Revisiting Trigger, Interlude: Crono isn’t well, he stayed back at the hotel

My offhand remark about the courtroom theme from Chrono Trigger and its resemblance to Pink Floyd’s “The Trial” from The Wall sparked more conversation than I expected. Well, mostly it prompted people to listen to the two together and say, “Huh, I totally see it.” It’s not that Trigger’s theme stole specific melodies or riffs from Floyd, but the two songs have a remarkably similar feel and structure, and given their common context can’t really be chalked up to coincidence, you know?

There’s also the small matter of famous video game composers and their love of prog rock. That’s right, you laugh at it, you think you hate it. But Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu and Hiroki Kikuta have all confessed at some point or another to totally digging the likes of Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake & Palmer and other dinosaurs of rock.

And that is why their music is, in the words of Knives Chau, so, so good. Don’t believe me? Check out these five tunes and try to imagine them in the context of an RPG battle.

  • Genesis: Firth of Fifth – Final Fantasy V’s “Battle on the Big Bridge” has always reminded me of this particular tune, except the Genesis version has a way more amazing guitar solo.
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer: The Three Fates – Visualize “Dancing Mad,” the Kefka final battle suite from Final Fantasy VI, and I think you will be startled by the similarities.
  • Yes: Starship Trooper – The second half, a layered instrumental that gradually builds to a climax, seems ideal as a dynamic battle theme that adapts as you progress, no?
  • Gentle Giant: Alucard – The song so video-game-y they named a character after it!
  • King Crimson: Red – I could totally fight a pretty-boy aspiring to godhood to this song.

And while I can’t place direct influences, Chrono Cross has a ton of proggy bits. Particularly “Fate – Gods of Destiny.” To say nothing of Secret of Mana’s “The Oracle” — or the entire Secret of Mana+ album, which is basically Kikuta channeling Tubular Bells.

Of course, prog isn’t everything! Every should be aware by now that Robo’s theme from Trigger resembles a horrible Rick Astley song. But let’s chalk that one up to coincidence — I’m pretty sure that “ghoulish white boys straining themselves to be soulful” aren’t big on Mitsuda’s list of inspirations. Then again, he is pretty hardcore into Celtic music, so clearly he enjoys music by pale people. So who knows.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

25 thoughts on “Revisiting Trigger, Interlude: Crono isn’t well, he stayed back at the hotel

  1. Nobuo’s love of prog rock has been pretty obvious from his works for a long time, even *before* you get to the straight-up Black Mages stuff.

    But I have to admit, it did take a 20-year-older co-worker popping some ELP in the van stereo right after I played Dancing Mad for me to fully appreciate the extent of it.

  2. “Hmm, this feels like the trial from Chrono Trigger” was exactly what I thought the first time I heard Pink Floyd’s The Trial. I’m still not exactly sure what about the two songs sounds so much alike, but they each remind me of the other one.
    Also there is a part in Pink Floyd’s Echoes that sounds like some forest music or some other Frog related song, but I haven’t pinned it down exactly yet.

  3. Okay, I got that the text was edited, but when did Crono’s mom ever appear in court?

  4. She didn’t. I just copied the sprite from another screenshot.

    Oops, I just explained my magic trick. I’ll never be the next David Copperfield :(

  5. Gamespite: teaching the kids about games and long-forgotten rock music. Love it.

    I always thought Philip Glass’s synth-prog would make for a good rpg soundtrack.

  6. Dude, when I saw that Rick Astley song (Never gonna give you up) on YouTube I immediately thought, Robo’s Theme but realized that no one I ever told would really care or know what I’m talking about.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  7. I find it funny that the song after Red on Red (the album) is called Fallen Angel, and here you are equating Red to a theme for a wanna-be Sephiroth. Which it totally could be. I always thought Robo’s theme was ridiculous, but since I never used Robo unless if I had to, I don’t care too much. Also, this noots fellow is right. Philip Glass would totally work in an RPG.

    More importantly, I don’t know how many Squarepusher fans there are out there, but…is it just me or does the song Hello Meow (from the album Hello Everything) sound like Megaman music? Or possibly some sort of ice-themed dungeon music?

  8. The first time I heard “The Trial”, I let it play for my roommate and asked “Doesn’t this totally sound like the courtroom theme from Chrono Trigger?” He didn’t believe me, but it’s good to know I’m not alone. Thanks for the other suggestions, I’ll have to track some of those down. I remember talking to someone who said huge amounts of Motoi Sakuraba stuff was like lifted straight from old Genesis albums, which I guess makes complete sense.

    It’s even better when the remixers get into this. SSH once mixed together the opening of Ys IV along with “The Evil That Men Do” by Iron Maiden, and Meia’s Theme from Legacy of the Wizard with “Painkiller” by Judas Priest. It’s pretty godly.

  9. Hah, I can so see some of that. Others I have to hit up iTunes for.

    I’m a not-so-secret Progger. Guilty pleasures and all that. With the exception of Yes, of course. It’s hard to explain, but something about Yes makes me want to throw the radio into the pool, stomp around, and punch long-haired men in the face and never stop.

  10. Do you have a Chrono Trigger font or did you cut & paste letters from other screens? Either way, I respect the attention to detail.

  11. there’s also the fact that everyone at square enix seems to be obsessed with Queen

  12. Nah, just Mitsuda.

    That’s not actually an exact match for the CT font. It’s just Chicago, the old-school Mac screen font. Unfortunately, it’s about two points too large. The TrueType version doesn’t render accurately at the proper size under OS X. So close, so infuriatingly far.

  13. Yeah, non video game progrock having a huge advantage in that it doesn’t loop endlessly after 1 or 2 minutes.

  14. Wow, this is possibly the best blog post ever?

    I always thought there was this one boss fight song in FFVII that sounded a lot like 80’s-era King Crimson.

  15. “Yeah, non video game progrock having a huge advantage in that it doesn’t loop endlessly after 1 or 2 minutes.”
    Star Ocean 3 features a final boss track which almost suffers from the opposite problem-it’s ten minutes of awesome but the fight often takes only three or four if you have some idea of what you’re doing.

    “Hmm, Firth of FORTH is the name of a famous bridge in Scotland.”
    Wow, thanks! That joke’s been bothering me for almost ten years.

    also: sorry about the blankness above, my browser doesn’t like the site much. Stupid thing!

  16. I’d never heard of Floyd’s Trial until now, but yeah, it’s kinda similar. Though Floyd’s maintains the beat and, uh, feel (I’m terribly unmusical) of the first bit of CT’s Trial throughout, while CT’s ventures off into related but distinct emotional pastures.

    On CT as a whole, since I didn’t see the first CT post until now: I loved it back in the day, but the simplicity of the core gameplay–the battle system–has kept me from replaying it. The actual plot flow is, as you’ve pointed out, nicely structured to feel brisk and unrestrictive, but I think the cartoony style could only be fully realized by a more in-depth game system, as odd as that sounds. Crono may be a badass, but _I_ don’t feel one if I don’t get to control his badasser much–the plot scenes are engaging and invigorating enough that they could only be properly accompanied by gameplay that has those qualities to the same extent.

    That’s why I’ve always been an FF6 kinda guy, myself. It feels like you have more choices, even if you don’t really need them.

  17. Um, make that “badassery.” Though “badasser” sounds German, and therefore necessarily more badass.

Comments are closed.