Double Agent
See what you want to see - September 19, 2000 - Chris Jones

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. I miss Austin radio stations. Don't say we didn't warn you.

I stared at this page for about fifteen minutes, trying to come up with something interesting to say in the intro, but I couldn't. And then I read through the letters I had selected for today, and realized one of you clever monkeys already gave me an excuse for why there's nothing worth talking about at the moment.


In the doldrums
Dear Agent,

Chrono Cross discussion on Wednesday is A-OK by me. You guys picked out the best time to have a vacation, because during that time absolutely nothing happened in the gaming industry. On a related note, I read an article in Los Angeles Times about Activision. Most of it was analysis of their stock. A big honcho at Activision said they haven't been doing well in the last 6 months because consumers are saving their money for PS2, and that the entire industry is going through the same slump. Is that true? I mean Square had their "Summer of Adventure." And we know for sure that at least one of those summer games (Chrono Cross) is way better than anything PS2 will have this year. Plus we have Final Fantasy 9, Lunar II for PSX and Ogre Battle 64, Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and Banjo-Tooie for N64. Dreamcast is going to get Phantasy Star Online, Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, and Capcom vs. SNK. For those of us with all those systems and also a PC or Mac, we have enough games as it is. In fact, I think after this year they should just stop releasing games after this holiday season for at least two months so we can all catch up.


See, that's just perfect - it's not my fault I can't come up with anything to talk about, it's the gaming industry's! Thanks tremendously for that rationalization, Fares.

But still, there may be a fairly sizable grain of truth to what you're saying. My personal take on the "Summer of Adventure" was that it was an attempt by Square to get most of their titles out of the way before the PS2 hit and people lost interest in the PSX - certainly the remaining major titles on the system are positioned so that they can either stand on their own appeal or are set far enough away from the PS2 launch date (10/26/00) to be PS2-proog. Personally I'm so underwhelmed by the PS2's current launch lineup (no Bouncer, even) that I feel vindicated I haven't put down the paltry $10 it would have cost me to reserve one.

Lord have mercy on the man

University. Many. Miles. From. Home. And.
*twitch* Playstation. And.
*twitch* Half. Finished.
*twitch* Chrono. Cross.

Please. Sympathize for the poor and suffering working class student.
- In Pain

I feel your pain my brother - I was in a similar situation with Final Fantasy III lo those many years ago. But I can't stop the world for just one man, so January 2001 is out of the question. (Besides, I'd have to hold off on FFIX for the same reason.) Avert your eyes, and it'll be over quick.

At the same time, I'd like to encourage you to use this as an opportunity. Your entire life shouldn't be devoted to playing video games - college can be a wonderful chance to expand your horizons. Get out there and meet people, join organizations, learn to grow as a person with a wide variety of tastes and hobbies! There's a whole world out there just waiting for you to... *snicker*... I mean, there's just a whole... *cackle*... *guffaw!*

*Wipes tears from eyes*

Dammit, and I almost made it through with a straight face...

*I can only keep those 40-odd characters straight in my head for so long...*
Yo Chris,

I think we should go ahead with some discussions on Chrono Cross now. I beat the game one week after it was released, mostly due to the fact that I was crippled during the summer. About two weeks is how long we should go from release to discussion...three weeks at most, because after that details get muddled and such.

--The Steve

I hear what you're saying, but I gotta wonder if that isn't in and of itself a comment on the game. The best art is supposed to stay with you long after you experience it - I can pretty much quote chapter and verse from Pratchett's "Small Gods" or "Watership Down" even now. If a book or movie or game becomes muddled a few weeks after you're done with it, how good was it really, in the final analysis?

Hey, I'm not soooo slow, I'm just slow
Hey Chris,

Whaddaya mean you wasted all the time not having to do the column freed up? Wasted it on what? Please let me make up for not having a life by letting me in on yours more!

On your topic for the day : you can post spoilers anytime you want. I don't see what the problem is, as long as you give the reader fair warning in the title of the letter. Besides, you are soooo slow (erm, I mean busy) most of the time, the average RPG-head should have finished any game long ago by the time you allow discussion about it....

Lastly, Parasite Eve 2 is out and I'll be getting it shortly (it's been out over here in Holland for over a month now... but of course the non-import-gamer had to miss Chrono Cross for the privilege). Any comments by anyone? What about a review?

That our paths may cross again,

Sir Farren, still wondering what possesses AV for thinking Soul Calibur is a better game than any Final Fantasy

You think I have a life? Wow. I knew writing this column tended to glamorize me a bit, but wow...

It's definitely true that a lot of gamers have finished the latest thing before I have, and that'll likely continue to be the case. (If for no other reason than the column takes up 15+ hours a week I might otherwise spend in front of the PSX.) Still, I got a lot of fallout the one time I did manage to start a discussion relatively soon after a game was released, so it's in my best interests to make sure everyone who can finish will finish, stragglers like In Pain aside.

Dunno much about PE2 yet, but I intend to buy it next Wednesday, after I've got a networking project out of the way and I've had some more time to experiment with New Game+. And I do agree with AV that Soul Calibur was superior as a game to FF8 - I think FF8 is superb, but only Soul Calibur has kept me playing on a near-daily basis since I got it.

That Nester joke still cracks me up
I can't see why this question should be asking about Chrono Cross. I, for one, would like to see some good, spoiler-filled discussion on Dragon Warrior. I mean, come on, people, look at the year on that game: 1989! Isn't it about time we talked about it? I would like to start us off:

How about that storyline? You start out as the descendant of a great hero, and through the game, you must gather the ancient relics that your forefather left behind. You even discover, after a journey through a peril...less cave, that your coming was foretold by your forefather. You then proceed to find his sword, armor, shield, and of course, proof of your heritage. Classic.

Was anyone else surprised to find the Princess in a cave, exactly like the townspeople said? And she even was taken eastward from the castle! How's that for a plot twist--the information the townspeople give you is completely accurate! There were tears in my eyes when she told me she loved me....

DW has so many great moments in it! From the guard in the castle telling you he 'hates thee' to finally finding a magic key shop in Rimuldar, to the epic combination of the Stones of Sunlight and the Staff of Rain to form the Rainbow Drop...and the game even has hidden jokes for Nintendo Power cracks me up every time the guard in Kol says, "Hast thou seen Nester? I believe he may need help." Come on everyone! Lets give this great game the credit it deserves!

...why's everyone staring at me like that?


No comment.

One last request
I'm going to have to beg you not to start posting Chrono Cross spoilers this week. I'm only about 25-30 hours into the game, and for the first time in my life I've -only- been able to make time to play on the weekends. CS classes are a bitch.


Unfortunately this entire topic didn't pan out as well as I would have liked. There was no clear consensus on if CC should be discussed tomorrow, or any reasonable guidelines for when games should be discussed in general. Which leaves me no choice but to make a lame compromise decision: Chrono Cross will be discussed tomorrow, but no spoilers are allowed. Everybody who wants to talk about CC full-spoiler but hasn't finished the game has the rest of this weekend to do so, and then Monday we start talking about the ending and the ties to Chrono Trigger. And just to get you fired up about spoiler free CC discussion, here's one last letter.

Chrono Cross...
....was badly paced in terms of storyline, had a battle system that was far too simplistic for its own good (I ended up auto-allocating everything, and died only once in a battle), and was filled with utterly forgettable characters, a situation aggravated by the lousy Nobuteru Yuuki designs (this guy has failed me twice...first with the crappy Escaflowne movie redesigns, and now with this.)

I dunno if it was the fact that I was just finishing Vagrant Story or my expectations were unreasonably high or what, but Chrono Cross left me severely disappointed. I wish I'd enjoyed it like most everyone else seems to, but I ended up having more fun replaying Vanguard Bandits twice than the one time I played through CC.

In the end, the Summer of Adventure ended, and my two favorite titles were not Legend of Mana and CC as I had expected, but Vagrant Story and Threads of Fate...

Here's hoping Yuji Horii and Akira Toriyama come back for a third Chrono game, if there is one...

- Ichirou

I shouldn't go to any great lengths to rebut this, since I'm hoping it'll get some discussion going tomorrow. But I will say that I disagree with just about every specific point Ichirou mentions, although, oddly enough, I tend to agree somewhat with his conclusions.

Don't get me wrong, I think Chrono Cross was a kickass game, no question, but it wasn't quite the brilliance I had hoped for. And looking back, I also prefer Vagrant Story to CC, but that's probably more due to my own changing tastes in gaming and less to the merits of the games themselves. I do know that whatever shortcomings I see in CC weren't due to the lack of Horii and Toriyama, but I want to hear your takes on the matter tomorrow.

Closing Comments:

Just to recap, I'd like to hear whatever you want to talk about with regards to Chrono Cross, but no plot spoilers, or your letter just won't get printed no matter how good it is. No plot spoilers also means no discussion of whatever CC/CT links there might be, no theorizing about various characters, and no discussion of any puzzles or how to get hidden characters. That said, go nuts. Later.

-Chris Jones, still thinks the Serge's "Swallow" weapon is damn cool

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The graphics. The gameplay. The characters. The hairstyles. Send everything you want to about CC, except spoilers.
The FAQ will be back eventually, I guess...