The Chrono Cross Remaster Feels Barely Higher Than A Port

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Art shows Chrono Cross' cast of characters posing for a photograph.

It’s 2022 and you may as soon as once more play among the best JRPGs from Sq. Enix’s golden age on a contemporary handheld. However even having fun with it as I’ve been on Change, it’s arduous to not really feel just like the Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Version remaster is one other missed alternative by a writer intent on doing the naked minimal to bring its PS1 classics into the HD period.

For the uninitiated, Chrono Cross is the 1999 PlayStation sequel to Chrono Set off, a good looking time-traveling epic for the SNES. The primary recreation was regarded by some, and for me stays, one of many all-time greats, each within the role-playing style and generally. Chrono Cross, then again, was by no means so extensively or warmly obtained. It’s extra formidable, but additionally messier and fewer cohesive. It’s nonetheless unbelievable and certainly one of a form, even should you’ll want a wiki that can assist you decipher its deeply fascinating however horribly muddled plot. And on April 7 it will likely be out on PS4, Xbox, Change, and PC, prepared for an extended overdue crucial re-evaluation.

Chrono Cross' Serge stands in the middle of his home village.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

I’ve been taking part in Chrono Cross on the Change OLED (the place the colours actually pop) for a couple of hours now, and am as in love with the sport itself as ever. I’m much less impressed by the barebones manner it’s been up to date and repackaged for the brand new decade. The massive additions are higher-resolution visuals, an choice to show off enemy encounters, and Radical Dreamers, a 1996 mini-visual novel that bridges the occasions of Chrono Set off and Chrono Cross and has now been formally localized in English for the primary time. It’s one thing Chrono-heads like me have lengthy pined for, and it’s good to lastly be capable to expertise the retro artifact, although it feels incomplete with Chrono Set off, obtainable on PC and cellular, nonetheless not on Change.

In any other case, the remaster is principally Chrono Cross as gamers like myself skilled it 20 years in the past, for higher and sometimes for worse. Listed below are among the issues which have been bothering me:

  • Elaborate, pre-rendered backgrounds now look blurry and smeared
  • 3D character fashions, rendered in greater res, stick out like a sore thumb within the new environments
  • Fight usually stutters and feels unresponsive
  • There aren’t save states (however there may be auto-saving within the overworld)
  • There’s no choice to swap graphical kinds on the fly
  • FMVs haven’t at all times been upscaled cleanly
  • The HD fonts are clear however look misplaced

Chrono Cross' hero stands in the middle of a colorful reef sporting the 2000 graphics.

Basic graphics mode.
Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

Chrono Cross' hero stands in a colorful reef sporting HD graphics.

HD graphics mode.
Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Some of these things are a bit nitpicky. Others are harder to ignore. The quality of the uprezzed backgrounds varies wildly. In some places the general effect and sense of vibrant detail has been preserved, while elsewhere it looks like someone painted over a Van Gogh with vaseline. Fortunately, you can revert the game to the original graphics, but only from the main menu, rather than on a whim. And if you do, you’re basically playing a port rather than a remaster. (The original version of Chrono Cross has been cheaply available on PSP and Vita for years, and there’s a nonzero chance it ends up being one of the PS1 games Sony brings back as part of PS Plus’ $18 tier in June).

The remaster does make a fast-forward choice obtainable proper from the beginning, however so far as I can inform it’s the identical one which was included within the 1999 model of Chrono Cross’ new recreation plus. It doesn’t really feel fairly as quick because it ought to, and in battle it’s all however necessary to cope with the random slowdowns. JRPGs have a number of menu mashing, however at the same time as a remaster Chrono Cross on my Change feels sometimes as laggy with my inputs because the previous PS1 recreation did.

Serge and Kid face Termina guards on the cliff.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

In the end, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Version is a $20 recreation and that ought to inform you all you have to know. Just like the lackluster Remaining Fantasy VIII remaster earlier than it, it looks like a port with an HD mode, relatively than a celebration of the PlayStation’s hyper-saturated, turn-based fever dream. And in a world the place there’s an upcoming $50 full-scale remaster of Sq. Enix’s obscure Reside A Reside, or the modestly higher $30 model of Legend of Mana launched final 12 months, I’m undecided why Chrono Cross was despatched again out in such tough situation.

I’m going to proceed taking part in it as a result of even with no ton of modern-day upgrades and tweaks, Chrono Cross’ richly drawn and amazingly scored world is certainly one of a form and I wish to get misplaced in its impressionistic seascapes another time. However it’s arduous to advocate it to others who’ve by no means taken the plunge earlier than when the remaster does so little to assist the underlying traditional shine, or meet new gamers the place they’re with extra trendy conveniences.

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