Double Agent
Across Chronos - September 25, 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 finished the program, but I still want a pass by reference. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Not much to talk about except Cross, which is exhaustively covered below. But let me get this out of the way: Full Chrono Cross and Trigger spoilers on all letters below!

Also AK wanted me to mention that he isn't married, and very much in play. So if you're an attractive single woman aged 18 or older who enjoys RPGs and letters columns... well, send me a letter, and I'll forward at least some of them over to AK.



Just one thing

I only want to know ONE thing. ARE THEY DEAD!?!? When you go to the final battle, if you talk to Lucca with Kid in your party, she says this; "I'm sorry we caused you so much pain, Kid. You see, we don't exist in this timestream anymore."

What the heck is that? Did Yamenko go back and kill them all...or did they escape to another time? Or...what?

Now, here's my theory. They are still alive. I know this because of the events that happened in Chronopolis. Harle was afraid of Kid, afriad of what she could do if she touched the frozen flame? Why? Becuase anyone who touched it could change anything their heart wanted. And kid wanted Lucca back. So, she changed the past, but she caused a paradox. How could she get back to this point in time without Lucca perishing/leaving? So, she got stuck in her now defunct past. Kid could have "wished" her away, in a Dragonballish way.

At least...that could be one theory.


Wow. I don't remember that line at all, and I talked to Lucca at least twice with Kid in my party.

Regardless, I don't see why they'd be gone one way or another. Regardless of if Lavos was defeated or not, Crono (hah! spelled it right for once!) and company would still be around. In fact, a major plot point of the game was that so much was going wrong because of counterstrikes against Crono's actions, so I'm inclined to say they weren't written out of existence somewhere.

Of course, that's not to say that they all didn't meet horrible, violent deaths at some point in time (as is implied by what happened to Lucca and the CT remake endings), but at least they were actually around to experience said horrible, violent deaths.

Very telling
Your name is Jonas,

Sorry, I couldn't help but add one little chip to the CC pool.

I don't see many people complaining about this, but it seems that Cross' plot could've been a hell of a lot better if the writers had taken a creative writing class, and learned about the basic concept of "Telling vs. Showing." It's bad to simply say, this happened, this happened, this meant this, especailly when revealing several such revelations in a row, right before the last boss. I don't want to get into spoilers, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Almost every plot twist was simply explained to you after the fact. I think I would have been much more involved with the story had they allowed the player to participate in these past events, as they did with the Orphanage scene. That was one of the few moments when I truly cared about the charactors.

All in all, the game just didn't have a lot of "moments" (you know, the parts that make you happy to be an RPGer, like the cliff scene in FF6). Had they allowed you to experience more of the plot, the game would have had more pull. Instead, the game has a very peacefull and lazy pace, while the major plot events happen outside of your perception. Then you suddenly reach the end and the designers went "DAMN!!! We forgot to explain the plot!! Ah, hell with it, will just explain everything that happened in a few long winded text boxes."

Overall I loved the game, but I think it was more due to the asthetics, the battle system, and its overall charm. This design team is odd because CC and Xenogears are horribly flawed games, and they're still two of my favorites. They took two games that could have been the best video games ever, and ruined them to the point where they were only two of the best RPG's on the Playstation. Telling vs. showing was what killed Chrono Cross. Don't get me started on Xenogears.


P.S. My friend is convinced that Marle is also a clone of Scala because the dress that she wears at the end looks like Marle's, and because they both have blonde hair. Please tell him that he is an idiot. Thank you.

Letters have been sent advancing the Crono & Marle == Serge & Kid theory before, but I don't buy it. In fact, one of the things I liked so much about CC was that the writers resisted the urge to make everybody related to everyone else - Serge plays much better if he's just some random kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or something.

I agree with you about the show vs. tell complaint, but I think you've got to keep in mind that these are RPGs we're talking about here. In fact, I can't think of too many RPGs that don't tell more than they should... except of course for the Final Fantasy endings, and then everybody complains that things are "too vague". Fact of the matter is, I think we're going to be stuck with long expository passages of dialog as long as games continue to be centered around saving the world from the sf/fantasy device of the month, which is to say, for some time to come.

Roy G Biv - NOT!
Hey Chris,

How the hell do I go about setting up the 6 elements (yellow, red, green, blue, black, white) during the final battle with Time Devourer so that I can use the Chrono Cross element [to get the 'real' ending]? I've tried at least twenty times, and each time, Time Devourer casts some random-ass element that messes up my sequence--NEVER conincidentally the next one I need, no, that would be too much to ask. All I want is my ending...that's it too much to ask? Why did Square have to bury the good ending under this annoying little puzzle?

Do you have any thoughts? Have you been able to set up the elements in order and call the Chrono Cross yourself?

Thanks bro,

I think everyone inclined to read this column knows this by now, but you get a different, longer, "better" ending if you can save Schala rather than just killing off the Schala/Lavos hybrid. This is done by casting magic in the above mentioned order (yellow, red, green, blue, black, white) followed by the Chrono Cross spell. And don't worry if you mess it up the first time, because casting the Chrono Cross regenerates all your spells, including the Cross itself.

I didn't have too much problem doing this myself. One thing that should be pointed out is that Lavos/Schala goes through a period at the beginning where it only casts green spells. I don't know if you can wait through this sequence or if you have to beat the Devourer up a bit first, but after a while it'll start to cast other types of spells.

And this is where my experience starts to diverge with yours, because I think Schala not only casts spells that complement the pattern you're trying to set down, but she'll actually form the pattern herself if you don't cast anything. I've only gone through it once, but Schala helpfully tacked a black spell on to my existing spells, meaning it was easy to call white and the CC and get the good ending. If this isn't happening for you I don't know what to tell you.

I'm also a little ticked off by this ending, but not for the puzzle itself - I think it's kinda cool the way it plays with your "beat the crap out of the final boss" instincts and forces you to think a bit to get the good ending. I just thought the evidence leading up to the correct solution was a bit weak. There's a bit of talk about "melody" and "harmony" leading up to the final fight, and the correct sequence of tones and colors is played in the room with the large crystals prior to the fight with the 7th dragon. Still, it would have been nice for somebody to acknowledge that there was a specific sequence you should be looking for - not giving away what the sequence is, but just letting you know that it is out there. I tried several times to use all colors followed by the CC to no avail, until I got on and found the right sequence. Ah well. I still liked it better than CT's final fight.

Kill the wabbit, kill the... wait, that's not right...
Hey Chris,

Yesterday in AK's column someone asked about the music coming from an FFVII Commercial. There were three commercials, two of them having Uematsu music, and one of them with music from Gotterdammerung, an opera by Wagner. The latter is probably what "The Grand Finale" heard in the Mystery Men trailer.

So now that I've provided that brief nugget of info, could you please tell me where I can get the Uematsu piece on CD?

---Anthony James Larrea

No clue... although if I remember AK's column right, it was never released outside the commercial itself. But if anybody out there can provide this info, please send something in.

Well, at least it wasn't an angel
So I can finally talk about Chrono Cross--whoopee! Unfortunately, I finished the game about two and a half weeks ago, so my memory ain't so good right now regarding the game. But I did really like the way CT and CC were tied together through things such as the Dead Sea (which was one of the coolest RPG devices ever created). I'll not soon forget the feeling I had (that vague, indescript feeling) when I saw Nadia's Bell in the ruined future dimensional stratum.

One issue I do have, however. As a CT veteran, I knew right away that Lynx wouldn't be the final villain, and that I'd get to play as Lynx (which was cool). But out of the blue here comes Lavos again. Can we say deus ex machina? I'm trying hard to remember why exactly we had to fight Lavos again. I understand the concept of rescuing Schala with the Chrono Cross (which was HARD) but it that what the whole game was geared around? Did we jsut go through all these troubles just to discover our true mission in the final hour of the game? Where's the villain we gain to hate? It brings back images of FFIV, where Zeromus doesn't even rear its head until the last two hours of the game.

Don't get me wrong, CC featured a fantastic story but I think it came up a little bit short in the end.

-- Justin Toon, being long-winded

Welcome to the world of Square games, my friend. Personally I was kinda ticked off because CC's existing background material was rich enough to provide a great final boss/theme on it's own. There was no need to drag Schala back into it (and frankly, I never found her that interesting a character to begin with.) After everything else he's gone through, Serge has to go rescue some lost princess? Come on, I thought we outgrew that with the original Zelda...

I think he's Ashley Riot in disguise
Hey Agent,

"How's the weather." A little question for you -- what's your take on the whole Magus / Guile issue?

For those who don't know, in Radical Dreamers, there was a character in place of Guile who looked a lot like Guile and was named Magil, and who, towards the end of the game, revealed himself to be Magus, who was searching for Schala. This ties into the whole letter scene in Luccia's lab. Here's the deal -- the letter scene was also in Radical Dreamers. However, Square will point out that even though Guile is based on Magil, Guile is Guile, and NOT Magus. That was an element of the game which they chose to leave out. However, they felt the letter scene was still fitting for the game, so left that one in there.

Now, in an interview, Square developers who worked on CC commented that the reason they used Guile rather than Magil was because they couldn't see themselves giving the whole Magus tie-in proper treatment without adding a good 30 hours to the game, which was just too much. Rather than butcher it, they thought they'd leave it completely out (who knows, maybe we'll see that in a third Chrono game). This, of course, upset some "CT H4RDC0R3!" fans who wanted to see Magus again so badly.

So what's your take? Good decision? Bad decision?

Jeremy Steimel

The weather is overcast, rainy, windy, and about 50. In other words, great stuff.

Again, I never found the Magus/Schala subplot that compelling to begin with, so I don't much miss having Magus-as-Magus as part of the the game. (And in a way, this makes me incredibly avant guarde, because I was burned out on "RPG badasses with long white hair" well before Sepiroth.) So I'm cool with Guile being Guile. And like you say - if Magus is still wandering around, then maybe we can get a third game that tells us what happened with the Masamune and Guardia kingdom in 1005.

Just pay for the damn thing already...
As an employee of Babbage's I thought it necessary to share my knowledge as to why these retailers are encourageing people to pay their systems off in advance. Being on the inside sure is great sometimes.

Anyway, sony has already announced that they have a very limited quantity on PS2's to ship on launch date. I think it was about a million or so. Now consider the fact that all those units have to go out to all the retailers that sell video games. Babbages, EB, K-b Toys Toys-r-us and more i cant even think of right now. Then those companies have to send those units out to all of their stores, nationwide. And then there's all those warehouses that will need some for those internet sites. I mean it's pretty obvious that the demand for this thing if exceeding the supply. And to tell you the truth, Babbages, the wonderful lot of people that they are, could care less if YOU got a system or not. They just want you hard earned sweat money. So this is how it works. You pay for your system in full by launch date, then we guarentee it, even if you cannot come and pick it up within the initial 24 hr pickup period we give all our reservation customers. If you dont have it paid for in full, and you dont pick it up within the first 24 hrs. that we get it into the store, we have to sell it to someone else. Simple as that. What happens then is we give it to someone who is on the second wave shipment waiting list and they get bumped up to the first wave again only if they have theirs paid in full. I know it sucks but hey. These systems technically belong to Babbages and EB so i guess they can do whatever they want with them right? THe nice thing is that you don't have to pay for your system all at once though. If you wanna put down 20 dollars here and 50 dollars there, you can. Do the layaway thing. If that's still an issue, then maybe you really need to think about if it's worth having it at all...


Standing by his theory that Serge is really Magus. C'mon, you know it's true.

Sounds reasonable - Sony has built up a huge amount of hype surrounding the PS2, and now it's calling the shots to all the salivating gamers out there who think the PS2 is the must-have item of the year. In a way I see this as payback for all the people who wouldn't buy a Dreamcast because "the PS2 is so much better and it's right around the corner." Yeah, it is... if you can afford it, if you're one of the lucky million, and if you don't mind waiting another couple of months for some good games to come out.

I'm sorry to sound so gleeful about this, but the more I think about it, the less I care about the PS2, prior to MGS2's release. While everybody else is killing themselves trying to justify getting a $300 DVD player without a good remote, I'll be playing Skies of Arcadia and Grandia II, thanks all the same.

Problems... or are they?
Chrono Cross. For the most part, this was a good game. However, like most of Square's recent crop of games, there are some problems.

1. Characters. Way too many, you are only able to use 3 at any one time, so why did you get the ungodly number of 40+ (sorry, I forgot the exact count)? Furthermore, the majority of the characters were just out and out ugly. Mojo, FunGuy, NeoFio, Poshul, Draggy, Marcy (who looked like some evil KISS offspring) and on and on. It seems to me that Square should have tried to get Akira Toriyama to do the characters (as well as dropping the number). Some people may not like Akira toriyama's style, but I think we can all agree he would have done all the characters better. Imagine Draggy looking like Shen Long.

2. Ending(?). Ok, I may not be the best at RPG's, but I know I don't horribly suck. So why did I not get an ending to the game? After I beat the last boss (or rather, I think I did) the game went straight into ending credits. What the hell? I was so disillusioned that I just set the game aside and have not touched it since. Chrono Cross had a good (albeit mighty weird) story that I needed closure too. I didn't even get a bad ending, I just got no ending at all.

3. Level Up. Stars? Stars?!? The premise is unique but it makes fighting regular enemies next to useless. Which brings me to FFVIII and PE2. The level up systems in these games have also been, err, unique. Square has been 'experimenting' lately and all of their ideas have horribly sucked. This brings me to the old adage of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.On the whole, the game was pretty good. Most other people I know who played the game got some form of ending so as far as I know my experience is wholly unique yet completely revolting. Ah well, I suppose it's time to whip myself into a FFIX frenzy...

Justin Bohlman

If you've read the above letters, you probably know by now that you didn't get the whole picture with the ending you saw. Still, that only addresses one of your complaints, and I still find the other two (one in particular) pretty off base.

There are too many characters, I can't argue that... but the thing is, everybody seems to have differing opinions on which ones should be cut. My Mojo-phobia is well known by now, but I liked Draggy (and that thing could kick ass). At the very least, I liked the way Draggy looked, and wouldn't want to see him drawn Toriyama's "1100-mile-long-tail" dragon style. Giving a more Chinese look to his dragons is one thing, but that's just ridiculous.

And you're just dead wrong about the battle system. Of course regular enemy battles were next to useless - that was the whole point! It was so freaking great that every battle in the game either served a point, or was an optional bonus that you chose to enter. If nothing else, then Square deserves praise from every gamer on earth for realizing that just because DQ1 and FF1 had lots of random, exp-building battles, not every game from now until Doomsday has to follow suit. I want to enjoy my battles, and having far fewer of them makes that much more likely.

And lastly, some more questions
Hey Chris!

Alright, back to Chrono Cross. I'll start of with a list of points of unclarity and contention. Here goes!

1. Where the hell did the Frozen Flame come from? Not only is it a poorly conceived artifact (what does it do? You can do everything with it! It is a wishing machine!), its history is never explained either. I mean , every good artifact must have a background, otherwise it's just a useless plot gimmick.

2. Harle was the seventh dragon, and was "produced" by the six other dragons, locked up by Fate. How did they create her? By using the oh-so-conveniently omnipotent Frozen Flame?

3. Before the story took place, Serge almost drowned. He was saved by Schala in one world, but not the other. Why? And how?

4. What's the overtly implied connection between Harle and Kid (same fortunes, same facial characteristics)?

5. Why is Fate's base called "Project Kid"?

6. Kid is a manifestation of Schala. But how did she end up in the world and time the game takes place, close to where Lucca lives, no less?

I really don't have any satisfactory answers to most of these questions, and that's what bugs me most about htis game. I mean, I loved Xenogears' and Final Fantasy VII's ambiguity, because I could come up with a theory that was, to me, close enough to being conclusive. But this game just doesn't give me enough to work with.

A lot of these questions are discussed on (terrageist's story guide) and I agree with the theories for questions 2 and 4 : Harle was created in the image of Schala too, because she is actually the dragons' mistress (um, female master, I mean), being part of the Time Devourer and all. But because she's created by the dragons she gets the look of a beast, and Kid gets the look of a beauty because she's created by Schala.

Right, what do you think, Chris?

Sir Farren, unboggling his mind

1. It was part of Lavos, and as such contained a lot of energy which could do amazing things if properly directed. No problems there.

2. The dragons, by all accounts, were hooked in to nature in some very deep, primal way, and were the products of an extremely advanced civilization (the Reptites) to boot. It doesn't strain my credibility that they could put together a person at will.

3. I'm fuzzier on this, but I think that Serge surviving or not surviving was what split the worlds in two to begin with. His resurrection by Lucca's computer virus was what created the second world... and as Lucca said at the beach, he really was supposed to die.

4. I don't think there's any connection between Harle and Kid, but I'm probably in the minority on this one.

5. Dunno... but I thought it was pretty damn cool when I read the sign.

6. Because that's where Schala created her. Schala's outside the timestream, so presumably this isn't too difficult.

As to your theory, I simply don't know - but the idea of two different parts of Schala embodied in two different clones does have a certain appeal to it, especially considering that both halves are antagonistic to each other. More than that, I'll let you guys decide.

Closing Comments:

Plenty of discussion left in this topic, so send me whatever you got. That's all for now. Later.

-Chris Jones, pronounces Serge as "Surge" in his head

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