From the loins of Capcom, Nippon Ichi Software, Namco Bandai, Gust, and Idea Factory comes Cross Edge, an RPG that hopes to capture the same success of other crossover titles in the past. Five developers worked together on the title, which was released on the PlayStation 3 exclusively a few months back. Sadly, despite big named developers working towards the RPG equivalent of a Kingdom Hearts or Smash Bros., Cross Edge falls short, and isn't nearly as good as the sum of its parts.
The story starts off with a few original characters meeting each other, occasionally running into a character from Darkstalkers, Disgaea, Ar tonelico, Spectral Souls, Atelier Marie, and Mana Khemia 2. Each seems confused and out of place, suffering varying degrees of amnesia and not knowing how they ended up where they are. Before long, the number of playable characters surges dramatically, with nearly each cutscene ending in an additional two or three party members. Even veteran RPG fans will likely be overwhelmed as a multitude of characters fill up the menu screen, each having their own set of abilities that need to be learned. These complexities quickly take a back seat, however, to Cross Edge's flawed combat system.
To say that the battle system in Cross Edge is complicated does a disservice to the very word. Convoluted is much more accurate, and the game's dozen or so tutorials barely make sense of the cluttered UI and hybrid turn-based/action/tactical combat. It looks like a PlayStation 3 controller exploded in the top right corner of the screen, and even after understanding what everything means it's still not much more than a cluttered mess of buttons, gauges, meters, and icons. Even after it's eventually understood as well as it can be, there is still the issue of the difficulty, which is higher than most games even when on the easiest setting.
Early in the game, once the combat starts to take shape, it quickly becomes apparent that it's too difficult for its own good. The only way to succeed is to grind from the get-go, something that will likely take the wind of out all but the most loyal RPG fans. Grinding in a Japanese RPG isn't uncommon or frowned upon, but how early it begins in Cross Edge is ludicrous. It's to the point where free downloadable content has already been released for the title that fills players' inventory with powerful items, showing that the issue was realized soon after launch by the development team. Other complexities, such as needing to press the square button every few feet on the overworld map in hopes of triggering a story mission, don't help much either.
If Killzone 2 is an example of the power harnessed from the Cell processor, Cross Edge is an example of the power harnessed from the PlayStation 3's fans. Nearly all of the characters in the game are sprites that easily could have been handled three generations ago, and the occasional 3D models look like they could have been pulled off in Donkey Kong Country. Even with the incredibly dated graphics, Cross Edge has the audacity to suffer from framerate drops and offer a 4GB installation. There's literally nothing in the game that should take up 4GB, and it's insulting that it's even an option. The only aspect of the game that's visually appealing comes in the form of still images during cutscenes, but these images are mysteriously frozen, with each character only coming with a few pieces of high-res art.
If a casual gamer was asked what they thought an RPG was like, odds are they would describe something very similar to Cross Edge. It's not a broken game, just a joyless one, and it's obvious that there were far too many hands in the pot. It's is a game that's largest issue is being misplaced. None of the RPGs it's referencing are on the PlayStation 3, and it would be much better placed either on the PlayStation 2 or PSP. Die-hard RPG fans will likely find a few morsels of entertainment in the title, but it's in no way built to be even remotely accessible for gamers who haven't already beaten Mana Khemia 2 twelve times. If you're looking at the game's box and giggling about the different characters it might be worth checking out, but it should in no way be attempted by anyone else.