Ah... Chrono Cross... the sequel to the SNES classic, Chrono Trigger. I never really gave this game much of a chance. Primarily because the battle system was such a radical departure from the Final Fantasy series. But.. I eventually decided to play it, I had to play Chrono Trigger first (I wanted to jump right into CC, but I was afraid CC would spoil some of CT's plot). Boy was I glad I played through CT first, because there are A LOT of references back to CT's plot. In my opinion, CT is slightly overhyped, while CC doesn't quite get the the attention it fully deserves.
Okay.. The most important part of ANY RPG is the plot. So I'll explain that first. The plot in this game is DEEP! And I mean DEEP! I'm gonna have to go through this game a couple more times to catch everything. I'll give you the very basic intro to it all. The main character Serge (who could kick Crono's ass anyday of the week), is going to the beach, in order to make a necklace for a friend of his. While he's speaking with Leena, he has a vision and blacks out. Serge wakes up in Another World. Which is pretty much a mirror image of Home World (where Serge is from), only things are vastly different. It turns out that Serge once existed in this world as well, he drowned at age seven (I think it was that age...). Serge visits his grave in Another World, while at his grave, three men confront him. Karsh, an Acacia Dragoon, and Solt and Peppor, two bumbling idiot soldiers. A strange girl, named Kid, helps Serge fend off the trio, (at this point you can decide to have her in your party or not, she keeps showing up later on, if you don't accept), and then the journey to find out why and how this all has occured begins. This is one helluva a plot. The plot is VERY DEEP, and complicated (the way I like it :-), and will require a few more playthroughs by myself in order to catch everything the plot has to offer, not too mention get all 44 characters in my party.
That's right, 44 characters! Personally, I greatly enjoy having so many characters in one RPG. The downfall to this though, is that outside of Serge and Kid, there's almost no character development for the other members. Some just join, simply because they admire why Serge is doing what he's doing. However, another upside to this, is that in order to get all the characters, you need to play through the game four times (that means three New Game+ quests), which gives the game significant replay value. Although the game's plot is more than enough to play it many times over.
Soundwise, it doesn't get any better than this. Chrono Cross simply has the finest game soundtrack ever composed. Yasunori Mitsuda is simply the best game music composer living today. Most of the time, the music goes with every scene perfectly. Other times, not so. If there's one flaw to this game's brilliant soundtrack, it has to be the battle music. The Boss Battle music is very catchy, and gets your blood pumping, the standard battle music however, is just atrocious. It's way too high-pitched, and fast paced for my tastes.
When it comes to graphics, Chrono Cross really pushes the PSX. Crisp, vivid, and sharp, these graphics are a sight to behold... for a PSX anyway. My personal favorite part is at the very beginning of the game, when you're fetching Kimodo Dragon scales for Leena's necklace, whenever you battle on Opassa Beach, the way the sun shines towards the screen, you can see the rays of the sun and all. The water effects are great as well, in the battle scenes on Opassa Beach.
Gameplay wise, Chrono Cross is different. Chrono Cross uses the "Cross Sequence Battle" system. This system is rather unique. As long as your characters have stamina, you can enter battle commands for any character, at any time, and in any order. Chrono Cross' Element system is, in a way, reminiscent of FFVII's materia system. There are a total of eight levels on a characters element grid. The higher you put an element on the grid the stronger it is. Say.. for example, you put a Level 1 Element on the Level 4 grid, you'll see a +3 next to the element name. If you put a Level 6 Element, on the Level 2 grid, it will say -4 next to that element's name. It's a fairly interesting system. However, it does have some flaws. You can use each element only once per battle. Say... you wanna use X-Strike with Serge and Glenn, you can only use it once that battle. Also, using an element means sacrificing an entire stamina bar. Worse, when you don't have a full stamina bar (7.0) For example: you have a stamina bar level of 4.0, if you use an element, it will bring your stamina level down to -3.0. Your stamina level will recharge, per each level of stamina your other party members use. Lastly, Chrono Cross has several types of elements. Magic based on color (Yellow, Red, Green, Blue, Black White), Summon elements, and Tech elements (X-Strike is an example).
Chrono Cross is one of the best games I have ever played. Its only downfalls being somewhat of an odd element system and poor character development. Its great graphics, absolutely beautiful and and brilliant soundtrack, and incredibly deep and complicated plot, make for an experience you will not forget. It walks all over Chrono Trigger, in every way, save for character development, and is second only to Final Fantasy VII.