Chrono Cross on Switch – Quick Thoughts

Long story short, I played a crap ton of Chrono Cross when it came out. Like 100% playthroughs multiple times type of time. The only other RPG that fits into this category is Final Fantasy 10. I take no issue with stating that I tried emulation, but the main point of issue was the video resolution issues between the gameplay and the menu… for some reason it resized and played havoc with my displays. When I learned it was coming to the Switch (other platforms too, but honestly, this is best suited to mobile space), I picked it up on launch.

At a really quick level, the game sports updated visuals that work most of the time. There’s clearly a fair chunk of AI scaling applied, which does mean some blur shows up often enough, and makes the character sprites “pop” more than I recall. You also get access to the fast forward option that only NG+ gave prior, which has a very marginal amount of use. Auto-battle is there too, but it’s not a whole lot of use because you can generally avoid fights you don’t want to pick.

At it’s core, the rest of the game is mostly untouched. The same characters, skills, balance, abilities and so on are present. This is a visual remaster, not a remake in any sense. Which brings me to a very interesting part of my experience.

It would appear that the original engine is still the foundation for the game, including visual rendering. The has an effect that there are framerate issues, if not outright stalling of the game. This typically only happens as the world transitions from map to battle, but it also happens when certain spell effects occur in battle. The net effect is that the game performs worse than the original, and absolutely worse than any emulated version I have played. It’s more than playable, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also extremely jarring.

Square-Enix has a horrendous track record when it comes to milking older games. It’s a strange path, where they are premium priced and generally perform worse than emulated versions (not to mention the recently released pixel versions CUT content previously released). Say what you will about Skyrim being on every device made, but the game works.

I’m sure there will be optimization along the path here, but this also gives a tremendous argument against Nintendo’s model for monetizing nostalgia (including their subscription service). The modding community is delivering some crazy quality and ease of use options… and if the Steam Deck or similar products can reach more of the market, that will eat into this world very quickly.

This nit picking aside, the game is still as good, and as confusing, as it was when it launched in 1999. It won’t go on sale for the Switch, nothing ever does, so maybe wait a bit until they patch in performance issues.

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