It’s not your birthday, it’s not today

It is, however, Chrono Trigger‘s birthday, and to celebrate the occasion the Square Enix blog has posted up the box art for the DS port. Sadly, it’s much less barren and pathetic than the placeholder from No, it’s pretty much perfect. Now I have to buy it.

Weirdly, the news that it was released thirteen years ago today doesn’t make me feel incredibly old, for once. It really does seem like it’s been a long time since the game first arrived — and I think it may actually have been the first game I ever rushed out to buy on its launch day. I swapped a handful of games (including Final Fantasy III) to be able to afford its ridiculous price on my starving college student’s budget — after tax, it would have cost me an unthinkable $90 and change. Instead, I got it for about $20.

As many times as I played it, though, I probably would have gotten my full value from paying Babbage’s marked-up retail price. I earned every single last ending for the game, explored every possible nook and cranny, even managed the ridiculous, you’re-not-really-supposed-to-do-that feat of besting Lavos in the Ocean Palace without my characters anywhere near their maximum stats. I even called the Nintendo tip line to figure out how I was supposed to save Schala, ’cause clearly that bit about “someone close to one of you needs help” line in the End of Time couldn’t possibly mean anything else. (Apparently, though, it did, and I spent a buck-fifty to find that out.) I still remember most of the game’s original dialogue word-for-word, too. It’s kinda bad. Worse than that is the fact that I actually quit a job so I could play it — although admittedly I was going to quit a week later to make time for school, and the job was really depressing and awful anyway. But still! You World of Warcraft social pariahs got nothin’ on me.

I won’t be so presumptuous as to claim Chrono Trigger is the greatest game ever, or anything outlandish like that. But it is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable games ever, and that probably counts for a lot more in the long run.

32 thoughts on “It’s not your birthday, it’s not today

  1. I bought Chrono Trigger the same day I got a used copy of Final Fantasy Adventure in the mail. I went back and forth between each of them over the next month, but I remember a lot more from CT.

    One question about the DS’s version’s audio: Why did they need Mitsuda’s involvement to guarantee SNES-perfect audio? If DS is as powerful as a PS1 and a SNES linked together, it should have enough spare power to simply emulate the SPC700 sound chip.

  2. By complete coincidence, I started playing through it earlier today. I’ve played it before, but that was about a decade ago, when I was a wee brat who Game Genie’d everything. Needless to say, I don’t consider that stint to be anything near a worthy playthrough of the game. It’s pretty awesome so far.

  3. Funny thing, for my essay to get a scholarship to attend the GDC, I did list Chrono Trigger as my greatest game ever… Of course I don’t mean to be presumptuous myself… it’s just how I felt about it from my own personal experience.

  4. …And yet it lunges out at me.

    No, you’re right, that’s just what the box design should be. It even brings back that little hitch in the breath from when I first saw CT’s box art. (You know the one I’m talking about — that feeling of “Hey. This is everything you’re looking for in a video game.”)


    Greatest game ever, no. But it does seem sane to call it the pinnacle of the traditional Japanese-style console RPG.

  5. Parish, does this mean we finally get an ending to Revisiting the Trigger, or do I have to play through it… again.

  6. I’m sorry, that’s ugly as all heck. Marle looks like a fat midget (dressed in a trenchcoat, like a reject Image character from the 90s), Chrono looks constipated, and Frog isn’t, you know, green.

    Did some ten-year-old win a competition to design the box or something? Probably not, as the background’s rather nice. It’s just the characters that look horrible.

  7. Considering it is the same art from one of the posters that came with the SNES game I think it is perfect.

  8. I never understood all the hate for the PS1 version of Chrono Trigger. Even if it was a bad port, it was still a chance for people who didn’t own an SNES to play the game.

  9. “Considering it is the same art from one of the posters that came with the SNES game I think it is perfect.”

    It’s not just that — it’s the same art from the box and sticker label of the game.

  10. Ya know, Sven, I’m all for bagging on Akira Toriyama’s art when it’s bad. But bad this isn’t.

  11. What’s there to be said that hasn’t already been said? I think along the lines of this being our generation’s Sgt. Pepper.

  12. Regarding how long ago things seem: 9/11 to me seems like it happened longer ago than the Sydney Olympics. Funny how that works.

  13. I really can’t think of another game I ever had so much fun with. maybe Super Mario World, but that’s it.

    Chrono Trigger is 500% super amazing.

  14. That cover art is kinda surprising actually – I have no problem with them recycling the original, but it just seems out of character for SE. They tend to make their American cover art be a stupid logo or a CG shot or something.

    I can only repeat what everyone else said – even as a FF fanboy, this is still perhaps my favorite RPG ever. I remember trading in half my NES collection – and still using most of my allowance – to get this at Funcoland.

  15. Could someone explain why this game is so highly regarded? I don’t mean to ask the question simply to bait fanboys, though I am sure an agitated response is unavoidable.

    When I played this game through, it was entertaining. That was my opinion’s end – it was entertaining. I am unclear as to why it receives the praise it does. I thought the story was probably about a B+. What puts it over the edge? Is it the more active elements that help give the game more flow such as the lack of random encounters? Is it the ability to travel through time to experience and explore the past, present, and future of the world in which your characters exist? Do the multiple endings really make a difference? Does the lack of rigid linearity of progression through the game provide a more open RPG world that sets is apart from traditional RPGs and therefore create a more exciting experience?

    Those are some of the traits that I see in the game, but they do not push the excitement level over the top for me, personally. Is that what people like? Did I miss something?

    I know this post was about the cover art, but I generally see the same gushing response for CT & decided now was the time to interject.

  16. I just played the game for the first time in november, and really, it was a combination of what you mentioned. No random encounters, smooth transitions between combat and map, a really clever story with a ton of interesting endings, a very balanced set of characters with unique abilities, and the fact that you can actually attack the game a number of different ways.

    It’s pretty much the pinnacle of the jRPG, and it’s a shame that all of its innovations have been so thoroughly ignored.

    and i had that cover art as a poster on my wall for years and years, just because i was a toriyama fan.

  17. Funny, I remember bitching up and down about how massively inaccurate every detail of that cover was. Not just that Marle’s using fire magic, but that she’s wearing something appropriate (as are Crono and Frog), while Crono is apparently lunging at a Heckran while they’re climbing Death Peak (funny, wasn’t Crono out of the party at that point of the game?)… the only thing strictly ‘right’ about the image is that it looks totally flipping sweet.

  18. Appreciate your input, shivam. I would love to see innovation continue to break the mold that seems to be cast (and now well-hardened) for today’s RPGs. While the battle systems get tweaked and the narrative gets changed, it seems like the genre mostly sticks to a basic formula that was established years ago.

    I’ll attempt to stay somewhat on topic by saying that I’ve always liked that cover art. In addition to duplicating the cover art, the map inserts for the SNES had really nice artwork as well. Are the days of packaging extras long gone? Are artwork inserts a lost…

  19. Oh, what the hell: if there has to be a Greatest Game Ever, it might as well be Chrono Trigger. You’re never gonna get any kind of consensus (hell, *I* probably wouldn’t consistently vote CT), but with a few sad, joyless exceptions who probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously, we can all pretty much agree that CT is pretty durned cool. And by cool I mean “totally sweet.”

  20. Inserts might be gone because nowadays game graphics are so good that players no longer need to see concept art to fill in the blanks. And the people who still want that stuff go whole hog and get wall scrolls.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how well CT will sell on the DS in North America. Since the SNES version, Final Fantasy and Dragon Ball have become very mainstream over here, and Americans probably enjoy the ways this game breaks the mold more than Japanese customers, who may have bought the game more for its celebrity creators than for the game itself.

  21. About the programmers room: Think they’ll erase Sakaguchi from history the way they’ve done in all his other games? Nintendo left a tribute to Gunpei Yokoi in Metroid Prime, but maybe it helped that he had been neutralized by a car and was no longer a threat to the mothership.

  22. Tried playing it again about a month ago. Got bored somewhere in the magic civilization and never finished. Chrono Trigger is solidly a “You had to be there” game.

    On the other hand, old Mega Man’s are still fun. :)

  23. This is probably my favorite box art for a videogame. Even though, y’know, it doesn’t really portray the feel of a time-hoppin’ boy having adventures and stuff.

    I actually folded the poster (lovingly) so that it fit into my binder cover. My Spanish teacher 9th grade interrupted a class to call it out as hot, hot shit.

  24. I loved CT so much, I have a tattoo of Crono on my arm. (I also have tat of Mega Man. I’m…uh…dedicated!)

Comments are closed.