been overshadowed by its older brother, and now it finally has the chance to stand out in the light by itself. Give it a chance, you wont regret it.
Thank you for checking out our Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition Switch review, thank you to Square Enix (via Bandai Namco AU) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: