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"We also get the FFVIII-inspired pseudo-poetic text overlay, saying things like 'The doors of fate are opened.' It begs the question how fate, which by definition is 'a predetermined outcome' could presume to have doors, but it must've sounded cool in the copy room. Moving on."
     -Kelly, Legend of Dragoon Part 1

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Chrono Cross : Part 8
By Jeanne
Posted 12.31.05
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
Almost a year ago, Cronabe and his cardboard friends completed their obnoxiously long journey to reach Fort Dragonia. This involved retrieving the Ice Breath -- a subquest within a subquest, for God's sake -- as well as traversing the fiery Mount Pyre. A kajillion boss battles later, the party reached Fort Dragonia, nestled in an anus formed by Mount Pyre's volcanic peaks.

In preparation for this recap, I went back and read the last three recaps I wrote, just to refresh my memory. Unfortunately, I read them out of order, which maybe isn't all that unfortunate, since it recreates that "I vaguely know what's happening except not at all" feeling so necessary to dealing with Chrono Cross.

I have to admit, I was not looking forward to taping the footage for this particular installment. I played through Chrono Cross once about a million years ago, and all I remember is that Fort Dragonia is a dungeon full of irritating puzzles and a virtual assload of boss fights. After putting it off for a while, cleverly using the Eternal Darkness recaps as an excuse, I stayed up late enough one night to lose all good judgment and actually felt like playing it. As you might recall, in Part 7, I lied badly about fucking up a boss battle, getting stuck, and having to re-tape all my footage. So you might expect the Gods of Chrono Cross Taping to take pity on me this time and let everything go smoothly, right?

Not so fast. My VCR, which has never had a single problem in its 8+ years of existence, chose this particular moment -- meaning the moment right after I stopped the tape with the two new hours of footage -- to malfunction like Tidus's pecker. Whether it was the new tape or the VCR screaming at me for forcing it to record that much pretentious bullshit, I don't know. But the only option I had if I wanted to tape footage in the near future was to re-record it using my computer's DVR. That means that everything you read from here until the end of the recap -- every tedious puzzle, every monster ambush, every excessive boss battle -- well, I was lucky enough to experience it twice. Incidentally, I am writing this from the mental hospital.

Jeanne having to play this whole trainwreck twice:
Poor Jeanne. I feel your pain. Here's a cookie.
Awesome! Jeanne's pain is hilarious! GOOOOOO, pond scene!
This makes up for all the horrible penis and gay jokes she has inflicted on me without my having any choice in the matter. I am bitter!


But enough with my technical difficulty-related pity party -- there's so much else in this recap to whine about! Let's get to it!

Cronabe, Biotch, and Glenn inexplicably stand around on the world map for several moments before finally entering their three-recap-long destination. Let us rejoice. Okay, that's enough. It seems that every ruins-style dungeon has an entry way containing a stone tablet, and Fort Dragonia is no exception. Let us see what pearls of wisdom are written on this stone tablet, information that will undoubtedly serve us well as we work our way through this mass of riddles and monsters. "Only when you fulfill the requirements, can you attend the ceremony." This is basically the most obvious of advice, couched in Chrono Cross's trademark pretentiousness. In other words, solve all the dungeon puzzles to get to the end. I would never have figured that out on my own, so I'm glad some asshat took the time to carve it in stone. "Return the colored crystals to their grand master," the tablet "clarifies." Shut up, Chrono Cross.

The next room consists of a stone walkway with stairs leading down, not unlike that scene in Fellowship of the Ring where they were in that mine with that stone staircase that fell over. Only instead of a decent-sized group of ambiguously gay males, I'm stuck with a blue-haired mute, a red-haired potential love interest with no personality, and a not-so-ambiguously gay guy who appears to be mildly retarded. So I'm clearly coming out on the shitty end of the deal, here. Oh, and instead of orcs, there are large pillars lining the room. Generally, in VGR terms, pillars = penises, but these have large cubes stuck on top, with groups of four smaller cubes protruding out of the corners. So in penis terms, this would be something from nightmarish furry artwork.

The next room will be Cronabe's base of operations for a while. It's a large circular chamber containing a save point and four doorways, not counting the one I just came through. Four circular marks, each with a line leading to one of the doorways, surround a large dragon carving in the center of the floor. The dragon carving, just so you know, is there to remind us that this is Fort Dragonia. I'm sure there will be no other reminders whatsoever, since Square is all about subtlety.

The walkthrough I'm using in order to save the tiniest fraction of my sanity tells me to enter the east door first. So I do. Cronabe and friends find themselves on another stone walkway, this one more like a traditional stone bridge. It connects the center structure to another structure. However, since the game designers have thoughtfully left the background completely black, I don't know if they're inside or outside. I mean, where are the fucking walls? Or is it supposed to be nighttime? I'm trying to be descriptive here and those damn designers are screwing me over yet again. Oh, and incidentally, I know there are some people out there who read VGR and get very angry over the penis jokes we make in all seriousness. Therefore, to make those folks feel better, I will most certainly not point out that the latest walkway is surrounded by several sets of phallic pillars.


Inside the second structure, Cronabe encounters his first puzzle of the fort. Surprisingly, it does not involve dragons in any way. Just kidding! Of course it's a fucking dragon. The dragon in question is a statue on top of a pillar. The pillar has another one of Fort Dragonia's patented Pretentio-Puzzles inscribed on it. This one reads "The watchkeeper faces north, as we defend the fort." And then I get a selection list containing all four directions. Basically, when Cronabe picks a direction, the walkway turns around and drops the kids into one of four pits. And the directions are not absolute -- they're relative to whatever way that dickhead dragon faces after Cronabe gets dumped into the pit and makes his way back up to this room. This wouldn't be so annoying if I could just pick the one direction that will further my dungeon adventures, but I have to be an idiot and go after all the treasure in the other pits. My reasoning is that the more special items I get, the less I'll end up tearing my hair out later when I encounter difficult monsters. I'm not sure if this is sound. It probably isn't -- that would be my luck.

Anyway, Cronabe fucks around, getting the treasure he "needs," and eventually ends up dropping down the pit that holds the switch. The switch panel sits in front of a kind of holographic crystal thingy shaped like the Washington Monument. That is to say, most definitely NOT a penis. Not at all. I repeat: not a penis. The red crystal disappears when Cronabe hits the switch. In some far-off room, a dragon statue appears in one of six indentations set in a circle. The purple glowy shit around it lights up the line leading to a circle in the center of the circle. Describing this is so fun!

By now, Cronabe has started to realize that he has to repeat this process five more times. And he's positive that the puzzles are only going to get better. That's because Cronabe is smoking lots of crack. Returning to the main room to use the save point, Cronabe heads through the northeast door. Same walkway, same totally un-phallic pillars. The next structure holds an Escher-esque labyrinth of more walkways and stairs that spans several screens. But instead of David Bowie and his mighty unit, there are robot monsters. And instead of a pedophilic puppet pissing in a pond, there are teleporting paper monsters. The less said about them, the better. There is really no puzzle to this area unless "How can Jeanne collect all the treasure and make it to the next switch without fucking killing someone?" counts as a puzzle. Remember, I had to do this shit twice. It's kind of a miracle that I didn't end up on the local news.

Hmm, what kind of object belonging to the game designers could have inspired a rolled-up paper monster?

Having described this portion of the dungeon as much as I care to -- except to point out that I also end up fighting approximately ten billion "random" battles -- I will skip ahead to the almighty Not-A-Penis Crystal. Unlike the last one, which was just thrown haphazardly into the existing walkway/pit structure, this switch is given special treatment. It's located through a doorway at the end of another walkway surrounded by the Ambiguous Darkness. The walkway and the circular area upon which the switch is located are surrounded by glowing torch pillars which are, coincidentally, not even remotely phallic. That's just sick to think that everything looks like a penis. God, grow up.

But the most important feature of this little Not-A-Penis Crystal shrine is the absolutely fucking huge yellow robot standing in front of it, blocking Cronabe from basking in the Not-Penisy crystalline glow. Cronabe, were he able to speak, would attempt to reason with the robot, perhaps asking him to kindly move aside so that he, too, can share in the wonder of the Not-Penis. But he can't, and also the robot is a dick (unlike the crystal). Therefore, it's boss battle time. Oh boy!

I recorded this footage about a month ago, and I don't really recall what the walkthrough had to say about this particular boss. Judging by my footage...well, I've been ignoring my footage while I peruse the forums because boss battles are generally boring as hell to recap. But seeing as how no one died horribly in spite of my shitty element assignments, I have to say that this boss only looks tough. He's just a big old wussy-ass Tidus on the inside. Which just brought to mind Tidus dressed up as a giant armored robot type thingy. Which in turn brought to mind the thought that someone, somewhere has that exact fetish. I need to cry now.

The robot -- who now looks to me more like a mutant armadillo -- is a green element in spite of being a yellowish hue. I know this because he's able to cast numerous green elements in a row, when I only get to cast one at a time. Neat! Also, the Not-A-Penis Crystal sitting non-phallicly behind him is green. Coincidence!


In the time it took me to type that, the trio managed to finish off the dickheaded armadillio robot. Cronabe proceeds to shut off the Not-A-Penis Crystal, once again causing a dragon statue to materialize in the Circular Chamber of Circular Dragon Circles. I sure hope I get to see every one of those fuckers light up, because otherwise I just don't feel like I did anything!

The game designers take pity on me for a change and provide a shortcut back to the main chamber. I...think I need to sit down. I forgot to mention this earlier because it was just one more damn detail to keep track of, but the circles on the floor of the main chamber also light up with their respective colors when Cronabe flips the switches. The current red and green circles are very Christmas-y and shit. Don't we all feel festive now?


After spending several minutes re-allocating elements just in case, Cronabe continues his counterclockwise circuit, entering the northwest door. In here, Cronabe is able to rotate a pair of walkways into three possible positions each, allowing him to access various other rooms. A greenish-orange bat creature flaps around the room like a drunken spaz, getting in my way just enough to piss me off, but not so much that I don't feel like a petty bitch for being pissed off. Oh, well -- Cronabe kills it, solving this pesky dilemma.

In case you were getting a little bit concerned over the fact that this puzzle sounds like a straightforward, rather sensible dungeon puzzle, never fear! The walkways move around via the opening and closing of different combinations of treasure chests. Yes, that's right -- some asshat Dragonian built a switch system into a series of regular treasure chests instead of, say, just using some good, old-fashioned levers or something. My hypothesis is that the game designers didn't really feel like designing new props, so they reused the objects they already had. It's really the only explanation.

I get a little cocky and impatient here, since this is my second time through this dungeon -- I wouldn't want you to forget that little fact -- and instead of consulting my walkthrough, I'm all, "Yeah, I know my way around here. I just did this yesterday, after all. I'm awesome!" I think you see where this is going -- I end up in the one room where there isn't anything but a random battle. In other words, wasting my precious time on this earth. There was really no reason to mention that pointless side trip, except that I know how much you love to laugh at the stupid shit I do that makes me cry at night, so never say I don't do anything for you.

What a great treasure drop.

Finally, Cronabe ends up in -- guess what! -- another switch room. This one looks just like the last one, complete with pedestal in honor of the Not-A-Penis Crystal. Except that Cronabe's path to the switch is totally clear. No monsters or anything! Hallelujah! Cronabe runs forward like he's Twink and a naked Lenzo is using the Not-A-Penis Crystal as a stripper pole. But oh no! A yucky blob materializes on the steps to the switch, totally getting ooze all over Cronabe's fabulous red bandana. That bitch! Two tentacles -- which also look nothing like penises, I might add -- start groping Cronabe as he gets sucked into a boss battle. Shit!

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