Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is an RPG time capsule

To play cards on the table, Chrono Cross has not lived well in my memory. While I enjoyed it well in my younger days when I was a voracious Japanese RPG devourer, it has since morphed into a loose mix of other PlayStation-era games. The unflattering impression isn’t helped by being a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger, one of my favorite games of all time. But even on my own, I struggled to find any particularly memorable parts of it. I was curious about Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition mainly to give it a fair boost and find what I had lost in my memory. And what I found is a fascinating and uneven time capsule of late 90s RPG design.

The Radical Dreamers edition is mostly the original Chrono Cross, but with a nice visual twist. The PlayStation meant clunky first steps into 3D games with jutting character designs and vibrant colors, and the remaster doesn’t drastically revamp the original game’s sharp, angular look. Squaresoft (pre-Enix fusion) was particularly good at creating expressive characters within those limits, but they were still limits. The HD remaster doesn’t fundamentally change that, so the jagged protruding arrows in the character designs might look unusual to modern eyes.

Within this framework, however, this is a very handsome remaster. The characters are crisp and expressive, and their animations hold up well. The Switch OLED display is particularly good at capturing Chrono Cross’ extremely bright color palette. To that end, the tropical setting that makes up the early hours of the game helps put its best foot forward to make the OLED screen impressive from the start.