Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Boasting one of the largest playable casts in JRPG history, Chrono Cross goes a little overboard with the sheer number of characters that can join Serge on his journey. There are no less than forty-five playable characters in this game, and it will take three playthroughs to get all of them on your team simultaneously. Yikes.
This guide will help you recruit all forty-five party members in Chrono Cross. Two of these members - Serge and Lynx - are mandatory party leaders that will come and go as the plot wills it, so we'll focus on the other forty-three recruits.
Your first optional recruitment is Poshul, the big, pink, talking dog of Arni Village. You have two opportunities to recruit Poshul:
- Your first chance to recruit Poshul is right at the beginning of the game, when you gain control of Serge in Arni Village. Enter the right-most hut and you'll find a small restaurant. Check the right side of the restaurant for a door into a bedroom. Inspect the bed in front of the window for a Heckran Bone. Take it to Poshul, who is running around in the rear of the village common area, on the far left side of Arni Village. Use it as a Key Item near Poshul and she will beg to join your party.
- You can also recruit Poshul - albeit an alternate reality version, which is exactly the same - shortly after Serge enters Another World. Proceed to Cape Howl and join Kid in fighting off Karsh, Solt, and Peppor. Turn down Kid when she tries to join up with you - you'll need to turn her down three times - and Serge will go to sleep in Arni Village. The next day, Poshul and Leena will join your party.
The most important party member in Chrono Cross next to Serge himself, Kid comes and goes from your party multiple times. There are several ways to recruit her:
- When you first meet Kid at Cape Howl in Another World she will help you fight off Karsh, Solt, and Peppor. She'll then offer to join you. If you accept now, however, you'll miss out on recruiting Leena.
- If you didn't recruit Kid at Cape Howl she'll be in Termina, and she'll again offer to join you (after storming off on you when she sees Leena, anyway). Check the statue of General Viper to trigger the conversation. You can again turn her down here, though she'll still give you a Tele-Porter for switching your party members. You'll keep seeing Kid throughout the trip to Viper Manor, but she'll act independently of the party.
- Kid will leave the party once she is poisoned during the climax of Viper Manor, and you'll have to choose whether or not you want to save her. If you go through the hoops to save Kid you'll recruit several other characters and get Kid back. If you decide not to save her you'll find her cured after completing the events of the ghost invasion on the S.S. Invincible, and she'll join you automatically.
- Kid leaves the party again until more or less the end of the game once you complete Fort Dragonia. You won't get her back until you complete Chronopolis. Once you have, head to Hermit's Hideaway in Another World and check on Kid. You'll get the chance to enter her memories, see some familiar sights from Chrono Trigger, and bring her back to full health. Kid will permanently rejoin the team from this point on.
Serge's long-time friend and would-be girlfriend, Leena is an easy character to miss if you make one crucial mistake early on. Proceed through the game until you fight Karsh, Solt, and Peppor at Cape Howl and are saved by Kid. Kid will ask to join up with Serge. Turn her down three times and she'll leave. The next day Leena will wake Serge up in Arni, and she - along with Poshul, if she's not already in your party - will join Serge for his trip to Termina. You must turn Kid down, or Leena will never join the party.
A groovy good luck charm come to life, Mojo is an early-game character that's easy to miss. When you first gain control of Serge in Arni Village, check out the basement of the first hut on the right. There's a fisherman down here talking about his trade, and what he might have been had he not become a fisherman. He'll give you a Shark's Tooth.
Proceed to Arni Village in Another World and speak to the same man. He is too busy worshipping Mojo, his good luck charm, to bother with fishing. Show him the Shark's Tooth key item and he'll demand that you leave. Mojo will leap from his pedestal and join the party as you try to exit the basement.
The member of the Chrono Cross cast that requires the most labor to recruit, Skelly is a skeletal circus performer who has lost his memory. He needs you to track down his body parts and reassemble them so he can reclaim his old life... or at least recall what it was.
You'll begin the quest to reassemble Skelly at Fossil Valley in Another World, early in the game. Speak to the soldier guarding a northern path and tell him you're an exorcist. He'll allow you into another area, filled with bones, that is reportedly haunted. Look around a bit and Skelly's skull will hop up and ask for help. Agree and you'll gain the Heavy Skull.
The rest of Skelly is scattered throughout Another World. You can find his parts in the following areas:
- Speak to the item trader just outside Doc's clinic in Guldove. Once you're done trading Elements for items she'll ask you to deal with a Pelvic Bone. This is, of course, Skelly's.
- Head to Guldove and visit Orlha's store. There's a dwarf in here who will give you a Green Tinkler if you keep speaking to him. You can use this in Hydra Swamp to access the rearmost reaches of the swamp. Take a left through the swamp first to get the Safety Gear from one of the worker NPCs so you aren't getting poisoned with every step, then head north until you reach a green vine that slaps you every time you interact with it. You can use the Green Tinkler as a key item to make the vine behave. Keep following the path north and east through the swamp until you see a small cave. Enter it and you'll find the Good Backbone inside.
- Head to the Shadow Forest to the east of Viper Manor. If you're in the process of recruiting Nikki you can get in here early; otherwise you'll need to wait until after the infiltration of Viper Manor. Proceed two screens to the west of the entrance and you'll see a small waterfall near the bottom-right of the screen. You can get into the water here and enter a small cave behind the waterfall. There's a note in here explaining a nearby monster, sitting among a pile of bones. Included in the bones is Skelly's Angry Scapula.
- Sail to Water Dragon Isle, to the south of the main island. This area is devoid of water in Another World, so there isn't a whole lot to see. Walk north towards a path to the second screen until you see a man in green on your right. Walk through the leafy arch separating the path from the man and speak to him. He'll give you the Sturdy Ribs.
- Head to the Isle of the Damned in the northeast of the world map. If you check the upper-left cave on the first screen of the Isle of the Damned you'll find the Mixed Bones. The rest of the island is very dangerous if you come here early, but this first screen is devoid of enemies.
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Once you have all six pieces of Skelly he will thank you for your help, and his pieces will disappear from your key items. Make a trip to Termina and look in the top-right house on the first screen, across from the statue of General Viper. This place belongs to Skelly's grandmother, and speaking to her will bring Skelly, all in one piece, over for a visit. Leave the house and come back, then speak to Skelly again to recruit him.
Guile, Nikki, Pierre
These three characters are all grouped together because they are mutually exclusive. All three of them can be recruited to help you get into Viper Manor early in the game - however, you can only recruit one of them per playthrough. Requesting the aid of one of them will eliminate the other two as candidates for your party until you begin a New Game +, as every party member you recruited in the previous game automatically comes back. As such you'll need to play through Chrono Cross three times to get Guile, Nikki, and Pierre.
You can recruit these three characters in the following ways once you've reached Termina and decided to infiltrate Viper Manor:
- Guile is in the bar near the entrance of Termina, standing on the far left side of the room. He wants into the manor to win a bet. Agree to help him find a boat and he'll join the party.
- Miki is in the Shadow Forest near Viper Manor. To get in you'll need the help of Miki, Nikki's fellow performer (and another party member you can recruit later). Go to the docks in Termina - west of the entrance - and board Nikki's ship. Talk to the man on the right side of the dressing room to make Miki appear, then head to Shadow Forest to the east of Viper Manor. Miki will have cleared out the knights protecting the forest. You'll see Nikki on the second screen to the left. Keep tailing him and eventually he'll join the party.
- Pierre is in Termina. Head to the Smithy, down the eastern road from the entrance and then to the north. Head inside the front door of the Smithy and check the back room. Pierre is in here, mourning the loss of his 'symbol of heroism'. Go out the door near Pierre and into the back yard of the Smithy, where a boy is running laps. Speak to him and he'll give you the Hero's Medal. Go inside and give Pierre the Hero's Medal as a key item. Speak to him again and he'll join the party.
A fluffy, evolutionary wonder, Pip is first encountered in Viper Manor. You'll find him when your team falls for a trap and winds up in Luccia's lab. Defeat her two Bulbs, then check the left side of the room. Pip is trapped in a cage. Speak to him twice and he'll ask you to free him. Unlock his cage and he'll escape once everything with Viper Manor is finished.
You'll later meet Pip on the S.S. Invincible, during the invasion of the ghosts. He'll be below-decks, and when you first approach him he'll run away. You'll have to chase him down three times before he stops running. Speak to him in the bottom-left corner of the hold and he'll join the party.
(Notably, Pip is the only party member who will rejoin you once Lynx takes control of the game. You'll find him back on the S.S. Invincible in Another World.)
Korcha, Mel, Razzly or Doc, Macha, Glenn
Once you complete Viper Manor Kid will be poisoned, and if she's in your party she'll be incapacitated and forced to remain in Guldove. Korcha will ask you if you're giving up on healing Kid, and how you respond determines on the three party members you get next:
- If you remain determined to save Kid, despite the odds, you'll gain Korcha automatically, and can then recruit Mel in Guldove once Korcha is in the party. You can then recruit Razzly in the Hydra Marshes of Home World by defeating the Pentapus. You must defeat the Pentapus before killing the Hydra, or Razzly will be lost to you.
- If you decide that there's no hope of curing Kid Korcha will get angry and leave. Find him in his home and his mother, Macha, will offer you Korcha's boat in his place. Speak to the village elder, then head to the docks and Macha will row you to Termina. Look near the entrance of Termina to find Glenn, then head back to the docks and speak to Macha. Glenn will show up to borrow the boat. Both he and Macha will offer to join the party. Once you've visited the S.S. Invincible and driven off the ghosts that invade, visit Guldove again and you'll find Kid cured. Doc will join the party after a cut scene.
A priest who's also a wrestler? Wouldn't be the first time. Greco is found on the far east side of Termina in Another World, down the side street with the fortune teller, though you can't recruit him until after the events of Viper Manor. When you first arrive you'll see him sending a departed soul off with a prayer. Follow him into his house and speak to him. After a bit of storytelling he'll join the party. You can recruit Greco whether you're playing as Serge or Lynx.
The closest thing you get to recruiting Lucca in Chrono Cross, Luccia is the mad scientist of Viper Manor. You'll first meet her if you try to grab the Silver Pendant off of the wall of the treasure room in the basement of the manor. She'll force you to fight her Bulbs, then let you out and mention helping you in the future. If you return to Viper Manor you'll find Luccia on the upper balcony of the manor. Talk to her here, then follow her back to her laboratory to recruit her. You need to have freed Pip to recruit Luccia, and Serge must be the leader of the party, not Lynx.
Another of Luccia's leafy experiments, NeoFio is found at Viper Manor in Another World. Return to the manor after your initial invasion and, if you haven't already, interact with Luccia in her lab. Be sure to release Pip from his cage, as well, or Luccia won't move from here. Once she's left the lab, follow Luccia up to the roof of Viper Manor, near General Viper's study, where you fought Lynx.
Luccia will introduce you to NeoFio, who at this point is just a flower floating in water. You need a Life Sparkle to bring NeoFio to life. Head to the Hydra Marshes in Another World, get the Safety Gear from the workers in the far west if you haven't already, and make your way to the far north end of the swamp. You'll need the Green Tinkler from the dwarf in Orlha's bar in Guldove to get this far. At the very rear of the swamp you'll find two Goblins gloating near a treasure chest; defeat them and open the chestt to find the Life Sparkle.
Return to Viper Manor and use the Life Sparkle as a key item near NeoFio. It will leap to life and promptly join the party.
Sprigg and Harle
A pair of compulsory recruitments, Sprigg and Harle will join your party shortly after Serge loses control of the party and Lynx takes over. Sprigg will join up after you enter her house and spend the night; Harle will join when you make you way through the puzzle tower near Sprigg's home in her painting-like dimension.
Although Sprigg is with you to stay once you have her, Harle will leave partway through the game. She's one of the best characters in combat, so enjoy her while she's around.
The mayor of Arni Village in one universe and a recluse in the other, Radius shows up early in Chrono Cross but won't join you until Serge leaves the party and Lynx takes over. Travel to Arni Village and speak to Serge's mother to bring Radius into her hut. He'll challenge you to a fight. Defeat him - which should be a piece of cake - and he'll join the party.
A rich kid in one world and a pauper in the other, Van can be encountered early in Chrono Cross but can't be recruited until Lynx is in charge of the party. You'll need to go to Home World's Termina shortly after Lynx takes over. Visit Van's house just north of Zappa's Smithy and you'll watch some family drama unfold. Say that your proposal to find the Frozen Flame is not a joke when prompted, then keep watching until Van joins your team.
The smithy of choice in Chrono Cross, Zappa is a constant presence for players who want to keep their weapons upgraded for the first half of the game, as his Smithy in Termina is the only place where you can forge new weapons. When you visit the same Smithy in Home World it will be closing up for lack of business. Come here as Lynx with Radius in your party and Zappa will offer to join you. He'll also give you the Smith Spirit, which allows you to forge weapons at save points or on the world map.
One of the most random new party members you'll meet - and that's saying a lot in a game like Chrono Cross - Funguy is lurked in the Shadow Forest of Home World. Before you go there, however, head to Viper Manor in Home World. It's in ruins, and if you check the south side of the manor you'll find a well leading into an underground cave. Follow the cave south until you see a Wraith and a boy on a ledge to your right. Go up the slope and kill the Wraith to release the boy's father, who will give you a Mushroom.
Go south through the cave and you'll emerge in Shadow Forest. Go east one screen and you'll find a small waterfall with a cave behind it. (This is a popular cave for recruiting new characters.) There's a man inside, and he'll offer you a chest containing a Forest Charm for the Mushroom. Agree and he'll eat it, transforming into Funguy. Demanding you change him back to normal, Funguy will join the party.
No0t long after Lynx takes control of the party and you become trapped in Home World you'll need to go to Viper Manor... or what remains of Viper Manor. Climb into the well in the south of the ruins and enter the water tunnel to the left of the ladder. This path will take you into the sewers. Loop through the water and you'll find a path into Viper Manor's basement. Norris is waiting in the far room of the dungeon, and will join the party after some exposition.
A tiny dragon in need of friends, Draggy hasn't even been born yet when you begin the game. You'll put yourself on track to recruit Draggy when you first visit Fossil Valley in Another World. Complete the 'exorcism' of Skelly here to get rid of the soldiers, then revisit. Check out the small ledge with the big Dodo and defeat it in combat to receive Draggy's Big Egg from its nest.
Hold the egg in your inventory until you jump to Home World. Once you have a boat you can sail over to Mount Pyre, go through, and gain access to Home World's version of Fort Dragonia. Complete the puzzles on the first floor again - there are fewer enemies and no bosses, so this shouldn't take you very long - to unlock the elevator. Once you're in the elevator, choose to go down. You'll find a small birthing chamber with five glowing pods. Use the Big Egg as a key item on the middle pod to hatch Draggy. Agree to help him find his parents to recruit him into the party.
Though Starky is a mandatory party member eventually, you'll can get him on your team a decent bit earlier than when he's required. Once you have access to a boat in Home World you can sail to Starky's chosen home, Sky Dragon Isle, located just south of Guldove.
You can't get Starky to come out and face you until you have something he needs, however. Sail south and you'll see a location called the El Nido Triangle. Entering it will bring you to a point of light in the ocean that you can dive into. Below is a small dungeon that leads to a chest in the middle of a conspicuous black spot, surrounded by fish. Fight your way tot he chest to find a Star Piece inside.
Take the Star Piece back to Sky Dragon Isle and check the large, empty area at the top of the ruins. Check the empty chest in the middle of this area and an enormous Mega-Starky will run out and attack you. Take him down in combat - Lynx and Harle should be able to make short work of him, even at lower levels - then chase Starky down. After learning why Starky wants Star Fragments he'll join your party.
The elderly magician of the S.S. Zelbess, Sneff is a talented performer with some terrible luck. You'll find him on the Zelbess in Home World, unable to clear his gambling debt to Fargo. You'll need to make your way through the odd, circuitous events of the Zelbess before he can join you, which includes:
- Speaking to Fargo
- Watching Sneff's performance, then watching him lose in the casino
- Talking to Fargo and losing at the casino yourself
- Getting turned into cats by Sneff during his performance and escaping
- Sneaking into the Inn, going up the ladder behind the desk, and stealing the Handle from the machine that allows Fargo to cheat at gambling
- Crossing over to the ship of the Magical Dreamers via the mast of the Zelbess and overhearing another conversation
- Returning to the Zelbess and having Sneff change you back to humans - he's in the dressing room, accessible via a cat door in the room where he does his magic shows
- Speaking to Fargo again and challenging him to another round of gambling
- Entering the Grand Slam and fighting the Sage of Marbule
Once you've done all that, go to the casino. You'll find Sneff on a hot streak, and he'll be free of his debt. Go to the changing room and, after he chats with his fellow performers, he'll offer to join the party.
Your Demi-Human opponent in the Grand Slam aboard the S.S. Zelbess, Janice is either very difficult or very easy to recruit, depending on how much time you put into Sprigg's Doppelgang Tech. To recruit Janice you must defeat three teams of her monsters in the Grand Slam in a row, and you'll be drawing from Sprigg's list of transformations for your own team. Her Lagoonate is a good start, but you'll want to visit a few high-level areas (the Isle of the Damned and Mount Pyre are good spots) before you make a serious attempt at getting through the Grand Slam.
A mermaid Demi-Human who has a history with Fargo, Irenes shows up when you first meet Home World's Fargo on the S.S. Zelbess. You'll see her a few times as you make your way through the Zelbess, trying to convince Fargo to lighten up a bit (see Sneff's description for some directions).
Once Nikki decides to hold a concert and disappears with the Sage of Marbule, go to the deck of the Zelbess and climb the mast on the left. You can use a platform here to travel to Nikki's ship. Check the lower door on the deck to find a gathered crowd. Once everybody leaves, Irenes will offer to join your party.
Karsh, Zoah, Orcha, Grobyc, Riddel, Viper, Fargo, Marcy
Eight characters? In one go? Not quite, but it's pretty close to that. Once your team can travel to Another World as Lynx again, go to Termina. You'll find Porre has invaded. Check the bar and the barmaid will hasten you into a back room where Karsh and Zoah are waiting. You can recruit one of them, your choice, to invade Viper Manor a second time.
Head to Viper Manor with Norris on your team and you'll trigger a series of events that will take you through Viper Manor and into the dungeon. Here you'll fight and recruit Orcha, and during the escape from the manor you'll fight and recruit Grobyc. After that you'll need to go to Hermit's Hideaway, where you can recruit Riddel. Shortly after this you'll flee to the S.S. Invincible, and General Viper, Fargo, Marcy, and Karsh / Zoah will join the party. All in the span of about two hours of gameplay.
Assuming you agreed to help Home World's Nikki bring Marbule back to life, you'll need to convince Home World's Fargo to move the S.S. Zelbess so the rock star can stage a concert. Bring Another World's Fargo to meet his limp-noodle counterpart and the concert will soon get underway. This will allow you to defeat the many Lagoonates roaming Marbule.
Once the Lagoonates are out of the way and Marbule is freed, board the S.S. Zelbess and head belowdecks, to the small restaurant. Miki is here, and she needs a vacation. She'll join your party.
Head to Guldove in Another World after you've successfully freed Riddel from Viper Manor. Upon arrival you'll see Orlha, the local barmaid, beating the snot out of a group of soldiers. They'll beg Lynx to jump in and save them. Fight and beat up Orlha. She's relatively strong, but won't be good enough to take on a party of three.
Once Orlha's down for the count the party will explain the situation, and she'll give you a Sapphire Brooch. Hold onto it for now, until Lynx is out of the party and Serge returns to lead. With Serge back in charge Orlha will join the team.
A pint-sized version of Chrono Trigger's Ayla, Leah is found at Gaea's Navel. You'll encounter during your quest to fight the six elemental dragons, specifically while hunting the Green Dragon. You'll need to travel to the Hydra Marshes in Home World, retrieve a Beeba Flute from a Beeba NPC, fight a Wingapede, get an Ancient Fruit from the Beeba, and use the Flute to fly to Gaea's Navel.
Once you arrive Leah will appear and join the party. She will not remain with the party if you leave Gaea's Navel, however, and will stay on the island until you've killed all the enemies, collected all the treasures, fought the Tyrano, and, finally, defeated the Green Dragon. After that she'll join permanently.
A major figurehead in both versions of Guldove, Steena first appears when you have business with Chief Direa in Another World. Steena herself is the chief in Home World, and you'll need a Dragon Emblem from Direa in Another World to get past the guard in Home World. Steena has the Dragon Tear you need to access the Sea of Eden in Another World.
Complete the quest of finding and defeating the six elemental dragons, then head back to Guldove in Home World. Steena will hand over the Dragon Tear, and offer to accompany you to the Sea of Eden.
Another Frog-esque character - albeit one that can't measure up to Glenn - Turnip is a pint-sized swordsman that you can set up early, but can't recruit for a while. To get Turnip you first need the Ice breath key item, retrieved from the Water Dragon in Home World and used to get through Mount Pyre. Head to the Hermit's Hideaway in Another World and use it on the heated patch of ground in the middle of the small, burned area.
Visit Home World's version of Hermit's Hideaway once Serge is back in the party, and put Poshul on your team. You'll see something sprouting out of the ground in the same place where you cooled the ground in Another World. Poshul will use her canine might to pull Turnip out of the ground, and he'll join the party.
Getting the Band Back Together
It is impossible for you to have every character available to your party in a single playthrough if you're playing a New Game. Not only do some characters cut off the availability of others, there's a point partway through the game where Serge leaves the party and Lynx takes over. When this happens everyone on your team will leave until Serge comes back.
The only way to have everyone on the same team is to proceed to a New Game+ after completing your first run of Chrono Cross. Acquire the Chrono Cross key item, then use it in Sprigg's house. This will add every party member to your roster, including those that couldn't normally be recruited together in a single playthrough. By doing this you can even put Harle back in your party after she's left, assuming you completed a previous New Game+ run before she departed.