Part of the reason why I started this Chrono Cross retrospective (beyond refreshing my memory of it) was that I was having trouble getting my hands on review keys for new games during January and needed something to write about. Getting sidetracked by something you love and want to continue playing is also a great way to invoke Murphy’s law, as evidenced by that aforementioned dry January giving way to a February flurry of keys that required setting Chrono Cross aside for half a month. It speaks to this game’s quality that I missed playing it during that entire time.
[Click here to start from Part 1 of this Chrono Cross: Retrospective Let’s Play]
Feeding the Viper Manor dragons up to 40 times is always a good first step
The doors of Viper Manor are locked, but there’s a dragon stable not far from your starting point where you can obtain the key. First, though, it’s prudent to open the door directly above you and follow that hallway to a chest with a TurnBlue element in it. After that, you can choose to fight the guards (either by running into those who are patrolling around or stepping into the spotlight) to bump up your stats a bit, but for the sake of the video I ran straight to the stable. The guy inside mistakes your party as the new stable helpers and promises rewards if you feed the dragons for him, including the manor key. You get this key no matter how many times you choose to feed the dragons—which plays out as a minigame where you have to restock food on the left side and then shuffle over to interact with any hungry dragons before they become mad—but you can get some good equipment by feeding them 10, 20, 30, and 40 times. There’s also an option to feed them 100 times, but you automatically fail if you neglect to feed the same dragon 4 times, and the reward for 100 feedings doesn’t remotely match the effort required to accomplish it.
Feeding the dragons 40 times, on the other hand, earns you a RecoverAll element that heals all three party members at once. If you slot this into a character’s elements (even in a level 1 slot), it becomes much easier to heal the entire party after a battle without wasting any consumables.
Viper Manor is great for obtaining early equipment and elements
Exploring the premises before heading into the manor itself also yields a TurnYellow element near where a couple of guards are talking about a “He-Beast” who’s staying in Viper Manor as the general’s guest. You can find a bunch of these Turn[Color] elements throughout the manor.
This part always trips me up when I replay Chrono Cross; upon entering the manor, you can’t make any progress, with your only options being to trigger some switches that trap you/spawn enemies and blindly enter a door code that you don’t know yet. The door code is randomized each playthrough and thus can’t be memorized. If, like me, you remember there being a specific door code but not much else about how Viper Manor plays out, you’ll be inclined to avoid it. Failing the door code is necessary, however, as it triggers a trap that sends your party into a cage.
Once you’re trapped in the cage, some guards taunt you and Kid taunts them right back. Eventually they open the cage to fight you, but the fight doesn’t begin automatically, instead giving you the opportunity to open the pause menu and heal (if necessary) or change your equipment and/or elements. That’s a very player-friendly design decision. Most games would assume that you’re psychic and send you directly into the fight.
After the guards are defeated, your group steals their uniforms and can then wander around Viper Manor undercover. That’s not to say that there are no combat encounters here, because there are some enemies who unexpectedly drop from the ceiling in addition to doors with eyes that fight you if you mistime your entrance, but the guards and such aren’t a problem for the most part. The goal here is to find the code to the upstairs door, and you get this code by finding Glenn in the room next to the kitchen. He’s a forgetful little dragoon who needs to be reminded of the code, so someone mumbles it to him, after which he decides to make a note of it. Following him to the barracks, you can interact with the wall near his bed to read his note spelling out the door code (in my case it was 3 turns to the right and 7 to the left, but again, it’s randomized).
One of the dragoons mentions something about how most of them are going to ship out soon and worries about the nation of Porre (which had a greedy mayor who you made kind using time travel in Chrono Trigger, and which carried political influence and a desire to obtain the Frozen Flame in Radical Dreamers) invading in their absence. Another dragoon mentions an envoy from Porre being in the manor because of the Frozen Flame, but appearing to already know about it. This causes him to suspect that there’s a spy. The assistant in the kitchen mentions something about wishing he chose an easier job because the cooking doesn’t give him much time to investigate, revealing him to be the Porre spy.
There’s not anything you can do about that, but there are some good items lying around. That includes a TurnGreen in the kitchen, and a Dragoon’s Honor piece of equipment where everyone is eating. From what I understand, the latter is the item that Guile joined up to steal as part of his bet with Termina’s fortune-teller, though you could be forgiven for not knowing that since Chrono Cross doesn’t do anything to tell you.
Some of the chests that you stumble across in Viper Manor are actually living beings called The Boxer Boys. When you interact with one, combat is initiated, but the chests remain non-hostile. Instead, you’re asked to choose from two boxes—choosing the right one earns you an item, and choosing the wrong one earns you nothing. Combat ends afterward either way. It’s a weird little minigame, but I actually managed to select the right chest for like 3-4 of these on my first try (which means no save state trickery or anything). I can’t remember ever getting that lucky before.
I have a save inside of Viper Manor on my physical Playstation 1 memory card, so I ended up playing a little bit of this section on real hardware when I was analyzing some games/series with good music. When I got to Viper Manor’s treasure vault and was presented with multiple password options, I stared at the options for several seconds, desperately trying to remember which option was correct. It turns out that the correct answer is to sit there in silence. Unlike in Earthbound, however, you don’t have to sit in silence for long. It’s very possible to figure out accidentally.
The treasure vault has a little bit of okay-ish treasure littered inside of it. The real draw, however, is the shiny thing on the wall. Guile insists that it’s a trap—and it is—but that trap also introduces two recruitable characters, Luccia and Pip. Luccia is a mad scientist type clearly inspired by Chrono Trigger‘s Lucca, who herself has a slight, mostly off-screen impact on Chrono Cross. Pip, meanwhile, is an evolving monster whose cage you can surreptitiously open. Neither character is recruitable quite yet. In fact, Luccia is outright hostile, using the party to test the combat capabilities of her current monster creation. This monster is an easy boss fight, which means a new star and some decent stat growths. Luccia is more of an opportunist than a villain, though, so she decides to let the party go afterward despite recognizing that they’re intruders and not dragoons.
Not only that—when you leave the room, she outright offers to help you out in the future. It never hurts to have a mad scientist in your corner.
There are a bunch of things you can do in Viper Manor before moving on, such as learning about the 4 Devas of the Acacia Dragoons. These include Karsh (who tried to capture Serge at Cape Howl), Zoah (a helmeted individual who speaks in all caps), and Marcy (who’ll be introduced into the story soon) Their leader and fourth member, Dario, perished years prior and was one of two people Glenn and Riddel were praying for. You can also pester Karsh with questions about tons of topics and continually try to open the chest in his room. Every time you try to open it, Karsh will complain and tell you to stop, but after 20 attempts he’ll relent and allow you to grab the attack-boosting Dragoon Gauntlet inside.
Viper Manor’s library is where Chrono Cross begins to get a bit nuts
Things get weird once you finally go upstairs and enter the door code. There’s no obvious way forward, with the only place you can actually go being to the left toward a library. There, you meet a young girl and an old man, and the old man recognizes Serge almost instantly before introducing himself as “the prophet of time.” Then special effects begin to go crazy as he explains how an event in the past put Serge’s soul “on the balancing scales of fate” with a 50/50 chance of survival, in the process creating the two worlds. He doesn’t know much else, but he mentions “angelus errare,” which is a point where two worlds’ borders are such that they can be conceivably (but not yet) traveled between.
Then the girl butts in and wants to fight the party. This is Marcy, one of the 4 Devas, and the prophet of time just shrugs and chalks it up to fate. This might be the laziest prophet in history. Anyway, the fight isn’t too difficult, and you can use Kid’s innate Pilfer element to steal Dancing Shoes (which improve a character’s evasion chance) off of her. This counts as a boss fight and increases everyone’s growth potential, and Marcy runs off while swearing revenge. More importantly, the prophet of time then tells you about a button hidden behind a pillar required to move on.
When you leave the library and enter the room with the hidden button, a French harlequin named Harle introduces herself and flirts with Serge while antagonizing Kid. Harle is probably the most memorable character in the entire game for various reasons. For now, though, she mentions being the right hand to “Monsieur Lynx,” warning the party to turn back and not defy him for fear of something bad happening to Serge. Then she leaves and the way forward is clear. Pressing the button causes the platform to almost hit two dragoons who are guarding it, causing them to attack the party, but it’s not a difficult battle at all. Afterward, all that’s left is to take the platform up and start checking rooms.
The first door to the left is locked, while the second leads to a small study that progresses the story when you interact with the desk. There’s also an exit out to the balcony, but there’s nothing to do there at the moment. Interacting with the desk causes General Viper and Lynx—the very same antagonist as in Radical Dreamers—to enter from a secret room and confront the party. Kid asks General Viper why he sent people after Serge, but he doesn’t seem to know anything about that. Then Lynx confronts Kid and mentions that she’s a member of Radical Dreamers (the in-universe thieving group briefly mentioned in Arni at the start of the game). He then tells her that the Frozen Flame she’s after isn’t there, instead being hidden in a place called the Sea of Eden where “past and future collide.” Lynx is a very bad Mister Kitty, so Kid decides to fight him there and then.
Lynx isn’t much of a fight, but Kid can at least steal a Magic Ring item (which raises its wearer’s magic power) from him. Otherwise, you can pretty much whack at him with anything without needing to worry about taking too much damage. He can occasionally turn off white elements, which do extra damage to him since his innate element is black, but that just delays the inevitable; even if he manages to do any kind of damage to a party member, Serge having that RecoverAll element equipped enables other party members to use up their single-character healing elements without having to worry about someone’s health not being restored after battle. After he’s beaten, the version of him that you fought is revealed to be a mere shadow he conjured up. He also starts talking to Serge in a way that suggests that he knows all about the fact that he died in this world, and Serge ends up having a strange vision of a building exploding. Things get even weirder when Lynx starts rambling about the end of the human world and summoning more shadows, but luckily Riddel shows up to check on General Viper (her father) and gets taken hostage by Kid.
This enables the group to make it out to the balcony, at which point Lynx throws a dagger at Kid that only hits her because she refuses to use Riddel as a shield. Kid falls off the balcony backward, and Lynx approaches Serge and explains that he’s been waiting a long time for him, referring to him as the “assassin of time” and “Chrono Trigger.” That last one never ceases to make me cringe because of how forced it is. Anyway, Serge jumps off the balcony to get away from Lynx, who clearly failed to realize the lengths people would go to escape his abundant creepiness.
Both Serge and Kid are rescued by ferryman Korcha (who brought them to the manor) and taken to an unfamiliar village. When you find Kid, she begins to insist that she’s fine before quickly collapsing. It turns out that Lynx’s dagger was poisoned with Hydra venom, and her outlook is grim.
The village doctor explains that she only has something like 2 days to live unless the poison is neutralized by a Hydra Humour, but Hydras have been driven to extinction on the continent and there’s not enough time to find one anywhere else. Harle shows up briefly to mock Kid and check in on Serge before disappearing again, and then Kid gives Serge her “favorite amulet,” which is the Astral Amulet. Everyone starts rambling about how Hydras are extinct in this world, and it’s too bad they don’t have access to another world where they maybe aren’t extinct, and Kid even explicitly mentions what the prophet of time said about the spot where the two worlds can be traveled between. Yeah, Chrono Cross gets pretty heavy-handed about what it wants you to do, but that might be for the best considering that I’m coming at this knowing what to do ahead of time. As a kid, the hint probably helped. I don’t remember either way. For the time being, though, Korcha gives the Kid-less party free rein of the village.
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