Chrono Cross on Switch still leads the standard for RPGs, 20 years on

Chrono Cross fans have been calling for a re-release of the classic JRPG almost since its launch back in 1999. Finally, after many long years of waiting, we're getting our wish.

Available to play on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 / PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and other models, it features remastered graphics, the ability to fast forward, auto-battle improvements, and more.

I've been playing this new remaster on Nintendo Switch, and it's only strengthened my belief that modern RPGs can benefit a lot from the Chrono series, particularly when it comes to narrative and audio.

War of the Parallel Worlds

Chrono Cross fireball element in action

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Chrono Cross is a sidequel, rather than a sequel to Chrono Trigger, the famous RPG released for Nintendo's Super Nintendo console in 1995. Instead of time-travel, you travel across parallel worlds to face off against Lynx, a cruel agent of the supercomputer FATE that's trying to eliminate the main character, Serge, and his party while they also try to defeat a Time Devourer.

When Chrono Cross was released back in 1999, it was critically acclaimed, with praise heaped on its battle system and multiple endings. You could see dramatically different conclusions depending on who you recruited to your party and the conversation options you picked through the game.

While Chrono Trigger saw a remaster in 2008 on the Nintendo DS, followed by a PC release in 2018, I hoped for Chrono Cross to get a similar treatment. The spinoff may not have found the same fame as Chrono Trigger, but it still had a loyal fan base.

While I bounced off of Final Fantasy VIII on the original PlayStation back in 1999, and attempts to get into other entries in the series, Chrono Cross' story of Balamb Garden hooked me in, especially as it revolved around time travel. I've loved stories of time travel ever since seeing films and shows like Back to the Future and Quantum Leap. 

Final Fantasy VIII was how I discovered Chrono Cross, thanks to a magazine reviewing the eighth entry back in 2000. A small blurb was listing alternatives to the game, and it erroneously stated that it was a sequel to Chrono Trigger, with a bigger focus on time travel mechanics. Even though it turned out to be about parallel worlds, Chrono Cross still kept me enthralled.

Chrono Cross, facing a boss

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Playing the remaster on my Switch in 2022 has been a joy. Its art style has been lovingly remastered from top to bottom, alongside the modern features similar to the Final Fantasy remasters of fast-forwarding gameplay, avoiding battles, and more, with the press of the ZR button.

The audio deserves a special mention too. It's easy to focus on the gameplay of these RPGs from the mid-90s, all the while forgetting the music is just as cemented in our memories. Moments such as Chrono Cross' battles and when Serge stands at the graveside of his parallel self, all land because of this fantastic score. Composer Yasunori Mitsuda knew raised the bar for what RPG scores could achieve.

While it's not been confirmed yet if you can play Chrono Cross on a Steam Deck, I'd be surprised if this wasn't possible. There was no slowdown on the Switch, and everything worked as intended. I'm sure playing this in a higher resolution on the Steam Deck will only enhance the game.

Boss in Chrono Cross

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Chrono Cross is a prime example of how it makes you think about second chances, and what could have been if you took one route instead of the other.

We've all had those sliding doors moments, where we wonder what would had happened if we'd acted differently in the moment. Chrono Cross' story reminds me of a lyric from the song 'Two of Us', from The Beatles' 'Let it Be' album, “You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead.” That's what Serge's story is here, across the parallel worlds, with multiple endings.

Without spoiling the game, the endings are dependent on facing certain bosses at certain moments, alongside answering questions to characters in certain ways. This will all lead to one of 11 endings that may mean that Serge and his party find the happy epilogue or the sad conclusion of the story.

Hopefully, this remaster may mean another entry in the Chrono series could occur. We're already seeing reboots and sequels that we wouldn't have thought would be possible in recent years, with Resident Evil 2 Remake, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and the sequel, Return to Monkey Island all a reality.

Somewhere in this universe, Crono and Marle from Chrono Trigger, alongside Serge and Leena are waiting to appear in a third game, and in an age of remakes and remasters, perhaps its time to see what these characters are doing, and how a game on our modern consoles and handhelds will work across time periods and alternate worlds.

  • Chrono Cross may well find itself on our list of the Best RPGs

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Chrono Cross on Switch still leads the standard for RPGs, 20 years on

Chrono Cross fans have been calling for a re-release of the classic JRPG almost since its launch back in 1999. Finally, after many long years of waiting, we're getting our wish.

Available to play on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 / PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and other models, it features remastered graphics, the ability to fast forward, auto-battle improvements, and more.

I've been playing this new remaster on Nintendo Switch, and it's only strengthened my belief that modern RPGs can benefit a lot from the Chrono series, particularly when it comes to narrative and audio.

War of the Parallel Worlds

Chrono Cross fireball element in action

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Chrono Cross is a sidequel, rather than a sequel to Chrono Trigger, the famous RPG released for Nintendo's Super Nintendo console in 1995. Instead of time-travel, you travel across parallel worlds to face off against Lynx, a cruel agent of the supercomputer FATE that's trying to eliminate the main character, Serge, and his party while they also try to defeat a Time Devourer.

When Chrono Cross was released back in 1999, it was critically acclaimed, with praise heaped on its battle system and multiple endings. You could see dramatically different conclusions depending on who you recruited to your party and the conversation options you picked through the game.

While Chrono Trigger saw a remaster in 2008 on the Nintendo DS, followed by a PC release in 2018, I hoped for Chrono Cross to get a similar treatment. The spinoff may not have found the same fame as Chrono Trigger, but it still had a loyal fan base.

While I bounced off of Final Fantasy VIII on the original PlayStation back in 1999, and attempts to get into other entries in the series, Chrono Cross' story of Balamb Garden hooked me in, especially as it revolved around time travel. I've loved stories of time travel ever since seeing films and shows like Back to the Future and Quantum Leap. 

Final Fantasy VIII was how I discovered Chrono Cross, thanks to a magazine reviewing the eighth entry back in 2000. A small blurb was listing alternatives to the game, and it erroneously stated that it was a sequel to Chrono Trigger, with a bigger focus on time travel mechanics. Even though it turned out to be about parallel worlds, Chrono Cross still kept me enthralled.

Chrono Cross, facing a boss

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Playing the remaster on my Switch in 2022 has been a joy. Its art style has been lovingly remastered from top to bottom, alongside the modern features similar to the Final Fantasy remasters of fast-forwarding gameplay, avoiding battles, and more, with the press of the ZR button.

The audio deserves a special mention too. It's easy to focus on the gameplay of these RPGs from the mid-90s, all the while forgetting the music is just as cemented in our memories. Moments such as Chrono Cross' battles and when Serge stands at the graveside of his parallel self, all land because of this fantastic score. Composer Yasunori Mitsuda knew raised the bar for what RPG scores could achieve.

While it's not been confirmed yet if you can play Chrono Cross on a Steam Deck, I'd be surprised if this wasn't possible. There was no slowdown on the Switch, and everything worked as intended. I'm sure playing this in a higher resolution on the Steam Deck will only enhance the game.

Boss in Chrono Cross

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Chrono Cross is a prime example of how it makes you think about second chances, and what could have been if you took one route instead of the other.

We've all had those sliding doors moments, where we wonder what would had happened if we'd acted differently in the moment. Chrono Cross' story reminds me of a lyric from the song 'Two of Us', from The Beatles' 'Let it Be' album, “You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead.” That's what Serge's story is here, across the parallel worlds, with multiple endings.

Without spoiling the game, the endings are dependent on facing certain bosses at certain moments, alongside answering questions to characters in certain ways. This will all lead to one of 11 endings that may mean that Serge and his party find the happy epilogue or the sad conclusion of the story.

Hopefully, this remaster may mean another entry in the Chrono series could occur. We're already seeing reboots and sequels that we wouldn't have thought would be possible in recent years, with Resident Evil 2 Remake, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and the sequel, Return to Monkey Island all a reality.

Somewhere in this universe, Crono and Marle from Chrono Trigger, alongside Serge and Leena are waiting to appear in a third game, and in an age of remakes and remasters, perhaps its time to see what these characters are doing, and how a game on our modern consoles and handhelds will work across time periods and alternate worlds.

  • Chrono Cross may well find itself on our list of the Best RPGs

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

If you’re still using Internet Explorer, just please stop now, Microsoft says

Microsoft has once again urged users to stop using its outdated Internet Explorer browser as the software limps closer to its retirement.

The company has again reminded users that Internet Explorer 11 is being retired from Windows 10 in June 2022, with Microsoft Edge taking its place.

It seems that some users may be a touch unwilling to make the jump, however, with Microsoft forced to emphasise that the days of Internet Explorer really are numbered.

The future is Edge

“As previously announced, the future of Internet Explorer on Windows is in Microsoft Edge,” Microsoft stated in a company announcement.

“The Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) desktop application will be retired on June 15, 2022, for certain versions of Windows 10. This means that the IE11 desktop application will no longer be supported and afterward will redirect to Microsoft Edge if a user tries to access it.”

The company did highlight that any particularly nostalgia-driven users can still use Internet Explorer mode (IE mode) within Microsoft Edge for the time being. IE mode aims to support legacy websites and applications within Microsoft Edge until they can be ported over to the new software.

Microsoft first announced plans to retire support for Internet Explorer 11 across Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 back in August 2020, and since then has been gradually stripping back services for the software.

Its Microsoft 365 deadline passed in August 2021, although some apps may still function via the browser, albeit with users seeing a severely diminished experience.

External tools have also pulled back, with Google Search withdrawing support for Internet Explorer in October 2021, leaving the browser reliant on its own in-house Bing search, with support for Docs, Sheets, Slides and other Google Workspace apps removed in March 2021.

Microsoft Edge continues to perform strongly in the global browser market, with recent figures placing it on the verge of surpassing Apple's Safari offering. 

The latest StatCounter numbers show Microsoft Edge is now used on 9.54% of desktops worldwide, just behind Safari at 9.84% – although both are still far behind runaway market leader Google Chrome on 65.38%.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

If you’re still using Internet Explorer, just please stop now, Microsoft says

Microsoft has once again urged users to stop using its outdated Internet Explorer browser as the software limps closer to its retirement.

The company has again reminded users that Internet Explorer 11 is being retired from Windows 10 in June 2022, with Microsoft Edge taking its place.

It seems that some users may be a touch unwilling to make the jump, however, with Microsoft forced to emphasise that the days of Internet Explorer really are numbered.

The future is Edge

“As previously announced, the future of Internet Explorer on Windows is in Microsoft Edge,” Microsoft stated in a company announcement.

“The Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) desktop application will be retired on June 15, 2022, for certain versions of Windows 10. This means that the IE11 desktop application will no longer be supported and afterward will redirect to Microsoft Edge if a user tries to access it.”

The company did highlight that any particularly nostalgia-driven users can still use Internet Explorer mode (IE mode) within Microsoft Edge for the time being. IE mode aims to support legacy websites and applications within Microsoft Edge until they can be ported over to the new software.

Microsoft first announced plans to retire support for Internet Explorer 11 across Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 back in August 2020, and since then has been gradually stripping back services for the software.

Its Microsoft 365 deadline passed in August 2021, although some apps may still function via the browser, albeit with users seeing a severely diminished experience.

External tools have also pulled back, with Google Search withdrawing support for Internet Explorer in October 2021, leaving the browser reliant on its own in-house Bing search, with support for Docs, Sheets, Slides and other Google Workspace apps removed in March 2021.

Microsoft Edge continues to perform strongly in the global browser market, with recent figures placing it on the verge of surpassing Apple's Safari offering. 

The latest StatCounter numbers show Microsoft Edge is now used on 9.54% of desktops worldwide, just behind Safari at 9.84% – although both are still far behind runaway market leader Google Chrome on 65.38%.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Sidecar can still be used in iPadOS 15.4 with Universal Control – but what is it?

With Universal Control releasing with macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 as a beta, some have been wondering if it's replaced a similar feature that's been available since 2019.

Sidecar was released with macOS Catalina in 2019, which allows users with a Mac to use an iPad as a second screen. You couldn't interact with the tablet in iPadOS. This feature would only display whatever you chose from the Mac.

But it's not had its time to shine in three years, with many wondering what the feature does, and how it works. Universal Control has only confused this further, with some wondering if it replaced Sidecar.

During my time using an iPad in 2021, I was able to get Sidecar working with my old MacBook Air (2013), so I wanted to finally straighten out the differences between Universal Control and Sidecar, and how both can be used for certain situations.

What's the difference?

The best way to think of these features is to see Sidecar as a way of only displaying content, while Universal Control is a way to manage content between devices.

You can use your trackpad and keyboard to manage content between your Mac and iPad in Universal Control. But in Sidecar, you're essentially using macOS on both devices, so your Mac thinks it's connected to a second display only. There's no iPadOS when you're using Sidecar.

You're using a keyboard and mouse within this feature, similar to using three external displays in Windows 11 for example – same OS, but an extension of the display. That's what Sidecar's function is for your Mac.

Universal Control on a MacBook Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

In an Apple Support document, it details the requirements to use the feature and it explicitly states that you can use AirPlay for Sidecar to work wirelessly or a lightning or USB-C cable to connect your Mac and iPad to also enable Sidecar.

But in Universal Control, you only have to make sure that your Mac and iPad are on the same Wi-Fi network and the same iCloud account. As long as they're both in close proximity to one another, you can use your trackpad or mouse to switch over to the iPad, with no effort necessary to enable the feature.

Sidecar is still a useful feature in 2022, especially if you have an old iPad somewhere. Using a Mac with an external display can be a great help if you're doing work, watching a movie, or playing a game.

Even though Apple hasn't showcased Sidecar much since 2019, it's nice to know it and Universal Control can stand aside one another and can fit certain situations when needed, wherever you may be.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Sidecar can still be used in iPadOS 15.4 with Universal Control – but what is it?

With Universal Control releasing with macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 as a beta, some have been wondering if it's replaced a similar feature that's been available since 2019.

Sidecar was released with macOS Catalina in 2019, which allows users with a Mac to use an iPad as a second screen. You couldn't interact with the tablet in iPadOS. This feature would only display whatever you chose from the Mac.

But it's not had its time to shine in three years, with many wondering what the feature does, and how it works. Universal Control has only confused this further, with some wondering if it replaced Sidecar.

During my time using an iPad in 2021, I was able to get Sidecar working with my old MacBook Air (2013), so I wanted to finally straighten out the differences between Universal Control and Sidecar, and how both can be used for certain situations.

What's the difference?

The best way to think of these features is to see Sidecar as a way of only displaying content, while Universal Control is a way to manage content between devices.

You can use your trackpad and keyboard to manage content between your Mac and iPad in Universal Control. But in Sidecar, you're essentially using macOS on both devices, so your Mac thinks it's connected to a second display only. There's no iPadOS when you're using Sidecar.

You're using a keyboard and mouse within this feature, similar to using three external displays in Windows 11 for example – same OS, but an extension of the display. That's what Sidecar's function is for your Mac.

Universal Control on a MacBook Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

In an Apple Support document, it details the requirements to use the feature and it explicitly states that you can use AirPlay for Sidecar to work wirelessly or a lightning or USB-C cable to connect your Mac and iPad to also enable Sidecar.

But in Universal Control, you only have to make sure that your Mac and iPad are on the same Wi-Fi network and the same iCloud account. As long as they're both in close proximity to one another, you can use your trackpad or mouse to switch over to the iPad, with no effort necessary to enable the feature.

Sidecar is still a useful feature in 2022, especially if you have an old iPad somewhere. Using a Mac with an external display can be a great help if you're doing work, watching a movie, or playing a game.

Even though Apple hasn't showcased Sidecar much since 2019, it's nice to know it and Universal Control can stand aside one another and can fit certain situations when needed, wherever you may be.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

New Windows 11 update shows Microsoft still wants to take down the iPad

Microsoft has released a software preview for Windows 11 that will make using the operating system on tablet devices, and 2-in-1 laptops, much better.

As DigitalTrends reports, Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22563, which has just been released to people signed up to receive early versions of Windows 11 to test, optimizes the taskbar on tablets and 2-in-1 devices.

In the new update, the taskbar now has two states: a collapsed and expanded mode. When the taskbar is collapsed, it appears much thinner, giving you more screen real estate and helping to prevent accidental presses of taskbar buttons.

Meanwhile, the expanded mode makes the taskbar wider, allowing you to select items more easily, such as apps, using the touch screen.

Switching between the two modes looks pretty easy as well, and is done by simply swiping your finger up or down at the bottom of the tablet’s screen where the taskbar resides.

It seems that this version of the taskbar will only be available on Windows 11 tablets and 2-in-1 laptops, which have touchscreens that either detach from the keyboard, or can be folded back, and used as a tablet. Desktop PCs and traditional laptops won’t get this new taskbar.

As it’s currently in a Preview Build, it also means that regular Windows 11 users won’t see it just yet. However, if testing goes well and there’s a positive reaction from Windows Insiders, we could see the feature appear in a Windows 11 update sometime in the future.


Analysis: Microsoft’s tablet ambitions remain

Pics of Microsoft 8 2-in-1 PC

(Image credit: Microsoft India)

This new update shows that Microsoft’s tablet ambitions remain undeterred. While its rivals Apple and Google have found immense success with tablet devices, Microsoft has yet to do the same. Its attempts to take on the mighty iPad and gain tablet market share have been a mixed bag.

There was the deeply unpopular Windows 8, which dropped much of the classic interface of Windows, including the taskbar and Start menu, for an interface with large icons that was aimed at tablet use. The problem was, Windows 8 tablets were largely ignored, and desktop and laptop users hated having to put up with an interface that was designed for touchscreens they didn’t have.

Microsoft found more success with its Surface Pro line of 2-in-1 devices, alongside Windows 10, which struck a more even balance with an interface that was better suited to traditional PCs, while also having a tablet mode.

However, Surface Pro sales still lag behind iPad and Android tablet sales, but it seems Microsoft isn’t giving up. If Windows 11 continues to evolve to work even better on tablet devices, then this could be Microsoft’s best bet yet to take on Apple and Google.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

This new Microsoft PowerToys update could be the least exciting ever, but you should still install it

Microsoft has released a new update for its PowerToys utility suite for Windows 10 and Windows 11, which may be one of the least exciting for a while.

Microsoft’s PowerToys v0.55.2 is available for download now, but doesn't come with any new features or upgrades. Instead, it packs an important security update that addresses a security flaw discovered in the previous release.

That means that even though it doesn't sound particularly interesting, PowerToys users should still install the update immediately to make sure their systems stay protected.

PowerToys security

“This is a patch release to fix issues in v0.55.1. due to an installer bug and .NET 5 doing an update for the runtime,” the official changelog for the release reads. “We deemed (it) important for stability based on incoming rates.”

PowerToys users can install the update now by going to the Settings menu, then General > Updates > Check for updates.

Although perhaps not a commonly-known app for most users, PowerToys allows Windows users the chance to optimize their software for maximum efficiency and productivity.

PowerToys is an open source suite of tools for advanced Windows users, designed to help bypass certain settings and perform actions that are unavailable by default. It also offers a wider range of customization options.

Since PowerToys was rebooted in 2019, Microsoft has serviced the suite regularly with new tools and features, a pattern extended with the latest release. 

This includes the recent inclusion of a mouse crosshair tool that lets users quickly identify the location of their cursor using a keyboard shortcut, and two new File Explorer add-ons that dramatically expand the number of file types supported by the preview pane, including support for 3D printers.

A further PowerToys update earlier in 2022 also included several useful additions, including an “Always on Top” utility that allows users to toggle a window in focus to be on top with a quick press of Win + Ctrl + T. Microsoft also changed the hotkey to mute your webcam and microphone from Win + N to Win + Shift + Q to avoid conflict with an existing Windows 11 keyboard shortcut.

The latest version of PowerToys is available via both the Microsoft Store and the GitHub page.

Via: MSPowerUser

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More