Chrono Trigger Review
Time and Again
Few games have the same following as Squaresoft’s Chrono Trigger. While it may not have as many fans as newer RPGs, Nearly everyone who has ever played it has done so so many times that they have memorized each and every moment of the game.
The first thing players will notice about Chrono Trigger are its stunning graphics. Not only are all the game’s backgrounds easy on the eyes, but every character and monster in the game is a large, fully animated, and well drawn sprite. Perhaps even more impressive, the concept art, character profiles, and in-game sprites all look alike down to the smallest detail. All together, this leaves the game with a consistent look so nice no other game on the system comes close.
Naturally, the sounds match the sights. Chrono Trigger features one of the best and most memorable soundtracks of any RPG, thanks to famed composer Yasunori Mitsuda. Most of the game’s music is comprised of variations on the complex and epic main theme. This adds to the sense of consistency permeating the game, but the tracks still maintain enough variety not to grow tiresome.
While a pleasing package is always nice, it’s the gameplay that really defines a game. Here Chrono Trigger introduces a number of interesting new concepts. When walking around in dungeons, monsters will mill about, often chasing after you. When one touches a character of yours, battle instantly begins between your party and every monster on the screen. While this is not a particularly new idea in and of itself, it paves the way for Chrono Trigger‘s innovative spell targeting system. Rather than just having spells that hit a single enemy or the entire group, Chrono Trigger features a variety of spells that hit all the enemies within a certain range of the target, falling along a thick horizontal line, and so on. As monsters continue to mill about during combat, this adds an interesting wrinkle to things.
Speaking of magic. Each of Chrono Trigger‘s seven characters has an element that defines all their spells. Since most bosses have elemental strengths and weaknesses, this would make any given character fairly useless most of the time, if not for the very innovative combo system. Initiative in Chrono Trigger works much like in the Final Fantasy series, with one important difference. If two or three characters are all ready to act at once, it becomes possible for them to perform a combination spell yielding extra damage and range.
The story of Chrono Trigger is also rather innovative. As one would expect from the title, over the course of the game, the player must hop back and forth through time in order to avert various crises. This adds quite a bit of depth to some of the game’s sidquests, and allows for a very different kind of story. This story is far from the longest ever told however, as Chrono Trigger takes a scant twenty hours the first time through.
It is after the game has been completed that Chrono Trigger really shines however. After completing the game, a New Game + option appears, allowing players to start over from the beginning while keeping all their levels, money, and equipment. Not only does this make it possible to make a second pass through in considerably less time, it also makes it possible to gain multiple copies of unique pieces or armor, and makes it possible to reach over a dozen new endings, giving the game untold of replay value.
All in all, Chrono Trigger is a delightful game. While there may be less to it than other RPGs, and it isn’t particularly difficult, it has the polish, innovation, and replay value to keep players coming back time and again.