Saturday, 27 November 2010

Chrono Cross: Game Design Review

Chronocross is a game set after Chrono Trigger featuring a new cast of characters. The creator of Chrono cross mentioned that Chrono Cross is not a true sequel but a story set in the same universe. They deliberately wanted to experiment with new systems and new ways to storytelling. First of all, let me say that I enjoyed Chronocross. It had wonderful art direction, a story which was entertaining (if somewhat hard to follow someties) and lots of unique characters that could join your party including a fisherman, a chef, a gothic rocker and living plants. Two living plants in fact.

From my point of view however there are some problems with the gameplay mechanics which mar the experience for me:
1) Too many characters- The extremely huge number of characters meant that most characters seemed a bit too similar to other characters and also the plotlines tended to dissolve into nothing.

2) The field system is difficult to control. In combat, the uses a field system where everytime you use an mobility, its 'colour' affects the overall battle field. There are 3 field color slots and the latest attack will push the oldest colour out to replace it. The more a field is your character's colour, the more effective your character is and attacks of that specific colour. Similarly, you get disadvantaged if the field is the opposite. Its possible to control this, just really really hard as you rarely have all of your characters able to attack in a row meaning the enemy can often screw up the field colour you're going for. There are certain characters that can have specific powers to change the field colour but they aren't plentiful enough.

3) Summoning ultimate creatures is difficult requiring a field to be completely the same colour and their presence is also like a secret. I think I found like 2 in the entire game.

4) Tech system from Chrono Trigger is practically a secret as well. The ability to combine certain special attacks to make more powerful attacks if you had the correct team of characters is still there but only a very few techs exist. Which is a bit of a shame, because it would made the battling a lot more fun. Again, I played the entire game without actually using one!

5) Lack of traditional exp system was a step in the right direction because this meant that the game designers could control the experience and ensure the bosses were never too powerful for you as if I'm not mistaken all your characters level up including the ones you haven't been using. In the game, however once you beat a boss, there is a small window where you can random bonus ability points by fighting normal enemies. Supposedly this means your favourite characters will then gain more points and be more powerful. I'm just not sure if this is quite the right way of going about the system as maybe the character you are currently using aren't quite the right characters. Also these bonus points are also awarded only to character which will still alive at the end of the battle. I feel that some of skill point system where you can choose which characters to award bonus too might be better.

6) Unclear benefits when using elements of different levels. There are differences but I'm still not quite sure how setting different element levels will enhance or penalise you or how much benefit you get from setting an element above or below what you already have.

7) Actions that affect two worlds or reveal secrets should be clearer - Certain special actions require you to do something in one world to affect the other. Sometimes this is fairly clear but other times this isn't clear particularly when you're looking for optional areas which can unlock secrets. Some might argue that's part of it being secret but some actions are frankly way too obscure. Some are event-limited so if events in the story pass, you can't get the secret anymore.

Overall I would class it as a flawed classic. It's still very enjoyable with fairly unique world just those mechanics mentioned above that really annoy me.

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