JRPG Recommendations: Chrono Trigger
In my gaming road trip write up I mentioned we would be talking about Chrono Trigger in-depth a little more, well that time is now. Chrono Trigger celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and many were hoping Square Enix would surprise us with a remastered version, but alas no such news as of now. However, Chrono Trigger does NOT need a remastering because it’s still a masterpiece.
I played through the game over Memorial week in my spare time and it didn’t feel like a 20 year old game to me. Graphically it’s one of the more impressive SNES games in existence and even with more advanced hardware on the PS1 and DS they kept the sprite work the same. The best part is this game is playable on several new devices. Obviously the SNES, PS1 and DS but it’s on virtual console on PS3, android, and iPhones. The reason I preface this is because if you have not yet played the game and you enjoy JRPGs, play it before reading because their will be spoilers and you should experience this game as fresh as you can.
Starting with gameplay it did something that Square’s RPGs did not do at the time, which is its active battles, hence the active battle system we know and love today. This brought a layer of strategy to each and every fight as enemies would move around the map and you could time your attacks to hit multiple foes, or wait to prevent a counter attack as well. Each enemy and boss fight was different which required careful planning. Skills are earned by gaining AP or ability points,which are different from EXP. These skills have varying elements and effects, and you can combine them with other party members with a compatible skill like cyclone and flame toss to do fire whirl, and even later you can use devastating triple techs that can cause a shift in a battle if timed well. Enemies won’t play nice or wait either, they can attack you and even create combos of their own, so while planning is needed, so is being quick on your feet. Later on freely traveling through time also becomes a major component and things you do or don’t do can drastically alter interactions in a different timeline.
This is where we get into the story and some spoilers, I will do my best not to ruin the best bits but again those who want to go in fresh stop and play through it first. OK Chrono Trigger is split up into six periods, Prehistoric, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, Present, Day Of Lavos, and Future. Each plays a major role in the main objective of the game stopping the end of days brought on by the monster Lavos. In each time period you learn more about Lavos and how to stop it from ending the world, the best part is when you start the game you really don’t know anything about Lavos and the fate that lays before you. You see Lavos wont bring about ruination for another thousand years, and you only find out about this because you stumble into the future when it is your only way out of an unjust death. Poor Chrono all you wanted to do is go to the fair and spend time with your best friend Lucca, at the fair you run in to Marle, who is the kings wild daughter in disguise and must blindly leap into the first time tear to rescue her. That’s all I really want to say about the story and its progression but I wouldn’t be doing it justice with out a heavy spoiler section, so if you want to play this skip the next paragraph.
Chrono Trigger has so many memorable moments and I want to cover a few of them here. The story about how frog became what he is today, being a great swordsman who feared the evil Magus and how he blames his cowardice for the death of his best friend Cyrus. Lara, Lucca’s mother and the accident that crippled her and made her cold, and led to Lucca trying to be a better scientist so that no one gets hurt by technology ever again. Magus and his real reason to summon Lavos who caused his sister Schalas death and sent him into the middle ages. Of course the death of Chrono, his sacrifice to save the party and your struggle to bring him back to life.
I could never fully do this amazing game justice in an article, but it deserves to be at the top of many a gamer’s playlist. The game also is one of the first to have several endings each of which drastically differs depending on what you did to get it, which only gives it great replay value. Besides that each of the main characters has their own sidequest, which adds so much depth to them, even Marle who I liked the least had an amazing story with her father. That’s not all, even important characters and those who seem unimportant can alter the game and add to the story in different ways like repairing the forest or powering up the Masamune. Chrono Trigger should be played by everyone at least once, and like I said replayed till Lavos destroys the world.
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