Monday, February 16, 2009

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is one of those games that needs no introduction. It is hailed by many as being one of, if not, the greatest jRPG of all time.

The game was the creation of three of the biggest names in the industry: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii, and Akira Toriyama. If you are unaware, that is the creator of Final Fantasy, the screen writer of Dragon Quest, and the creator of Dragon Ball. With such big names attached to the game, expectations must have been astronomical. But I'm sure you already have your own opinions about how it fared.

The story of Chrono Trigger is about a group of young teens who, while enjoying the fair, find themselves lost in time. Unlike most jRPGs, this does not require the deaths of everyone the main character knew or the burning of his home village. It is an event that happens merely by chance as the main character, Crono, watches a science experiment performed by his childhood friend, Lucca. Marle, whom Crono had met just minutes prior, had volunteered to be the second subject to be transported across the plaza by a scientific device. Unfortunately, during the course of the experiment, the energies created by the device interacted with Marle's pendent, tearing a hole in time and sending her tumbling into the past. Picking up the dropped pendant, Crono ventured alone into time to save her, beginning his adventure.

In all honesty, it is not the most grandious of beginnings, but it sucks you in all the more for it. You are just a normal person in a peaceful time, enjoying life. And for the most part, the game remains at that same light-hearted and funny level. This serves to make the saddening and or terrifying moments all the more powerful. The story is simple, and not drug out, leaving the player to make connections and determine what needs to be done. It does a good job of making the player feel not only as if they are Crono but also as if they are actually plotting the course for their own adventure.

The battle system is one of the games many strong suits. The Active Time system forces players to react quickly and speeds up the battles, which shortens the grind that many jRPGs suffer from. There was a moment late in the game, where I decided I was just going to grind for a bit to raise my level and learn new techs. The speed at which I was able to do this was impressive. Battles were over quickly, and the fact that there was not a separate screen for them meant that I did not have to wait for the screen to change. In about two hours, I was able to gain five or six levels and max out most of my characters techniques. And other than that one time, I was not forced to grind to beat any of the games challenges.

As I sit here, looking at the ending screen, I am reminded of just how good the games music is. Scored by Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu, the game is a classic example of memorable tunes. From the upbeat battle theme to the haunting music box ending, the music will will carve a place into your heart. It may not be my favorite soundtrack ever, but it is one of the best.

All in all, Chrono Trigger has earned its place as one of gamings gems.It is a well told story, with endearing characters, a fun battle system, and good music. It's short and sweet like those summer afternoons where you sat inside playing games rather than going outside like your mom said. If you haven't already played it, you should go track it down. It's a worth addition to any collection of retro treasures.

This is the Retro Gamer, and I'm on the hunt.


  1. Ah, Chrono Trigger. A great game to start your reviews with. While I don't consider it the greatest Japanese RPG of all time (I think it's a bit overrated, honestly), it's a solid game and I have many good memories attached to it.

    Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii, Akira Toriyama... damn, I never knew it had all three masterminds at work. That's gotta be the most all-star production team of all time. Very fortunate for Square that, in the eyes of most gamers, it lived up to (or surpassed) the hype. Were any of these three involved in Chrono Cross? I see nothing of Toriyama's art style in the sequel, but I might be wrong, and I've no idea about the former two.

    I'm in complete agreement regarding the music; the favorite tracks for me are most likely the Kingdom of Zeal (1200 AD) and that haunting melody used for certain domes in 2300, like that one filled with Nus who "sleep beyond the flow of time." You mentioned to me once that Yasunori's art style wasn't completely defined in this game, that to some extent he tried to follow in the footsteps of Uematsu... can you think of any tracks in particular where it's clear that he was trying to take after Nobuo's style? What about tracks that are very demonstrative of Yasunori's own style, where he managed to branch out and do his own thing?

    Nice review, Retro Gamer. Hope this manages to get some people into the masterpiece that is Chrono Trigger.

  2. Yasunori's music style, rather.