Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition remaster is the sort of game people have been waiting to play. While we’re inundated with remasters, this one sets itself apart. I mean, it is one of the best JRPGs of all time to start! Then we have the care with which its updated art and music appears, with Nobuteru Yuki back to touch up the character art. All of the bonus features improve players’ quality of life. But most importantly, we get the Masato Kato-written Radical Dreamers: Le Tresor Interdit worldwide for the first time. The result? Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is a complete package that is culturally and historically important, not to mention a joy to play on the Switch.
Serge is a normal young man. He lives in a small fishing village. He has a girlfriend. He’s a productive member of the community. However, one day after running an errand, he finds himself pulled through into another world. It’s then that we get to learn and see how important the influence of one person can be.
The translation is touched up a bit in some cases, which is appreciated. From what I can tell, this mainly applies to characters’ techs. For example, we already saw one of these ahead of the game’s launch. Instead of HolyDragSwrd, one white element attack is now Holy Dragon Sword. Another example is Guile’s WandaIn is now Wanda In. Yes, I’ll admit there was some charm to the measures Square needed to take back in the day. But it feels better seeing the techs as they should be. Also, this doesn’t apply to weapons. So you will still see characters like Macha using the Besom Cu29 (copper broom).
As for Chrono Cross gameplay, things work as they always did. When you’re on your adventure, you’ll meet lots of people. Many of them will even join you! This means talking to everyone and exploring is critical. Even if you don’t need to go somewhere right away, visiting the spot can mean discovering a secret. For example, your first moments in Arni are a good example. If you visit everyone and look around homes, you can find two character recruitment items. Presenting one of them to a character before you head out to get Komodo scales means Serge won’t be alone right away. It is a rewarding system that helps encourage the player to meet everyone and look everywhere. I always felt Chrono Cross is a little more interactive than your typical JRPG as a result.
There’s also the ability to cross to the parallel world. That there are two dimensions and multiple possibilities comes up quite often. After a certain point in the story, people can go between the home and another worlds to complete main and side quests. This also comes into play with the Tele-Porter gadget, which allows you to pull anyone you’ve recruited into your party at save points or on the world map.
Likewise, the battle system means you need to plan more than you would in a turn-based RPG. Before you head into fights, you can equip characters with elements that allow them to perform the techs I talked about earlier. As you defeat bosses, you also earn stars that can result in characters learning new techs. In order to use these abilities, you need to essentially chain together combos using weak, normal, and strong attacks. Each type of those has its own chance of hitting. Weakest attacks typically start at around a 90 percent chance, with strong ones sometimes initial having odds in the 70 percent range. As you pull together those attacks, your accuracy increases for all three types. You also build up enough energy to use the once-per-battle techs.
Meanwhile, you also need to keep an eye on the elements used. Every character has an innate element. For example, Kid is a red-type character and takes increased damage from blue techs. There is a constant field effect that can determine the overall strength of an element in that one battle. If you face a lot of foes who use green techs, then the field effect might fill up with three levels of green. That means that allies and enemies’ green techs would be stronger and yellow ones would be weaker. Your goals ends up making sure enemies won’t overwhelm you with their innate elemental techs, your allies won’t suddenly be in a situation where they are weak to attacks being used, and you control the field effect to boost your own techs’ effects.
All of these elements mean that the Chrono Cross remaster still feels revolutionary. Its concept and story handle the idea of parallel worlds extremely well. It’s executed so perfectly that we still don’t often see the mechanic regularly. (Or working so well when it does come up.) The character recruiting and side quests also encourages exploration in an incredibly effective way. It makes you want to search for the unexpected, all so you can enjoy the rewards. Not to mention its battle system really goes above and beyond what you expect from turn-based fights. A lot of planning goes into it, due to things like tech limitations and the combo system.
The new character models and art in the remaster don’t feel like a betrayal to the original Chrono Cross release. The new models are absolutely gorgeous. Every person, friend or foe, received the same level of care. Though if you do go with the original, those look fine too! The environments and maps also look good regardless. I’m especially a fan of how Chrono Cross looks on the Switch. Everything is incredibly vibrant. Yes, the FMVs don’t look as good in comparison, but it’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things.
The features added in the Chrono Cross remaster are welcome quality-of-life adjustments. I appreciated the ability to turn on the fast-forward function when chasing Komodo Pups or getting through the Hydra Marshes so I could quickly grab some character recruitment items. The auto-battle is also handy. Mainly because this is a game with a lot of characters! While I have certain favorites I prefer to use regularly, there are others I like to ensure get some extra HP and stat points. Pulling in Greco, Kid, Leena, and Neo-Fio, turning on both auto-battle and fast-forward, and running around until they’re on par with Serge, Glenn, and Guile? It’s a big help. (And yes, I did turn on the battle boost after not using some folks for a while to ensure they’d survive until they got some extra HP.) Sometimes, I’d even do it to get extra elements for the element trader. It’s efficient.
As pretty much established so far, Chrono Cross is the kind of game people would consider historically important and the remaster takes that a step further. That’s because it also includes Radical Dreamers: Le Tresor Interdit. This is essentially a lost game. It appeared on the Super Famicom Satellaview, which meant it was a Japan-exclusive that never received a physical release. It’s important for so many reasons.
This is a sound novel, a kind of text-based adventure that emphasizes building an atmosphere through its audio. Localizations of these sorts of games are few and far between. It’s an early take on what would come next after Chrono Trigger. That means there are more direct ties. Yet, we also see how certain story elements back then would be resurrected and become Chrono Cross.
Radical Dreamers: Le Tresor Interdit is critical too because of how detailed it is. At a glance, it might seem like a fairly simple visual novel. You make choices. Things happen. You earn an ending. Except it is also tracking different things as you play. Kid’s feelings for Serge are one of them. You need to think fast and play smart. It’s so advanced for its time, and having it here is a treat.
Chrono Cross has always been an essential JRPG, and this The Radical Dreamers Edition remaster makes it feel even more important. The story, the design direction, the way it handles its parallel worlds and characters, its battle system, and its precursor game that shows how it grew? They’re all extraordinary. Like Chrono Trigger before it, it is historically important and an example of exemplary game design.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on April 7, 2022.