"Cross" type sensors are pairs of "line" type sensors at 90 degrees, not just sensors with diagonal orientation. They are commonly arranged straight up and down like this + but can also be diagonal like this X
It matters. A line type sensor will completely fail to detect detail which is parallel to the direction of the sensor, and even worse will give highly inaccurate results with detail which is close to parallel.
Edges are usually good features for autofocus systems. More so than surface textures or shading patterns. But in our man-made world edges (of walls, floors, doors, windows) tend to be either horizontal or vertical, meaning a 50% chance of being invisible to a "regular" autofocus sensor. In my opinion camera manufacturers should orient the line sensors at 45 degrees like this / or this \ but they don't.
Another problem is most cameras don't indicate which direction a sensor is sensitive to, in any way! Some of the criticism for the outer points of the original 5D being inaccurate can be traced to the fact that some of the outer points are vertically sensitive only and some are horizontally sensitive only. Turning your camera 90 degrees and suddenly a very poor AF lock becomes a very good one.
It's not the end of the world though, there are work-arounds. Notably turning the camera 45 degrees to focus. But it's a pain to do this even if you do remember and can ruin the spontaneity of a photograph opportunity. The key is to know what's going on, then you can look for the appropriate type of detail (that has variation in all directions).
- not everyone uses the outer points, some focus and recompose (centre points are almost always cross type)
- not all scenes / types of photography require accurate autofocus
but if you want reliable and fast AF anywhere in the frame without thinking too hard (e.g. if you shoot events or weddings) then I would pay attention to how many cross type AF points are provided.