Part 5: Episode IV: Beaches Are Colorful
Time's Grasslands (Chill Remix of Chrono Trigger Main Theme)
Welcome to Chrono Cross' overworld. You may notice this lush tropical vista doesn't exactly look like anywhere from Chrono Trigger (even with updated pretty graphics.) That is because it isn't anywhere from Chrono Trigger. Welcome to the El Nido Archipelago.
El Nido is divorced from any of the locations in Chrono Trigger. Indeed, we'll never be visiting on finding out what became of any of the old locales as the entirety of Chrono Cross takes place in this new landmass. We only get vague references of the "Zenan Mainland" (the southwestern continent in Chrono Trigger) and the Porre Empire hanging out there. Oh yeah, might as well mention Porre. You remember Porre from Chrono Trigger, right?
No? It was that little, completely unremarkable town to the south of Guardia. Frog camped out in the forest not far from it during the Middle Ages but in the Present there was err...a free ferry you could take from there back to right around Crono's house and err...that was about it.
It turns out they were hiding a formidable army in their basements as shortly after Chrono Trigger they became a military power and sacked their neighbors to the north in Guardia. They're currently also occupying El Nido with a military presence. Fancy that.
Chrono Trigger DS expands on this retconning by revealing the comic relief villain from the Kingdom of Zeal, Dalton, managed to make it to the Present era of Chrono Trigger. There he managed to amass an army in Porre great enough to topple a 500+ year old kingdom...somehow... Whether Dalton is still running the Porre military is unknown since it was a sloppily done tie-in in a series of fairly awful add-ons to the otherwise pretty decent DS port of Chrono Trigger.
Anyhow, Chrono Cross' overworld has no threat of random battles or any of that annoying rubbish while traveling about. So, we might as well do a bit of exploration before heading off to flay wildlife.
Predictably enough, we're fairly well on rails during this section of the game. The aforementioned Porre Army has a checkpoint set-up at the Fossil Valley entrance.
Far to the east of Arni are the lovely sounding Hydra Marshes.
Sadly, that path too is barred by an NPC who throws out a bit of casual racism against dwarves. Classy.
"Huh? Oh yeah... I'm sorry, Poshul. I didn't even notice you. Anyway, Poshul won't be of much help, so I suggest you guys head back to the village."
"Might want to get your eyes checked, chief. The pink travesty is visible from space."
You know, actually acknowledging a terrible character is a useless sack of shit does not make it any more tolerable having it in your party.
The final available stop in our tour of procrastination is scenic Cape Howl. Not to be confused with the Howling Cape. Totally different places. Far more suicides at this one.
Pretty view at least before ending it all on the jagged rocks below.
As long as the blood sacrifices continues...
Alright, can't put it off any longer. Time to make this area's name slightly less relevant.
Music: Lizard's Dance
Holy Color Explosion, Batman! Did a Crayola factory explode nearby? I'd forgotten what video games looked like before the 2003 Color Palette Standardization Act outlawed all colors in titles outside shades of gray and brown.
Before venturing forth into the first overly vibrantly decorated dungeon, let's get our shit in order. Namely Element Allocation. There are no restrictions to what elements party members can equip. However, certain elements are buffed if equipped on someone of the same color innate. Serge, being the hero, is White Innate. Poshul, being the piss stained pink abomination it is, is Yellow Innate. So, all elements of those colors are a bit more powerful coming out of those two. Likewise, Serge is weaker to Black Element and Poshul to Green.
Elements can also be buffed by what level they are equipped on. Right now Serge and Poshul both have three levels unlocked (with one slot available in each.) More element levels and slots are unlocked with progress into the game.
But for now, Levels 1-3 are open. Elements themselves have certain base strength levels and are buffed by being equipped on higher tiers than their base. For example, a pissant Fireball is a Level 1 element. Equipping it on Serge's Level 3 slot gives it a +2 charge. There is more to it with higher level elements, but that's all we need to worry about for now.
It's worth mentioning it's probably a good idea to allocate a Fireball spell to Serge if he picks one up. This area is full of Blue innate jerks. The level 3 slot is a very good idea...
Right then, back to lizard murder (a surprisingly common theme in this series really...) Chrono Cross' dungeon areas work similar to how Chrono Trigger did in that there are no random battles. Enemies sort of lazily wander about doing their thing unless provoked by Serge and company. Sure, some go after our heroes as soon as they see them. But, this is a fairly chill place so there isn't much of that happening.
Indeed, the primary enemies in this area are Beach Bums - the slightly retarded cousins of the Nu from Chrono Trigger and the second most idiotic looking thing to be found on Lizard Rock.
You'll recall Poshul is still in our party.
Beach Bums are next to harmless and having Poshul, as worthless as she is outside of battle, on offensive along with Serge is just overkill for everything in this dungeon.
I suppose now would be a good time to talk about leveling in Chrono Cross: you don't. There are no experience points in Chrono Cross and it is impossible to power grind cheese the game. Instead, fighting random monsters gives small single digit boosts to random stats. There are points where the party gets significant boosts and "Levels Up" in the usually RPG sense of things. But, those are at predetermined points in the game (read: boss battles.)
Enemies also drop money and items too. Can't forget that.
Another unique trait of Chrono Cross battles is that you can automatically heal up after a battle. Assuming the party hasn't blown their load with healing magic during the fight, they can use their stocked restorative Elements left over to regain HP. It's a nice alternative to chugging a potion after every battle.
Right, that's enough battle primers. Time to get to lizard hunting. That little critter in the bottom left corner decked out in African colors is the game we are hunting today to sate Leena's lust for flesh.
The trouble is, the little bugger runs off into the water if Serge just attempts to waltz up to the thing. We have to play this smart/take advantage of the less intelligent creature's stupidity. If the Komodo Dragon runs into the water it is gone until the area is re-entered.
A quick trip off screen later...
So, the dragon has a fairly simply flight routine. If it is approached from either the left or right it will haul ass through the central cave in the middle to the opposite end of the screen. (and if approached through the cave or from either direction twice it will just flee into the water.) So the trick here is to chase it north then shove this huge pink boulder in front of the cave entrance. For a 140 pound short guy, Serge has some surprising strength.
After that, it's simply a matter of looping around and chasing it into the cave where it will dopily smash its face into the obstruction allowing Serge to move in for the kill.
So, meet what Leena demands what we mercilessly slaughter: baby lizards. Komodo Pups come in pairs (though sadly only one scale seems to be dropped between them) and are beyond harmless. They have a whole 28 HP and their only attack is a light bite that does a whole 5 HP of damage.
Serge can pretty much without fail kill the shit out of one in a single turn before the thing can so much as shriek in terror.
While we're in the area, we might as well show off that Element we picked up from the Key Item Komodo Scale tutorial. Uplift is a Lv1 Yellow Innate attack and works literally exactly as the description states.
Leena is creaming her pants as we speak.
As I said, despite the duo of Komodo Scales...and the fact you could probably harvest a wee bit more than a single scale off the hide of a lizard that big...nope... Just one per battle. Looks like we have to find two more (six dead lizard children in total!)
To the south is the second victim in the hunt. This one is slightly trickier. It will immediately flee into water if approached at all. So, Serge is going to have to take some slightly evasive maneuvers and get creative with this one.
In the center of the area is a path that loops back to a hill overlooking where the Pup is frolicking. Running to the end of the outcropping gives a prompt that lets Serge ambush the unsuspecting reptile and snuff out its young life with minimal fuss.
Two down. One to go.
The third and final area of Lizard Rock (soon to become a serious misnomer of a title) is home to the last and least complicated Pup to catch.
The third little guy is just hanging out basking in the sunlight of a beautiful day. That is until Serge barge in with a bladed oar in hand and a blood rage in his eyes.
At this point the Pup retreats in horror as fast as its stubby little lizard legs can carry it. Sadly, that is not fast enough. After a short chase around the area it too is drawn into a battle for its life.
Long story made short...
Of course, this wanton slaughter of defenseless young cannot continue without severe consequences. Mama Komodo is slightly pissed by Serge annihilating six of her children and steps in to take action.
Meet the first boss of Chrono Cross: Mama Komodo. She is slightly more threatening than her younglings but not by much. Doubly so having Poshul in the party since it is really a mid-boss intended for just Serge to be able to beat. Mama Komodo has a healthy 160 HP and attacks for around 10 HP of damage a pop. She does have a fairly damaging fire breathing attack (~25 HP damage to both characters.)
But, having Poshul and Serge with full stamina before the fight begins (it is automatic upon killing the third group of Pups) and just wailing the hell out of it is all the strategy that is needed.
In addition, Mama Komodo is Blue Innate. Remember how I said it was a decent idea to have a Fireball Element in Serge's level 3 slot? This is why.
Yeah. That blasts away around a third of her total HP making this fight into even more of a joke.
And thus an entire family of rare beach dragons is wiped from the face of the earth in the name of teenagers courting one another. Such is the circle of life.
Music: Victory ~ Spring's Gift (Remix of Fanfare/Lucca's Theme)
Note: The victory music randomly alternates between the "Spring's Gift" and "Summer's Call" version of the victory fanfare. I personally like the lighter one a bit more.[/url]
Since we have defeated our first proper boss of the game, the party receives their first Star Level. Star Levels come with a fairly significant stat boost and add an Element Slot to party members' Element allocation. Spiffy.
"Ret'th get moving to Opatha Beach and wait for Leena."
The pink monstrosity is right as the only thing to do at this point is moving on to the beach to give our offering to our lady friend. It's best to make sure you're done dicking around Arni and Lizard Rock as far as item collection goes as...well...
Serge murdered the shit out of baby dragons and their mother for meek material gain.
One-Sided Battle Against Mama Komodo
Music: Lizard's Dance
Music: Victory ~ Spring's Gift