Chrono Trigger - Reader Retroview  

Ahead of its Time
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

15-40 Hours


Rating definitions 

   This review is based on the SNES version of Chrono Trigger. You have most likely heard of this legendary game at some point, and yes it really is as good as everyone says it is. Chrono Trigger is one of the best games ever made for the SNES, in fact it's one of the best games ever made period. A wonderful and original story, nicely done battle system, beautiful graphics and music, and the highest replay value of any game I have ever seen combine to make Chrono Trigger an incredible game. A simple experiment gone wrong leads the hero on a journey through time in order to save the world of the future. You gather allies from the past, present, and future, each with their own motives and personalities, to complete your task.

   Battles are often quick and can be avoided. You fight battles on the same map as walk through which means that there aren't any annoying battle transitions to slow game-play down. You can also see your enemies wander the field and avoid them if you wish. In fact, unless you attempt to gain the contents of a well-guarded treasure chest you can often avoid most or all of the enemies in some areas. Simply attempting to avoid battles, even if you fail, can be fun and is a nice improvement over random battle (though it has been done in other games as well). Actual battles themselves are well done as well. Although each character has only a handful of attacks, they are often unique with their own specific purpose. The few techniques that are similar have their own specific uses in combos as well. That brings me to the best part of the battle system: combos. Although each character has only a few abilities, a massive amount of combo abilities exist by combining certain skills together. It is even possible to combine certain abilities together for the entire team to create a mighty triple attack. Unlike most other games, a lot of thought has to be put into forming a party due to combos. Each attack and combo has a specific area of effect as well. Targeting the correct enemy with a medium area of effect skill can result in hitting more targets. Although the battle system appear simplistic at first, it is incredibly well done.

Can Magus come out to play? Can Magus come out to play?

   As if the battle system isn't good enough, it's also beautifully done visually. In fact, the entire game is. Virtually maxing out the Super Nintendo's graphical ability, Chrono Trigger manages to create a tremendous amount of large, detailed, and well animated heroes, abilities, enemies, and even backgrounds. This is especially amazing since Chrono Trigger spans a large supply of different environments, all of which look visually impressive. Did I mention Chrono Trigger has one of the best soundtracks of all SNES games? No? Well it does. Every music theme beautifully melds with the environment to greatly enhance your gaming experience. Battle music is exciting, towns are calm, haunted castles are creepy, and all of them are beautifully done.

   I can't say this is the hardest of games, in fact it's quite easy. As long as you have a well-designed party with a healer and some good combos and don't avoid ALL of the monsters, (so you can level up a little) you shouldn't have much trouble staying alive and out of danger. Some of the later bosses can be a bit difficult if you under-estimate them though, but still aren't too bad. No, you didn't misread the playtime, it is actually possible to beat the game in only a few minutes thanks to the New Game + feature. How, when, and where you fight the final boss is up to you. The first time through you are restricted somewhat, but after that you can fight at virtually any point in the game. Depending on when you fight also effects your ending, which there are over a dozen of I believe. Collecting them all leads to a lot of replay value. You can also carry items and levels from your first time around in order to gather rare items that you had to choose between earlier. Skipping to the final boss aside, it can take a good 40 hours to complete the game and face the final boss.

   Nothing ruins a game like poor localization, but Chrono Trigger has excellent localization. Items, abilities, dialog (even obscure dialog), all are well written. Not really any flaws, so no need to waste your time reading about how well-done it is. Yes, another high score for Chrono Trigger. The interface is quite well done too. It's quite easy to find what you're looking for in menus and surprisingly easy to setup combos. Everything flows together nicely.

If only all world maps were this good looking... If only all world maps were this good looking...

   Chrono Trigger's story has it all. Heroes, villains, time travel, robots, wizards, virtually anything you can think of. The story is original and doesn't move in the same fashion as in other games. It's often hard to predict where you're going to end up next or which characters you are going to run into. The story is incredibly well-done with plenty of well-written characters and some interesting side-quests as well. In fact, Chrono Trigger blurs the line between side-quest and the actual game due to the fact that about half of it is optional your first time through. The large degree of freedom over when, where, and how you fight the final boss is a nice addition as well. As I mentioned earlier, the game is also very original. I've never seen a plot like this one before. The battle system, although similar to other Squaresoft games, is also quite original as well due to its combo system and attack range. It's a shame I can't further express how original the plot is without ruining much of it, but trust me, it has a lot of elements that games that came before it probably didn't even dream about including and some that games that came many years later couldn't even use as well as Chrono Trigger did.

   So there you have it. A battle system that offers simplicity and speed (I mean, who wants to scroll through 100 abilities?) without sacrificing strategy, beautiful graphics that push the limits of the SNES, music that goes well with and often even enhances every scene without getting repetitive, a wonderful interface that puts any action you want to perform only a few buttons away, a well-written, interesting, and original story, and finally a massive replay value. I scanned the game carefully trying to find a single flaw that would bring the score down to a nine, but I couldn't find one. Since all of the factors of Chrono Trigger are virtually flawless themselves with no exceptions, I can find no excuse to not give it a ten. I don't feel good about giving a game a 10, but Chrono Trigger deserves it. Yes, it's really that good. Go play this game, you won't regret it.

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