Chrono Trigger - Retroview

'Time' To Travel


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 9
   Plot 7
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 9
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

<1-40 hours


Title Screen

   Most everyone in the RPG Community can agree on certain things. One of the biggest is that Chrono Trigger was awesome on so many levels, and helped to revolutionize the industry so much, that it is hailed the most - next only to Final Fantasy VI - of any game I've ever seen. However, as time goes on and we reshape our personal ideas of gaming, so too do the mighty fall. This is not to say that I hate or even moderately dislike the game (that would be wholly incorrect, seeing as it might be my second favorite RPG of all time...) but to bring to light the fact that it is shadowed by several general game flaws that make it less than perfect...

   The battle system of Chrono Trigger is a remarkable change from the common ATB traditions in Final Fantasy. At first glance it could appear to be a combination of both Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy VI in this department. But, with the addition of one limitlessly awesome addition; all of your characters can interactively cooperate in battle now! Imagine it! Being able to expend MP and NOT have some sort of mystical fire incinerate your enemy, but to have your two swordsmen rush across the battlefield and divide him into bits together! The same is true of your magic using characters - who can combine the powers of virtually every element in order to decimate your foes.

   This skill is taken to the extreme when you begin to factor in what's possible when all three of the characters work together. Skills such as Life-Line (one time auto-recover from being killed) and Dark Eternal (the name speaks for itself) really show off the graphical powers of the SNES and - at the same time - do things that could quite easily determine the outcome of the battle.

What A Nice Babbling Brook
What A Nice Babbling Brook 

   The interactive menus of the game are designed very simplistically. After testing them out a piece at a time for the first quest of the game, you'll have as accurate a working knowledge of them as I do (and I've completed the game at least a dozen times).

   Let me start out the description of the music by telling you that I own the soundtrack. Very nearly every song in the game is a masterpiece of blending instruments and making the most realistic possible tracks with what the SNES is capable of. Between Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda, SquareSoft has the RPG music department covered in 52k gold. The one drawback to having such awesome music is that a good number of the sound effects are irritating. The battle sounds are nice and add a lot to the feel but the other sounds... Such as the Lavos Roar, made me plug my ears when they cropped up. Thankfully, they don't show up too often.

   This game has creativity stamped all over it. So much so, that I highly doubt any other RPG will ever touch on the subject of time travel ever again. The sheer number of things that were done and the calculations that it took to keep anything from displacing something else makes me wonder how it was possible to program it on even a 32MB cartridge. Probably the best example of the creativity lies in the New Game + option when you first start the game. This allows you to take the items, character stats, magic skills, and everything else gained from a game that you have previously beaten and import it into the beginning of the game. It's in this way that you can beat the game at different times and greatly modify both the ending you see and the playtime required. If you're powerful enough to beat the game just immediately after getting Marle to join you, you know that you've done pretty much all that there is to do in the game.

   Although some of the plot has been done before, it is arrayed in such a manner as to be extremely non-linear (as the SNES went) and fun to play over and over.
Crono wakes up on the morning of the Millennial Fair and runs off to witness the gaiety of the town when he collides with a young woman named Marle, who (accidentally) leads him on a quest that ends with saving the world.

Akira Toriyama Has Messed Up Bodily Proportion Concepting
Akira Toriyama Has Messed Up Bodily Proportion Concepting 

   In similar contrast to everything that SquareSoft did toward the end of the SNES era, Chrono Trigger is translated with every nuance and inflection carefully added to the character sprite making a similar face. I can't think of a better localization ever made.

   If you've read any of my other reviews, you have probably guessed what kind of innovations a game would need to score high in the Replay Value section. There is a sole reason that this game has a 9; New Game +. I'm one of those people that will take a dare seriously and when my friend dared me to max out all of my characters, I did. I had to play the game through a fair number of times and collect a humongous boatload of skill increasing 'tab' items but... Well... You get the picture. With the New Game + option and all the different situations to test what each character says, endings to see, and items to get, there's a reason to play the game over even if you've seen it all and done the impossible 9999 point of damage attack (like me).

   With the heavily animated water, multi-shaded grass and leaves, cloudy hillsides, and intricate mechanical ruins, CT pushes the power of the SNES to the limit. 16bit does NOT get better than this. I (and most likely the vast majority of you) haven't played the PSX remake yet... But you can get a fairly good idea from the screenshot - up and to the left of here - as to what the FMV cutscenes look like.

Time/Space Continuum Disruption Ground-Zero
Time/Space Continuum Disruption Ground-Zero 

   Chrono Trigger is easy for several reasons. Foremost among them is that once you have 999 HP (which is more-or-less standard for beating the game) there is only one attack that I know of that can instantly kill you. And even that won't kill you depending on your MgDef score and what armor you have equipped. But, it's always a good idea to pack around a fair number of restorative items and keep the MP of the healers up to protect you. New Game + is considerably easier for the obvious reason that you are already a much higher level than you were the first time through and the enemies aren't. When you're LVL75 and you're fighting the first Yakra in the Shrine, you can smack him to death in one hit of your weakest weapon.

   Like I mentioned before, the amount of time necessary to beat Lavos and view one of the endings varies dramatically. As you go, you'll have your built-in time-clock to keep you company, so be watchful and estimate.

   Chrono Trigger is... Awesome. That's the only word for it. But - like all good things - there comes that tiny 'hair in the soup' that ruins the shining image of a thing. If you've never played CT, then now is the time to be saving up for Final Fantasy Chronicles; unless you have $100 and an eBay membership, to get one of the long forgotten SNES carts...

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