The Never Ending Realm
Chrono Trigger Review (FF Chronicles edition) By Samuel Rivera
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I am impressed. Chrono Trigger, which was first released in the SNES in 1995, had always inexplicably lived under the shadow of the great FFVI. I think Chrono Trigger is every bit as good as FFVI was and then some more.

Since playing FFVII and Ocarina of time I had played many games, including the aforementioned FFVI, yet none of these great games seemed to capture me in the way FFVII and Ocarina of Time did. That was of course until I played Chrono Trigger that came bundled in the FF: Chronicles package for PS1.

Chrono Trigger even 9 years after its original release still is a beautiful game to look at, and the story and gameplay are still very innovative and refreshing. It's hard for some to say that Chrono Trigger is better than FFVI, both games are excellent and different so I believe they can perfectly co-exist alongside each other as perhaps the two greatest RPGs of the 16 bit era.

Graphically Chrono Trigger blows any other RPG in the SNES and the Genesis and yes that includes FFVI. The sprites in CT are very large they look even better than the ones in the excellent Suikoden for PS1. Not only are the sprites larger but they are incredibly detailed and colorful plus they are masterfully animated too. In short in what the sprites are concerned the game eclipses anything in its era, which is not surprising as this was Squares last great effort in the SNES. Plus the character design is by Dragon Ball Z's creator Akira Toriyama, so it was only a matter of course that the game would look better than anything on the market at the time.

The environments where given the same graphical treatment too, they are very detailed and some of them have animated stuff on them. The big contrast between CT and FFVI here is that FFVI had darker, grittier backgrounds. While in here, at least most of the environments are bright and colorful even though depending on the era in which you play in the game, there are a total of six eras, some are dark and gritty while others are bright and colorful. But as far as which backgrounds look better, I have to say Trigger's backgrounds do look at least a level more advanced, even if FFVI artwork depicted a more realistic looking world. Even today in 2004 the Graphics in Trigger where good enough to submerge me in its world after only a few minutes of play. The thing is Trigger looks more like a Sega CD game than a SNES its amazing what the graphic artists where able to do with this game.

The Playstation version has added Anime sequences by Toei animation, this adds a lot of value to the graphical package, for they appear at the introduction and ending and to also bring up to date some of the key in game moments.

Musically this game is a collaboration between Mitsuda and Uematsu, and they are generally recognized as the best composers in the business today. CT furthers cements that reputation. This explains why Chrono Triggers Music is so outstanding, yet I must say I dont know exactly what Uematsu composed in this game because all the music here seems to be Mitsudas own. If you have ever listened to Chrono Cross soundtrack and have played CT you would know what I am talking about. The compositions here are very similar in style to those found in Chrono Cross. FFVI soundtrack was epic; it was a thing of beauty and while Chrono Trigger is a considerably shorter game in scale its just as grand. In other words this (The length of the game) limits the number of tracks in the soundtrack of CT. However I will be the first to say that the compositions here equal anything done in any FF game. In fact the only Soundtrack in the market that surpasses the brilliance of this soundtrack is Chrono Cross', and that is because Mitsuda used these compositions from CT and perfected them over the years (That is my guess since both games follow and share a similar musical style).

"Yearnings of the Wind" is one of my favorite tracks in the game. Its the kind of song that I would like Square to some day include in one of their updated soundtracks, I can only dream on how amazing that tune would sound when played by a full orchestra and not by the limited SNES sound processor. There are more than fifty tracks in the game, and while the music is not as dark as that in FFVI like the graphics I believe it surpasses it because it brings combination of Dark themes and lighter themes that is only rivaled by Chrono Cross. There are many sad melancholic tracks that are brilliant too, so if you have played Chrono Cross and enjoyed its music I think you will find much to like here.

Chrono Trigger might have the best soundtrack of its era, if only FFVIs wasnt as equally brilliant it would be easier to pick which is best.

There are plenty of sound effects scattered thought the game too, however as with FFVI chances are you will be so enthralled by the music that you will fail to notice some of the subtle if simple effects in the environments.

CT story is perhaps its weakest point yet it's still very, very good. Unlike FFVI which was very linear (therefore the writers had it easier to created a more lets say interesting story) CT is very open ended. There are 12 endings, depending on what you do and where and when you fight Lavos the game will reveal a different ending. The story is about a group of teenagers that get suck into a time vortex in which, after some time traveling back and forth discover that in 1999 A.D. Lavos destroys the world. So they set in a quest to prevent Lavos from ever being created. That is the setup for this tale, which is immense even if it only lasts about twenty hours, the plot twists while not many are very good. There is also some (still today after nine years) clever humor and an amazingly good translation, which makes me wonder why Square botched Chrono Cross Translation when CT, which was released five years earlier had such an excellent one.

The thing about the story is that its not really confusing and its easy to follow while at the same time being deep. Also the fact that what you do in an era affects another and affects the ending itself, gave me that great feeling that I just wasnt playing in a predetermined pattern, that instead I was creating history itself in CT's world. All the characters are endearing and that Anime ending is very pleasing!

However I must say that it would have added more to the story had you had the choice to fall in love with Ayla. This would have added and interesting love triangle in the game and it would have also provided an interesting tragic love story since love between Ayla and Crono is impossible due to the fact that it will threaten Crono's existence itself. Yet I must be forgetting that this was 1995 where tragic love in RPGs was still not the standard that it later became in some popular RPG games stories. Had that been added to the games story however, I would have definitely placed CT at the top of the pantheon of greats.

The thing that really sets Chrono Trigger apart from the rest of the pack even today is its revolutionary gameplay. Lets start with the battle system. While the system is similar to all the FF games that came before it and after it (You have to wait for your turn to attack), the game had some nice innovations. First the combinations, yup! Two or the three characters in the screen can combine their powers to deliver a powerful attack on the enemies or bosses, in fact the continuos use of these combo attacks and healing spells are necessary for the player to have success in the game. Your learn these combos and tech attacks as well as magic by earning tech points from the enemies you defeat. It is relatively easy to level up in this game, in 20 hours I was already at level 47 and had all the tech attacks for at least three of my characters.

The second innovation in this game is the fact that you can see the monsters on the screen before you fight them so there are no random battles. While this has become the standard for some games such as the Grandia series, Chrono Trigger did it first (I might be wrong, but I know it was probably the first high profile game to use this combat mechanic).

The real gameplay innovation here is the time traveling, the multi endings, and the New Game+ mode. Time Traveling is innovative because it lets you travel across different time periods of the game, it is also innovative because some things you do in one time period affects the other periods as well and even the games ending.

Now for the ending, there appears to be about 12 endings. I have only seen three so far, it is mind boggling that a game this primitive, offers such open end-ness, when there are games today that struggle to pull this as brilliantly as Chrono Trigger did 9 years ago.

Now all these "Multi-endings" mechanic would have been very tedious (after all you would have to play the game 12 or more times to see every thing) had there not been the incredibly amazing and convenient New Game+ mode. This might be the most advanced and useful of all of Triggers innovations, yet for some stupid Reason Square hasn't use it since.

New Game+ mode allows you to start a New Game after finishing the game the first time with your characters already leveled up and with their items intact (except items vital to the story that is). This makes it incredibly easier and enjoyable to replay the story, complete sidequests, and fight Lavos at different times that you couldnt beat him in the first time through. This mode is incredibly addictive and will keep gamers replaying the game over an over to uncover all of this formidable classics secrets. Again I wish Square had included this feature in their future games, it would definitely help those players who after finishing an RPG want to experience the story again but dread the long hours of leveling up to be able to defeat the bosses.

Finally Chrono Trigger is full of sidequests and minigames, even if most of the minigames are not that great. Also the Playstation version includes a Bonus mode, where you can see movies, hear the soundtrack see the endings, etc. After finishing the game the first time through. In other words even if you have played the original version you will find this version very enjoyable.

Chrono Trigger is a magnificent game, a game that even today amazes players with its gameplay innovations, freedom and open end-ness, a true gem that didnt seem to lose any of its charm with age. I wouldnt argue with anyone that calls Chrono Trigger the best game of all time, if you dont own this thing, do not second doubt yourself and go out to Game Stop or EB. Since it is very hard to find a copy of FF Chronicles today, you might have to even go to EBAY, but trust me its worth it, Chrono Trigger, a true Classic in any era!

Gameplay: 10-Perfect Difficulty curve, entertaining battle system, and multi. Ending story system makes it one of the best RPGs ever.

Graphics: 9.5- It looks as a good as Alundra, and that is something when you consider Alundra is a PS1 game and this game is a SNES!

Music: 10- Only one RPG out there sounds better and that is its sequel Chrono Cross. Mitsuda is a genius and the Chrono Series is his masterpiece

Story: 9.7- When you consider this was 1995 and you add in the excellent translation, different time periods and 12 endings you get an epic story of high replay value.

Addictiveness: 10- 20-25 hours first time through , and the revolutionary New Game+ mode will keep you coming back to master the game, by finishing all side quests and seeing all endings!

Overall: 10-The Best game of all time? Maybe. One thing its clear though, if it's not the best is right there in the top five. My advice? Play it now!

 

 

 

2003-2004 RicanSaiyan. All works here are copyrighted by their respective authors.