Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chrono Cross

Finally able to check this one off.  Despite having a fair number of flaws, most of which are regressions from Chrono Trigger, it's by no means a bad game.  Anyone who overlooks it is doing themselves a disservice.

I get the feeling that a lot of the hate this game gets is because it isn't exactly like Chrono Trigger, but with a new story.  The battle system is different, character progression is different, and the way equipment and skills are handled is also different.  The thing is, the battle system is actually pretty neat.

I like the Stamina system, it works a lot better than a traditional ATB system and works with the element grid to open up a lot of strategy that Chrono Trigger never had.  The move from the traditional experience point-based level-up system to a story-based level-up system reduces grind and keeps you moving forward in the story.  You can still grind money and drops, of course, but that's at your own discretion.

Equipment being mostly crafted rather than straight-up purchased is an interesting move, but it's not handled poorly.  There aren't extreme shortages of a critical material or anything.  The final tier of equipment requires you to put in some effort and use the summoning mechanic that you might otherwise ignore, which may very well get you to use summons on a more regular basis if you end up liking that sort of play style.  Skills being split into regular "Elements" and the more traditional techs is interesting, since you can allocate elements at will, regardless of color.

As for the final boss battle, well, there's two ways that it can play out.  This is even hinted at with the Cryosphinx fight.  You can do it the traditional way, by dealing enough damage that the final boss dies, or you can do it the right way.  Just prior to the fight, the game goes to great lengths to suggest that each of the elemental colors have an associated tone, and that producing these tones in the proper order results in an "elemental melody".  It also hints that you should follow up this sequence with the Chrono Cross.  Doing this will instantly defeat the final boss, regardless of HP, and net you the best ending.

If you're like me and want to see both the bad and good ending, then don't be like me.  I stupidly saved my clear save over my "just before the end" save, so if I want to see the bad ending, I have to go all the way through the game again.  Unfortunately, the game doesn't let you continue a clear save, it forces you to select New Game + or Continue +, neither of which will let you hop back in where you were.  If you save to a different slot on your memory card, you can just reload your save and do the fight again.

Despite logging a number of personal complaints about the game, I still largely enjoyed my play time and will definitely come back later for some New Game + action.

Everything after the break will be talking about final boss strategy, so... don't click "Read More" if you don't want to read more.  If you came directly to this post from a search result or something, you may wish to stop scrolling down.

So, as you learn in the Cryosphinx fight, the proper order of the element colors is yellow, red, green, blue, black, white.  Successfully cast elements in this order with no interruptions from the final boss, which is easier said than done, then get Serge back up to element grid level 8 and use the Chrono Cross.

My party was Serge, Sprigg, and Starky.  Elements of all colors were equipped in low-element-grid-level slots on Serge and Starky, and I settled on having Sprigg doppelgang a Tragedienne, which has access to five of the six colors.  Early on in the battle, I used Diminish, to reduce the need for healing.

Everyone needs to be at their highest element grid level before doing this, and then defend on everyone to get back up to max stamina.  The actual elements being used don't really matter, just their colors:
  1. Serge: Uplift (Yellow)
  2. Sprigg(Tragedienne): Fireball (Red)
  3. Starky: Bushwhacker (Green)
  4. Serge: IceBlast (Blue)
  5. Sprigg(Tragedienne): BlackRain (Black)
  6. Starky: PhotonRay (White)
I strategically included the IceBlast element with the hope that it would inflict the Frozen status on the boss, preventing it from being able to act for the rest of the sequence.  I'd had several attempts foiled with the boss using a white element after I got to the blue part of the sequence, so this was my idea to try and prevent that from happening.  I'm not sure if it succeeded, though.  Normally when you inflict a status ailment on an enemy, targeting them will show you what status ailments they have.  I didn't see "Frozen" listed when I targeted the boss after using IceBlast, but then again, it didn't act for the rest of the fight.  Regardless of whether the boss actually had the Frozen status effect, though, I had enough time to get Serge enough stamina to be able to get up to element level 8 and use the Chrono Cross.

I like how the game makes several attempts to clue you in on the proper sequence.  The Cryosphinx's riddles, as previously mentioned, are answered with this order.  In Terra Tower, you fight bosses with innates mostly in this order, except that the blue one comes after black and white for whatever reason.  In the room just before the black, white, and blue bosses, there are crystals of each color that play the proper series of tones.  In the room with blue boss itself, six spots on the floor will light up with colors in this order.  Last but not least, in the first part of the fight with the final boss, it will change innate colors in this order, and it will also use elements in this order at some point during the fight.  That's plenty of clues, and you just have to be observant enough to notice them.

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