God, where do you even begin with Chrono Cross?
It’s not as bad as some people claim. It’s not as good as some people claim. (Gamespot gave it a perfect 10 back in the day!) It’s pretty much the definitive example of dichotomy in video games.
On the good side, there’s an insanely diverse cast of characters. Yasunori Mitsuda returned to do the soundtrack, as he had for most of Chrono Trigger. The game introduced a unique battle system with several surprising elements, like the ability to run from any fight and the stamina bar. The core group — Serge, Kid, Lynx, Harle, etc. — are fantastic and receive great development from start to finish.
The story is a convoluted mess whose ties to Chrono Trigger would have been better left untouched. You can run from the final battle. There’s no leveling system, so you’re stuck with fixed progression and can’t really do much if a boss fight is difficult. And even though there are 45 characters, about 30 of them might as well not exist because they’re forgettable and unimportant.
Luckily, because Mitsuda was around for both projects, the music isn’t an issue. Take “Time’s Scar,” the title theme. Mitsuda has some new toys to play with thanks to the next generation of systems, and most of them are on display here. A slower pan flute opening that tugs at your heart strings, with guitar being played by the composer of Xenogears. An abrupt tempo change and some insistent strings. A driving bass line. Somehow this theme manages to be both serene and uplifting at the same time.
When I first picked up Chrono Cross, as the follow-up to my #1 game of all-time, Chrono Trigger, and this theme hit? I was excited. I was on board. It’s a shame that not everything could meet this level of quality. If anything, I feel like being saddled with the Chrono title is part of what made some gamers resent Cross — they felt like a sequel should include certain elements, and were found wanting. Whether that assessment is fair or not is a discussion for another time. Instead, just listen to the theme again. It’s that good.
Chrono Cross — Time’s Scar
Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.
One thought on “Music to My Ears: Time’s Scar”
The Chrono Cross soundtrack is just, amazing… I listen to it all the time! Mitsuda did some amazing work, his soundtrack definitely elevates the game which is a mess for the reasons you laid out.