Chrono Cross is a pretty unique game for a lot of reasons. How it blended so many mechanics and concepts together with it's setting was super unique. Though it's easy to find games with similar pieces, finding something that captures the same overall effect is super hard.
One game I would recommend is Radiata Stories. It was a PS2 game that had a fantastic story, a TON of characters to recruit (needed at least two playthroughs to get both all the party members possible as well as the whole story), and a relatively unique battle system.
Another t likes to focus on unique recruitables is the Suikoden series for PS1 & 2. Each having sometimes hundreds of unique characters to recruit and play with in your team, though that's a tactics game and not a traditional JRPG.
If you don't mind console controls in an RTS another great one is Ogre Battle 64. Lots of special characters to get in that and it also has a great story, realy fun gameplay, and neat aesthetic.