Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Throughout your trip through Chrono Cross, you'll hear tales of Dario, strongest and greatest of the Four Devas of the Acacia Dragoons. It's quickly obvious that Dario died several years before the start of the game, and every story you hear points towards a sad end. All of the Devas loved Dario.
Of course, this is a game with alternate realities, and Dario apparently didn't die in one of them. This guide will help you find the alternate Dario, fight him, and get his brain back to normal. This is one of the hardest fights in the game, so approach it with caution.
It is possible to locate Dario relatively early in Chrono Cross, while Lynx is just gaining steam as the leader of the party. Proceed through the events of Home World as Lynx until you receive a boat from Norris. This will allow you to sail the high seas.
Once you have a boat, sail around the main continent of the El Nido Peninsula to the northeast shores. There's a small island here, and though it's unmarked when you approach you'll see little puffs of smoke coming out of it. Land here - it's marked as the 'Forbidden Island' after your first visit - and you'll find a house. If you check this island in Another World you'll find it occupied by the Shaker Brothers...
... but in Home World, there's a woman living here, and she's taking care of a man in knight's armor. Yep, it's Dario. He's lost his sense of self, and has no idea that he's a famous warrior.
You can't do anything with Dario until you rescue Riddel from the forces of Porre. Head to Hermit's Hideaway in Another World after you make it through Viper Manor and you'll find Riddel tending to her father. You can recruit her here. Once you do, head back to Home World and take a trip to the Forbidden Island with Riddel in the party. She will spark Dario's memories.
... which, unfortunately, turns out to be a bad thing. Having fallen to the deadly whims of the Masamune, Dario will instantly be possessed by the sword, and the fight will be on.
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At first blush, Dario seems like a pretty standard Black Innate warrior, albeit a strong one. His normal physical attacks are more than enough to take out your weaker characters in a single flurry, especially if you come here before the endgame. Dario can also use a variety of Elements, none of which are a big deal, and two Techs: Sonic Blade, which doesn't hit that hard, and Dash & Gash, which absolutely does hit hard. Dario will typically do around 350 points of damage with Dash & Gash, which, again, can kill a weaker character in one hit.
This would all be tolerable if Dario didn't have another trick up his sleeve, but unfortunately he does. Dario is a counter-attacker, and whenever you use an Element on him he'll counter with a specific Element of the opposite color. You can expect the following counterattacks from Dario if you use Elements on him:
- Red - Numble - Reduces evasion
- Blue - Weaken - Reduces attack power
- Yellow - Bat Eye - Reduces accuracy
- Green - Lo-Res - Reduces defense
- Black - Recover All - Restores some of Dario's health
- White - Conducta Rod - Hits one character for heavy damage
Four out of these six moves are annoying, but tolerable, and one you probably won't see, since hitting Dario with Black Innate moves just isn't a good idea. By far the worst outcome on the list is Conducta Rod, which can hit a single character for over 500 points of health. It's more than strong enough to instantly kill a character in a single hit, and of course it's paired to Dario's weakness, White Innate Elements.
Defeating Dario requires counterintuitive thinking compared to almost every other battle in Chrono Cross. Normally you want to target your enemy's weak point, but doing that with Dario will get your character smeared by Conducta Rod. You should only ever use White Innate Elements on Dario if the attacking character has the Black Plate equipped, as it will turn damage taken from Conducta Rod into healing energy for the target. If you didn't steal the Black Plate from the Black Dragon then you're out of luck.
What you want to do is use Elements on Dario that will sap his Stamina and prevent him from using his normal attacks and Dash & Gash too often. Pick an Element color with a counterattack that won't hurt you too badly and use those types of attacks over and over on Dario. Red Elements are perhaps your best choice, since Dario seldom misses you anyway. The loss to evasion won't matter all that much. Blue Elements are a good runner-up if you're more focused on attacking with Elements than normal attacks.
Once you've chosen your focus Element, stock everybody on your team with strong attacks of that color and wallop Dario with everything you've got. Try to hit him with an Element every time a character gets a turn. This will keep Dario's Stamina low as he counterattacks, as well as keep the Field Effect from turning black. Keep up the pressure until Dario goes down, healing constantly. Every Revive you have should be allocated to your active party.
If you're willing to wait you'll have the easiest time with this fight by holding off until Serge is back in the party. Not only will you have more levels and Elements available to you, Serge's normal attacks hit Dario harder than anyone else's, and he's got enough health to weather the storm. You can fight Dario with Lynx and his crew, but be ready for a much tougher time.
You'll receive 2,500 gold and a Dreamer's Bandana for defeating Dario. In the aftermath of the fight he'll come to his senses, and the Masamune will transform into the Mastermune, the best weapon available to both Serge and Lynx. Watch another cut scene and you'll also gain Riddel's Level Seven Tech, Snake Fangs.