Chrono Cross [Backlog]

So, I’ve started to work through my backlog a little bit.

Everyone who consumes any sort of media has a backlog. If you have Tivo or a DVR box, you’ve certainly got about a billion episodes of your favorite shows that you haven’t watched. DVDs you bought but never watched, books that sit on your shelf just for show, etc.

With games, you buy a game when it first comes out. Your zeal is umatched, you think “man, I’m going to play through this whole thing in one weekend.” Then, years later, it still sits there unfinished.

My most obvious offender of this is Chrono Cross, the stepbrother of / sequel to Chrono Trigger. I’ve only gotten 1/3 of the way through it, and it came out in 2000. Since I just recently spent a great deal of time playing the excellent DS port of Chrono Trigger, it’s only logical that I’d see the series through to its poorly budgeted, mistranslated conclusion.

My first thought was about how poorly the game has aged. But what game from that generation has aged well? The sprites of late-era SNES games have a kind of unified charm, a cohesion of art direction and technical capacity. Every prominent PS1 RPG is rendered as follows: gorgeous pre-rendered backdrop, jaggy polygonal player characters. In Chrono Trigger, battles happen seamlessly on the exploring field. In Chrono Cross, the player is jarringly ripped from the beautiful dungeons and towns into a muddy representation of the environment. This is more a consequence of the hardware limitations of the time. Even though current gen RPGs eliminate this visual divide, I actually can’t be bothered to play them.

As it is, the last JRPG I’ve played to completion was Final Fantasy X. That was in 2002, a full six years ago. I attempted to play FFXII, but couldn’t get motivated to go beyond the first five hours or so.

The real reason I’m compelled to play this game is the story. Even though it rapidly degenerates when you get beyond the plot of its spiritual successor, Radical Dreamers, the promise of definite ties to Trigger drives me forward. I’m about 25 hours in, and just about to get to the second disc. A somethingawful.com writer, Bobservo, called the story “the literary equivalent of spinart” in a twitter post a while back, and I have to agree. Its preponderance of characters doesn’t help the cause. 43? Really? I felt like Trigger was pushing its limit with 7 characters.

That’s all I’m going to write about the game for now. When I finish it, expect a spoiler-ridden followup post with my exact thoughts about the game. It’s been a nice diversion over winter break, and I don’t think I’ll regret sinking the time into it. As it is, I feel like the only thing keeping it from being a really good game is the fact that it has the word “Chrono” in the title.

Postscript: One of my new year’s resolutions is to update the blog more frequently. I hate it when blogs or websites promise “I’ll update more!!! Life has been so hectic!!!,”  so this will be my only mention of it.

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