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Appearing after you’ve beaten Chrono Trigger DS once, the Dimensional Vortex is one of two new dungeons exclusive to the DS version. It’s a step above most other locations in terms of overall difficulty, though if you can beat Lavos you can likely survive in this place. It is also nowhere near as annoying as the Lost Sanctum.
The Dimensional Vortex appears in three different time periods: 12,000 BC (near the village), 1000 AD (near the Millenial Fair), and 2300 AD (near the Derelict Factory). Each offers a mixture of new and old, as well as some opportunities to bolster Crono, Marle, and Lucca.
Dimensional Vortex - Random Locations
Every time you enter the Dimensional Vortex you’ll start by running through a chain of locations, typically from earlier in the game. You’ll hit a random chain each time. There are no chests to collect, and the enemies in these sections don’t change from the original configurations. Once you get through five of these you’ll reach areas that are new to the dungeon; the areas you reach depend on which time period you’re accessing.
Though most of these areas are old hat, there are a few new ones. These new locations have chests to plunder.
A castle setting filled with irritating Dire Rats. You can find a Hi-Potion in the top right corner of the area, an Elixir and 50,000 gil via the eastern passage, and a Master’s Crown through a secret path near the middle. Look on the right a short ways south of the two thrones.
A series of small rooms populated by mystery boys. The boys will ask you questions; provide answers to get past. Most of them are pretty easy if you’ve been paying attention. (I’ll make a thorough listing of the questions and answers at some point in the future.) Mess up and you’ll face a hallway populated by Nu.
65,000,000 BCish. There’s a semi-hidden Angel’s Tiara down a hidden stretch on the right side of the first path. Not much more to say than that.
A northbound climb. Make your way to the left side and descend to find a Megalixir, and search the far left side near the top of the climb on the first screen for a Lapis. Keep climbing and, just before you hit a slope, you can descend a cliff to find a Hi-Potion. After a drop from a cliff and checking the cave on your left you’ll find a cliff edge; climb south from it to find a Shadowplume Robe. East of here is an Elixir.
Return to the same sliding area and make your way to the cave on the far right to pop out near a western path that leads into a cave. Follow it and you can find a semi-hidden path to a Venus Bow halfway through, a Megalixir via another hidden path near the end, and a Turbo Ether at the end. Head back outside, drop down on the far right to find a Hi-Ether, and head west. In the next open screen you can find an Athenian Water on the southern half of the screen, a Regal Gown to the far southeast, and an Elixir to the far south.
After getting through the Frozen Cliffs you’ll find a winding area with a save point. At the end Marle will automatically enter your team, and you’ll hit a boss fight.
A copy of Marle. Though it has speed on its side and is immune to Water attacks, the Shade is not very dangerous. Only characters with a weakness to Water attacks and a very low magic defence will find themselves taking a lot of damage from the Shade’s attacks, and even then it’ll only be to a dark version of Ice II. The Alabaster Shade simply doesn’t have the heft to dish out much damage. Marle isn’t much use with her Water magic, so put her on healing and Hasting duty for the duration. Fire is your weapon of choice in this fight, so Lucca’s a staple fighter for the team.
Beating this boss will give Marle bonuses to her stats. You’ll get shunted back to the village after winning.
A fiery area full of enemies vulnerable to Water magic. Marle, Frog, and Magus are great choices for these battles. You’ll find a Master’s Crown and an Athenian Water in the first northern cave. Once you’re on the second screen and wandering along the edge of the huge lava pool, check the bottom-right corner of the path for a secret passage leading to a Spellslinger. Near the end of this path, once you find a bunch of ladders, you can find a Strength Capsule up the left line of ropes and an Elixir on the right side of the ladders. After draining lava twice via switches, head back to the huge lava pool, now partially drained, and you’ll find a Hi-Potion beside a ladder in the north.
After leaving the Volcano and heading north you’ll run into an old friend…
What a chump. Dalton is less of a gimmicky boss than before, taking a bit of a page from Magus in that he can employ all four elements in single- or all-hitting attacks. Nevertheless, he doesn’t hit hard enough - especially not in the first half of the fight - to pose a significant threat. Halfway through Dalton’s elemental defences will rise substantially, forcing you to use non-elemental attacks to chew away at his remaining HP. At this point he’ll gain stronger attacks and will react to spells with MP Buster, but… really… not a dangerous foe. Flatten the sucker with neutral Dual Techs.
And north of him, forcing Crono onto your team:
The doppelgängers continue. Steel Shade is a fairly powerful foe, not because he does a lot of damage with each attack, but because he counters everything you use. Even high HP characters with lots of defence will start to wear down after a while. Equip yourself with items that will resist or absorb Lightning to negate the effects of the Shade’s version of Luminaire, its only really dangerous attack, and chip away at it with Dual Techs only to cut down on the number of counterattacks. Characters with high defence scores will have the easiest time surviving this fight.
Beating the Steel Shade will grant Crono some nice stat boosts. It will also boot you out of the Dimensional Vortex and back to the coasts of Guardia.
Temporal Research Lab
A bite out of 2300 AD. In the second room you’ll find a series of conveyor belts that zip you around the room and into fights. Head to the bottom-right corner to find a semi-hidden path to the woods from the Lost Sanctum; here you can find 50,000 gil, a Turbo Ether, a Megalixir, and an Apocalypse Arm, all of them on the left side of the map and all of them through hidden paths through the trees.
Make your way to the top-left corner of this area. Beyond you’ll find several sections patrolled by robots. These robots will knock you off of their platforms if you don’t move while they’re facing the opposite direction. Run past them to find a room that requires security clearance; once here, enter the code B, A, L, and L. Then head back to the east. An alternate team will have to step in for a while, and to free the first team you’ll have to head to the top-right corner of the conveyor belts.
Beyond is a small maze. Step onto the shining spots to jump around the area. Once you hit an intersection, take a left to find a Magic Capsule and jump back to the beginning. Then take a right, a far right in the corridor with the robot, a down, and through the door. Beyond you’ll have to fight five battles in a row, each against enemies that are best handled with magical electricity. Bring along Crono or Magus. Check the computer after wasting your enemies.
Back to the previous group. Weave past four more robots to find more conveyors. Get through three more battles and you’re done with the area. Beyond you’ll find a place to save, and an area that draws Lucca onward…
Crimson Shade, Eggsterminator
This is probably the most difficult of the three Shade fights, but it’s still not that bad. The Shade is a Lucca clone, and will use her attacks and spells to reasonable effect. She, however, is not the problem. The real problem here is the Eggsterminator. Though it does virtually no damage to your team, the Eggsterminator will pester you with a bevy of status ailments that can ruin a team without at least some resistance. Put on equipment to resist both status ailments and fire, then use your most powerful Dual Techs - preferably those that inflict magical damage - to smash the Eggsterminator. You want to overpower it, as it will steal MP every time it’s hit. This can get really annoying after ten or fifteen hits. Once it’s gone, focus your firepower on the Shade. So long as you aren’t trying to use Fire it shouldn’t put up a huge fight.
Defeating the Crimson Shade will, as before, give Lucca some nice boosts to her stats. It will also bring your trip through the Dimensional Vortices to a close… and unlock a new, deadly foe: the Dream Devourer.