This post originally appeared on Matt Weise's blog Outside Your Heaven.
Chrono Cross (PSX, 40-60 hrs) - A lush, beautiful, and deep Japanese RPG that suffers from a fatal case of bad storytelling. A sequel to Chrono Trigger, which was much better, Chrono Cross pretends to be an unrelated story about alternate dimensions for the first two thirds and then turns into something resembling a bad Chrono Trigger fan-fiction before self-destructing in a fit of hysterical pretension. Not that this necessarily matters if you're in it for the gameplay, which is pretty well-done and notable in particular for its excellent magic system. Though seemingly arbitrary at first, the magic system is deeply integrated into the plot, so that by the end the game cannot even be finished unless the player understands the cosmological significance of the magic system and its symbolic relation to the story world. A long game, but the gorgeous graphics and wonderful music (Yasunori Mitsuda at his finest) make the journey pleasant enough. Those expecting something as elegant, focused, and unpretentious as Chrono Trigger however will want to vomit by the end. Directed and written by Masato Kato, who swiped most of the story material from his equally self-destructive Xenogears. With Hiromichi Tanaka (producer), Kiyoshi Yoshii (main programmer), and Yasuyuki Honne (art director).