I’ve been thinking a lot about the Chrono series in light of the upcoming Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition. In a sense, Chrono is Square’s most peculiar success story. Not because either of the games performed poorly commercially, although it’s been said that Chrono Cross, in particular, had a somewhat harsh reception among fans in Japan.
Set that aside, however, and both games not only sold well but launched to mostly glowing reviews. More importantly, they’ve maintained their popularity for decades despite the second of a measly two games releasing 22 years ago and counting. Until this week, the last time the series gained any form of new content was in 2008 via Chrono Trigger DS. And even now, and don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked this thing exists, but it’s not like the Chrono Cross remaster is likely to add any new scenario content, right?
The good folks at Square Enix set themselves up for this perennial problem of theirs. If they wanted to nix Chrono from constant RPG fan conversations, they should not have released two wonderful video games. And now look at me. Three paragraphs for this week’s intro have not scratched the surface of my feelings about this series. Dang it, why did I even start? Gah! Look! RPGs coming this week!
Knightblade – April 4th (Windows)
Part old-school JRPG. Part farm sim. Part dungeon crawler. Knightblade‘s got a lot going for it, but I’m an easy enough please – all I need to see is a world map and my interest is piqued.
Pick from one of four classes and eight sprites, and then move into a quiet town to eke out a farmer’s living. But those underground labyrinths beneath the village happen to play host to the God of Death, as well as your family’s secret legacy. Wait, is my family’s secret legacy the God of Death? Because if so, I’ll happily change my surname. I’m not picky, you know, I just want to harvest radishes and find a nice Quintonette.
Shadow Fate – April 5th (Windows)
I liken Shadow Fate‘s development philosophy, as best I can tell through previews, to “a hearty mix of old-school old and new.” What the creators appear to have done here is to enhance an SNES-era RPG experience with certain PS2-era accouterments. HuntingSwan promises diverse biomes and an epic adventure, with retro-modern role-playing bells and whistles such as enemies being visible on-screen rather than random encounters. I remember when that was downright revolutionary.
What catches my eye the most is what might just be Shadow Fate‘s big gameplay twist: its EX bar. The developers liken this to the fighting game genre. As you build the bar, you can plan to unleash a string of special attacks that get boosted through the bar’s total depletion. A small area-of-effect attack might suddenly encompass the entire enemy group, for example. Neat!
Sigh of the Abyss: Shadow Bonds Prologue – April 7th (Windows)
There are days, my friends, when even little ol’ me feels like something of a Sigh of the Abyss. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like a Shadow Bonds, let alone a Prologue, but Rascal Devworks definitely gets me on that first bit.
Billed as a dark fantasy visual novel, and clearly the introductory prologue to a much more involved story en route further down the line, Sigh of the Abyss sports some truly gorgeous character art that’s drawing me in like nobody’s business.
Your conversation responses are filed under four categories in a rather BioWare-like vein. Except with more hardcore terms this time. Terms like sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, and choleric. That’s right! They’re the four humors. And let me tell you, I’m amused.
Chinatown Detective Agency – April 7th (Switch, XB1, XSX, Windows, macOS)
I don’t use this phrase often, so pray forgive my indulgence. This game looks dope.
Chinatown Detective Agency is coming to more than just computers, and I couldn’t be happier. Not that I hate computers or anything. But this seems like the sort of title that could suit bus rides with the Switch just dandy.
“What are you playing?” I ask the gal behind me. “New Pokémon Snap,” she answers sheepishly, curious why a total stranger would interact with her on public transportation, which, honestly, fair. “Yeah? Well, I’m playing a cybernoir point-and-click adventure written by people who describe an empty bank balance as hanging over me like a Sword of Damocles.”
“Wow,” imaginary lady replies. “That sounds interesting.” She would then proceed to purchase Chinatown Detective Agency herself; alas, the Wi-Fi on buses still sucks in 2022.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition – April 7th (PS4, Switch, XB1, Windows)
Neither do I, Kid. Neither do I.
But I do believe in something like “malleable destiny.” The relentless outpouring of affection that fans of Chrono Cross have held in our hearts for decades has finally come to Square Enix’s full attention.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition not only brilliantly remasters the original game’s visuals and refines its soundtrack quality to suit modern hardware, but it packs in the kind of Square Enix remaster goodie bag we’ve come to expect – there’s an option to fast-forward, an instant stat boost option for those who wish to breeze through the story that much more swiftly, and even an option to disable battles. (Yes, your enemies on the field will slam into you repeatedly, no doubt dumbfounded as to why nothing has happened.)
There’s more. As its name sort of implies, The Radical Dreamers Edition packages in the old Japan-only visual novel, Radical Dreamers, that came out prior to Chrono Cross and tells a similar, yet profoundly different, tale. A fan translation has existed for years, but this marks the first official release of the game. It’s a brand-new translation, too!
Also Coming This Week
Portsportsportsportsportsportsports. <–I wonder what that does to our site’s SEO ranking. But, yes. Ports are coming this week. There must always be a port-of-call. Or something. I honestly have zero clue what is happening with this paragraph.
Replica – April 5th (PS4, XB1)
“The insane experience of peeping into someone’s private life through a cellphone will transform you into the state’s greatest patriot.” That’s publisher Somi’s pitch for Replica, an interactive visual novel formerly for PCs and PCs only, now spreading its voyeuristic wings to Sony and Microsoft architecture. A lot of folks really like this one, and it’s priced quite aggressively, so drop a few bucks if you’re good and piqued!
Legal Dungeon – April 5th (PS4, XB1)
Replica isn’t the only one of Somi’s titles making its way to PS4 and Xbox One this week. Released in 2019 on Steam, Legal Dungeon is a police investigation visual novel with a minimalistic visual approach and some lo-fi beats to accompany your investigating. While the game’s 14 potential endings intrigues me, the phrase “Weigh the value of people’s lives to unlock all the collectables” makes me more than a little concerned about trading the lives and freedoms of (admittedly virtual) people for digital collectables.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter – April 5th (Switch)
Frogware’s Sherlock Holmes series has adapted many classic tales in the life and times of the greatest detective who never did live, and the results have been mixed. Some entries are praised to the heavens. Others, not so much. The Devil’s Daughter belongs to that latter group, all fives and sixes and sevens in the review rounds. But if you’re looking for some more Switch mysteries, I bet there’s still some fun to be found.
Demeo: PC Edition – April 7th (Windows)
Demeo tilted tabletop heads when its fun d20-esque antics popped up on virtual reality headsets. Now, Resolution Games is bringing the heat to Steam for people without VR. Gather, ye adventurers, and role-play.
What’s the most niche JRPG you’ve ever played? Just a random thought to end things with this time. The question popped into my head a few hours ago, and I’ve been trying to piece together the answer since. I don’t think Sword of Vermilion would be it, since it showed up on Japan’s version of the Sega Genesis Mini. That means it has more notoriety over there than I’ve ever found here, right? Plus, it was produced by Yu Suzuki. You know, Shenmue-san!
Legend of Legaia, maybe? Nah, that has a sequel. It can’t possibly be a game with a sequel. Jade Cocoon? Wait, so does that. Thousand Arms? Yeah. Maybe Thousand Arms. Heck, I’m gonna remember something truly obscure in a few days and kick myself. Oh well.