Chrono Trigger - Reader Review

Endless Time Warp.. or the end of time?

By Jonathan Rushing

Review Breakdown
   Battle System9.0
   Replay Value10.0
   DifficultyVery Easy
   Time to Complete20+ hours 

   Gather round little ones and ye shall hear a tale, a tale about time travel, a boy, and a game considered a classic by most. Chrono Trigger is a true RPG, and a Square one at that. So? Sure, that means it's bound to be good, but what makes this game so great? Simple: even today it stands as one of the most 'similar enough to pick right up' kind of RPGs that also has tons of subtle innovation.

    The world of Chrono Trigger starts in a small town about to celebrate its millenial festival. You play as Chrono, who at the festival decides to test a new invention, which warps him into the wildest time trip ever conceived. Now the plot may not be overly complex, hell, it ain't got many plot twists at all. From just before you obtain your fourth character (of a possible to the end of the game you know exactly what your goal is, but it's the way the plot uses the time travel that is really intriguing.

    In Chrono Trigger the major "gimmick" that was advertised was the time travel, which I'll admit is less gimicky than it sounds. Basically you can either travel through "time gates" in specific locations that kind of "link" to each other, or you can eventually use the time machine Epoch. This creates an interesting dynamic in that the map, albeit deceptively small, is slightly altered between time periods showing the way the planet changes over time, from the Pangea-esque 65,000,000 BC to the near "the poles have melted" world of the future. True, the game may as well have just had one world with slightly differant looking portions of the same few continents repeated 5 or 6 times, but then the map would be downright huge (NOTE: this is definately a GOOD thing if you couldn't figure that out).

    The music in the game deserves mention as well; this is simply stunning stuff... for a MIDI. The tunes are all excellent and totally fit their corresponding event or character, but MIDIs just can't excite me like redbook audio does. I would kill for a sequel to this game on PSX with pumping bass and full orchestral themes. The sound effects get just this little sentence: not bad enough to notice, not good enough to notice.

    The game reeks of innovation in the gameplay and battles. Well, OK, maybe not reeks, but it is a noticable stench. The control and such on the maps are nothing special, although it should be noted that on the world map you cannot be attacked, quite handy since in this game you wouldnt want to be fighting the sorriest enemies in the game every time you go back to the first area (and you will.) The battles are intriguing though, because they are not so much an unnecesary visual representation as in FF and other games, because the physical location of things makes a difference for some abilities. For instance, if Robo was going to do the Area Bomb attack, it would damage all enemies adjacent to him, so if he was alone in a corner, it would be worthless.

    The magic system and the way you learn magic is very similar to materia leveling up in FF7 or job abilities from FF5 in that they are like a seperate type of 'experience points' thus making some battles worth more normal XP and others worth more towards learning new techniques.

    The graphics in the game are nothing special, but certainly pretty good for SNES. The face pictures and official Square art in the instructions and such are particularly noteworthy though as they are all done (character designs for the game also) by Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragonball. (side note: this is likely why in the Japanese version Flea, Slasher, and Ozzie were named after foods ^_^)

    The only true downfall with this game is that even the first time through it is WAAAAY too easy. I beat it within 2 days (19 hours 35 minutes if you care.) The amount of time it takes to beat is it's greatest hinderance, but its time to master is its greatest asset: the New Game + feature is, simply put, something I wish EVERY game had. It allows you to begin a new game, with all your characters the same level/stats they were previously (when you earn them in the gmae of course,) all your items, everything excpet money and story items. This gives the game near infite replay value (along with the fact that to get the other 10 or so endings you need to use a New Game +.) Remember that 19:34 hours play time? Well, to say that it took me that to beat it is true, but i still played this game with New Game + religiously for 2 years to master it in every aspect (level ** on everyone [**=100 or max for a number in this game] ** on all possible attributes ETC.) and it is STILL fun to me.

    Bottom line: If you are the type that calls a game over when the credits roll, skip over this one because it simply isn't long or hard enough without New Game +, but you're only cheating yourself.

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