Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nerdicus SNES Review #60: Chrono Trigger

Title : Chrono Trigger

Publisher : Squaresoft

Developer : Squaresoft

Genre : RPG

Players : 1

Release Date : 1995

Estimated Value (as of today's date ) : $100 - $120

CHRONO TRIGGER. Do I really have to say much more than the title of the game? If you weren't a fan of RPG's, this game turned you into one. Hell, if you never heard of SQUARESOFT, then your eyes were opened to something magical. And I'm not saying "magical" in an attempt to sound corny, but I truly and honestly mean it. There's been hundreds upon hundreds of reviews written about CHRONO TRIGGER. Do yourself a quick favor and just Google some of them. You won't even have to read them to understand what each and every person who has ever played this game has to say about it.

It is an epic masterpiece. It's a phrase I don't like to use often, because just randomly throwing around the word masterpiece is like using the term "love" loosely with some girl you just started dating. If I could put CHRONO TRIGGER into that sort of perspective, well, I would call this game my role-playing soul mate.

From my early teens until my 20's (not so much now, unfortunately), I was HUGELY obsessed with role-playing games, and primarily the ones released by SQUARESOFT. It started with Final Fantasy for the NES, but even that wasn't brilliant by any means. The story admittedly kind of boring, and the game really didn't have the character development that Square is known for. It was only when RPG's started coming out for the 16-bit systems (okay, you can say some for the 8-bit systems like the Dragon Quest series), that storylines and character development were really what the game was about. They were like reading novels, or watching movies, with a few battles in between. Final Fantasy 2 and 3 (4 and 6 in Japan) and basically reeled me in and turned me into an addict. CHRONO TRIGGER, however, sealed the deal. There was no turning back for me. This, was what RPG's were meant to be.

CHRONO TRIGGER was one of those games that you went into school the next day and couldn't wait to tell your nerdy friends what happened the night before.

"Guys, I JUST beat Magus's castle!"

"Holy crap, did you get your ass kicked by the Reptite leader too!?"

"I beat Lavos the first time I encountered in him in NEW GAME+!"

The list goes on and on...and I'll be sure to talk about those memorable moments as we get deeper into the review. However, I can't even call this a review. It's more of a retrospective of the impact this game had on me as a gamer in general. Do you want the score? Then jump to the end of this blog post. You know what it's going to be. Hell, if I can change the score system now I would give it a 100%, 10/10, A+, MUST PLAY rating. Why? Because if there was ever a RPG that came close to perfection, this is it.

Without further adieu, this is CHRONO TRIGGER.

Who can forget that familiar sound of the ticking clock in the opening screen? I don't know about you, but I would get chills just hearing it each time I started up the game. I never even pressed start to skip it, I'd always let it play through and settle down just so I can see the title and that epic music begin. Can you tell I'm obsessed yet? Yes, obsessed to the point where I have bought this game every single time it came out as a remake whether it was the PS1 version, the Gameboy version and hell even the IPAD version. Every time it comes out, I play it again. And what do I think about that?

CHRONO TRIGGER was developed what is now known as the Squaresoft "Dream Team" consisting of Hironobu Sakaguchi (creator of Final Fantasy), Yuji Hori (creator of Dragon Quest), and Akira Toriyama (the mastermind and creator behind Dragon Ball as well as artist behind Dragon Quest). With that sort of combination at the helm, it's almost impossible to think that this game wouldn't have been short of anything but spectacular. And it angers me to this day that they are NOT making more games like this! 

Don't get me started on how the last game we have seen in the CHRONO saga has only been CHRONO CROSS, which is a fantastic game in it's own right, but where are the rest!? Someone start a petition, dammit.

Now if you really want me to get into the story of this game, oh boy, I don't even know where to begin. While not complex is in it's own right, CHRONO TRIGGER has so many characters, side-stories, sub-plots, and twists that it would quite possibly take up the equivalent of three reviews just to explain what's going on. If you haven't played the game (and who the hell are you if you haven't!) I'll sum it up briefly:

You play as Crono (the mute...and that's the only thing I hate about this game), who finds himself on a quest to rid the universe of a vile creature known as LAVOS who landed from space millions of years ago on your planet and is ready to awaken to destroy the world. You travel through time with the most rag-tag team of allies including a cave woman, a princess, a frog, a robot, an evil wizard, and an inventor, each coming from their own specific time period. You'll have to jump back and forth, attempting to uncover the true story behind Lavos and those who seek to control it for their own demonic purposes. A traditional save the world, save the girl, be the hero RPG story line, but the way it is done is so incredibly unique that it feels like something completely different.

Like I said, the amount of twists this game throws at you keeps you guessing until the very last moment. And don't even worry about trying to figure out the ending, because while most of us will only get one of two basic endings there are a whopping 13 other one's that require the player to defeat Lavos at certain times and after certain events with certain characters. It's almost impossible to figure out on your own, so I really suggest using a guide if you want to get each one. As a teen, I spent probably over 300 hours of gameplay getting each one of them, and it was worth it. Well, I think so anyway. Thankfully, you have an advantage as you'll get to use a NEW GAME + functionality so your characters stay leveled up as what they were. I wouldn't have the patience to start at level 1 again.

Getting back to the gameplay, while CHRONO TRIGGER follows a traditional RPG format of leveling up your characters, acquiring new equipment, jumping from town to town and talking to people to discover new plot devices, the game changes things up a bit by introducing a new battle system that really wasn't done that often. Instead of having your characters jump into random encounters like other RPG's, you'll see the enemies on the screen interacting with the environment so you can either choose to avoid them or rush them head on. Of course, some enemies you are forced into battle with, but that's because it's scripted.

The battle menu will appear, and you'll get the traditional ATTACK / ITEM / SPELLS / RUN events like you'd find in every other RPG, as well as an ACTIVE TIME BATTLE system where the enemy will attack you while you are making decisions, and your speed is determined by a meter next to your character. But, here's where things get awesome. Depending on the party you are using (up to 3 characters), certain special skill attacks called TECHS can be used that incorporate one, two or all three of the characters. There are some truly epic attack sequences that your characters are capable of, and it's really up to you to decide who you feel most comfortable using as your primary party. For me, it was usually Crono, Frog, and Magus. Ha, loved having Magus team up with Frog...enemies forced to work together.

Time Travel is an integral part of the game, and in fact the game revolves completely around the fact that you will be forced to jump from era to era in attempt to solve the mystery behind Lavos. At first, you'll only be able to jump through time through scripted events since you have no other means of traveling. You'll find this in various "portal" devices that you discover when you first start the game. There's also an area called the END OF TIME where you can jump into beams of light that send you to different time periods, as well as change party members, and battle some bad ass demon who offers you bonuses if you can defeat him. Man, that guy always kicked my arse.

However, later on you'll encounter Melchior and the Guru's who have developed a time machine called the EPOCH. If you thought the DeLorean from Back to the Future was cool, just wait until you see this thing. You'll find yourself just jumping around and flying over the over world map in each area just to see what new mysteries you can uncover.

Besides the incredible story, the addicting gameplay, and the hours upon hours of exploration you can do in this game, there are two things that really bring this game to life and that is the exceptional artwork and character design of AKIRA TORIYAMA and the outstanding soundtrack YASUNORI MITSUDA.

Each time period is brilliantly designed and stands on it's own with perfection. Even though it is one world, the changes you experience when you jump from one era to another make it seem like you've stumbled upon something completely breathtaking. From the prehistoric era where dinosaurs rage across the landscape, to the end of the world where Lavos has already brought the planet to it's knees and ash rains down from the sky. The atmosphere is so perfect.

Character Design is something that needs not be addressed, as these are some of the most memorable characters in video game history. The primary cast to CHRONO TRIGGER is known by gamers everywhere, and who in their right mind didn't want to cosplay as Robo at one time another. Hell, I would have loved to be Magus with that enormous scythe at my disposal, but I didn't have the funds to create such an epic costume.

Moving on to the soundtrack, it's another time to use the phrase masterpiece. I bought the original from Kinokuniya book store back in the day, and I'm proud to say I still have it. Hell, there are still songs from Chrono Trigger sitting on my phone so I can happily listen to it whenever I want. Do yourself a favor, hop on YouTube and just play through it for the rest of the work day. You'll end up being whisked away into a world you never knew existed.

My words can't really express how much this game meant to me as a gamer over the years. It not only brings back memories of a more "innocent" time of my youth where I would stay up into the wee hours of the morning getting lost in tales of warriors and dragons, but it really makes me appreciate the creativity behind some of the geniuses of the industry. There's a reason why they called them the dream team.

CHRONO TRIGGER, without a doubt, will stand the test of time and continue to set the standards for an epic RPG masterpiece. But, there will also never be a game quite like it.

FINAL SCORE (out of 5) : 

Until Next Time, Keep On Gaming!



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