Name: Chrono Trigger
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Platform: Nintendo DS
One of my biggest crimes as a video gamer and lover of role-playing games is never having played the original Chrono Trigger. There were several reasons for this, the main one being the fact that I never had a Super Nintendo as a child, as well as the fact that I didn’t start playing RPGs until the PS1 era. Over time, this Square RPG, originally released in 1995, has become renowned as one of the best games ever made, with mint copies of the SNES cartridge selling for obscene amounts of money. Even though Chrono Trigger was re-released on the PS1 in 2001, I still missed out somehow; by then, the PS2 was out, and I had moved on. However, with Square Enix finally taking a break from Final Fantasy remakes to release Chrono Trigger on the DS, I couldn’t let the opportunity to play this classic pass by again.
Chrono Trigger is considered a classic for a reason: it has one of the best stories of any RPG ever made. The games takes place in a world not terribly unlike our own, almost like an alternate dimension of the planet Earth. You take the role of Chrono, a young man from a small town who lives with his mother and spends most of his time with his nerdy best friend Lucca. At a town festival, Lucca unveils her newest invention, a teleportation device, which accidentally transports the tomboy princess Marle back in time, forcing the two of them to go after her. That begins an epic adventure spanning millions of years, from the prehistoric time of reptites (dinosaur-like creatures) to an unspeakably bleak future.
In addition to a fantastic plot, Chrono Trigger also features some genuinely likeable and relatable characters, a feat that many RPGs can’t seem to pull off. There are plenty of memorable moments, both funny and heart breaking; and plenty of instances that show publisher Square Enix (known as Squaresoft when the game was originally released) actually have a good sense of humor. For example, the three enemy generals are named Ozzie, Flea, and Slash, and Chrono Trigger drops a few other sly references to American pop culture that you probably wouldn’t expect from Square. The various locations also make the gameplay interesting, as traveling through time allows you to see the same areas in different eras and fully understand the consequences of decisions made throughout the course of history.
Chrono Trigger uses a turn-based battle system, although it does employ the “active time battle” originally used in Final Fantasy IV. Basically, this means that while you choose your actions, the enemy will still attack. The DS version of the game allows you to change this to “Wait”, which gives the battle system more of a classic feel; while waiting allows you to take more time to hone your strategy, the ATB is all about speed and precision. Whatever way you choose, it won’t take long to get used to the fighting if you’ve ever played a turn-based RPG before. One thing that’s a little different is the use of combos; when certain players acquire specific skills, they can be used together for a more powerful attack. Also, some skills affect areas, instead of just a single enemy; they can be unleashed in a straight line, a wave, or a certain radius, making placement of the characters and foes important in battle. This adds another layer to the battle system and helps set it apart from other old-school RPGs.
Square Enix is no stranger to RPG remakes, but even so, they have done an especially fantastic job with Chrono Trigger on the DS. Instead of simply rushing out a port for Christmas, which still wouldn’t have been a bad deal, several things have been added to differentiate the handheld version of the game from the SNES version. Firstly, the animated cut scenes (originally used in the PS1 remake) are wonderful, and look great on the DS. The also help to increase the emotional impact of certain scenes, but I won’t go into detail so that you can experience this for yourself. In addition, there is one new ending (bringing the total to a whopping thirteen), a new monster battle arena, and the option to use new touch-screen controls or classic controls.
Honestly, Chrono Trigger’s main flaw is the fact that it came out in 1995. This might sounds like a really stupid thing to complain about, and for gamers who love old-school RPGs, this won’t be an issue at all. However, the genre has come a long way since then, and even with some new missions and tweaks, there’s no denying that Chrono Trigger is decidedly antiquated. Don’t get me wrong, this game is still wonderful, and Square Enix have made sure that the handheld remake is the definitive version of the game. Chrono Trigger DS is a remake done right, and both longtime fans and new players should pick it up.