Double Agent
Time, Time, Time, see what's become of me... - September 26, 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. Now at midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Long column.

Full Chrono Cross and Trigger spoilers on all letters below.


Scythe == evil, except for Pratchett's Death
Well, I've never written into a column before, but Chrono Cross has so many debateable topics that I couldn't resist. So without doing a mini-review, where do I start?

The biggest thing that irks me about CC is the extremely uneven storytelling, especially in the end. You've probably heard this a ton of times already, but there are two things in particular. The Schala storyline isn't even revealed until the last 10 minutes before the final battle! It would have had more of an effect if its entirety didn't occur in all of 15 minutes. The other is Yamaneko being Wazuki, Serge's father, or at least 'possessing' him, for lack of a better word. Although it's a good background story for Yamaneko, it was rather... well.. impersonal. Not only do they wait until the tail-end of the game, but you don't even see a reaction from Serge, and they simply tossed it in the middle of Crono's 20+paragraph monologue. Again, this story also could have been done in more of an effective way.

In response to someone asking about 'Project Kid'... I think that was Belthasar's 'Project' and also a reference to the 'daughter-clone' thing. It might be explained by Lucca on the beach, but I can't remember for sure. It has something to do with him working on 'Project Kid' so that Kid would save Serge from drowning, and this whole sequence of events would occur leading up to saving Schala, and everything else.

One thing that has me curious is the Yamaneko/FATE storyline. In the end, was he/it really evil? FATE was trying to save humanity, but is said to be evil because of the extreme measures it took, Yamaneko needing Serge's physical body to even reach the Frozen Flame, and wanting control over time. Having a scythe and dark magic doesn't automatically give a character an evil alignment... right?

Two good points here. One is that Lynx's identity was overly forced, without question - I don't have any problem with Lynx being Serge's father, but they definitely should have put in more supporting structure. Serge showing some sort of curiosity at any point about his father would have been a good start. But other than that it was just extraneous noise.

The other point is the moral standpoint of the game itself - basically, it sucked. Long, tiresome rants about how humans are violent and environmentally destructive (which is of course Bad and Wrong) are lame enough, but the fact that Our Heroes didn't seem the least deterred by any of it made the whole thing totally pointless. Of course it's hard for Serge to say anything, but a long string of battles followed by a monologue about how evolution is hurtful is right up there with "fight for everlasting peace". In comparison, Mint's unabashed greed is much more attractive.

Riddle of the... something or other
Sent something in already, but Tuesday's column made me wanna say one more thing: there IS a specific hint regarding the order of the Elements in the game, although it's fairly hard to find. Once you've beaten the Yellow Dragon on Earth Dragon Isle (Home), return to the same place in Another World to find, instead of the dragon, a giant Criosphinx. Defend the first round and it'll ask you a riddle regarding the Elements (fairly simple riddle, too). Use the Element which answers the riddle to win each round. The order of the Elements which are the correct answers are the same as the order required to finish the Chrono Cross ending. Enjoy!


Somebody else pointed out that the transformations the seventh dragon goes through at the end of the game also corresponds to the elemental order, so I guess the clues were there if you were smart enough to follow them.

Which I wasn't. Bummer.

Blondes have more fun
Okay, I'm busy working on a design document, so I'll keep it short and sweet:

1. Can somebody please explain why the hell Schala went from Purple robe/Purple Hair to Blond/White Robe..? It would certainly help me sleep at night.

2. Does anybody else think Guile is to Magus what Luccia is to Lucca?

Richard "KZ" Knight

Yet another letter advanced the theory that the Japanese Chrono Trigger remake had a bit of dialog where Schala explained that her family's hair was naturally blonde, they just dyed it other colors. It sounds unlikely, but it would be the kind of detail they might have thrown in to try and tie the two games closer together. On the other hand, it's also good evidence that perhaps at one point the two games weren't meant to be sequels at all, and that the CT plot line was just shoehorned in to a story (Radical Dreamers) that didn't have all that much do with CT at all. Man, if this second guessing keeps up this is gonna annoy me nearly as much as the reasoning behind Xenogears' second disk.

I do agree about Luccia - for a long time, I thought she might be Lucca, but brainwashed or something.

I fear rabid fangirls
After reading the letters column today (9/26) I'm just brimming with righteous indignance. I played the Chrono Cross in the final battle all on my own, performing every single required element *ON MY OWN*, and the TimeDevourer never once cast a yellow element, or any element in the right place for that matter. All seven elements (counting the Chrono Cross), all on my own. So quit your whining!! Okay, now that I'm done spewing righteous fury... I happened to like the "rescue the princess" idea in Chrono Cross, and I know I'm not the only one who did. I was depressed, literally depressed, in CT when Schala just disappeared to god-knows-where and I couldn't do ANYTHING about it. I felt like crap. A big heap of steaming crap. But now, I get to save her, and make everything better, and I'm happy. Very happy. Just because it's been done, doesn't mean you can't do it again. Okay, yeah, the plot was confusing as hell - but compare it to Neon Genesis Evangelion (for those of you that watch anime). Wasn't *that* confusing? But it's still one of the most popular series, ever. I happen to like the fact that Chrono Cross is open-ended, because it lets you draw your own conclusions about the plot and what happened. That's right, folks, we get to, gasp, *think* about what happened! Crank up those brains and go for a ride! I'm getting very tired of games that spell everything out for you (even if it's spelled out interactively) and leave nothing for you to think about on your own. Yes, Chrono Cross goes too far with its loose ends. No, Chrono Cross is not for everybody, especially people who like nice packaged stories. But if you want to read a story, buy a book! Why am I defending Chrono Cross with such vitriol? Because it's the best RPG I've played since FFVII. (Don't talk to me about my FFVIII coasters. Just don't.) And I'm happy with it, by golly! Seeing as I have to pause for breath, I suppose I'll end this rabid-fangirl letter here.

-The Llama Goddess, who remains firm in her contention that Schala is NOT blonde.

Gonna keep this short, lest I incur some of that righteous indignation, but I think the argument here is not so much with the ending being complex and confusing, it's that the ending was pointlessly complex and confusing. The mere presence of philosophy and religion and long rants about the oneness of all things doesn't intrinsically make something deep, folks, it's how it gets used. There's nothing wrong with making the audience work a bit to figure things out, but when you throw so much at them that they assemble their own conclusions from something that may not even have had a conclusion to begin with, you're just jerking everybody around.

Ironically, I'd have nothing against a "rescue the princess" story if the hero was just in it for love or money throughout the whole game, but at some point it usually ends up that he's out to save the world from some ultimate darkness or something, and that gets old fast. If Square can show so much innovation in graphics and gameplay, I'd like to see them show some innovation in their plots and characters as well.

Back for more
Ok, you took offense at two of the problems I listed with the game. I figure I had better offer up some form of defense seeing as how my previous explanations were blown out GIA's collective wazoo..

Number one, the characters are ugly. I just can't understand why anyone would feel that they are cute or loveable? No offense, but Draggy looked like some ugly little bug as opposed to any kind of a dragon. Furthermore, when I implied that Draggy could have looked like Shen-Long, I never said he should be 1100 miles long thats just stupid. How could he have been hatched out of the egg and instantly become that damn long? I said look like Shen Long, not be Shen Long.

Number two, you are way off base with regards to the level up system. You may have liked it, but in my most humble of opinions it outright sucked. For me, part of playing RPG's is looking forward to building my characters level's. I want to become super-powerful, I want to spend hours on end building the strength of all of my characters. I like to go through some dungeons and wallop enemies, even bosses. This is just my personal preference, but so it is with many other people I know. You need to be involved with the devolpment of your charcter, this is what makes RPG's great. This is what RPG's are all about, playing out someone else's role. You put yourself in the shoes of the hero, you decide where to go (within reason), you decide what to do. If you want to build your levels then you should be able to do that as well. I really think Square has dropped the ball in regards to level-up systems in all their latest games. This is a core quality for RPG's and should remain such. Again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it...

Justin Bohlman

I thought Draggy looked pretty cool, especially since he didn't seem that far off from some recent dinosaur sketches that I've seen recently. (And he was a dinosaur, not a dragon.) But we can chalk it up to a difference in opinion.

As to your second point, have you considered that you might be playing the wrong kind of game if endless leveling up and role playing are what you're after? It's true that early RPGs had both those characteristics in spades, but there can be litte doubt that plot's become firmly entrenched in the driver's seat since FFVII at least. I'm not gonna get into an argument over if that's a good thing or not, but the fact of the matter is, that era has passed for console gaming, and I don't see it coming back. Maybe you want to look at some PC RPGs instead. And "If it ain't broke don't fix it" is completely wrongheaded for anything relating to computers - if people followed it, we'd still be playing Pong. The old, bad, Pong.

Besides, you can still get unbeliveably powerful in CC, it just involves fighting key battles over and over rather than fighting random battles over and over. You'ver just got to think different.

How it's done
About the Crono, Marle, and Lucca being 'not existing in this timeline' thing... well, obviously Lucca doesn't exist cause she kind of got 'knocked off' by Lynx. As for Crono and Marle --- I think in Radical Dreamers they ended up getting killed in a battle against Porre.

And there's an easy way to get the 'real' ending everytime. First - make sure everyone's element levels are up to 8. They don't have to be, it just helps. Then just defend 3 times which will fill your stamina up, and Lavos should attack. Switch to whichever character has the Chrono Cross (put it in the first level.. I don't know why you wouldn't) and have him cast Yellow, then the next cast Red, Green, Blue, Black, White... By this time you'll think "Oh no, our stamina is going to be all out and Lavos will attack." Au contraire, my friend, your stamina should be refilled to about 4 which will give you ample time to select the Chrono Cross and watch the final ending. Yay. Oh yeah.. make sure all the elements you cast are level one. I don't know why you'd use anything higher...


There's a difference between getting killed and not existing. And I'd be very surprised if Crono and Marle actually did die in Radical Dreamers, but I really have no firsthand evidence. Can anybody confirm or deny?

Must have Magus!
Chris Jones is quite alone on his lets not include Magus and just have Guile crap. Why? Well here goes...

1. It would help explain a couple of points that still hang from Chrono Trigger, mainly how does Frog return to human form if Magus lives?

2. It only makes sense that if you have Scala, you have to have her brother and not in just some portrait in the ending.

3. They could have done something really creative (which I hung on for some time until I cleared the game and there was no special reaction from Guile) that Guile may not be Magus but would be cocky little Janus sent to another time.

4. An actual direct link throughout the game of someone who actually might know what is going on. Problem with Chrono Cross is that you ran around without knowing what the hell is goin on for more than 80% of the game. I'd hate to say this but you can't have any plot twists qithout some background information. I remember in Chrono Trigger that Crono (though it should be spelled Chrono but Squaresoft could'nt do that because it was 5 letters max, just like Chrono Cross has Lynx instead of Yamenako) searched for stuff to do, Serge just had stuff happen to him. Besides, that was what made Magus cool. He knew more than Crono did in Chrono Trigger and tried so hard to fix things his way. He was cool not because he was a badguy but because he was a goodguy with a bad reputation.

5. Would have people like me stop nagging about the situation.

RPGr (it's spelled RPGr not RPGer ex. Role Playing Gamer vs. Role Playing Gameer)

PS. How in the world did a teenage purple haired Schala become a little girl with blond hair? Does Lavos have something for little girls with blond hair?

Frog had to kill Magus to return to human form, so it's having Magus is what messes that up, not not having him. Although if I remember right, the CT anime endings showed both a human Glenn and Magus, so I'm not sure what to think.

As for the rest, just sounds like wishful thinking to me. Sorry folks, but he's just not that important.

Must not have Magus!
I'd like to thank you, for your own sake, for not doing something stupid like calling Guile Magus or something like that. Because if you did, I would be forced to throw a fit at you. A long, wordy, referenced fit that would do my English teacher proud. At least, it would for a while, but when I throw my fits on this subject, they always seem to degenerate into, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GUILE ISN'T MAGUS!"

Um... yeah. Anyway, here, have a lollipop and a hug for not making me scream at you.

Oh, and also, thank you for not seeing what was so bloody interesting about Schala. I thought I was the only one.

Heh. You know, I kinda wanted you to say he was Magus so I could throw a fit. Oh, well.

Fits are fun!

And see, people agree with me about Magus! Some of them are even sane, believe it or not.

There are some things man was not meant to know
Hello Chris,

I'm confused a bit about CC, as it seems a ton of people are, so I'm just gonna start typing and hopefully some of this gets brought up in the column. First off I'm confused about Serge's 'death'/near-death ordeal on the beach, and you said you were fuzzy on it too so maybe we're screwed or maybe we can figure it out, but did Serge get poisoned by the Panther demon or did he drown? The story kind of mixed those together, unless I'm missing something, I mean obviously he did get attacked by the Panther because thats how Miguel ended up in the Dead Sea, but whats with the drowning detail? (I agree that Serge's time on the beach is what split the worlds in the first place... I guess I'm just confused about what really happened back then when Serge was little)

Also, I'm one that has to get 100% in my favorite RPGs, but I'm confused about New Game+, can I play through again, getting all the L7/summons/characters I missed before, use the Chrono Cross to get all my other characters back, and get up to 100 stars in the long run?

The Time Shifter, is that just to skip through long cut scenes/speeches, such as that god damn Rock Opera Scene, or is there more to it? I'm not complaining if that's all it is for... just wondering.

Am I a cheater if I used the Black Plate on Serge while fighting Dario?

Was there 2 Lynxs, one in each world, and one of them went off to the Dead Sea with dragoons and they all died??, that's what i got out of it... that's odd if it's right but I guess it fits... And if Lynx is Serge's dad there should've been some big emotional scene between the two about that, that made me throw chairs and thank the heavens for Square.

If it seems like I'm bitching about the game I'm definately not... this is the first game besides zelda64 since FF7 to make me want to rush home and keep playing after work

I'll probably think of more stuff once I send this letter


new nine inch nails cd, ps2, and zelda all in the same week??? good god

Not 100% sure here, but I think in both worlds, Serge was attacked by the panther but not killed. Serge and Leena's fathers both headed out into the storm to try and get him some medical attention, but in one world they ended up in Chronopolis, and in the other they just drowned. Could be wrong, but it makes sense in context with everything else. And there was only one Lynx, because Serge's father died in the alternate reality.

That's exactly what you can do with New Game+, although I'm not sure that you can't get more than 100 stars. And the Time Shifter's for getting through any part of the game faster or slower as you choose, whether it's a long dialog passage you've already seen, or a battle you particularly want to savor.

Isn't Serge pronounced "SIR-GUY"??? I think it is.

-Queen Godzilla

I think it's Sergei that's pronounced "sir-guy". Serge is more properly pronounced "sir-jay", but with a slight "z" sound on the "j". Regardless, "Surge" sounds cooler.

A chaotic girl for a chaotic story
Want my explanation of how Harle was created (or better yet, what she was created of....)? Well, you're getting it anyway... so you might as well put on a brave face there... It hit me as I was reading that letter asking about it; not that I hadn't tried to come up with an explanation before... BTW, I'm in the majority who thinks that some shared details were more than coincidental...Sooooo.....

The dragon was split into six dragons which were sealed by Fate; the same Fate that was a creation of Balthazar's and Lucca, and that was also monitoring time, and any developments related to Lavos; including the fact that Schala was somehow trapped with it...

When Schala comes into contact with Serge via his exposure to the Frozen Flame... which I believe to be nothing other than a seal for both Lavos and the dragons, as well as the core mechanism of Fate...(feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but it sure seems than way: when Fate 'dies', the Frozen Flame can be activated to release the dragons...) she creates a clone. A clone is nothing other than a second entity created by replicating genetical code that is identical to a first entity. Thus Kid is created by Schala by using her own genetic code...

Now, here's the part where Harle comes in: as Kid is created, Fate tries to correct this unexpected development by manipulating Serge's father, transforming him (though not overnight, we're told) into Linx, who will try and track down the clone to the princess. We are told that Harle is supposed to be created by the dragons to work against Fate's incarnation (Linx), by monitoring him and misleading him. Yet, we are also told that the dragon god/six dragons were rendered powerless by being split up by Fate. So when would they have had enough power to create a human being? They wouldn't... Unless, while Fate malfunctioned, they used the same genetic pattern Schala used to create their emissary, the Seventh Dragon... Harle. This would explain why Harle and Kid resemble each other (same genetic code), and why their fortunes are the same... The fortune being read is none other than Schala's... Properly fitting fortune, as she's as much a guardian to Lavos as she's its prisoner...

I wish I had come up with this sooner... thus cementing my stature as a raving lunatic (I really have though about this a little too much...). =)

Princess Jemmy

Sounds good, but there are a couple of problems here. First off, the game said that the Flame was hidden inside FATE to keep it away from the dragons - the Flame was a boon to the Dragons, not a bane, and as such it was in FATE's best interests to keep it away from its enemies, the Reptites.

Also, Harley's age is given as 18, and Kid is 16. That suggests to me that Kid was created as some sort of counterstrike to Harley, who was created as an agent to work against FATE. Of course, there are some chronological problems here, in that Kid seems to have been created as a companion for Serge, except that Serge didn't meet Schala until he was about 7, at which point Kid would have been alive for several years. Since Schala was outside of time for all of this, it still kinda makes sense, but I have to wonder how much any of this adds to the story as a whole.

This time, I've gone too far

First you don't like menus. Then you don't like Dragon Quest. Next up on your hit list was Lucky Dan/Mojo. Fine, piss off a few all you want. But when you diss on Magus, you've just crossed a line, a line that happens to be guarded by my IRON CLAD BOOT OF JUSTICE! Bend over Chris, and take one in the ol' bum, 'cause you just don't mess with Magus and his fans!

Justin Freeman

Bring it on, punk. No one kicks my ass, and it'll take more than some clunky metal shoe to silence me! I will not rest until all archaic RPG conventions are destroyed once and for all, and that includes mute, spikey haired heroes as well! You heard me, Crono, you're next! Fear my wrath, lightning boy.

Closing Comments:

It's late, kinda surly, gotta get some sleep. But for tomorrow, one more time with CC, I think. However the whole column won't be limited to spoiler letters, so if there's anything else you want to talk about, send it in. Later.

-Chris Jones, likes hazy shades of winter

Recent Columns  
Double Agent Archives
One more time, send me your Chrono Cross letters.
The FAQ will be back eventually, I guess...