Chrono Cross makes it really hard not to just emulate old games
Let’s put that aside: I love buying video games. A lot. It’s probably my favorite activity that isn’t your mom. I happily buy the $80 Deluxe Edition of bullshit new games. I spend hours browsing Steam sales and Nintendo eShop deals for weird dollar games. I’ve also worked for video game companies that make and sell video games, so buying said video games has put food on my table.
Hell, I even got criticized for saying people shouldn’t imitate the new Metroid game until it’s been, I don’t know, been out more than three days. Why? ‘Cause even when the games are published by a big company, they are actually made by human beings whose livelihoods often depend on the success of the previous project they worked on. And because I want more Metroid games, you fucking freaks.
On the other hand, I don’t mind emulating old games. I did it for literal decades. My first playthrough of Final Fantasy 5 was an incomplete fan translation because it hadn’t been released in the West yet. I have a keychain that can play the full version of Doom. But these are all games that I literally couldn’t buy (FF5, back then) or had bought eight thousand times in my life (Doom).
And, honestly, I don’t mind buying classic games every time. Like I said, I’m the best stupid brand in the video game industry. I am an adult with no responsibilities living a life that my childhood self would call “the dream” and my adult self often calls “a waking nightmare of loneliness and isolation”. I’m extremely lucky in that regard, and I respect that not everyone can afford to buy Final Fantasy 7 every time a Square Enix executive needs a vacation home.
That said. With all my respect. What’s going on with Chrono Cross?
Like the fucking idiot that I am, I pre-ordered the Chrono Cross remaster the second it was announced. See above about me being a complete jerk.
And to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much! I wanted to play an official Radical Dreamers localization and quickly browse one of my favorite PSX games. I am not new here. I had purchased and played the Final Fantasy 8 Remaster which felt more like a mod – mainly because better unofficial mods already existed for PSX-era Final Fantasy games.
But almighty lord, creator of heaven and earth, is this Chrono Cross remaster bad. Or rather, an example of the acceptable level of harm people like me have put up with for far too long. New features and graphical upgrades are good, until they’re not. Everything looks a bit mismatched in style. And, because no one but fans ever seems to be able to upgrade old PSX pre-render backgrounds, we have a choice between block and blur. Fine. Whatever. This is normal for Square Enix’s reissue course.
It’s the slowness that gets to me.
Chronocross races worse than the original. Not much worse. But worse. A PlayStation 1 game runs worse on a PlayStation 5 than it does on a PlayStation 1. The same game you can pay money for now is a worse version of a game you could pay money for years ago. twenty five years.
Of course, I know Square Enix apparently lost the original source code for the game. And it’s unfair to call a project “lazy” when you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in terms of timelines, personnel and budget. “Lazy” could mean, “We literally couldn’t fix this without destroying the whole game for months.” But “lazy” could also mean, “our parent company doesn’t care as long as those cash registers are ringing.”
I don’t know which is Chrono Cross, but anyway, it’s embarrassing. And that’s just a reason for me to imitate him rather than trying to go through official channels. Me, ripping Chrono Cross from my PlayStation 1 CDs and playing it on a small portable device will be a better experience than the official version. Not on PS5, not on my Switch, not even on my gaming computer – a little emulation machine that costs less than $100. It’s crazy.
Granted, fans will almost always be ahead of the curve in terms of preserving and fixing classic games. But it’s embarrassing that a multi-billion dollar company like Square Enix can’t do better than a few friends with extra time after work. It’s also a sign that what I buy encourages them not to care. Like I said, I’m the brand. And when a scammer receives money from the brand, he does not decide to turn over a new leaf.
The same goes for playing my video games. While Microsoft has done a lot this generation, Sony seems to have decided it’s a good time to make their library even more difficult to use. I own real discs of real games across all eras of PlayStation. I respect that the PS5 would struggle to emulate every game released in the past – the Xbox isn’t completely 100% backwards compatible either. I also know that of the PlayStations, the PS3 is the weirdest and hardest to master for reasons I don’t have the patience to figure out. Yeah, I know there’s videos on YouTube about it but they’re like thirty fucking minutes long and baby just doesn’t have that time.
Still, you know what the PS3 did right? He could fucking play PS1 and PS2 games! Well, until Sony decided that part two was a bad idea, then it could only play PS1 games. Like the PSP and Vita, it could also download PS1 games and emulate them quite well. I bought a lot of old games on these systems, just like I have since and just like I did with the Chrono Cross version.
Yet now many of those same emulated games are unplayable on PS3 and Vita due to a timing issue that indicates they expired fifty years ago. So even buying old games on a system meant to run them is no guarantee that we won’t get screwed later. It’s weird, isn’t it? This shouldn’t be normal.
It’s become really frustrating and really hard not to just turn into full catalogs of Joker and torrent games. Why not, right? If these companies don’t care, why should I care? If a Chrono Cross re-release is going to be this shitty, why am I not ripping it up and running some mods myself and never looking back? It seems a lot easier and doesn’t require me to wait for a company to bottom out their IP barrel to make some money.
To be clear, I don’t want to do that. In my dream world, every old game would be re-released like the Mega Man Legacy Collection or the Disney Afternoon Collection. Hell, I’d even do the dumb thing I’ve done for years and buy these on more than one system. You wouldn’t like to know how many different versions of Shenmue I own. But this game still turned out like crap, so it’s hard for me to judge.
I want to spend money on old games.
I want to buy them.
My expectations are decreasing day by day. Square Enix probably could have satisfied me if the new version didn’t run badly on a gaming PC with lots of RAM bells and lots of RTX whistles. Or my Switch which, despite its reputation, is more powerful than a video game console released in 1994. I want to donate money to Square Enix because their games have given me joy throughout my life. Final Fantasy may have done a lot damage to my dating expectations, but boy was it comforting.
As long as I can afford those old games, I’m going to want to pay for them. I want people to be paid for their work and I want companies to recognize the value of their classic games. It does not bother me. It’s not about affordability or accessibility – that’s another argument that I respect people have and should have.
So please, for the fucking love of god, stop making it a better option to emulate.
This is already a cheaper option. This is already a faster option. This is already an easier option. And – I hate to say it – it’s looking more and more like an option offered by people who care more about games than the companies that own them.
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