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Chrono Cross: 6 Beginner Tips

Chrono Cross belongs to that strangest set of JRPGs that are neither instantly recognizable nor by any means niche. They came, they dominated the discourse for an appreciable length of time, and then they more or less vanished from the role-playing game community chatterbox. Being the sequel to the more perennially popular Chrono Trigger didn't help, but neither did the game's experimental mechanics.

Yet it's precisely those mechanics, alongside a timeless art style and some of the best music in the gaming industry, that makes Chrono Cross shine for its diehard fans. With The Radical Dreamers Edition making newfound waves in the El Nido Archipelego, it's high time we help newcomers defog the more esoteric aspects, so everyone can enjoy an all-time classic to its fullest.

6 In Plain Sight

The game's vibrant, painterly aesthetic is one of Chrono Cross' greatest strengths. In the original PlayStation version, which was just as colorful but understandably a bit fuzzier, hidden items tended to stand out more from their backgrounds. One consequence of unifying the setting's graphical design, however, is that it all kind of blends together to the point that these trinkets are no longer nearly so obvious.

We can't emphasize this enough: some of Chrono Cross' most important finds, including several key items, are found by pressing the confirm button all over the world. While locations won't often stand out in a literal sense, be on the lookout for stuff that at least stands out within the context of the area. A giant swordfish in Arni Village, for example. Or Poshul's doghouse. Or the Element shop lady's cart when she's eventually preoccupied elsewhere.

5 Don't Forget The Dog

There's an easy character to recruit right at the beginning of Chrono Cross who is, as it happens, just as easy to miss altogether. It's Poshul, the self-proclaimed wonder dog, and she'll tag along with Serge to Lizard Rock and beyond. But only if you help her out first.

Speaking of hidden items, then, visit Arni's cafe and investigate the bed just past the public area for a Heckran Bone. Poor Poshul's been looking all over the place for this thing. Locate her frantically jumping about in the big yard next to the chief's hut, open up your key items submenu, and offer the Heckran Bone. She'll be so happy, you'll get your first of a great many sidekicks right then and there.

4 The Elemental Truth

In our experience, there are two broad ways to deal with this game's non-boss encounters. If you're substantially stronger than the foes you're facing, feel free to simply bludgeon them into extinction.

For the rest of your time exploring El Nido, however, consider building up to your higher-level Element spells. This might sound like a no-brainer at first, but the way the game presents itself through battle tutorials, the only major issue with chaining physicals is the accuracy system (there's a good chance your hits will miss if you spam the strong attacks, thus ruining your combo).

In truth, it's simply vastly more effective to work toward area-of-effect spells for each of Chrono Cross' six primary colors, especially once you've figured out which enemies are weak to (and strong against) the various colors.

3 Don't Sweat The Small Stars

For the most part, you gain star levels from fighting bosses. Sometimes, Chrono Cross throws a curveball, and fights that don't necessarily feel like bosses also grant star levels. Star levels, in case you're unaware, are where you gain big stat boosts and the cap on gaining stats through regular fights resets.

The downside to gaining a star level is, if you haven't already maxed your potential stat growth between star levels, you've lost the chance to do so for the rest of your file. It's a bummer, but truly, it doesn't affect things much unless a character is missing roughly half or more of them. Otherwise, the differences are relatively negligible.

We mention this for two reasons, both of which pulling from a very specific word we just used: file. There will be times that star levels will get tossed at you in rapid succession. You're probably able to turn around and grind for a while each time, but knowing when this happens during your first playthrough is impossible without external help. Don't worry about it. Truly, enjoy the game, because there's plenty of reason to also enjoy a New Game Plus file, at which point you'll be strengthening your characters close to their ultimate maximum.

Furthermore, the amount of effort involved in grabbing every single party member and grinding them all to their star level max each time is frankly incredulous. Let characters you don't plan on using fall by the wayside, giving them their time to shine through New Game Plus runs instead.

2 Be A Terrible Person

Among Chrono Cross' enormous roster of playable characters, Glenn is handily one of the best. His strength is extraordinary, he's hardy enough to take a few hits, he's a Green Element (which is one of the best), and his sidequest unlocks an outstanding weapon.

Everybody loves Glenn. The trouble is, you have to be pretty terrible at one point in the game in order to recruit him. At about a quarter of the way into the main story, Kid will come down with an illness. The story diverges to an impressive degree depending on whether you elect to help her or trust she'll get better on her own, which is, you know, wow.

You don't have to do this on your first file. Like we said in the previous tip, New Game Plus is sublime. But keep in mind, Glenn really does make the rest of the game easier. Abandon Kid to her sickness and Glenn eventually joins.

1 Sprigg Sparingly

One of the more unorthodox characters to join Serge's squad is Sprigg. If she's encountered a foe, she can then use her Doppelgang ability in future battles to transform into an excellent approximation of it. This won't work for every regular enemy, and it will never apply to bosses, but that's still a good number of options. And you'll want some good ones if you're planning on recruiting Janice — see the link below for more on that matter.

But don't go overboard unless you really, really want to. Gaining the ability for Sprigg to Doppelgang into every possible monster will take you hours and hours. If you're a completionist, sure, go for it. If you aren't, bear in mind that only a handful are impressive enough to warrant any appreciable usage: Lagoonate, Crossbones, Total Chaos, Cybot, Wight Knight, Taurminator, and Gobledygook.

Armed with these seven, you'll be prepared for Janice's Grand Slam. More to the point, you'll have some fun elsewhere, though we can't say Sprigg compares especially well in combat to many other characters.

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