Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chrono Cross's Characters

Serge: Serge is a silent protagonist. Normally I complain about this type of hero, because they almost never measure up to a main character who actually defines their personality through action AND speech. But when you've got a hero who travels to an alternate reality where he died when he was 10 and is being sought by a cat furry named Lynx who used to be the hero's father but has now had his brain and body rewritten by an AI program from the future that wants to dominate the events of the present by using mind-control Save Points and needs the hero so that Lynx can switch bodies with him in order to unlock the door to an object of space-time-bending power, all of which is also a part of the plan of 6 dragons (from an alternate reality of lizard people that lost an inter-dimensional war with this dimension's future) so that the dragons can fuse together into Dragon Voltron and destroy humanity, all of which is also the plan of a time-traveling wise man from the past and some unexplained heroic ghosts from another country who want the hero to free a magical princess from the clutches of the remains of an evolution-eating alien that exists outside of time...well, I think at that point you're pretty much FORCED to have a silent protagonist, because there is no way in holy hell that you could actually write dialogue for any single human being engaging in and reacting to all this.*

Kid: Kid's story is only a slightly less ridiculous one than Serge's, but I'm not going to go into it, too (I'll give you a sample: magic, time paradoxes, clones).

Kid is annoying. Now, this is probably just my own prejudice speaking, but it is hard for me to have a character with a laughably exaggerated version of an accent that's already distinctive enough to be mildly amusing under normal circumstances that I am supposed to take seriously. As with Final Fantasy 5's Faris and her pirate lingo, every serious aspect of Kid that I could have recognized (not liked, mind; even when I make an effort to see her serious aspects, they're not very well-done), such as her reactions to her place in destiny, her feelings of loneliness and loss after losing her only home and orphanage family to arson, and her almost completely unexplained and unexplored romantic attachment to's all completely made forgettable by that damn, exaggerated Australian accent. All I can manage to see when I read her dialogue is an annoying, loud Aussie thug.** In fact, it's worse than with Faris, because Faris actually had a reason to have her overbearing pirate accent, what with her being, y'know, a pirate. Unless Kid tripped into a dimensional gateway to Australia and spent most of her childhood hunting dingos, kicking cane toads, and taming kangaroos down under before tripping into another gateway that took her back to the game's world, there's really no given reason for her to have this speech pattern.***

Harle: The eventually reluctant catalyst of that 6 Dragon Voltron subplot I mentioned above, Harle's development from shamelessly manipulating those around her into a character who is unwilling to fulfill her role in the planned destruction of humanity because she's grown attached to the people she travels with actually makes her a fairly decent character. Or at least, it would, if that development had really gone anywhere. Unfortunately, what we ultimately get out of Harle is a character who vaguely shows her growing character through subtle indications in dialogue, but never really has her growth as a person actualized because she just completely vanishes once she's fulfilled her destiny. She just disappears forever, leaving you with a character who COULD have been good, who still might be the best in this lousy game, but ultimately just never really had a chance to make her impact before being written out.

Viper: While General Viper has a certain appeal to me because he looks almost exactly like my grandfather (who was also a ranking military man, although not as high as General--almost, though!), I have to say that it's not entirely brilliant to invite a cat of prey that walks like a man who hails from an aggressive foreign nation, has no problems with things like murder and violent kidnapping, and aspires to possess time-space-bending objects of power into your goddamn home.

Fargo: Like Viper, Fargo is barely important enough to include here, but I guess he DOES have enough of a significant impact on the events of the plot that I can't ignore him--or at least, one version of him does. Fargo in one reality is a hardy pirate with little personality beyond being macho, and in the other reality is a wishy-washy captain of a pleasure cruiser who runs a crooked casino and uses demi-humans as slave labor because he's lost his sense of purpose since his beloved Zelbess, a demihuman herself, died, and has had an irrational hatred for her kind ever since. And y'know, as pathetic and annoying as the latter version of Fargo is, I actually wish that it was HIM who joined you instead of the boring pirate captain Fargo. At least pleasure cruise Fargo has some depth and issues he could have worked through. Pirate captain Fargo's big part of the game is slapping sense into pleasure cruise Fargo--why in the world is the character IN the party just a vehicle for the NON-party version's character development? Shouldn't we have gotten the version that was actually dynamic and plot-important to join up, so he could maybe develop further?

Lynx: The semi-sorta villain of the game (I can't really say much about the Devourer of Time, as it, like many of Squaresoft/SquareEnix's villains, only randomly shows up right at the end of the game). I already mentioned the basic back story for Lynx in that jumble of poor plot points I gave for Serge above. I have to say, though, that Lynx is a prime example of what I think I will be calling Unnecessary Paternal Ties Syndrome in RPGs--the totally superfluous act in an RPG of sticking the protagonist's father into the plot in some attention-getting way because God knows no protagonist can possibly be complete without having dad issues. Did Lynx really HAVE to be Serge's mutated pappy? Not really. Neither he nor Serge ever get a lick of character development from the connection, so why have it in the first place?

You could change it around without even having to change the overall story at all; at the time that the transformation from Serge's Dad to Lynx occurred, a friend of the family, Miguel, was present--Square could just as easily have had Miguel become Lynx. In fact, it would have worked out BETTER that way, because Serge and company meet Miguel later in the game, have him explain some of the silly plot, and then they're forced to fight and kill Miguel to continue on with the quest. Given the nature of the scene, the large amount of dialogue, and the unfortunate necessity of the fight, Square could have had Serge's Dad be the one left behind there instead and actually gotten some real conflict out of father and son finally reuniting only to have to fight to the death. Lynx is really just a reconfiguring of the matter that Serge's Dad once was; there's no memories or emotion left in him of Serge to speak of. But hey, he's the semi-sorta main villain, so HE HAS TO BE SERGE'S FATHER NO MATTER WHAT.

Doc, Draggy, Funguy, Glenn, Greco, Grobyc, Guile, Irenes, Janice, Karsh, Korcha, Leah, Leena, Luccia, Macha, Marcy, Mel, Miki, Mojo/Mojoy, NeoFio, Nikki, Norris, Orcha, Orlha, Pierre, Pip, Poshul, Radius, Razzly, Riddel, Skelly, Sneff, Sprigg, Starky, Steena, Turnip, Van, Zappa, and Zoah: Nearly every character in this game just has little or no importance to the plot and has character development--if you can even call it that--that clocks in altogether at 5 minutes or less each and which depends heavily on you discerning some kind of deep insight about each one by their accent. There is an obvious lesson to learn from this, kiddies at Square:


Does not!




*I really wish, incidentally, that I had hit on all of the insane, complicated, nonsensical idiocy of this game's plot right there, but what you just got is an extremely simplified version. The actual details and parts I left out make it all significantly more convoluted and crazy.

** Because I have Australian readers (and friends), I'd just like clarify--I don't mean to say Australians sound silly as a rule, or annoying, or anything like that. I want to mention that what I mean here is that the Australian accent is, as a rule, pretty distinctive--and I just personally feel that ANY accent that's distinctive can be mildly amusing. But my POINT in this, I must emphasize, is that Kid's accent is very exaggerated, and it's the exaggeration that I can't get around. If any of you guys/girls are still offended, I apologize.

*** Of course, this IS Chrono Cross, so really, this possibility isn't all that unlikely after all. Hell, it would be more believable than at least half of the rest of the game.


  1. I actually have heard of even more confusion stories *Glares at Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicals*

    The Enlish version is apparently less convoluted compared to the jap version

    You also forgot to metion and I quote

    "It will eventually turn out that, for a minimum of the first sixty percent of the game, you were actually being manipulated by the forces of evil into doing their sinister bidding for them. In extreme cases this may go as high as 90%. The clear implication is that it would have been better to not get involved in the first place."
    - #168 of the Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Clich├ęs

    The sad thing is they wasted alot of perfictly good characters like Glenn or Leena and Guile was suppose to be Magus...Sigh

  2. Lynx, I feel is a stupid character. Most of the game he's just kept as this mystery man that we are kept completely in the dark about what he is, what he's trying to do, and if it weren't for his pointless acts of evil, he'd probably be a Designated Villain since outside from that he doesn't do anything particularly evil, I mean he's trying to stop the Dragon God from wiping out humanity, so why was Robo even standing in his way?