- Chrono Trigger -
-= Overview =-
While the game might be over four years old, Chrono Trigger still stands strong against current RPGs, with it beautiful soundtrack, it's decent story and awesome SNES graphics that even make the immortal Final Fantasys 4, 5, and 6 to shame. In the story you take control of silent lad named Crono, (silent for he rarely speaks in the game) who is excitedly joining the festivities of the millenium fair to visit his good friend Lucca who has been cooking up another invention. While on his way to see her, he bumps into a girl around his age near the famous Lenne Square bell. After helping her up, she asks if he can join him. He agrees, being the person that he is, and the whole adventure starts from here. The game is 2D of course and has captured many hearts, including mine.
-= Story =-
: Rating :
I will admit that the story is overstuffed with clichés. Crono represents the charming prince, Marle the princess, time traveling has been overused and the hero vs. evil entity bent on destroying our world plot has been terribly outdone that it's getting on my nerves. But Chrono Trigger does rank a few high points in it's somewhat simple story-line, mainly the semi-surprise of Magus not being the center villain as it is lead to be believed in the really stages of the game, and the small personal problems each character has that can or can not be solved by the end of the game. The full cast of seven playable characters include Chrono, Lucca, Marle, the three friends, then the chums they make while time traveling, Robo, a slightly humanoid robot they find in the 22nd century, Alya, a tomboy princess of the Jurassic period, Frog, a frog (for better lack of a word) that was once human and is trying to avenged his friend's death by killing Magus. You might be wondering "Did she just say *seven* playable characters?" Yes I did. There is a final playable secret character--Magus. Secret because you have the option to kill him or he joins you. With the firepower he comes packed with, I suggest you make him join you. Besides, it's always interesting to have a macabre character who snaps the worst comments in the least favorable times.
Character Development is simple; Crono wants to protect Princess Marle, Marle has the whole help-me-I'm-a-princess-who-wants-to-see-the-world attitude going on, Lucca is the brains of the bunch, Robo the team booster, Frog, the "I've had a sad past" teamster, Alya is the no brains just muscle (which is surprising considering she's a female character) and Magus is the "bad guy turned semi-good" character. It's the usual bunch that could be compared to many anime or cartoon good guy groups.
In other words, it doesn't more "normal" than this.
-= Gameplay =-
: Rating :
It's very strong for an SNES game. Much like Secret of Mana, the characters have the ability to avoid many of the game's foes while walking around in real time. When you do encounter a foe, the game suddenly snaps into Final Fantasy-like gameplay, with the usual three commands, fight (Attack) use magic and skills your character has (Techs) or use an item to heal or protect yourself (Item). What makes the gameplay interesting thought, is that Chrono Trigger's fighting system is complete as well as simple, and breathtaking to watch. The game doesn't turn black and then the characters are stashed to the right side of the screen and the foes to the left, the characters stay where they are, surrounding the foes or whatever happens to be right at that moment. The good number of characters you can control per time is limited to 3, this is explained as the "time gates" cannot withstand more than three characters at a time in them. Since there is only one "key" to open the gates, only one group three characters can travel per time. When they get the Epoch, it fails to explain why we can't control two groups of three characters, one using the time machine, the other using the gates.
Gameplay is easy to understand, every item has a complete description at the top when selected to remind you of what it does. Magic usage is simple; each character gets a special field to himself; Crono gets lightning, Marle water (ice), Lucca fire, Frog, water and Magus gets's shadow meaning he can cast spells from fire, ice and lighting. Lucca and Robo have no fields, for Robo is a robot and Alya was born before magic was "invented" Doubles techs can be used when characters are at a high enough field. For example, if Marle learns Ice 1 and Lucca Fire 1, they can combine there powers to created "Antipode 1" a fire-ice magic spell that is more powerful than their two attacks alone. Magus is the only character you cannot team up with; you can only do it when you have acquired special items...
Fights are common, can be avoid, and are always welcome. My favorite area of the game is Magus' castle were you must fight no less than 100+ enemies before reaching the great Magus himself!
The area that lacked good gameplay was the car sequence where you race against Johnny. It's terrible to control and takes away the whole fun of racing. Unlike main sub-games in different RPGs, this is not one where you'll be spending much time playing for kicks.
-= Music & Sound Effects =-
: Rating :
If you cannot find a song in the 40+ music pieces in Chrono Trigger that you like, you should be taken out in the streets and shot. Then rolled over by a car. Then shot thrice. Then thrown into a ravine. Then shot again. The music is the game's strong point, a very strong point. Each piece is splendidly blended into the current atmosphere of the game, much like movie music captures and enhances the experience. And what a feast for the ears it is! Each of the main character has it's one special theme, suited to their style. The battle music is fitting, although the main battle theme does get a little annoying after a while. There are two boss themes, and three for the final boss. Apart form that, there is music for nearly every major event. And they fit. The music played in the 22nd century really sounds desperate, the jolly festive music to the fair makes to wish you could join the characters in the dancing, the sad music might bring you a tear to your eyes, the list goes on. The soundtrack (which comprises of three CDs) is perhaps one of my recommendations which shall not fail to please you.
The sound effects on the other hand, need some work. Perhaps because so much work was put into the music, the sound effects have been neglected. The bad guys all roar the same, save for Lavos, who gets his pleasant little howl to himself. When Magus attacks with his scythe, it sounds more like he's ripping someone's pants in two than cutting the foes open. But since the music makes it the game so enjoyable, I'll let it pass. In fact, Chrono Trigger reminds me a silent movie, with it's lacks of sound effects. Just music and texts to understand what the characters are saying. All you need is to turn your TV screen black and white and your all set.
-= Graphics =-
: Rating :
If I got back to 1995 and compare then to the usual RPG graphics back then, Chrono Trigger was a rare gem. Get this: every single magic spell at it's own graphics, some more impressive than others (Mainly the double and triple techs). Even to this day, some RGPS don't even bother with the quality of spell casting graphics, which happens to be the more fun thing to do while fighting a foe.
Looking more like Secret of Mana than Final Fantasy, the characters move more realistically than simply up and down. The fighting sequences are beautiful as well. The foes just don't stand there and do nothing, then shake when you hit them. Instead, they all have different animations, from kicking your character, to making faces, to attacking. The also move around while you preparing your attacks, and will attack you if you have the "no-waiting" option set on. Of course, to keep the game to the lowest violence level possible, the characters don't "die" when you kill them, they disappear. The sub-screen images are also impressive, as they should be, they were done by the same artist who makes the Dragon Ball manga. It seems that nothing was spared to make this a little gem, save perhaps for the terrible look of the End of Time. It was rumored to have been left like this because they had already used much more space then usual for a game back then: 24megs. Supposedly, the end of time was supposed to have been made out of crystals instead of the simple lamp post and doors. It's too bad because it would have been much more impressive than it was.
-= Fun =-
: Rating :
Fun is the basis behind this game, and it's one of the more solid one I've seen in several years. Chrono Trigger presented no less than 13 endings, some more fun than others. Say, you were helping Alya when you suddenly decide to go beat Lavos. Since you did not help Alya win, the reptiles won over the humans. The outcome is hilarious. The ending begins the same way the game began. Crono's mother wakes him up to go the fair. Except now everyone it reptiles! This adds a bonus to the replay value. Also, after finishing the game in the best form possible (finsihed all the quests), the game offers you to replay a new game as a "game +" You keep all the power you had aquired since then, but you restart the game over! Power-hungry RPGers who like to hit without mercy early on in the game will be well-pleased with this option.
While the game does have a set story-line to follow, the ability to visit which timeframe you wish later in the game is still appreciated. When the game nears it's end, there will be a whole slew of sub-plots presented to you: you can go help Marle regain confidence in her father, help Chrono get a more powerful sword, get Lucca to stop her mother from getting her legs cut off in a machine while she was little, learn about Robo past, or destroy Queen Zeal. Since you have the option to do them or not, you might decide to finish the game, then come back in a week and try to do a quest, then a while later to do another one, adding to the replay value.
-= Last Word =-
I'll leave you with this. I believe Chrono Trigger is one, if not my favorite game. The simple story line, awesome graphics and beautiful music will always make me return once in a while to play it. Oh and the 13 or so endings give it a +6 bonus to my review if just for the replay value they have. If ever the playstation version of the remake gets to america, be sure to buy it, I saw some of the in between anime sequences and they are utterly beautiful. I just thought I'd warn you to get the game before I get all the copies of it.
Strong points- Beautiful artwork, easy to understand, great control, awesome music
Weaknesses- Weak storyline, cliché characters, terrible sound effects
Total Score: 89/100
(not an average)