Chrono Trigger Review: Turning Back The Clock
Rereleasing a 13-year-old game, with only minimal updates had to be a risky proposition for Square Enix. The original Super Nintendo version of “Chrono Trigger” is a title that is held near and dear to many gamer’s hearts, and, updating it, much like they have begun to do with the “Final Fantasy” series, could have really offended some diehard fanboys. However, releasing a game with outdated 16-bit sprites on the DS might turn off even more of the gamer population, leaving them looking for a different portable RPG, with better graphics or even touch screen gameplay. Well, for once, the fanboys win, and thankfully Square Enix adhered to the old adage – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Chrono Trigger” was released (mostly) as it was back in 1995, it does, however, include the movies that were added for the PS1 rerelease, as well as some additional dungeons and a multiplayer mode. Is that enough to carry a game whose technology can’t compete with what’s currently available on the market?
The answer, in one word, is, yes.
The story is an epic classic. You play as Crono and his constantly changing team of time travelers as they try and save their world from ultimate destruction by stopping the events that lead to the world’s demise. Crono’s journey spans from the beginning to the end of time, and he is joined by an assortment of other adventurers, with different backgrounds, skills, and abilities, all of which come together in a well thought-out, and interesting story as you venture on your quest to defeat the evil Lavos, and save the world. But, you should know that already, because, after all, it is a 13-year-old classic.
The gameplay is well-balanced, and fast-paced, forcing you to stay on your toes in battle. Crono and his two allies take on whatever enemies come upon them (no random battles here) in a unique, almost turn based system – you strike, and then have a finite downtime between attacks. While it may seem a bit antiquated by today’s RPG standards, for 1995, the game was well ahead of its time. However, if you prefer a bit slower of a combat system, you can change the settings to increase the downtime between attacks, therein allowing you to have a bit more time to plan your strategy.
In fact, the updated version of “Chrono Trigger” has a whole range of different options that allow you to really tailor your experience with the DS version to your liking. For example, if you want to remove the game’s HUD, and menus from the top screen, and place them all on the bottom screen you can – an option that vastly improves readability, and your ability to see the scope of the battlefield. But, if you are a “Chrono Trigger” purist, you can keep the games setting as the original default, and even turn off the updated anime cut scenes, to keep the game as close to the original as possible.
If you did have the privilege of playing the original, then you know one of the true highlights of this game is the music. While the graphics are good, they were on par for the time, and didn’t really push the limits of the SNES, the music was something of a masterwork for Yasunori Mitsuda. As you progress further into the game you begin to forget that you’re listening to music that was produced for a system with very limited audio capabilities. In fact, if “Chrono Trigger” were a lesser game, it would still be worth at least dabbling in just to hear the music, however, fortunately, “Chrono Trigger” is a complete package, with a great game to go along side great music.
In all honesty, there really isn’t much more that needs to be added or fixed to make “Chrono Trigger” an enjoyable experiance. After all the hours of playing it, my only real gripe was that Crono would get stuck when he walked into villagers, which, in the grand scheme of things, is a pretty small problem. Square Enix was even able to overcome the common downfall of porting games to the DS - forced use of the touch screen - by turning it into a map screne, as well as instant access to each of the game’s menues. The multiplayer appeared to be a bit confusing, but that might have been because I didn’t have someone to play with.
Every medium has timeless classics: the movies have “Casablanca” and “Star Wars,” literature has “Moby Dick” and “Watchmen,” music has “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Doggystyle.” All of these classics are timeless pop culture artifacts and as long as your open to examining the past you can appreciate each one of them for their greatness, even today. They don’t fade; they just get older. Finding a timeless classic in the realm of video games is significantly more difficult, because, unlike all the mediums mentioned above, technological advancements play such a huge role in the modern day appreciation of games, that older titles are often treated as second class citizens, relegated to only being appreciated by “retro” gamers. That’s crap. There are hundreds of games that have been released over the last 30 years of video gaming that are still amazing experiences, and they shouldn’t be dismissed as just being “old” games. “Chrono Trigger” is one of these classics. Even today, it’s still a great game, and if you missed it the first time, you should really take this second chance to play one of the greatest RPGs of all time, complete with some additional content.