The upcoming re-release of Chrono Trigger for the Nintendo DS, appropriately named Chrono Trigger DS, will come with a few gameplay additions not seen in previous versions. One of these additions is the monster arena. When first announced, many people thought this could just be a lazy attempt to appeal to the Pokemon crowd. However, new details show that it may be a worthy addition to this classic RPG.
The monster arena is accessible through an area called the Arena of Ages. Whlie it isn't known when the Arena of Ages will become available, it is believed to be sometime before the player reaches the Kingdom of Zeal. Once there, the player only has to talk to the Stable Master to get a free starting monster, called a smidge. The player will have a choice of four smidges, each with its own elemental affinity: fire, water, light, or shadow. A smidge looks like a young version of the highly-renowned Nu creature from the Chrono Trigger universe, but without its signature mohawk.
After the player gets a smidge, it can be immediately sent into one-on-one battles against computer-controlled monsters. Friends (and enemies) can also have their monsters battle each other via DS Wireless Play. Wins and losses for each monster will be recorded.
In each battle, monsters will attack as their respective time gauges fill. The player can control a monster somewhat by commanding it to use specific items which can be purchased in the Arena of Ages. These items can unleash special attacks and may have other effects as well. Winning a battle will reward the player with a separate type of item, sometimes rare, which can be used in Chrono Trigger DS's single-player game. Even the loser of a battle over DS Wireless Play will be rewarded with one of these items, though it won't be as special as the winner's.
Monsters will have various attributes such as strength, speed, magic, and trust. To improve these attributes, the player can send a monster to train in various eras which are unlocked by playing through the single-player storyline. Each era will improve different attributes. For example, sending a monster to train in the middle ages will improve its strength. After sending a monster off to train, the player can continue the main game and come back to check on the monster's progress later. There will apparently be around 50 different types of monsters which the player can use in the monster arena, though it is still unknown specifically how monsters other than the smidge are acquired. It is possible that the smidge morphs into other monsters as it is trained, since the smidge is called "the basis of all monsters."
Some new screenshots of the monster arena are available here. More details on the monster arena, and on the other new features in Chrono Trigger DS (including new dungeons), are going to be available soon. Chrono Trigger DS is planned to be released on November 20, 2008 in Japan, and on November 25, 2008 in North America.