GameSpite Quarterly 2, #2: Chrono Trigger

2. Chrono Trigger
The central premise of this piece — that Chrono Trigger really is the fusion of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest — kind of just happened mid-article. Weirdly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this particular topic addressed, despite the fact that it’s a fairly elementary deduction. That means this retrospective is either uncannily perceptive, or deeply wrong. (My money’s on the latter.)

15 thoughts on “GameSpite Quarterly 2, #2: Chrono Trigger

  1. Nice to see my favorite game of all-time show up.

    Seriously, something about Chrono Trigger resonated with me much more than Final Fantasy VII, despite that game pulling much of its inspiration from the mechanics of Chrono Trigger.

    Probably the only real flaw in CT is that it’s not overly difficult, but it’s not necessarily a cake walk, either. It stays relatively balanced throughout the game. I suppose this is one of those games that puts you on a roller coaster and never stops until the end. There’s very little “filler” here, it’s a lean, mean, 25-hour romp. Makes me wish more RPGs understood that simple fact.

    I might also add that the graphics have held up spectacularly well. And while it was pretty heavily criticized, Black Sigil does a semi-passable job of copying some of what made CT great.

    Anyway, here’s to the day that (at least in my mind) Chrono Trigger is surpassed.

  2. Excellent write-up, by the way. You hit on some of the stuff I just mentioned, and quite a bit more. A very fitting homage to what is, at the very least, the greatest SNES RPG of all-time.

  3. I picked up Chrono Trigger for the DS last December, played about halfway through it (I think), but eventually gave up on it. Not that there was anything wrong with it, I just got distracted by other things.

    With articles like this on hand, I dig what Chrono Trigger was back in the day, but there’s the potential for a bit of a ‘Citizen Kane’ effect here if you’ve never touched the game before, yet have played a bunch of RPGs since it Chrono Trigger was released – what seemed fresh and exciting way back when has been eclipsed by other games influenced by Chrono Trigger (and the other games produced by the two halves of the CT team) that it becomes difficult to appreciate CT on its own terms.

    With the Christmas gaming rush dying down, maybe I’ll wrap up Chrono Trigger after tackling Spirit Tracks. Not the worst end-of-year gaming resolution to have, I suppose.

  4. It’s wierd, I love everything about Chrono Trigger, but have zero desire to play it. I near-finshed the game back in the day, and I really would like to see even one ending, but I think it’s the one game I’d actually rather watch somebody else play.

  5. I haven’t played this since back in the day, where I played it a million times. However it was the start of some things that bug me about jrpgs:

    3 character parties. 3 isn’t enough. Really 4 should be the bare minimum, but most rpgs since have 3 even western stuff like KOTOR.

    Simplified equipment. I know the point of the article is the accessibility makes it better, but I like copious equipment slots in rpgs. Additionally this is one of the first times where there were character specific equipment versus class specific. This also continues to most FFs in the future

    On the plus side everything else is rad and i love time travel!

  6. The first time I played Chrono Trigger was directly after I had just finished EarthBound, and I think that made me like it both more and less. Compared to EarthBound, Chrono Trigger’s battles and pacing feel smooth as butter; there was never a moment where playing the game felt like a chore. I love the battle system in Chrono Trigger. It’s definitely the brisk, finely-tuned experience that you say it is… but EarthBound’s amazing writing made the story in Chrono Trigger feel lacking by comparison. But to be honest, that’s the only thing I would change about it. If Chrono Trigger’s writing had the heart of an EarthBound game, my God, it would be perfect.

  7. I didn’t begin to appreciate the appeal of Dragon Quest(and what it was about that franchise that Americans were largely missing out on) until the Retronauts episode where it was pointed out just how much of Chrono Trigger’s charm comes from Yuji Horii and the DQ influence.

  8. I was full-on TRICKED by Chrono Trigger back in the day, because the buildup with Magus’ Lair made me think I’d reached the end of the game a single day after I’d bought it. I remember turning it off and playing Mario Kart the rest of the day, because I wanted to stretch it out. After THAT of course, was the mad rush to finish it before school would interrupt in just a few days.

    P.S. Tyrano Lair will always be my favorite CT music track and it saddens me how badly the DS version butchered it.

  9. @Mudron: With all due respect, I just don’t think that the things that Chrono Trigger have done have been surpassed, or even matched by any other RPG out there!

    We can look at overall length and pacing, Chrono Trigger kept the length lean, and the pacing quite fast. It was always exciting. There was always an interesting context to your situation. I honestly can’t think of an RPG since then that’s kept things as well paced and lean. Maybe the Suikoden series? Definitely a contender.

    But there’s more! End game content. Sure, Final Fantasies always have a lot of junk for you to do before you finish off that final boss, but the context is almost always quite minimal. Go find this super tough enemy. Go into this cave for some sweet loot. Chrono Trigger’s end game content in contrast always had great context. Everything felt like you were working towards the greater goal of healing this world.

    And don’t get me started on the time travel. Which could’ve been a fancy bit of fluff turned out to really add so much. These end game quests weren’t just dungeon runs, they were temporal puzzles. You sort of knew what you had to do, but not how you had to accomplish it, and they almost always dealt with traveling from era to era. Just really neat stuff, when has an RPG done such things since then?

    But I digress. I honestly wish I was wrong on this, I’d love to see some J-rpgs that felt like a contender to CT. Maybe I’d play more j-rpgs these days if they did. But CT didn’t just do a couple things right, it did literally everything right. It’s the Uncharted 2 of the time-traveling j-rpg SNES generation!

  10. I find nothing wrong with the short length of chrono trigger either and I’d wish other JRPGs would learn from it. There’s nothing wrong with a JRPG being only 20-25 hours long when it’s fun all the way without any annoying padding and fetch quests. My favourite JRPG is Panzer Dragoon Saga and it’s only 15-18 hours long with no padding but manages to tell an epic and complex tale far about any other RPG I’ve played in less time.

  11. It’s interesting, I think a lot of the elements that made Chrono Trigger so great were also on display in Super Mario RPG, which we all know as the last game then-SquareSoft did for Nintendo in many, many years.

    I really don’t know if they lost something when they left Nintendo. They seemed to. But then, there were so many good games that weren’t named Final Fantasy that they put out in the PSX era, so I suppose that idea doesn’t necessarily hold water.

  12. “parish wisely acknoweldges the Nu as the star of the game.” Well he had to:
    ‘All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu. This is the truth! This is my belief! At least for now…’

  13. I hate RPGs. No, I loathe, RPGs. Yet Chrono Trigger ranks as one of the top10 games I’ve ever played. I think that only games in which I’ve logged more hours are Contra and Super Mario Bros.

    I havent played the game in about a decade, but even back in the day i didnt find the story very intriguing. What kept me coming back, however, was the artwork, excellent gameplay mechanic, and time travel. As a major time travel buff, it was mindblowing to finally play game that did the sci-fi justice, especially since games like Back to the Future dropped the ball (hard) in that aspect.

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