Water is commonly associated with rebirth, and while this is true for the 1999 JRPG Chrono Cross, the game takes the metaphor to a strange new level thanks to the existence of Opassa Beach. It’s a place steeped in layers of incomprehensible sci-fi nonsense. There are ghost children, portals between timelines, passages to dream devourers — it’s all so confusing that the themes typically associated with water fall to the wayside almost immediately. The resulting product is a beach so confusing that it’s easily one of the most mind-bending locations in all of games.
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No Lifeguard on Duty
Chrono Trigger already played fast-and-loose with time travel, but the writers of Chrono Cross seemed determined to raise the bar. Chrono Cross tells a winding story that weaves obscure elements from its predecessor with a near-incomprehensible plot that involves body switching, a genetically-enhanced AI, a clone/daughter hybrid, and more. And it all began when a father drowned his son at Opassa Beach.
When Wazuki killed his son Serge in those crystal clear waters in the year 1010 A.D, he was doing the bidding of the FATE supercomputer. FATE was an evolving AI developed by the great guru Belthasar, and was worshipped as a goddess by the unknowing citizens of the continent of El Nido. In the past, Wazuki had come into contact with the Frozen Flame, which enabled FATE to manipulate his body and mind. Following that, FATE had not only directed Wazuki to kill Serge, but it also changed his body into that of a humanoid feline that became known as Lynx.
The death of Serge was not to last, however. Ten years later, in 1020 A.D., an intrepid adventurer named Kid traveled to Opassa Beach and opened a rift in time. She went back ten years and saved Serge’s life, creating an alternate timeline in the process — one where Serge’s death had reverberating consequences. Following Kid’s time-meddling, Opassa Beach served as a connection between these two timelines, and Serge accidentally stumbled on this connection ten years after Kid saved him. From then on, Serge and party were able to freely move between timelines through the Opassa Beach gate. That is, until Serge switched bodies with Lynx, his father-cat hybrid.
Opassa Beach, Far Away in Time
At this point, I think it’s important to take a breath and remember that the main focus of this story is Opassa Beach. As such, there are a lot of elements of Chrono Cross that I’m just going to gloss over, such as the main character switching bodies with his father who is also a humanoid cat that is under the control of a time-locked artificial intelligence. You’re going to have to take my word on some of these things, but take solace in the fact that they make as little sense now as they did 20 years ago. Now, onward.
Once Serge and Lynx switched bodies, the time gate at Opassa Beach stopped functioning for some reason, stranding the party in the Home World timeline, the one where Serge died. Only the Frozen Flame could get Serge his body back, and so Lynx/Serge, along with Kid, traveled to the Dead Sea, a frozen-in-time-wasteland, and retrieved the artifact. After a battle with a FATE-controlled guardian that resulted in the outright destruction of the Dead Sea, Serge and Kid made off with the Frozen Flame to Opassa Beach, where the time gate was once again functioning for whatever reason.
The last story-based function Opassa Beach serves comes after the emergence of Terra Tower, an eons-old fortress constructed by a race of near-extinct lizard people called Dragonians. The tower served as a countermeasure against Chronopolis, a city from the future that housed the FATE AI, and was thrust into the past when Kid splintered the timelines. When Serge and company fought and defeated FATE in 1020 A.D., the way was clear for Terra Tower to re-emerge.
Once the tower was in the sky, the nature of the rift at Opassa Beach changed. By activating the rift with the Time Egg, a gift from the great guru Belthasar, Serge and company were transported to The Darkness Beyond Time where they finally faced off against the Time Devourer. Before then, however, on that storied beach where time was splintered, answers would come.
A Day at the Beach
It turns out that the Time Devourer was a monster borne of the merging of Lavos and Schala, the princess of Zeal. Schala, knowing that she would succumb to the corruption of Lavos, created a clone-daughter that she sent back in time in order to assist those that could one day stop her. That clone-daughter, it turns out, was Kid, the girl who saved Serge’s life in 1010 A.D. This information is delivered by the Ghost Children, spectral versions of the heroes from Chrono Trigger. You see, Lucca had raised Kid in an orphanage after the latter was found in the woods in 1004 A.D., which is the year Schala sent her daughter-clone back to.
Look, I’m not going to pretend that this all makes sense. And this is just a fraction of the overall bonkers story told by Chrono Cross. I haven’t even covered what the titular Chrono Cross actually is, or the fact that Opassa Beach may or may not have been artificially created to be time-sensitive by Belthasar. There’s so much to tell that it would take thousands of words and days of research to uncover. Suffice it to say that Chrono Cross is one of the most complicated time travel stories of all time, and it all began at Opassa Beach.