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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 00:53:54     -    Chrono Cross (PS)

    Gamelog #5 Session #2 for CMPS 20
    Start Time: 3:00 pm
    End Time: 5:00 pm
    Assignment due 3/5/08

    GAMEPLAY

    Emotionally, this game is very satisfying. In addition to not using all standard archetypes for game characters, much of the content is pleasing to the senses. As I mentioned before, the secluded beach really relaxes me. The beach has an atmosphere not used frequently in games; when it is, it often fails to be done well enough to produce the desired effect. Though the cutscene visuals are often not wonderful, they're usually pretty good and they conform to a much better standard than does Chrono Trigger, this game's predecessor. The game's art is semi-realistic and pretty stylized, but the art is done purposefully and has a bright or dark color scheme as appropriate. I really like this game's art style and creative assets.

    An additional complication to the battle mechanic is that you can execute different percentage attacks. Depending upon the percentage, which typically varies from 60 to 99 percentage points, you may attack more or less successfully with less or more damage dealt, respectively. Fortunately, it sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. In other words, this complicated-sounding addition makes the game more fun and interesting. I'm glad there are more options in this game than in Chrono Trigger.

    This game was very fun to play. The battle mechanic is fun, and there is also a puzzle element to the gameplay that lends itself well to this RPG. The story was absorbing enough that I could probably tell it enthusiastically with lots of expression. Tales of Symphonia is an RPG, but its story is hugely complex and confusing. The story in Chrono Cross, in contrast, is simple but satisfying. I like the story, gameplay, and characters much more in this game than in Tales of Symphonia or in Chrono Trigger.

    The game was interesting to play. I had a few frustrations, despite my overall enjoyment of this game. One major frustration was technical difficulty/unfamiliarity, as mentioned previously. Another frustration that I didn't have personally was that the game is relatively slow-paced. I thought that Chrono Cross didn't drag at all and that the pacing was deliberate. However, it's not difficult for me to understand the general frustration some people have about these aspects.

    This game's flow was superb. The pacing was very good, not too fast or too slow. Character development in-game wasn't rushed. As compared to Chrono Trigger, you really care about Kid when she gets hurt in Chrono Cross, unlike how much you cared about Marle in Chrono Trigger when she vanishes. In Chrono Trigger, that story arc had a major plot hole as far as what Crono's motivations for going after Marle were. In Chrono Cross, in contrast, it's usually pretty clear what everyone's motivations and aspirations were. Even though much of this was preprogrammed, I much prefer the flow of story in this game to that of Chrono Trigger. Spatially, there are puzzles that are spaced apart very well so that the game doesn't become unnecessarily complicated but at the same time poses enough challenge to keep you hooked.

    DESIGN

    The battle system and story were the most innovative aspects of this game, although it was groundbreaking in other ways as well. There was innovation in the color-based battle system, the percentage-based hit success and hit damage, and the inverse relationship of hit success and hit damage. The story has the most innovative characters out of any game I've played. Their personalities vary greatly from the standard archetypes, except for Serge, maybe, who is a silent protagonist.

    The levels are varied in terms of look, feel, type of related puzzle, environment interaction, and organization. In other words, there are LOTS of variations in levels. The tone of the gameworld is similar to that of Chrono Trigger: epic. The look and feel of the game varies greatly and is much improved upon Chrono Trigger. The level look and feel are not arbitrary at all; they largely depend on the climate, which vary from lush and soft, to rocky and arid, to sterile and metallic. All of the puzzles are environment-based, similar to how battles in Shadow of the Colossus are environment-based.

    I didn't have social experiences with other players; this game doesn't have multiplayer options. I have a feeling that, for the most part, I had to just watch, I wouldn't enjoy it or be satisfied. Luckily, there were no bystanders to be dissatisfied. I was having a really good time playing. The game itself was very rewarding, and I didn't really notice the passage of time. I never felt lonely or isolated while playing because I was absorbed in the game. I think that's a good thing as far as game involvement goes, but I imagine it could hurt one's social life.

    My game that I'm currently making isn't nearly as complex as this game is. However, on a future game project, I may have a more text-based version of this game. I don't think it would be a very good idea, though, because a text-based version of Chrono Cross is hard to imagine being done well. It would have be on some open-source game console if I were to make a game like this as a freelancer without being text-based. As is, it might be possible to make a game with a similar story with the engine from Facade at interactivestory.net (go check it out if your haven't already!) with story elements like Chrono Cross, but then it wouldn't play like Chrono Cross. I doubt I'll really be able to make a game like Chrono Cross on my own or in a pair. I would definitely need a team of four or more people. However, it would have helped this game to increase the amount of button labelling. I found myself frequently forgetting which buttons to press. I think that is one valuable lesson to take away from playing for creating my own game.

    I didn't really care for the cutscenes of Chrono Cross. They served a purpose, and they served the purpose of storytelling pretty well, but they lagged a bit while playing and had bothersome textures much of the time. I much preferred non-cutscene parts of the game to the cutscenes. The non-cutscene parts were more interactive and were frequently more pleasing to all the senses. This is counterintuitive, though, and it probably would have been better to omit the cutscenes altogether. The designers clearly spent more time on most of the rest of the game instead of on the cutscenes, and to me, it shows.

    That's it! If I ever come back to this site, you can expect a looser style from me, because it won't be graded! BWAHAHA! Although, I have my own standards; I won't start writing terribly.

    This entry has been edited 5 times. It was last edited on Mar 6th, 2008 at 06:10:59.

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    Mar 5th, 2008 at 19:09:06     -    Chrono Cross (PS)

    Gamelog #5 Session #1 for CMPS 20
    Start Time: 2:00 pm
    End Time: 3:00 pm
    Assignment due 3/5/08

    SUMMARY

    After the events in Chrono Trigger, (presumably), Serge and Leena are two teenagers who have been childhood friends growing up on a small tropical island. They made a promise to each other long ago that they intend to keep that depends upon their budding relationship. As they are about to fulfill the mysterious promise upon the shores of the island, a huge tidal wave crashes over them as the fabric of the space-time continuum rips. Serge wakes up alone, and finds Leena, who doesn't recognize him. Serge claims rightfully to be Serge, but Leena takes great offense; the boy called Serge died long ago under mysterious circumstances. With this backstory, you embark on an adventure as Serge to right all wrongs caused by the rip in space and time.

    GAMEPLAY

    An important lesson: get a memory card to play this game. It's impossible to play this game with any kind of satisfaction without a memory card, so you better make sure you have at least that before trying to play it. Having a memory card allows you to save your progress through the game and story without having to start over from scratch each time. This should be expected with a PlayStation generation or newer console RPG, but it wasn't obvious to me at first; it doesn't warn you when you first play that you really ought to play with a memory card. Now that I know, I am enjoying this game much more than I did the first time around.

    With the memory card, I am really able to enjoy the story, so I am enjoying it. In terms of story, a lot of ground is broken by innovations in character. Before Chrono Cross, if you had a childhood friend, she wasn't a romantic interest. If you got rescued by someone, you wouldn't be able to pay them back. If you could have an optional character, it usually didn't help you strategically to have them help you. In Chrono Cross, all these norms are broken: your childhood friend is your main romantic interest, your rescuer needs your help to be saved from death, and the optional party member helps you hugely right from the get-go. The only thing that is normal in this game is that, being from Square, the main protagonist is silent.

    The gameplay is pretty good. I enjoyed playing, and the controls were just difficult enough that it was interesting to play without being frustrating. The way battles work is that you run into an on-screen enemy, which triggers a battle or series of battles. You then select a regular attack, special move/element, defend, or run away. A regular attack is an attack with your equipped weapon. A special move is either magic or a consumable. Magic can be offensive, defensive, or something else. Consumables are used like items, and can be used up. Depending on who executes a move and what move they execute, the battle area gets filled with a certain color, which makes characters with the same color association more powerful. The battle system is somewhat automated by fitting gear according to who best uses it. I am very grateful for this feature, which speeds up gameplay and configures your whole battle system optimally with just one menu command. In addition to all of this, you can equip, make, disassemble and sell weapons, armor, and accessories. This is a fairly complex battle system that I like a lot.

    The visuals are usually good and sometimes are stunningly beautiful. Interestingly, the more beautiful parts are often the ones with less activity, less animation, and less overall complication. For example, the secluded beach where the rip in space and time takes place doesn't usually have very many enemies or much going on besides the peaceful scenery, which reminds me of a beach you might see in a screensaver, or if you're very lucky, in hard-to-get-to places in Hawai'i. It gives me the same peace of mind when playing as Ocarina of Time's Lon Lon Ranch did. For me, this is an interesting simplicity that few games are able to feature at all, so I'm pretty happy that there is such a place in Chrono Cross that can provide a refuge of sorts from in-game as well as real-life stress.

    As far as characters go, character design and execution are very good. Serge, the main character, is a typical silent protagonist, an archetype that lends itself well to the game's story. Leena, Serge's childhood companion, is reserved but happy and calm when Serge is around. She acts shy, but it's clear she feels strongly about Serge. However, after space and time rip, all that change. Kid is really outgoing, brave, and headstrong, and she helps you when you fall victim to a gang of ruffians who want to haul you off to jail. However, she falls victim to poison after a boss battle; you can save her with antidote. Poshul is a pink dog who is surprisingly tough as your first ally, though she is an optional character. The character art is really good, and the characters all have other attributes, such as fitness level and gender, in addition to fighting abilities.

    That's it for this entry. I will continue after I play some more.

    This entry has been edited 3 times. It was last edited on Mar 6th, 2008 at 00:49:58.

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    Feb 16th, 2008 at 00:50:26     -    Chrono Trigger (SNES)

    Gamelog #4 Session #2 for CMPS 20
    Start Time: 4:00 pm
    End Time: 5:00 pm
    Assignment due 2/20/08

    GAMEPLAY

    The narrative progression was kind of bumpy. It had lots of sudden twists and turns, with hit-or-miss quality cutscenes. A lot of the time, the animated cutscenes seemed to go on forever, which was neither desired nor necessary. Cutscenes were arbitrarily tied to play at the same time as some music, for the duration of the music, with no way to skip them. As such, the cutscenes overall were pretty annoying. Unfortunately, they were a major part of gameplay, communicating much of the storyline.

    Chrono Trigger was sort of fun to play, but I kept having technical failures. I would have liked it better if there had been autosave prompts sprinkled throughout steps in the story to prevent massive loss of progress. As it was, it was difficult to remember to save, which severely impeded gameplay. I had to repeat all of the tedious battles from before, so I enjoyed myself even less as compared to the first time around. As for the main gameplay, I much preferred the puzzle mechanic to the battle mechanic.

    I thought the game was hyped up a little out of proportion. Based on friends' opinions, I had expected the game to be interesting enough to blow me away; it didn't. The music was excellent, yes, but I have two CDs of the music from this game: one basic, one arranged instrumental. If the game had lower quality music or art, I wouldn't have bothered playing. As it was, the game had about the same entertainment value per minute as a minute of daytime TV. Listening to the CDs of the music from this game is much more entertaining than playing the game. That's terrible.

    Socially, I was isolated in terms of players and spectators both. Chrono Trigger is a single-player game, and I felt alone while I was playing. This game was also largely boring, which made the lonely feeling worse. There were no spectators, either, so I was waiting to be finished playing while I was playing. Chrono Trigger has a following, but I won't be part of it. I prefer RPGs with better character development and more interesting gameplay.

    I usually need characters in an RPG to be believable with realistic personalities to be satisfied. Chrono Trigger just doesn't deliver it. Lucca comes to your rescue at one point in the game, but instead of Crono rescuing or falling in love with her, Crono arbitrarily falls in love with Marle, who seems to throw herself at you. If Crono had spent more time with Marle beforehand, that would have made more sense. This is another trend in RPGs; if a silent protagonist has a childhood friend of the opposite sex, the silent protagonist will probably fall for someone else, doubly so if the childhood friend rescues the silent protagonist. I hate that.

    DESIGN

    The main innovation of this game was the battle system. All allies and enemies in-game have an element affiliation, which gives them the power of that element and makes them weak to the opposite element. Then, there are weapons that can only be equipped by allies who can wield them. For example, Crono can only use katana-type weapons, Lucca can only use gun-type weapons, Marle can only use crossbow-type weapons, etc. Finally, special attacks require magic and two or more allies can team up to execute a super-special attack. Unfortunately, I didn't get to any interesting battles where any of that mattered.

    I didn't like this game much as compared to how much my friends liked this game. I found the battles to be tedious and the characters to be superficial. I would have also liked an autosave feature. I only really liked the creative content from this game. I think, as it was, I would have enjoyed Chrono Trigger: The Movie much more than the game.

    I think Chrono Trigger could have been vastly improved in terms of pacing if it has been designed and implemented as an action RPG instead of an outright RPG. The way to do it is any place you activate the battle actionAnother thing that would have helped was if Chrono Trigger had a way to skip cutscenes and skip/automate battles.

    The levels don't vary very much from the get-go. They are pretty much made up of linked rooms with enemies littered throughout. There are tons of enemies in each level, and often I found myself forgetting what I was doing or what I was supposed to do. Although I liked the basic gameplay, in the scheme of the game, it was analogous to treading water, the same way fun gameplay is analogous to swimming. In other words, I would have had fewer but tougher battles that made you level up faster without the tedium.

    This game exhibits progressive complexity with some emergent characteristics. I would expect to find mostly walkthroughs for this game for players to play out different scenario sequences in this gameworld. There would also likely be some strategy guides to direct players to use different techs appropriately. There may also be strategy guides for basic playing mechanics. In other words, Chrono Trigger is mostly a game of doing the right things in the right order, but there are a few different strategies to get to an ending.

    That's it for this entry! Keep playing!

    This entry has been edited 9 times. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 03:06:26.

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    Feb 16th, 2008 at 00:47:58     -    Chrono Trigger (SNES)

    Gamelog #4 Session #1 for CMPS 20
    Start Time: 3:00 pm
    End Time: 4:00 pm
    Assignment due 2/20/08

    SUMMARY

    Chrono Trigger is an RPG developed by Square, back in 1995 when Square was not yet Square Enix. Chrono Trigger is the first RPG in a series of loosely related RPGs including Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross. The main themes, supported by the excellent music and visuals, are time/space/dimensional travel and parallel/serial world interaction. The main way the story of Chrono Trigger plays out is that changing the world in an earlier setting has some sort of effect on the world in a later setting. Combine this mechanic with the music, visuals, and battle gameplay and you get Chrono Trigger, a very cool game.

    GAMEPLAY

    I liked the game itself, but I was pretty bored playing. Although the battles are never random, they get overwhelmingly boring very quickly. It was boring because it didn't challenge me at all. All you have to do to win a battle is not die and kill all the enemies. Although this mechanic is used in nearly every single RPG, the execution of this is particularly boring in Chrono Trigger. There's no way to automate any part of the battle, and the enemies never revive their fallen party members. Almost every single one of the many battles play out exactly the same. The pathetic battle variation comes nowhere near breaking the overall tedium of the game.

    Another disappointing thing about Chrono Trigger is the reward system. The battles' main reward is ending the battle; the battles are that bad. However, the secondary reward in most cases is a piece of storyline that is easily forgotten. It would be good if you could review the story so far in-game, but if you lose your way, you have to be stubborn, persistent or armed with a walkthrough to finish the game. Otherwise, you have a better chance being happy if you can move on to another game.

    An interesting side-mechanic is puzzles in the environment. For example, a switch thrown in one room in a level will lower the spikes in another room in that level so that you can access a new area. In other words, completing puzzles is rewarded. Not only that, but the puzzle completion is usually generously rewarded, varying in reward from secret area access, items, bragging rights, or improved abilities. Overall, the puzzles, not the battles, made Chrono Trigger worth playing.

    The characters of Chrono Trigger are pretty good overall. The art for the ones I've encountered so far are consistently pretty, crisp, and fluid. Crono, the main character, is a katana-wielding, spiky-haired teen who is the main player avatar. Lucca, a pretty but crazy girl inventor, invents a machine that accesses wormholes in the time-space continuum. Marle, a princess-in-disguise tomboy, has a pendant that reacts badly to Lucca's invention, sending her to an unknown location back in time. From this more-or-less starting point, Crono and company go on a wild adventure to prevent disasters from destroying the world.

    Even though I like the characters, I get the feeling that character development was rushed. I think that that led to my not getting attached to the characters very much at all. As such, it's kind of difficult to understand the characters' motivations. For example, why would Crono follow Marle into an abyss when he barely knows her? Why would anyone? The way the scenarios played out, the characters' personalities seem like they were an afterthought, rather than being central to gameplay. That seems like an amateur mistake for making RPGs.

    That's it for this entry. Keep playing!

    This entry has been edited 7 times. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:06:19.

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    1Chrono Cross (PS)Playing
    2Chrono Trigger (SNES)Stopped playing - Got Bored
    3Gradius (NES)Stopped playing - Got frustrated
    4Kirby's Adventure (NES)Played occasionally
    5Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (PS)Playing

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