that more than lives up to the original. Chrono Trigger
was one of the best RPG's ever made -- if you can find a copy, used, you'll probably pay upwards of $50, and it was new 6 or 7 years ago.
You return to the same world, starting with a dream sequence. Travelling with Kid, and some other guy, you are exploring a temple or ruin of some sort. After unlocking a simple puzzle, you wake up in your own bed soon afterwards. Amusingly enough, the first three lines after the screen goes black are the same lines Chrono's mom said to HIM in the beginning of Chrono Trigger.
Anyways, this game deals with parallel worlds, the second world being the one where something major has changed everyone's life. The same people, for the most part, but their lives have taken a drastically different path. I don't want to give any of it away, though, because it is a positively magical game. I have only played it two nights and I'm already 6 hours in, it is addictive, engaging, and best of all, actually FUN.
The battle system is somewhat reminiscent of an FF title, or Chrono Trigger, but new, at the same time. Replacing materia or guardian forces, or spells are elements. They are placed in an element grid, which grows in size two-dimensionally as you progress through the game. As you make a successful hit, you gain the number of element levels equal to the amount of stamina you spent on the hit. There are three levels of attack, the highest being the least likely to hit, but with each successful hit, the hit rate increases. Using any element costs you 7 stamina, usually putting you into the negative, and reduces your active element level by the level of the element used. You can boost an element's power by placing it higher on the grid, but of course, then it costs more to use. You may only use an element once per battle.
I haven't made it to summoning yet, but I have received Techs. The techs are special attacks locked in place on the element grid, the first one being the equivalent of a 3rd level element. Supposedly, like Chrono Trigger, there are Double Techs and Triple Techs (involving more of your characters).
Also like Chrono Trigger, you can SEE your enemies and try to run around them. No random battles popping out of nowhere.. Hoorah! And.. there really isn't experience. Your "growth level" is based on the toughest monster you've defeated.. so you can skip all the wimpy guys, kill the big guys, and end up almost in the same place as the person who fought everything. Also a big plus in my book.
Finally, let me say for the record, that SquareSoft is the GOD of computer animated characters. The full motion video clips are almost seamlessly slipped into the gameplay, like FF8 did very well, and are even MORE breathtaking. And the music was composed by the guy who did the soundtrack for Xenogears, among other things -- very very good stuff.
This game rules. I rarely RANT about games like this, but Chrono Cross has lived up to ALL the hype, and the high standards set by its predecessor. PLAY IT. You know you want to.