Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is the HD remaster of Square’s 2000 PlayStation 1 RPG that had the unfortunate task of being the sequel to Chrono Trigger, one of the most beloved games of all time. This new package brings Chrono Cross into the modern era with some appreciated quality-of-life changes, while also pairing it with Radical Dreamers, a neat visual novel never officially seen outside of Japan. The result is a solid package that pays tribute to some of the forgotten corners of JRPG history.

Despite building on certain major beats from Chrono Trigger, the mechanics, structure, and design of Cross couldn’t be more different. While Trigger is remembered for its refinement and expert focus, Chrono Cross feels like Square threw every idea into the game and allowed them all to stay there. For example, while Trigger kept its lens focused on its seven party members, Cross contains over 40 different characters you can recruit, ranging from tragic heroes, to redeemed villains, to just the most bizarre array of weirdos imaginable.

While Chrono Trigger had us weaving across millennia of different timelines, Chrono Cross hinges on two parallel worlds – one where our hero Serge died as a child, and the other where he survived. The butterfly effect of this inciting incident ripples out and touches nearly every setting and character you meet across the 30+-hour adventure, making for some excellent moments of discovery as you piece together the full story. The mid-game’s curveball particularly does a surprisingly great job of tying it in with Trigger, though expect to be scratching your head quite a few times during the third act’s wild sci-fi turns and exposition dumps.

As for the battle system, you manage each of your three current party members’ stamina points on weaker and cheaper attacks or stronger and more expensive abilities, while also keeping in mind the constantly shifting elemental affinity of the battlefield. It’s about as different as you can be from Trigger’s classically refined Active Time Battle system, but it genuinely stands out among its peers and pretty much anything that came after it.

Another of the standout elements of Chrono Cross is its incredible soundtrack by composer Yasunori Mitsuda, and the rearranged tracks in this new version are every bit as beautiful as the originals were 20-some years ago. This remastered collection also contains a few visual flourishes, including upgraded character models, new character portraits that display during conversations, and upscaled backgrounds, which looked especially great as I played through the game on Nintendo Switch in handheld mode. Most of these options can be toggled on and off, and I appreciated being able to choose how I wanted to experience the game.

As Square Enix did with re-released Final Fantasy classics, there are also some excellent quality-of-life changes in the form of being able to speed up and slow down movement, as well as powering up your party in any given battle. Given that I had also coincidentally replayed Chrono Cross on PS Vita a few months ago, this made jamming through the review on Switch a breeze.

This Chrono Cross remaster further comes with the first officially localized version of Radical Dreamers, a 1996 text-based visual novel released on the Super Famicom Satellaview. It acts as a quasi-bridge and side story to both Trigger and Cross, and while its simplicity will probably only appeal to hardcore fans, its inclusion is a wonderful piece of video game history for JRPG and Chrono weirdos like me.

Two decades later, it finally feels like Chrono Cross is able to step out of the monumentally large shadow of its predecessor. Chrono Cross’s gorgeous settings, iconic music, strange combat, and ambitious story can get a bit messy at times, but I genuinely love the risks it took, and I can’t recommend the game enough to anyone with a fondness for that era of JRPGs.

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is available on April 7 for $19.99 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition.

You may also like