To celebrate Chrono Cross' release on the PlayStation Network, I'd like to take a moment to tell you that, yes, it really is a good game. How could it not be? Even though it was released in the waning years of Squaresoft's peak, the development teams still had a bit of magic left in them. But I'm also here to tell you that if you approach the game as Chrono Trigger 2, you will be incredibly disappointed.
And that's what I was back when the game was released: disappointed. As someone who has claimed Chrono Trigger as their favorite game for more than 15 years, it's hard for me to look back objectively on its sequel. So here's a bit of subjectivity for you.
But please, don't let me stop you from enjoying the game's re-release.
First of all, Chrono Cross takes your favorite characters from Chrono Trigger and craps all over them. Crono, Marle, and Lucca appear as ghost children who mostly just harp at you about messing up all their hard work; Robo is called the Prometheus Circuit and barely makes an appearance; Frog might be Glenn, but it seems the writers just sort of gave up on trying to make this connection; Ayla isn't mentioned besides a ham-fisted comment during the ending; and Magus was supposed to be in Cross, but the writers deemed his inclusion too complicated. Probably for the best.
Of course, Schala ends up being a pivotal character in Chrono Cross, but you have to keep in mind the only reason this even happened was because of a loose plot thread from Chrono Trigger. After helping out Crono and the gang, she disappears and is never heard of again. Most gamers didn't really notice, yes, she was a semi-major character late in the game, but we had Lavos to kill and time periods to save. Somehow, the writers for Chrono Cross deemed this dangling plot thread worthy of the sequel and shoved her into the last 10% of the game. Then when re-releasing Chrono Trigger on the DS, they added some tedious dungeons and a new boss to try and tie the two games together better. Waste of time, in my opinion.
Not only are the characters either absent or portrayed as jerks, but the whole setting feels off. Cross is supposed to take place in 1020, twenty years after the events of the main timeline, but absolutely nothing is familiar. The whole world of Chrono Trigger was explored, but we never see anything that resembles what was presented in Chrono Cross. I wouldn't have a problem with this most of the time, but why create a sequel to Chrono Trigger if you're not even going to leave some familiarity for fans to grab on to?
Even though the writers couldn't manage to fit Magus or Frog into the story, they still went ahead and created 45 (FORTY-FIVE!) playable characters. Chrono Trigger had seven. We got to know them all intimately by the end of the game. Chrono Cross had pirates and dancers and flower things and fairies and rockstars. Not only is the cast 100% new, but where did some of these ideas even come from? They sound like rejects from a Final Fantasy game.
In the end, both games are very good, but I'm just glad Chrono Cross is not called Chrono Trigger 2.