An RPG in collaboration between Nippon Ichi, Capcom, Gust, Namco Bandai and Idea Factory, Cross Edge for the PlayStation 3 takes popular RPG characters from each developer to forge a game that mixes them all together. With heroes and villains from games such as Disgaea, Darkstalkers and Mana Khemia 2 making up the cast, quickly labeling Cross Edge as pure fan-service undoubtably comes to mind. Yet, with so many respected developers working hand in hand, the real concern is whether their combined efforts have created a fun and fulfilling game, or a convoluted dud.
Cross Edge opens with lead characters York and Miki lost in the woods. Not presiding from any game but Cross Edge, the two have no idea where they are as it seems that they're in a new world. Right off the bat they start running into characters from other popular Japanese RPGs created by the list of developers on Cross Edge, the first being Morrigan of Darkstalkers. Confusion continues to arise as almost all the characters present in Cross Edge that hail from other games have lost most of their memory.
Right from the start this makes for a fairly hollow story as each new character follows a similar routine of being lost and either looking for help, or being defensive. No less, the group of playable characters quickly amasses, still with an extremely thin idea of what is actually going on at first. Without spoiling the rest of the story, it simply takes far too long for anything interesting to get going, with the entire cast being mostly clueless and predictable.
While Cross Edge's story doesn't put the unique characters to much use, the game compensates for this with its battle system. Cross Edge features a turn based battle system, laid out in two opposing sides, one side for enemies, the other side for players. Each side has four rows and three columns, making for twelve different positions to place characters in. Up to four party members can be used in battle, and their ideal placement depends on whether they primarily use long range or close range attacks, or attack at all. At the start of the game for instance, placing Morrigan up front allows her to attack any enemy up to three rows deep on the enemy-side. York uses guns as his weapon-of-choice, thus placing him in the back works best as all enemies are within range, but he remains less susceptible to close-range attacks by enemies.
At first the system feels overly complex, and indeed it never feels like the best choice of components, however it does become more and more engaging as the difficulty level ramps up and up. Cross Edge is quite hard, and the use of upgrading weapons and armor, and crafting items and keeping a stocked inventory become essential. A very nice addition to the game overall is how the game allows players to blast through story-scenes, as well as all battle animations. By simply holding down L2, players can select attacks and immediately see the damage incurred, instead of having to watch attack animation after attack animation.
Another much appreciated aspect of Cross Edge is how it handles level grinding. Most of the game takes place on the world map, with the story taking place at marked spots on the world map known as "Events". As such, once out of battle players are usually back on the world map, with full health. By replenishing health after battle and skipping animations, grinding is actually fairly fun as battles focus on the strategy and tactics and otherwise fly-by, and outside of battle there is no running back to safe points for healing items and rest.
The extremely noticeable worst aspect of Cross Edge is undisputedly its graphics. The game looks like it was entirely developed for the PlayStation 2, with the only "HD" addition to it being static character art used in story-scenes. Sprites, while animated well, are very pixelated and stand out. Minus the HD art, Cross Edge feels like it would run just fine on even the PSP. The other poorly addressed part of Cross Edge is its graphical stutters prior-to and during battles. The game by no means should not be running at an incredible frame-rate considering its low-grade graphics and HDD install. The music is also quite forgettable, which is unsurprisingly considering the lack of effort in every other audio-video aspect of the game.
Overall Cross Edge is okay. Its battle system is the best part of the game, and luckily can see the majority of the game's screen-time with the handy use of skipping usually-unimportant story-scenes. The story being a wild goose chase with poorly used characters coupled with bad graphics hurts the game significantly considering it is of the Role Playing Game genre. Nevertheless, each time this reviewer came back to play more Cross Edge, the gameplay inspired a smile from the start each time, and didn't leave a bad taste when put down again for the night.