View Poll Results: Which is the better game?

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  • Chrono Cross

    7 50.00%
  • Final Fantasy VIII

    7 50.00%
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Thread: Chrono Cross vs. Final Fantasy VIII

  1. #1

    Default Chrono Cross vs. Final Fantasy VIII

    I forgot this is the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VIII, too. I was more focused on Chroo Cross and replaying it. But now I think on it....
    -both released in 1999
    -both from Square
    -both on the PS1
    -both pretty iconic in spite of being fairly controversial
    -both follow-ups to incredibly popular games which probably made the criticisms all the more harsh
    -both probably tried too many things and subsequently failed a lot of them.

    I have my opinions on both games but I prefer to hear what you all think. Which of them do you prefer in the following areas and why?

    Gameplay

    Story

    Characters

    Music

    Graphics/Visuals/Art Design


    For my part, I'll just answer Gameplay for now.

    Gameplay
    FFVIII has one of the worst battle systems I've ever seen while CC has my all time favorite JRPG battle system. FFVIII committed the unforgivable sin of introducing level scaling for the first time in an FF game...for the one FF game where levels don't matter at all. The game is designed around Junctioning and that's where your real stat gains come from. Leveling is actively discouraged. So why the smurf does it have level scaling? Playing the game is detrimental to your enjoyment of the game. It is of course also legendarily broken and easy. Get Siren/Life RF on your 5 free Tents/Junction Curaga to HP and never die again. All within about 3 hours or so?

    Chrono Cross meanwhile did so many things I loved. It had gated levels and stat gains so you couldn't just grind your way passed an obstacle. The Stamina and Field system meant you had to plan your next few moves in advance and couldn't just spam super moves like, I dunno, Limit Breaks. Speaking of which, the whole "use an Element and it's gone" feature as well as how limited your options are for reviving characters also demanded more strategy than normal. A minor thing but the three different type of melee attacks kept fights from being overly monotonous X mashing. Like others I wish there were more Double and Triple Techs and a greater diversity in party member abilities. But, well, that's not much of a factor when going up against FFVIII which has zero diversity in gameplay between characters.

  2. #2
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    • Former Cid's Knight

    Default

    I'll get back to this when I have a bit more time to write it out, but between the two, I prefer Chrono Cross, though I enjoyed both games overall.

  3. #3

    Angry

    FFVIII by a strong lead for many reasons starting first and foremost with as a game. The battle system of Chrono Crooss is fairly mediocre. It"s serviceable but one of its weaker points and no comparison to FF8 if you know how to play it right. Secondly, FF8 is a masterclass in storytelling compared to CC. Chrono Cross has a lot of great ideas but it's very unfocused and leaves you with the sense that probably about 70% filler. FF8 has very little that can be considered filler. Almost every event advances the main plot. Not only does it have little filler compared to a high filler game like CC, it also has little filler compared to most FF games and RPGs in general. Whatever you think about some of the plot twists, at least almost every plot point in the game is in service of a larger story being told.

  4. #4

    Default

    Final Fantasy VIII

  5. #5
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    • Former Cid's Knight

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    Alright let's try to do a proper analysis shall we?

    Gameplay: If we're going purely by combat systems, then VIII wins this for me. Largely because VIII offers just more variety and I feel most of it's mechanics are clever and fun to toy with even if they are utterly broken. With support abilities and greater control over party building, you can always alleviate boredom in VIII by mixing things up like only using low magic for stat boosts, playing around with command abilities, or limiting your GF usage to have a full team with each character tailor made for a particular role. Not to mention the Limit break system gives enough personality to each character to make using everyone it's own incentive. CC has a similar problem as the early Suikoden games which is that the large cast and customization system are way too streamlined and thus offer little in ways of some serious customization potential. Elements are underwhelming and summons are more work than they are worth unless you're grinding for synthesis materials at which point it's just a chore. Tech skills offer a bit variety but because of how overly useful skill like steal are, you're actually far more limited in party builds than you think. In fact, most players I feel won't really delve into what each character can bring to combat until probably NG+ and unfortunately, there isn't really much left to do that's worth using experimentation on.

    The other field in gameplay that VIII wins out is basically just variety of things to do. Granted, with one exception, most of VIII's minigames are kind of blah compared to its peers within it's own series, but there are more of them and better variety than CC has. Hunting down extra GFs, Chocobo forest shenanigans, Pupu quest, the Zell Librarian subquest, and most of all Triple Triad which I still argue is the best mini-game in the franchise. It's hard to beat that when your options are feeding dragon horses, monster arena, acquiring summons by waiting around for enemies to summon them and using traps, and fighting three optional bosses, one of which can be beaten without combat and the other giving you a reward for a character most players never bother with.

    The one area I will give CC props for is the replay value in terms of story. Both games have a fair share of alternate scenario stuff where saying or doing something that seems really silly can have pretty interesting consequences or change ups in the scenario, but CC takes the concept further and actually offers some significant scenario changes that makes subsequent replays more engaging. Not to mention multiple endings, CC has more incentive for replay, despite VIII's combat offering better variety.

    Story: CC wins this for me. While I will say that Squall's personal story of growth and the Laguna scenarios are the high points of VIII's writing and place it higher than some other Final Fantasy titles, so much of VIII's plot is just unrealized potential squandered to tell a pretty underwhelming time travel story and so much of the scenario falls apart when you start to really stop and think about what's going on and how plot twists exist simply for the sake of added drama for one moment and then quickly forgotten or downplayed after.

    Not that CC isn't really guilty of this as well, with several characters having enough of an interesting backstory that you wish it was more prominent in the story proper, but at least CC's plot is better explained and less guilty of pulling plot elements out of thin air to keep the story going. CC's plot is surprisingly more cohesive and better structured, even if it's too convoluted and self-indulgent for my own taste. It can be a serious headache trying to sort out why Serge is so damn important to the time stream and how his existence causes a temporal paradox between two alternate realities, but at least at the end of the day it makes sense whereas enjoying VIII's plot involves ignoring that Ellone is the only person in existence who has time travel powers for unknown reason and Ultimecia's plan for Time Compression involves a very complex series of things to happen that are never really explained well and it often feels like even though no one knows where the idea of Time Compression comes from, everyone seems to know how it works. There's just too much of VIII's scenario that feels like it never left the writer's head to make logical sense outside of "this needs to be, so I can do this later". I feel like you are always getting only half of the story in VIII, whereas I feel like CC has the issue of being overly explained by a guy who is slightly too smug for his own good.

    Both games have really good emotional beats, but I do feel like both scenarios are guilty of trying too hard to be emotionally manipulative of the player. The Fairy Genocide story feels way too forced and anviliscious for it's own good, but at least the rest of CC carries the theme it tries to introduce. So it feels awkward but never too far off from the main theme of the game. Whereas the orphanage twist feels like a wham line that never goes beyond that moment and eventually it's implications are quickly forgotten about. Kato seems more aware of the weight of his sequences have on the grand picture of the story, whereas Nojima is trying to go for the cheap emotional punch but never grasps the greater consequence of his story elements, and thus is blind to the true potential the story could really have. VIII's story elements are pretty dark when you think about it but the game consistently goes for a lighter and softer touch every time, squandering it's dramatic potential. CC on the other hand looks like a lighter and softer title, but consistently goes for the darker side of it's elements, giving it a more haunted feel overall.

    Characters: Both games have issues, but between the two, I would give this to VIII being better about it. So much of CC's cast is just fluff and even the characters that do have strong ties to the narrative just never reach their full potential. The biggest Achilles heel for CC has always been it's unnecessarily large cast and Kato's disinterest in trying to really make them a part of the narrative he's weaving. Fargo and Karsh have some great character and story beats, but then you get people like Luccia and Lord Viper who have some serious connections to major events of the game, but are always treated like an afterthought. CC could have been a far better game if Kato had dimply built the story more around a smaller cast and even drop the rest or leave them as quirky NPCs. Being a silent protagonist means Serge rarely gives the player a real emotional connection to the plot since he's more of a player avatar, and Kid has a lot of story beats, but not only can you miss a bunch of it if you don't choose the right scenario, but I also feel she comes across a little too forced and clingy when you do the proper scenario.

    Contrast to VIII where most of the cast are a bit more multifaceted, have more of a stake in what's actually happening in the plot, and have some really good emotional moments for each party member not named Kiros and Ward. I feel it's easier to get invested in what VIII's cast is doing instead of debating why a talking pink dog (Chu-Chu's reincarnation) and a Fungus man are doing here. Granted, VIII drops the ball a little with Ultimecia and Seifer both being underwhelming, too many comic relief villains, and one scene wonders like Conway and NORG. Still, I feel like characters like Squall and Laguna offer so much to the story that often make up for these failings and as I said before, CC is more invested in the complex philosophical story it's trying to tell than the people in it. VIII by contrast has a great character story trapped in a muddles mess of a plot.

    Where I will give CC better props for is with their villains. Fate/Lynx, Harle, the Dragons, and even Viper and his Dragoons are all pretty great villains not afraid to chew the scenery and be menacing. They are far more multi-faceted and have far more complex motives for what they are doing which makes it easy to understand why they are the way they are and even come across sympathetic for a few of them. VIII never gives us this luxury with the possible exception of Biggs and Wedge. Adel is fun but pretty straightforward and Ultimecia hides behind so much smoke and mirrors, it's difficult to discern anything past a typical megalomaniac which are a dime a dozen in the series and genre as a whole. Seifer had potential to be a really cool rival character but he gets sidelined too often by less interesting villains and it feels like Nojima never really knew what to do with him after the first disc. One of the reasons I feel CC has a better story is because the villains and antagonists have more complexity, which makes the drama we see unfold far more interesting. VIII's villains are mostly assholes for the sake of being assholes. So while a lot of interesting things happen in VIII, it's harder to feel like the stakes are being raised because it really is a typical good vs. evil scenario with no real curve ball thrown in to make it interesting.

    Music: Both games have some strong pieces, but I'm giving this to CC. While I feel CC isn't Mitsuda's best soundtrack, it's certainly one of his strongest compositions. Whereas VIII is where I feel like Uematsu finally slipped after delivering two of the best scores in his career. Still, I'm a bit ambivalent with both scores, but I'm far more likely to listen to CC's score from beginning to end, minus it's awful battle theme, than I am for VIII's score. Both games have jaw dropping openings, but I'm far more like to listen to Scars of Time that Liberi Fatali even though I love both tracks. Also, Radical Dreamer is one of the best songs written for a Square game, whereas Eyes on Me is probably my second favorite song written for an FF only.

    Graphics/Visuals/Art Design: Both games are pretty gorgeous for their time, and while the character models in both have aged poorly, I still contend that both games still look pretty good even today which is a testament to both considering how poorly 3D animation tends to age. Yet in terms of art direction, I feel CC wins this. El Nido is just more visually interesting than VIII's more mundane setting and CC surprises you with the expressionist painted alternate world whereas VIII's more avant garde set pieces are the awkwardly futuristic Esthar. I feel like CC just has a bit more creativity going for it, but still manages to have a cohesive design.

  6. #6

    Default

    One of the reasons games like FFVIII and CC still actually look pretty great (despite people's claims to the contrary) - pre-rendered backgrounds. You gave me the opportunity to beat on this drum again and I'm going to take it. The pre-rendered backgrounds of the PSX era look better than anything that came at least in the next console generation. Square simply should not have abandoned them for PS2 because they simply couldn't actually make stuff that looked as good rendering in real time during that era. Even today, while the graphical quality has surpassed them, the pre-rendered backgrounds still look a lot better than frequently uninspired looking environments in the current console generation. Bottom line, with the pre-rendered bg's it seemed like the creators put a lot of thought and attention into all the environments and it shows. Sure the character models in FFVIII look a little worse for wear these days, but those backgrounds are always going to shine!

  7. #7
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Honestly, the only PS2 entry that looks bad nowadays is oddly enough XI, and only if you're not playing it on PC where you can fix a few things. X still uses a lot of pre-rendered backgrounds and XII has held up pretty well. The backgrounds are a lot of the reason many of Square's games have held up so I totally agree with you, but even now I feel like games like VII are starting to show their age.

    Back on topic, I would still argue that CC frankly just looks better than VIII, and largely because the art direction is more stylized which lends itself well to the more artsy world design in general. Serge and Kid, as well as extreme cases like Skelly and Funguy never look out of place in the game's world whereas Squall and company sometimes do thanks to their realistic modern designs can sometimes clash with some of the more fantastic set pieces and enemy types. Even then, I still feel VIII has some great designs and art direction even if it feels more safe in some places.

  8. #8

    Default

    I'm not saying it looks bad. FFX definitely looks far from bad and the character models and FMVs are certainly superior to the PSX era. However, when it comes to the in gameplay backgrounds, they look a bit bland and uninspired compared to what's on display in FFVII - FFIX. FFXII probably holds up a little better visually, but I'm reluctant to revisit that game for other reasons.

    I tend to think FFVIII looks better than CC, but it probably comes down to style preference. The somewhat more cartoonissh character models of CC probably hold up a bit better than the dated "realistic" models of FFVIII. However, when it comes to things like the backgrounds and monster designs, they look far more impressive to me in FFVIII. A lot of CC monster designs just kind of look silly to me. Which is fine, but if I'm comparing that to something like a Behemoth in FFVIII, I don't really see anything that would hold up in CC. Even the dragons look kind of silly.

  9. #9

    Default

    The only real weak point of CC is the cast, most of which is very flat and superfluous, and for reasons Wolf Kanno already pointed out I'm really not a fan of mute protagonists in story-driven games. Besides that it beats FF8 in every other category.

  10. #10

    Default

    Having attempted to replay both games recently I'm going to revise my opinion. While I have many complaints about FF8 I at least feel like I'm getting something from that game, I've made three attempts at CC as of late and have gotten nothing from from it. The characters in FF8 are extremely flawed and maybe even insufferable at times, but at least they feel like real characters with actual personalities, backstories and development. CC is a flat zero in that regard, calling most of that game's cast "one-note" would imply they actually have some modicum of personality to begin with. And since I can't get invested in the characters that obviously means I have no interest in the story at all. FF8's junction system is broken as hell but I'll give the game points for trying something new and different, CC's battle system does little to innovate and is exciting as watching paint dry. I'd say the only two qualities that CC actually beats FF8 at are the music and graphics, but not by much and not enough to make up for the game's other shortcomings, so FF8 wins for me.

  11. #11

    Default

    That was a sharp about face.

  12. #12
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Just the difference between making a judgment based on a foggy memory vs. one where you take a refresher.

  13. #13
    cheesesteak's Avatar
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    Cheese Ezen (Lamia)

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    I loved both games. Both are probably my favorite from their respective franchises (yeah, I said, sorry Chrono Trigger). I'm not sure about the BETTER game. But FF8 is my more favored game. It still resonates w/ me unlike CC. The characters, storyline...some of my favorite in all of gaming.
    - Dr. Cheesesteak


  14. #14

    Default

    I definitely can see why you would choose CC over CT. I want to be able to say I do too (especially since I think CT is possibly the most overrated RPG of all time - hands down I easily choose FFVIII over CT too), but I just can't quite. I think CC has the better, more mature plot that takes the kernel of some ideas from CT and expands and improves upon them in interesting ways. The problem is that too much of the game is spent focusing on pointless filler that doesn't really advance the main plot and one dimensional characters that don't need to be there. And the gameplay just is not as good as CT's. Just not even nearly.

  15. #15
    cheesesteak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Golbez View Post
    The problem is that too much of the game is spent focusing on pointless filler that doesn't really advance the main plot and one dimensional characters that don't need to be there. And the gameplay just is not as good as CT's. Just not even nearly.
    You know, it's funny, I've actually been thinking about that recently. How when I was younger, I liked lots of filler. Now? No way. I do wonder how I'd think of a bunch of old school games (JRPGs or otherwise) if I were to go back and play them now.
    - Dr. Cheesesteak


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