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Chrono Trigger Review

“Crono…”
“Crono!”
“Good morning, Crono!”

That’s the first set of dialogue you see when you start the game, and it has been more memorable than Aeris’s death. The Chrono Trigger franchise has definitely set its mark as one of the greatest RPGs of all time and for good reason. Its innovative gameplay, memorable characters, amazing music and legendary story development are pretty much all the reasons why this game is still on top after all these years. But, let’s take a moment to breakdown the game and really see why Chrono Trigger is so amazingly awesome!

Chrono Trigger was developed and published in 1995 by Squaresoft(Now Square-Enix) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. In 2001, Square(along with TOSE Co.) ported CT over to the Playstation alongside Final Fantasy IV under the name, Final Fantasy Chronicles. On November 25th, 2008 the Nintendo DS received an enhanced port of Chrono Trigger that included an upgraded interface as well as 2 extra in-game side quests. In May of this year, Chrono Trigger was ported to the Wii’s Virtual Console and recently on October 4th of this year, the Playstation Network received the PSX version of Chrono Trigger which can also be played on the PSP. That’s a lot of ports, but it IS Chrono Trigger after all. On the technical side, the game was developed by a “Dream Team” consisting of Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series; Yūji Horii and Akira Toriyama, two freelance designers known for their work on Enix’s Dragon Quest series as well as the hit anime series Dragonball; Nobuo Uematsu, a composer for the Final Fantasy series; and Kazuhiko Aoki, who produced the game. Masato Kato wrote most of the plot, while composer Yasunori Mitsuda scored most of the game before passing the rest off to Nobuo Uematsu. Now that’s the development side, but what about the gameplay aspect? Let’s take a look.

Chrono Trigger is your basic RPG, but with specifically designed innovations. You can visit towns to procure information, buy items and equipment, heal at an Inn and so forth. When you enter into a main area where combat would normally take place, the visuals become slightly more interactive and detailed. Combat is also very different. With most RPGs, you’ll deal with enemies on a “random battle” level. If you don’t know what a “random battle” is, it’s a method that most RPGs use for enemy encounters. Basically, you can be on the World Map or in a hostile area and while you can’t see any enemies, your screen will suddenly flash with animation and your suddenly in combat against things that pretty much want you dead. Not with Chrono Trigger, though. In CT’s case, you can see your enemies on the screen and choose if you want to deal with them or not. In certain parts of the game, you might not have a choice as enemies can and will ambush you. As with all RPGs, Chrono Trigger definitely has its cadre of Bosses you have to do battle with…47 by my count, but I could be off. But still, that’s a lot of boss fights! So, what can you do to ensure your survival against these mega-baddies? Well, we once again reach into Chrono Trigger’s innovative gameplay mechanics with the introduction of “Techs”

Aside from the normal song and dance of Attacking, Defending and whatnot, Chrono Trigger introduced the ability to perform Techniques or Techs, which are special moves that the characters can perform for additional damage. Later on when you all learn how to use Magic, you gain even more Techs of greater ability! If single Techs aren’t enough to stomp your foes, then you move up to Double Techs! Oh yeah, that’s right! Double Techs are special moves you can do with another character, but you have to have the prerequisite Techs learned prior to performing it. For example: If Crono has learned ‘Cyclone’ and Frog has learned ‘Slurp Cut’, then they would be able to perform a Double Tech called ‘X-Strike’ which happens to be one of my favorites. With the exception of Magus, everyone has 3 Double Techs they can learn with each character, bringing the total Double Tech amount to 45 and if Double Techs aren’t enough…then the game lets you go one step further with Triple Techs! Triple Techs can definitely turn the tide of a losing battle. Once again, prerequisites are required before performing and most of them have to involve Crono as he is the leader of the party. It isn’t until after a certain series of events later in the game that you can choose a different party leader. However, the Triple Techs that involve party members without Crono will require the equipping of a special-colored stone, depending on what Triple Tech you are wanting to perform.

Now, the concept and story around Chrono Trigger involves “time travel” and lots of it. There are 7 time eras that the party goes to, and each time you do something in the main story or side-quest, it effects things in the future. The story involves the party combating an unknown evil called “Lavos” who has come to the planet to harvest the planet’s DNA and energy in order for it to grow more powerful. Throughout the game, you will acquire new characters from various eras of time that will join you, because they are just as threatened by Lavos’s actions as you are. Banding together, your party will fight through all 7 eras, combating enemies who want to support Lavos’s destruction, take over kingdoms and basically rule the world. If you end up beating the game, don’t fret! Chrono Trigger has over 13 unique endings that you can acquire through a second playthrough. But, you don’t have to start completely over to do that. Why? Because CT has a lovely New Game+ feature, which lets you carry over all the same character levels, Techs, and equipment that they ended the previous game with! However, any Key Items that are obtained for the story must be acquired again, but hey…the good definitely outweighs the bad.

One of the biggest things that Chrono Trigger fans often complain about is story extension through sequels. While Chrono Trigger technically got a sequel with Chrono Cross, it honestly wasn’t what the fans were hoping for. Now don’t get me wrong, Chrono Cross is an absolute AMAZING game, but it featured different characters and mechanics. Also, there wasn’t really any time travel like its predecessor. Instead, you go back and forth through 2 different realities of the same world and time era. On top of that, there are very very miniscule references to the characters in Chrono Trigger and events therein. However, there were attempts at sequels and remakes, albeit fan-made and I’m going to touch on one right now called “Chrono Resurrection”.

Chrono Resurrection was supposed to be a full-on remake for the Nintendo 64. Hell, it even had the developmental name CT64 during it’s production. The concept and development was being done by a North American group called Resurrection Games and its frontman Nathan Lazur. Lazur got the idea in 1999 when playing the original Chrono Trigger and Super Mario 64. Upon its conception, he had intended to combine the two elements into a 2D/3D game that would feature gameplay on 2D, pre-rendered graphics and enhancements with 3D battle and spell effects while still retaining Chrono Trigger’s original battle system, but at the same time having 2 different modes of play.

The first mode is the aforementioned one above, with the 2D and pre-rendered graphic enhancements. The 2nd mode, however, would have been a full 3D mode played in either regular or high display resolution, and would feature different level of detail textures depending on camera distances, to maximize clarity and performance. Regardless of the mode chosen, they would both be “top-down perspective” with adjustable camera angles similar to Ocarina Of Time. Included in the game was going to be a “Gallery Mode” which allowed players to view artwork, cut-scenes and music that they would have consistently unlocked whilst progressing through the game. Aside from the artistic bonus content, players would have been able to play mini-games from the menu, one of which was a card game similar to Final Fantasy VIII’s card game, Triple Triad.

The game was going to be a download, available to play on existing emulators as opposed to an actual cartridge due to financial constraints, and was set to be released in Christmas of 2004. However, before it could come out, Square-Enix issued a cease and desist letter to Resurrection Games for trademark and copyright infringement. Unable to face the repercussions in court, Resurrection Games publicly closed the project on September 6th, 2004. Several Internet petitions were created by fans to pressure Square Enix into green-lighting Chrono Resurrection; none of which had any sway in getting them to grant permission. From an outside perspective, I would imagine that this could have all been avoided if they would have followed the proper procedure and channels in securing the rights and possibly splitting the profits down the middle with Square-Enix. But I digress. Despite its public closure, the game received high amounts of praise from other indie developers and fans alike. To this day, the outcry for a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger is still on-going and while several people within the industry have “expressed interest” in reviving the series, it still has yet to be seen or heard of.

Overall, Chrono Trigger is legendary and for good reason. The innovation was great for its time and still continues to impress, the story and character development is absolutely phenomenal, the music is memorable and the game is totally solid. I mean, you couldn’t ask for a better RPG! Sure, there have been a few Final Fantasy titles that have come close, but they have yet top it. Chrono Trigger will remain at the top and will continuously hang on to its Legendary status from now…until the end of time.

10 out of 10

Until next episode…

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