Sonic Unleashed (again), Age of Empires 2 for the DS, King of Fighters Orochi Collection for Wii, and a Neopets game.
And now that those are out of the way, we have one more release coming out this week: The Best RPG Ever*, Chrono Trigger. I don’t even know where to begin; the game’s been around for 13 years, and if you’re reading this site you almost certainly know who made it, the circumstances behind its creation, the fact that we’re never ever going to get anything quite like it again. Various permutations of the three behind CT — Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii, Akira Toriyama, Masato Kato and Yasunori Mitsuda — have tried teaming up to other games, but the results always seem to be somewhat less than fantastic. Even if Square Enix were to try to make a sequel, the magic wouldn’t be there. Face facts, fans: it’s not happening again.
That depressing reality aside, this remake also gives me pause for reflection. I was but a young manchild when Chrono Trigger was released, and frankly I had no idea what it was. In fact, I’m not even entirely sure when I first played it. I used to live in Albuquerque, NM, and there were two places where I would rent games from: one was a Hastings-type establishment (it might have actually been Hastings, come to think of it), and the other was a small comics, cards and toy shop called Noble’s Collectibles. Among their other efforts to provide nerdy goodness to the denizens of Albuquerque, they also rented video games out for a dollar a day; you could rent a title for as long as you wanted, and they wouldn’t get too crazy on you if you returned the game late — in fact, late fees were just the same dollar per day. I used to ride my bike up to Noble’s and spend my hard-earned allowance on the games there, because this was the only way I got to play the new ones.
One summer day, after returning Maximum Carnage (I like red carts, what can I say), I decided to rent a game that I had seen several times but had never committed to trying. The game’s boxart featured a weird bear-thing with pink wings on a black-and-purple background. After falling in love with everything about the game, I quickly began hunting for others like it. I didn’t have to look long before I found another game by the company with a slightly familiar feel to it: Chrono Trigger. I paid the friendly neighborhood comic book nerd three bucks for the rental and biked home, anxious to play my new find, unaware that I had just picked up one of the most entertaining RPGs ever created.
Thankfully, it was summer, so I didn’t have any school to worry about; my best friend was away at his Dad’s house, too, so I had nothing to do except play my vidya games, and play I did. That first experience travelling back in time, the trial, finding Rick Robo — all amazing. But then I did something taboo in the brotherhood of rental gamers: I started a New Game + playthrough with somebody else’s file. I blew through the game so fast I didn’t stop to think about things like strategy. I was a kid on a mission to defeat Lavos, and nobody could stop me. And defeat him I did; I kicked the living crap out of him, many times over the course of the summer.
Eventually, I decided to start a new game on my own without the crutch of somebody else’s data. And for a while, things went well — that is, until I reached the Heckran cave after visiting Melchior’s home, which proved to be my downfall. I tried over and over, eventually becoming so pissed off that I stopped playing the game altogether. I actually still have a $13 late fee on my Noble’s tab because I was so angry at the game I forgot it was there. Years later, Chrono Trigger was rereleased in the Final Fantasy Chronicles collection, which I purchased within a week of its release. Everybody bitches about how horrible that version is, but honestly, I didn’t care — in fact, I still don’t. It was through the PlayStation version that I finally beat the game from scratch, and I was proud enough to start a New Game + and beat it several times again. When all was said and done, I think I earned eight of the endings. I even had a memory card dedicated entirely to Chrono Trigger files.
Now that the DS version is coming out, I don’t really know what to do. As much as I’d love to make the money and time appear from nothing, I don’t think it’s possible to devote as much time as I believe is necessary to playing Chrono Trigger the way I want to. That doesn’t mean I won’t get it, I just won’t get it right away. The game’s 13 years old, it’s not like it’s going anywhere; besides, I have my memories, and those still bring a smile to my face.
*May not be the best RPG ever, but it’s pretty damn close.