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Chrono Trigger - Review

Chrono Trigger stands the test of Time

By: MrChupon


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Gameplay 8
   Music 9
   Originality 9
   Plot 7
   Replay Value 10
   Sound 8
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

20 - 120

 
Overall
number
Criteria

Title Screen
Even the game's logo is cool.  

   Chrono Trigger, released by Squaresoft in 1995, was one of first – if not the first – console RPGs to successfully base a game around the time traveling theme.  Not just relying on the gimmick of being able to cross eras, however, Square crafted what is arguably one of the most enjoyable console RPGs in history.  With its innovation and dramatic moments, this old gem can compete with (and overcome) the glitz and glamour of today’s RPGs, CGI movies and all.

   One of the innovations that catapulted Chrono Trigger to success was the battle system, and its Tech system.  Techs can do more than affect just one foe -- some have a damage radius, and some have trajectories that skewer a whole line of enemies.  For instance, Chrono's Cyclone technique travels in a circular motion and any enemy caught within that circle's radius is sliced, and Chrono's Slash technique is a projectile that mows down multiple enemies lined up one behind the other.  Even more devastating are the multiple Techs.  When learned, Double and Triple techs combine the abilities of two and three party members (respectively) – too cool.  Feel like dishing out pain with Crono's Cyclone Tech, but want to toast the enemy just a little more? It can be done by combining Lucca's fire ability to pull off Fire Whirl, making Crono a spinning flame.  Or combine the opposite forces of Lucca's fire and Marle's ice to execute the double tech Antipode.  Multiple techs not only show off cool special effects, but they do more damage especially when one of the techs involved exploits the enemies' elemental weakness.  However, magic is different from the Final Fantasy series – each character has a specific set of spells, so Crono (designated to Lightning) cannot cast ice.  It’s limiting in some respects, but it keeps the game from being confusing and slow-paced. 


Silly Little Comment on Screen
Beautiful view  

   On to Gameplay.  Random battles have been tossed. Now enemies are visible (except for some ambushes).  If you’re sneaky, you can find a way around monsters.  World Maps have no battles.  I found that unchallenging – but it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.  The menus are user friendly and character management is a snap.  It makes the game move along at a very brisk, dynamic pace, definitely great for those who get aggravated easily.  In addition, where other games might have overdone time travel, making it too cumbersome, Square tied this facet into the story and game brilliantly.

 Yasunori Mitsuda-san’s exquisite soundtrack just makes the game better.  Certainly it’s in my top 5 list which includes Xenogears and the Castlevania series.  At times, the music can be a bit too cutesy and cheesy, and I think the battle music was too plain.  But overall, the brilliant music fits scenes perfectly and stirs emotions.  I was entranced while listening to the Kingdom of Zeal’s music, which I felt was more stunning than the (magnificent) scene it accompanied.

   Chrono Trigger was also innovative and original; as mentioned, it was the first (or one of the first) time traveling RPGs.  It's tech battle system was never done before, and battling enemies right on the map was a nice dynamic touch.  No matter how many people tell me that it's fight command is just as blah as any other Final Fantasy game, I say that a game that uses old tricks but incorporates astounding new ones still gets originality points. 


Cutesy or Realistic Name
One of Frog's techs. What the...!?  

   The music, visuals and originality were good enough to get me to totally ignore the plot.  This was actually not so bad of a thing, because the plot was “not bad” at best.  Square did an excellent job of tying loose ends together and making time travel work well.  However, save for a couple of dramatic moments and shocks, the story had a pinch of cliché and a touch of “eh” to it.  Without the soundtrack and visuals I might not have been interested in the story.

   However, I’d still play Chrono Trigger a million times over.  Chrono Trigger sported multiple endings – any game with over 10 endings has got to be something to see (and I’m sure there’re at least 17).  New Game +, a feature added on when you finish the game, allows you to start at the beginning of the tale with everything else intact (items, character levels, etc.).

The sounds keep the game pleasurable.  Battle strikes and spell effects sound beefy and painful. I still haven’t managed to get annoyed Square’s pointer noise.  The sounds have a general cartoony feel that gets tedious, but not irritating. 

Then there are the visuals.  Excuse my drooling.  Ever since I played FF6, the only RPG that ever came close to being its visual equal on the SNES was Chrono Trigger.  Lush forest greens and beautiful sunsets, waterfalls and rivers only add to the vast amount of color used.  CT's great character design was done by Akira Toriyama (Mr. Dragonball himself).


You know the deal-title it.
Save the future by saving the past.  

As great as the game was, there’s no denying it was easy.  Avoiding enemies half the time won’t jeopardize you too much and those wanting challenge will complain.  Of course, that’s why there’re a multiple endings and New Game + to keep you playing. In fact, you could take as long as you to complete Chrono Trigger.  There are several odds and ends to be explored, much like the second halves of FFIV and FFVI.  Or, you could go the alternate route and rush to a 20-hour victory.

Chrono Trigger is truly a classic.  While some people say it’s too easy, they can get a kick out of playing around with the many different things the game has to offer.  An easy game shouldn’t mean it’s bad, as long as the game has enough to entertain the player.  I had a memorable time playing it, and I think I’m feeling nostalgia creep up on me.  ’Scuse me while I dust off my SNES controller.





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