Part 4: Episode III: Old People Are VerboseMusic: Home Arni Village
Welp, since this is the first and thus tutorial village, we might as well get some of the game's basic mechanics out of the way before slaughtering innocent animals so Serge's bitchy girlfriend can look pretty. Next to Serge's house is a BIG ASS fish that is part of the first mechanic of the game: key items.
The jerk who caught the thing prattles on about how he caught it at the fantasy Bermuda Triangle or some shit. As long as Serge nods his head and pretends to listen, something good can come out of this encounter.
"Uh huh... Uh huh... Interest... I see... Mmm hmm... You don't say...?"
The jibba-jabba ends with Serge picking up a shiny Komodo Scale. Unfortunately, as this isn't wet with still warm blood like Leena likes (it matches her hair you see) it won't do for her arts and crafts project.
Instead, some kid across the way picking his nose has an interest in it. Also it seems Fantasy Komodo Dragons breathe fire... Terrific.. Leena better be putting out for requesting scales from a fucking pseudo-dragon.
Long story short: By pressing SQUARE at any time, Serge can present key items to certain characters for spiffy benefits. Some of the time there will be indications as to who wants what. Though an unfortunate number of times it comes down to "look at a guidebook, kid."
Usually, these have a follow-up option to confirm what you're doing. Sadly, this is the RPGs of old where being a douchebag is not a viable option for these situations.
The reward is an "Uplift" Elemental. Elementals are magic. We will get into that mess in a bit. But, that is how key items work. Exciting, I know.
The youngen also hooks us up with a hot tip. Apparently, whatever the fuck a Poshul is just can't get enough of forgettable early game boss bones. Good to know.
Let's explore our neighbor Leena's house.
Leena's grandmother or...something recounts a bit of back-story for old Serge. Turns out he was a huge pus-
--wait, WHAT?! A panther demon attacked Serge when he was a kid?
Hey, fuck you grandma! If a demonic panther attacked me at any point, I'm pretty sure I'd be wary of felines. Granted, given what little we know about Serge he's more likely to set cats on fire in an alley. But still, that is some pretty traumatic sounding nonsense.
It's also a fairly large plot point they sort of glaze over and this old woman is one of the few early people to ever mention it.
Checking out a couple houses over...
An old timer here seems to innately know we're off to massacre some lizards to get into a girl's pants so he is nice enough to
"My Super-duper Secret #2: Use the lay of the land and make a surprise attack!"
"My Super-duper Secret #3: There is always one that likes to play tag! Run with all your might! So once you catch up to it, you must fight. You must kill!"
Heading into the basement.
The hell is that thing?! Fuck the ocean. Good grief...
Another villager rambles about nothing in particular. Stuff about getting old and the sea and yadda yadda yadda.
Long story short: We get a sweet shark tooth for letting him vent about pathos. Sure, why not?
The next building over...
Next up we discover where that fat chef in Serge's dream came from. I'm not sure why he had a different name, a tan, and was wearing even less clothes in that... It is best not to ask, really.
Unfortunately, he only has words on the creepy save points of Chrono Cross and no tips on stabbing folks from Down Under.
Chrono Cross is a weird game...
Chef Belcha has no problem with Serge rummaging through his empty rum bottle filled backroom and pilfering his stuff.
Stuff such as a helmet made of pure ivory. I'm sure that costa hefty sum on the black market. But, it is now Serge's possession. Finder's keeper's and all that.
I might as well take the time to explain equipment. It is pretty standard fair in Chrono Cross. Each character can equip a weapon (each character is limited to one type of weapon), armor (this is sometimes limited by gender), and three accessories. Accessories usually augment either Defense, Offense, or Evasion/Hit Chance. Of course, we'd need to explain the battle system for this to have much meaning. Might as well get onto that then, shouldn't we?
It is worth mentioning that Serge is adept in the use of "swallows", which are basically an oar where the oar part is replaced with blades. Sure, why not?
Before we depart, Serge comes across one last trinket beneath Belcha's bed. I don't even want to know what that was doing there... To be honest, we're gonna wish we'd left this thing there real soon...
Traveling past Serge's house and the huge ass fish in front, we come upon the western edge of Arni. Here we find a...err... What the hell is that giant pink thing back there...?
It is a giant dog... A giant pink dog... A giant pink talking dog... Wait... "Poshul"? Didn't that kid say this thing liked Heckran bones?
Well, we have one don't we? What's the worst that could happen...?
"Sergeipoo!? A p-p-prethent!? F-F-For I!? How'd you know? Hmm... To acthept, or not to acthept? AHEM! Me acthept your prethent and Me shall help you! Me will do anything you want. Me will be honored to be by your thide!"
Honest to god, I did not change an iota of that dialogue...
Wait...WHAT?! Oh no... Oh GAWD!!
Music: Victory ~ Call of Summer (Remix of Fanfare/Lucca's Theme from Chrono Trigger)
Note: This is NOT a cause of celebration. Goddammit!
So yes... The first recruitable party member of Chrono Cross (out of a cast of 45) is a retarded sentient plush doll that speaks like it has severe autism, a lisp, and stuttering. We're leaving its name as Poshul because I cannot think of a more fitting title. Poshul...it is like the sound Pikachu would make when taking a huge, strained shit.
It's worth noting this dumbass looking this is Leena's dog. I think it's safe to say Leena is pretty much the worst human being we've met so far and that is taking into consideration we're playing as a kleptomaniac who dreams of killing women and skins animals for fun.
And thus Serge's manliness rating dropped from a mid 5 to a solid 1.
In the center of the field is the town elder, Radius. Radius is a walking battle tutorial and it's worth talking to him as it is the only point the game remotely holds your hand with explaining the battle system.
The problem is, the guy is verbose as fuck for concepts that aren't really that complicated. Feel free to skip to the point Serge is unconscious on the floor from being punched in the balls, as the following is a big explanation of the battle system of Chrono Cross. Which is quite lengthy too, but dear god Radius rambles at three lines of text a time pace for about ten minutes straight.
Music: Hurricane ~ Battle Theme (Remix of Gale Battle Theme from Radical Dreamers.)
Note: This is the battle music for all generic non-boss battles and it is easily the worst track in the entire game. Just listen to this thing. And imagine it on loop every time you are in some shitty fight in a random battle.
Music: Gale (Radical Dreamers Version of Battle Theme)
Note: This is the original version of the song. This, while still not very good, is significantly less annoying. Mostly because it is not quite as overbearing as its Chrono Cross rendition.
You may notice this old geezer is decked out in military duds. That may come into play later in the game. Just remember he exists for now...
So, let's get started. In Chrono Cross characters have four options in battle. Attacking, Elements, Defending, and Running Away. Defending is self explanatory. Stand around, take less damage from attacks, and gain stamina quickly.
Running Away is a bit unique in this game as the party can run away from literally any battle in the game up to and including the final boss. Granted, some bosses only let you basically fuck with your inventory before returning to restart the fight (and they all regain their health so you can't cheese battles.)
We'll mostly be focusing on Attack and Elements for now.
All enemies have a certain "Innate" color. Innates are basically what element the enemy is aligned with. There are six Element alignments in Chrono Cross and they are as follows:
Yellow - Lightning and Stone Magic
Green - Nature and Air Magic
Blue - Water and Ice Magic
Red - Fire Magic
Black - Gravity Magic
White - Holy Magic and Laser Beams
As you can guess, opposites are weak to one another. So Yellow/Green, Blue/Red, and Black/White are at odds in magic roulette. It should be noted all elements also contain healing spells. It's not just a White or Blue element thing.
So, let's talk attacking. Characters have three levels of attack: Weak, Medium, and Fierce. Like Street Fighter only without Hadokens. Below Serge's health bar you'll notice a Stamina level. Serge begins with a Stamina of 7. When it is his turn he can keep attacking until his stamina dips below zero. Each level of attack drains a corresponding level of stamina. So Fierce drains 3 Stamina, etc. It's not hard to figure out.
Which means Serge can do a combo of Fierce, Fierce, Weak or Weak x7, or mix it up however. There are no combos or anything like say Xenogears. It's basically just wacking the thing
In addition to stamina you have to take the hit percentage into account. The little percentile number next to each level of attack is the chance of hitting the enemy. Fierce attacks are least likely to hit, while weak attacks are pretty much guaranteed. A character successfully striking an enemy raises the chance of all subsequent attacks on the same enemy connecting. This carries over between turns, so wailing on the same jerk for a couple rounds will basically guarantee hits finding their mark after a bit.
Once stamina is depleted a character's turn will end. A round on the offensive can also be ended manually at any time to conserve stamina.
You might have noticed the little Venn Diagram looking thing in the top left corner. This, as the name suggests, is the "field effect". The field effect is basically a record of what elements have been used in a battle. Battles begin with a random field effect and each new element cast will fill the inner most part of the field.
So, what does this do? Well, casting an element of the same color as the current field will augment the strength of that magic spell. The more the field is filled with an element of the same color, the more powerfully buffed all subsequent spells of that flavor will become.
Enemies and playable characters both share the same field so it's not like the player can just spam an element to build up what he's carrying without interference. There are also spells later in the game that will straight up turn the entire field into a certain color. Mostly by enemies before doing dick move special abilities (high level elements later in the game require a solid field effect.
On the subject of Elements: Elements are the catch-all for special abilities in Chrono Cross. Magic spells, special techniques, healing items, and buffs are all elements. Said elements also come in two flavors: Standard and Consumable.
Consumable elements are like potions in most RPGs. Use one and it's gone for good but you can keep an inventory stocked up of the same consumable item. Same old...
Standard elements can be reused as many times as the player wants...but only once per battle. You see there is no MP in Chrono Cross. Instead, elements can only be busted out once every fight. So, if you want to use a Cure All spell to heal everyone up...that is the only time you can use it until the conflict is concluded. Same deal for a big offensive attack or using a potion. As such, blowing your load early on is ill-advised.
In addition, elements also cost Stamina. 7 Stamina to be exact. So, it's basically an entire turn in one go.
Elements can also exceed Stamina limits at the cost of when the character gets another turn. In other words, Serge could attack until he has 1 Stamina and then use an Element. He'll end up with -6 Stamina which means he'll have to wait until other characters (stamina regenerates with both enemy and ally attacks) use 7 stamina worth of attacks and abilities before he can even think of doing even a crappy weak attack. It's not really a good idea unless caught in a real fix.
Was that all kind of hard to follow...? Yeah.. In summary:
- A Character has Stamina to attack.
- All attacking and Element attacks (Magic/Skills/Items) use Stamina at X number of levels (1-3 for melee attacks and 1-7 for Element attacks). When a character runs out of Stamina they can no longer attack.
- All characters not on the offensive regain stamina in direct relation to the amount of stamina spent by other characters' actions (i.e. a 3 Stamina Fierce attack restores 3 Stamina to everyone not attacking.)
- Melee attacking is based on accuracy which goes up with each successful hit.
- Elements can only be used once per battle. They use an entire 7 stamina each time they're used, regardless of type.
- Using several elements of the same color in a row buffs their effects.
- You can run away like a pussy from any battle in the game.
It is also good to know that both Stamina and hit percentage accuracy are reset if a character dies and is revived.
Also, Radius ends lessons by punching people in the dick until unconscious.
I cut out the part where Radius casts a spell that turns the entire Field Effect blue and then spams a high level Water spell to one-shot Serge. Then revives him only for that punch in the dick after . Asshole.
Hiding in the bushes is a minor Chrono Trigger reference. He insists he is not gardening. You get a gold star if you remember this guy from the original game.
Inside Chief Radius' shack we can find quite the queue for the local Save Point. Yes, Chrono Cross is one of those weird games where save points actually exist in the world and are acknowledged by characters.
Indeed, the "Record of Fate" is basically a Livejournal and creepy magical oracle all in one. Unfortunately, we cannot use this one since everyone is lining up to save to Memory Card B at the moment. This is kind of weird since both the dream sequence prologue and Arni Village both possess save file chapter names even though it's impossible to save in either area normally. Luckily, the world map is a save anywhere dealie.
Speaking of which...
Time to get crackin' on that whole blood lusting girlfriend business. The things you do to get a chick in bed these days...
Poshul Official Art - An Abomination
Radius Official Art - Women find his eyebrows sexy
Music: Victory ~ Call of Summer
Hurricane ~ Battle Theme (Chrono Cross)
Gale ~ Battle Theme (Radical Dreamers)
- Poshul is recruited by having her a Heckran bone.
Heckran was a boss in Chrono Trigger (with his lair being in the inventively titled "Heckran Cave".) Although it was a unique boss that seemed to command some respect in Chrono Trigger, it's been reduced to a common piece of wildlife that dogs nibble on the remains of in Chrono Cross
- Toma the 14th is the descendant of a couple of characters from Chrono Trigger.
The original Toma was a flaky adventurer hanging out in bars during the Middle Ages that dropped hints to a few of the endgame sidequests (the Sun Stone and Rainbow Shell.) In the Present Era Toma the 13th is hanging out at a cafe in one of the towns generally being useless. Toma the 14th is obviously his son.