This week’s VGM is another one that I am only vaguely familiar with. My only experience with Chrono Cross was a let’s play and I have forgotten a vast majority of the plot details. I do remember finding the game very somber and depressing, lacking the optimistic tone of Chrono Trigger, while having a much more convoluted plot. I would best sum it up as Chrono Cross is to Chrono Trigger what Mother 3 was to Earthbound. Granted, I would not consider Chrono Cross to be quite AS sad and depressing as Mother 3, but it was still pretty close.
I do not quite remember the exact scene this plays in, but I do feel that it fits the mood of Chrono Cross immensely. It especially fits the beginning of the game, where Serge wakes up in another world identical to his, only to find that no one remembers him; no one except his girlfriend Leena… who still remembers the day he died ten years ago.
Some other sources say that this song’s title is either “The Song of Feeling” or “He Sang of Feeling,” but I feel as though “Ephemeral Memory” is a more fitting title with this scenario in mind. The word “ephemeral” is basically a fancy word for “dying” so the title pretty much means “memory loss.” This could just as easily refer to how everyone else’s memories of Serge seem to have suddenly died, or at least from his perspective, but also note that “dying memory” could also refer to a specific memory that one has that is related to dying, such as Leena’s memory of Serge dying ten years ago.
As for the song itself, it’s the return of the music box, saddest (kinda) instrument ever, and it sounds very reminiscent of Marle’s theme from Chrono Cross’s predecessor Chrono Trigger. The instrumentation and melody are very similar, but “Ephemeral Memory” is slowed down and is at a lower pitch. This exemplifies the contrast between the upbeat and optimistic nature of Chrono Trigger, with the somber and depressing atmosphere of Chrono Cross, and the way that clarinet is intentionally off key to create the feeling that something isn’t right, in addition to the melancholy atmosphere. This song exudes the feelings of confusion, loneliness, and nervousness that comes from having all of your family and friends forget who you are, and realizing that you are now in a world where you do not exist.
Of course, I’m pretty sure there are other parts of the game it plays during, but that is what it makes me think of the most, and it was a very strong introduction. Writing this makes some of it come back to me, and it tells me that I need to actually play Chrono Cross for myself. Hell I just completed The Legend of Dragoon for the first time near the end of last year, so maybe this should be my next classic PS1 JRPG to play… or Final Fantasy VIII…or IX… or Tactics… or Xenogears… or Suikoden… or Vagrant Story... or Wild Arms… or Legend of Legaia… or Valkyrie Profile…
*insert humorous time card depicting and absurdly long amount of time here*
or Azure Dreams… or Tales of Destiny… or Shadow Madness… or Hoshigami… or Beyond the Beyond… or… I think that’s all of them, fuck the PS1 had a lot of JRPGs.
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