In Chrono Cross, you can recruit up to 45 different characters to Serge’s cause. Next to games like Suikoden and Suikoden II, this is a trifle number, but pretty impressive when you consider that there were only seven playable characters in Chrono Trigger–Crono, Marle, Lucca, Robo, Ayla, Frog, and Magus. It’s like the developers saw how much people enjoyed building a dream-team and took that concept to the max. Unfortunately, more does not always equal better, and while your options for team variety are certainly enhanced, they are not enhanced wildly.
Basically, when it comes to playable characters, you are selecting an Innate color. This is a color that each character has, which dictates what type of special Elements they use, as well as what their strengths and weaknesses are. The colors go as follows: black, white, green, yellow, blue, and red. I found myself trying to keep my party of three all mixed, each their own unique color, and when Lynx was in control, I desperately needed someone with an Innate color of white/green to keep the healing and reviving up. Every character can also equip armor, three accessories, and a weapon tied to their personality, such as Korcha using a fishing pole, a pick for Nikki’s electric guitar, and a magic rod for Razzly.
Clearly, the stand-out stars in Chrono Cross are Serge, Kid, Lynx, and Harle. They are the most recognizable and play vital parts in the main plot, despite how little sense it actually makes. Everyone else is, and I’m sorry to say this, dismissible. They are blank canvasses–kind of just like our leading lad, the voiceless Serge–for you to create a connection with in your own special way. I only grew attached to Fargo and Nikki and Karsh because I made the effort, enhancing the small bits of scene they actually got by doing voices and making jokes and pretending they felt emotions. Otherwise, they speak their one-liners that always added nothing to the conversation and do their part in battle.
Speaking of conversation, let’s talk about talking. It is bonkers, from Home World to Alternate World. Everyone has an accent of some kind, and some are truly zanier than others. A breakdown:
- “Normal”: Plain old English, with correct spelling and grammar.
- “Proper English”: This uses no contractions and tends to use longer words.
- “Casual English”: Plain old English, but more laidback, with words like “ain’t” and “gonna”. Kid fancies this.
- “Pidgin English”: Not very well-spoken English; for example, tends to forget articles like “the” and “a”.
- “Guldovian”: Casual English, but every time someone says “you” (like “I’m gonna get you”) they turn it into a “CHA” (“I’m gonna getCHA!”).
- “French”: Harle speaks with an exaggerated French accent, using “ze” instead of “the” and so on.
- “ALL CAPS”: SOME CHARACTERS LIKE KARSH ENJOYING SHOUTING EVERYTHING AT YOU.
- “Weird”: Starky likes to add extra vowels to words, Poshul, the talking purple dog, has a lisp, Peppor and Solt speak in condiment-themed puns, and…the Beebas.
For extra enjoyment, try reading most of anyone’s dialogue in a bad Scottish accent. You won’t feel out of place at all, I swear.
And now, some more on Solt and Peppor, the tutorial twins. These two bumbling Acacia Dragoons accompany Karsh early on in Chrono Cross, but it’s obvious from the get-go that they have no idea what they’re doing. In the other world, they have amnesia and joined Sneff’s family show. When you first encounter them (and a few more times thereafter), they basically teach you a bit about the battle system, how to use Elements, and so on. It’s quite fun, especially because they are so hapless and rely a lot on puns. Alas, that’s all they do, and then you never really get to interact with them later on or see what happens to them. As a younger gamer, I always dreamed of a team made up of Serge, Solt, and Peppor–but it could never be.
For the most part, I used Serge, Kid, and Greco, and when the time came to switch to Lynx, I mained Fargo and Harle. Never got into Sprigg’s special ability of turning into monsters. After Serge is born anew, I focused solely on a team made up of him, Fargo, and Riddel until the final boss fell. Captain Fargo has some wicked blue attacks, as well as the ability to steal items from enemies, and Riddel, the Lady of Viper Manor, turned out to be quite the potent healer during the final few boss fights. In truth, I could have used a different Innate blue and white character in their place and would have been just fine, experiencing the last third of the game no differently.
It certainly is a strange bunch of colorful hooligans, with a few memorable standouts, but I think Squaresoft just wanted something to brag about, and 45 playable characters in an upcoming RPG sure fills that slot, but it’s a shame that most of them don’t really matter. I’d have rather seen more development with Serge, Kid, and Harle, or fleshed out a select few from the additional cast members, but we could totally lose the talking turnip, the clown skeleton, and the mushroom man and be a better Chrono Cross for it.