Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Chrono Cross is a bit of an enigma on multiple levels. Not only is its story quite complex - perhaps needlessly complex in some cases - the actual gameplay doesn't always explain itself. This makes for a more rewarding experience that forces you to stick your nose into every part of the game to get the most out of it, but some of the question marks can be frustrating for first-time players.
This is especially true of the final boss, the Time Devourer. Coming a little out of left field in the third act of Chrono Cross, the Time Devourer is a powerful entity that you can fight normally and receive an ending... but it won't be the best ending. There's a very particular way that you need to defeat the Time Devourer, and you'll need an optional item to do it.
This guide will help you defeat the Time Devourer in Chrono Cross and get your good ending. It's not that difficult a process, but it does require setup.
Preparing to Face the Time Devourer
If all you want is to defeat the Time Devourer and get an ending then you have an easy time. Complete Terra Tower - where you also fight a boss called the Time Devourer, though they're not quite the same thing - and a purple time distortion will appear on Opassa Beach in Home World. Several familiar NPCs will appear around the distortion, providing you with an explanation as to the back plot of Chrono Cross. You can use the Time Egg you received from the Prophet in Terra Tower to access the Time Devourer boss, via the purple distortion.
If, however, you want to get the good ending, you'll need to take two additional steps.
Get The Chrono Cross
First up is getting the Chrono Cross. Yes, it's the name of the game, but it's also an key item and an Element. Once you have the Tear of Love and the Tear of Hate - you'll get them by proceeding normally through the game - put Steena in your party and go to the Divine Dragon Falls. They're represented as a waterfall a short walk northeast of Arni Village. There are two pedestals inside the cave here, and placing the Tear of Love and the Tear of Hate on the pedestals with Steena in the party will merge the two into the Chrono Cross.
Equip your Party
The second step you need to take is properly equipping the party for the fight. If you're facing the Time Devourer normally you can use whatever Elements you like, but if you want the good ending you'll need to fulfill three requirements:
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- The party members you choose should have a large early Element Grid (so someone like Guile isn't a good choice) - this applies to most characters
- Each party member should have at least one of each elemental color equipped on Level One of their Element Grid - having more than one is fine too
- Your lead party member should have the Chrono Cross equipped on Level One of the Element Grid - the big -7 beside the name doesn't matter, it will still serve your purposes
Which Elements you equip does not matter, so long as you can use them at any time. This means that Elements like Revive, which can only be used when someone is knocked out, are not a viable choice for the final battle. If you're short on early-level Elements you can place higher-level Elements at Level One of the Element Grid. The negatives to their performance don't matter for this fight.
Fighting the Time Devourer
The Time Devourer is an Element-only enemy, and never uses physical attacks. Each time it comes at your party it will use a powerful Element from each of the six colors, usually hitting everyone. The Time Devourer has a preference for Green Innate Elements, though there's potential to see Elements from every color of the spectrum.
If you want the 'bad' ending you can fight the Time Devourer normally. It has 10,000 HP, so the fight will take a while, but the Time Devourer gives you enough space between attacks to heal up and renew your assault. Getting Serge the Mastermune will make the fight quite a bit easier, given its damage output, though it's not a necessity. Black Innate characters like Grobyc or Luccia will also get a bit of an damage bump, and won't take a ton of extra damage due to the Time Devourer's preference for Green Innate Elements.
If you want the 'good' ending, however, you're going to have to follow a very specific procedure to win the fight. Once you have the Chrono Cross in your inventory the game will keep track of the Elements you and the enemies use, displaying each Element in a line at the top of the screen, beside the Field Effect display. To properly defeat the Time Devourer you need to use your Elements in a very particular order: Yellow, Red, Green, Blue, Black, and White. After you've used a White Element you then need to use the Chrono Cross, which will end the battle.
Sound simple? It's not. The problem here is the Time Devourer. Because it only uses Elements it will always disrupt the chain of Elements if given a chance, forcing you to start over at Yellow. The Time Devourer is slow to take its turn, granted, but using seven Elements in a row before the Time Devourer attacks you is tricky.
Can it be done? Of course! And it's not that difficult once you know what to do. Follow these steps to defeat the Time Devourer:
- Start the fight by using Diminish. This will dampen the effects of the Time Devourer's Elements by half and make it much less likely that any of your characters will receive fatal damage while you're prepping.
- Build up all three characters' Element Grid with normal attacks. Reaching Level Four or Five is sufficient, though if you want to be safe you can go a little higher. Don't use Elements unless you need to heal. Just end each character's turn by defending.
- Put all three characters on the defensive and build up their Stamina to 7.0. Don't do anything besides defend until everybody is at 7.0.
- Let the Time Devourer attack one more time. If you're lucky it will use a Yellow Innate Element and start the chain itself, though this typically isn't the case.
- Starting with the character who has the Chrono Cross Element equipped, begin the chain of Elements, using only Level One Elements. The first character uses Yellow, the second uses Red, the third uses Green, the first uses Blue, the second uses Black, and the third uses White. So long as everyone is in normal fighting shape, with no status effects, the Time Devourer won't get a turn.
- Jump back to the first character and use the Chrono Cross. Battle over!
As long as your characters can withstand the hits leading up to the beginning of the chain - and at almost fifty Star Levels they likely can - you shouldn't have any trouble triggering the chain and ending it off with the Chrono Cross.
If you're having trouble making this work there's an alternate method. As noted above, the Time Devourer has a strong preference for Green Innate Elements. Get your party prepped, let the Time Devourer attack, then use a Yellow Element and a Red Element. Hold off until the Time Devourer attacks again. The chances are good that it will use a Green Innate Element, continuing the chain. Once it has you can continue the chain yourself, plugging in Blue, Black, White, and the Chrono Cross. Just make sure the character holding the Chrono Cross Element uses the Blue Element, as they'll need a few turns to become useable again.
And if none of that works? Run! Unlike some battles in Chrono Cross, fleeing from the Time Devourer takes you right out of danger and back to Opassa Beach. Here you can reconfigure your Elements, choose new party members, equip new stuff, and generally just do what you need to do to win the fight.