Monday, September 13, 2010

Chrono Roma

Hey: There's going to be talking about places in Chrono Cross, which might be spoilerific, if you haven't played the game yet. Then again, since it came out 11 years ago (gulp), you probably should have by now. If you haven't, get on it. It's $15, with shipping from Amazon, and you probably have a PS1 memory card lying around somewhere.

Insomnia's been hitting a little hard, so I've been putting on the Chrono Cross soundtrack (a behemoth 3 disc OST) as something to give swaths of mental color to the greys, blacks and browns of nighttime. Composed by Japanese musician Yasunori Mitsuda, the first 30 or so tracks are less intense than I remember, with a lot being based on ambient sounds accompanied by minimal acoustic guitar. (That is to say: It is very not rock and roll and the opposite of the bombastic Kingdom Hearts 2 opening.)

Also: Images are from Chrono Cross and Rome. Obv. Less obviously, none of them are mine.

Listening to the songs brings me back to my memories of playing the game, which for the most part are light adventure, with a sense of wonder and awe, which I hope is the right tone to explore a city that's basically unknown to me. Shit, it's not for nothing that I remember Chrono Cross after its story for how wide and deep its color palate is. Listening to the songs, even down side streets, the sense of adventure and awe, (A&A, apparently) leaves me with a strange sense of familiar adventure in an unfamiliar landscape. Were I to guess, I think it's something about the gaslights and the brownish light on the sides of buildings that makes the experience more ethereal and otherworldly. Roma, at least past 10 p.m. in relatively nice areas is made up of those colors, along with a little bit of wear.

I feel a little bit sutpid repeating this, since it might be so obvious to you, dear reader, but Roma is exciting and new and shiny and filled with interesting graffiti, most of it not swastikas. Yeah. Fascists. Last time I paid attention to that sort of thing, it was a H2O cover of the Dead Kennedys "Nazi Punks Fuck Off", but in Europe, shit is real, man. Roma is familiar, but tweaked. Like a city, but with a couple degrees of separation, or more accurately, like a cityscape imbued with magical realism. The real-life elements are still there, Roma's expensive, the metro doesn't run after midnight and drinks are cheaper for girls, but listening to the Chrono Cross OST, the ubiquitous motions of tourists and employees at night becomes fantastical and maybe cosmic.

Yes, I'm filled with stars. So far I haven't been robbed, pick-pocketed, mugged, held up or even threatened or harassed by a drunk. There's still illusion. A feeling, since inaugurated here, is still around. From Chrono Cross, I remember volcanic geysers that could erupt at any moment, the walls surging with red hot magma, sleepy, brightly colored island towns and pristine white halls of forgotten mechanical utopias. These, of course, don't mention the dank sewers that every JRPG seems to have at least one of, marble lined city-scapes and lush jungles (more than one!).

With the exception of the marble cityscape, there's nothing like that kind of color in nighttime Roma. It simply does not exist, and bringing those reams of color to mind, should not work. It should be an aesthetic cacophony, but somehow the two reinforce each other. It's something I never thought would happen, or even really gave it a serious thought until a couple days ago, but now that I know, I'm looking forward to each night I can get away from people who might actually want to be around me and be acceptably anti-social with my headphones, a map and updating a fairly important piece of media for me in a new decade.

Not surprisingly, the music today is coming from the OST. I'm starting you off with the intro to the whole thing (60-ish songs), leaving you with the related videos and letting you go.

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