I was replaying Chrono Trigger and Cross in November/December... and not only does Chrono Cross reminds me of Xenogears in some aspects, it also reminded me of FF7 (mostly for the Leena/Serge moments that are pretty much Cloud/Tifa moments but with CC characters... which isn't surprising considering Kato wrote the Cloud/Tifa parts of FF7)... and Trigger (well, of course).
What I love about all those games (with FF6) is that they all took something from each other... mostly because of the creative team involved. Even FF8 is fascinating when you look at how it recycles some ideas (the Zack character becoming Laguna, for example... don't ask me for a quote... it's just a personal observation and interpretation of both of their storylines) or unused concepts from FF7 (Edea's chara-design). Nowadays, when developers/writers take something from this era, it may appear like they have lost their creativity... but back in the days, it felt more natural. Maybe because those games were in development close to each others.
Anyway, the thing that I noticed right away with my replay is that CC's battle system was a clear evolution from the Xenogears battle system. On another hand, it plays with elemental capsules and stuff... which can remind of FF7 and materias. I do like the battling in CC... however Gale is painful to the ears (sorry, I love the soundtrack but this battle theme is terrible... only made better in concerts).
I also think that Kid is pretty much Bart as a girl (blond, impulsive, pirate person... they should meet).
As for the characters in general... well, instead of bashing the game for having too many useless and poorly developped characters... I first chose to take this aspect of the game in a more positive light. The way I saw it, all recruitable characters beside the main ones were playable NPCs with their little story time. I didn't consider them as main characters and I was fine with the concept. Of course, I think the criticism is justified... I would have been happier if there was more to each character. But I'm fine with them being more like pokemons to collect, like some people said. The game is sort of fun like that. I was harder on Valkyrie Profile 2 for the treatment of its recruitable characters (considering the first game did recruitment much more involving emotionally)... but even then, this game was fun despite the character and story/directing flaws. Well, same with Chrono Cross. CC's gameplay and atmosphere makes up for the limited character development.
I never could finish the game because I had issues making Disc 2 work on my PAL playstation. So I ended up reading the rest of the story online... and I have to admit I was disappointed by Chrono Cross as a Chrono Trigger sequel after I did. Chrono Cross is a fun and atmospheric game, with some surreal moments that I ADORED (dead sea, van gogh painting moment with Harle *I was sick when I played this part so I felt really high ahah*)... but a really far fetched sequel to Chrono Trigger, imo.
Overall, I think Chrono Trigger is a far more enjoyable adventure than its sequel that can be criticized for a few things like the cast but also pacing issues.
It's funny when I hear that Xenogears has pacing issues because even while the Kislev part was factually too long (or maybe people would like it better if the gear battling and monster hunting in the sewers was more fun), I feel like all story chapters are needed and happen fast enough (this is considering the dungeons as well... which I admit made me rage and lose my time whenever I got lost).
It's just that Xenogears' story is huge and would take several games nowadays to be told entirely, and this is without considering additional scenes/a properly directed Disc 2... while CC feels more like a long game for wanderers/collectors with a shorter main story that develops really slowly (which can be frustrating for the Trigger fans, since the pacing in Trigger is real fast).
In some ways, it reminds me of what people say about XBX... and this is part of the reason why I chose to replay Chrono Cross when people were excited about XBX coming out (I can't and don't want to buy a WiiU for one game right now). I wanted some wandering into a colorful world with a large playable cast that you have to recruit. It's just more old school.
But I wish I could play the Baten Kaitos games. I feel like they are the continuation of Chrono Cross... in the visuals and way to travel, at least.