Didn't Uematsu just cotribute 1 song to CT? IIRC Mitsuda did all of the work, may be wrong.
Anywho the soundtrack is amazing and the covers are just as amazing. This is my favorite followed by this
Mitsuda is so damn great
I think Chrono Cross is a fantastic game in its own right. It's not satisfying as a sequel, but it's got a lot of other great things going for it. It has one of my favorite battle systems that allows for tons of freedom through endless combinations of party members and elements/skills. The story is filled with longing and mystery; though it can feel sparse because of the massive number of characters that end up being interchangeable after their part in it ends doesn't help, but I think the atmosphere of the game makes up for it.
I get why people were dissatisfied with it as a sequel to Trigger, but I have played it recently and liked it just as much as I did when it was released. The only glaring flaw in this game is how most of the party members/characters are basically inconsequential. It's not perfect, but I really, really love this game for what it is. Plus the soundtrack is hot fire. It may be the only thing about it that's better than Trigger.
My general sentiment is that squeenix destroyed all the progress Square Soft made in the 4th gen during the 5th gen.
Im not necessarily singling out cross, I just feel its a general casualty of squeenix's fifth gen.
I dont care for the particulars of the battle system, but the whole element thing is not a part of the de-evolution, it could have been adapted seamlessly and without any loss into a superior battle system like triggers.
The de-evolution is more in the fundamentals. In Chrono Trigger, battle happened wherever contact is made, the player team spreads out into positions they can get to, and the enemy does the same. So right off the bat there is a huge variety in battle strategy just from positioning, because the games techs had variable ranges and shapes of attack.
Cross, de-evolves back into the football lineup of bad guys on a line on one side, good guys on a line on the other side. Always the same, every time. The amount of variety and possible battle situations dramatically decreased.
On top of this, in chrono trigger, enemies also moved in real time, this also played off of the battle system that was designed around special attacks that had various ranges and shapes, enemies could move into, and out of one attacks area, where they would be more suited for another kind of attack.
This was all removed from cross, for the simplistic bad guys on this side, good guys on that side, attacks damage one, or attacks damage all. The element system could have really been something far more compelling with a more advanced base design like triggers.
The other aspect Squeenix ruined, was the wonderful world design. The pre-rendered backgrounds were gorgeous to behold, but the player did little more than looked at them, the complexity of the actual design plummeted with most square titles in gen 5. Just taking away the bitmap background and actually looking at what the actual areas design looks like underneath makes it plain as day. Extremely simple, very little to do.
Xenogears, on the other hand, is a great example of chrono trigger style field design being brought to the next level. The towns and areas in Xenogears were vastly more compelling to interact with. But thats not the path that was chosen.