Chrono Trigger

released on Mar 11, 1995
by Square

In this turn-based Japanese RPG, young Crono must travel through time through a misfunctioning teleporter to rescue his misfortunate companion and take part in an intricate web of past and present perils. The adventure that ensues soon unveils an evil force set to destroy the world, triggering Crono's race against time to change the course of history and bring about a brighter future.

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When I play a game, I always take into account the time it came out and how it looked in comparison to other games on the console. I like to imagine if it would have been one of the few games that was worth actually paying the full price, rather than just renting. Something worth the extra money, just for the security of knowing it can be your copy.
Chrono Trigger absolutely is a must play for those interested in the SNES library. It’s what you dream of accidentally discovering when picking out a game to rent for the weekend, rather than getting stuck with something totally shit. But not this time, instead deciding to bring home Chrono Trigger guarantees you everything to satisfy that itch of having a nice lazy weekend with a good-ass game (and hopefully some good-ass pizza, too - or if you’re me, good-ass Top Ramen with an egg).
The gameplay is fine, nothing to complain about, nothing to write home about either. The dual and triple techs are fun to experiment with, though my EarthBound-obsessed brain kept forgetting I could use them. The visuals are gorgeous while also getting the kind of colorful chibi graphics that I always was obsessed with in the SNES, the exact ones that drew me to A Link to the Past and EarthBound. The story is satisfying in making me feel successful as a hero, while making me feel comfortable in additional roles as well, taking an unheard approach to RPGs I could appreciate. Overall, these important aspects of good game making made Chrono Trigger stick out amongst many other SNES titles in comparison.
The real joy that got me to absolutely fall in love with the game were the side quests. I must admit that the part with Lucca and her mother hit me very personally. Having your one wish with the power of controlling all of time to fix a terrible mistake you felt you caused your mother. It caught me by surprise, and was again, so out-of-the-place personal that it felt almost a direct call out to me. Obviously, this is just a coincidence, but it affected me enough to feel additional love for the game.
Overall, Chrono Trigger is a great game, though there’s definitely some controversy on how much praise it seems to get. As someone who has never played a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest game, there was nothing I could really directly compare Chrono Trigger to, as my friends who have played those series were often telling me elements that were reused or heavily inspired by past Square Enix games. As someone who has never played either series, it might have impacted my score more positively, though who knows. After I play them, I might end up changing my score, but as of now a 4.5 seems right for my experience.
Does it have the best story ever written? No.
Is the story compelling and fun to follow? Absolutely.
Does it have the best music on the entire system? No.
Is the music memorable in a way that makes me happy? Yeah.
Is it the best RPG ever made in the history of ever? Hell no.
Was it a really fucking good SNES rpg that made me really feel accomplished, challenged and always wanting to find out more? Yeah. It was.
And overall, maybe that’s just what you needed for a lazy-gaming weekend.

It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.

One of the only snes jrpgs that doesn't bore me to tears over the course of the playthrough. Story isn't as good as everyone says it is but enjoyable nevertheless

I’m glad the canon ending was good enough because there’s no way I’m playing this game eleven more times. Other than that of course I loved it

David Icke conspiracy theory in game form.

In case you didn’t notice it from my username, I love Chrono Trigger. It’s one of the most memorable games from my childhood, a standout RPG that left such a powerful impression on me that playing it nowadays still brings me chills.
This review contains spoilers for the first few hours of the game.
Originally released for the SNES in 1995, Chrono Trigger is an RPG developed by Squaresoft, way before its merger with Enix created Square-Enix. The game’s production was kickstarted by a trio dubbed the “Dream Team”, consisting of Final Fantasy’s Hironobu Sakaguchi, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii and Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama.
That’s just for starters, as many people who had or would make a name for themselves within Square were also designated to work on the game, including legendary composers Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda. This team was able to create an RPG that was considered revolutionary for its time, and to this day is still widely considered one of the best of its genre. It’s hard not to see why. Anywhere you look in Chrono Trigger, there’s something to behold.
Take its storytelling, for example: one could look at the story superficially and state that this is a game about time-travelling teenagers saving the world, and in a sense, they’d be right, but it understates how brilliantly the story is told. For the first few hours, you won’t even realize there is an antagonist, as the characters are pretty much going about their own business. There’s a fair going on, which childhood friends Crono and Lucca are attending. On the way, Crono meets a new girl called Marle, and as the trio test Lucca’s new technological invention, they get thrown four hundred years into the past and have to work their way back home.
There’s a dramatic shift in mood whenever time travel happens, with each era having a defined sound and visual identity that tells part of its story. The Present is expressed in bright tones and a peaceful melody, while the past is somewhat darker and eerier – stepping into it for the first time evokes feelings of mystery, isolation; of being away from home, thrown in the unknown. The Prehistory uses palettes of mostly warm colors, accompanied by simple percussion music; the Antiquity uses sound to contrast between the harmony of the sky cities and the misery on the Earth’s surface; the End of Time looks disjointed and out of place… but no time period hits as hard as in the Future, when the game finally shows its hand and reveals the antagonist.
About two entire quest lines after the fair, both of which are memorable in their own right, the trio stumbles upon the Future. It's terrifying -- the atmosphere is filled with a silent dread, and no matter where you go, it feels desolate and miserable. The ruins of what were once great buildings are filled with bizarre monsters, and whatever’s left of any human settlement has everyone starving. This motivates the heroes to try and find out where – or rather, when – they are and why it looks that way, and sure enough, they find their answer: in an abandoned dome, they learn of the events of the year 1999 A.D. and first hear the name Lavos. The stage is now set for the rest of the adventure.
Lavos is, in itself, a fascinating antagonist. Unlike many other games, where we’re chasing a Bad Guy around as he does Evil Things, the heroes of Chrono Trigger are out to prevent something that has already happened in its entirety, but they don’t know how, thus making the game into more of a quest for knowledge, of understanding a foe before one can even stand up to it. As such, Lavos doesn’t need to make appearances to keep itself relevant: the horrifying suggestion that, if they fail, everyone dies, is always there, hanging over the party's heads.
Chrono Trigger’s plot is masterfully paced. The game presents a series of intertwined storylines taking place in different eras, and whenever the player completes a quest in a certain time period, they get moved to another one where there’s new things to do. This back and forth travelling is not only exciting, but it also paints a fascinating picture of the world’s history in the player’s mind: it's impossible to call any of the game’s historical events pointless or contrived, as everything that happens throughout the eras is not only relevant, it’s a natural consequence of some other event that preceded it.
There’s little in the sense of filler, which explains the game's shorter (and sweeter) runtime compared to its genre peers: even if it's not immediately apparent, each section of the game either inches the player ever forward to its conclusion, or advances a character’s arc. On the latter case, CT further explores the character-driven approach that Final Fantasy VI tried before it: each party member in Chrono Trigger has a defined arc, a journey of their own, that ties seamlessly to the game’s quests, developing and resolving over the course of the game. All of these arcs conclude in the end game with quests entirely dedicated to each character, all of which pack a punch.
Speaking of Final Fantasy, though, Chrono Trigger features an important twist from the typical Final Fantasy battle system: there is no battle screen. As you stumble upon a monster, the party draws their weapons, moves into formation, and begins the fight on the field itself. This means, depending on the enemies and the space available, the positioning of each actor will vary. Naturally, the design of the game took this into account: several battles in the game might look daunting at first, but can be made easy if the player understands the skills in their arsenal and how they work against different groups of foes.
More than that, Chrono Trigger wants you to understand its enemies as well. Many enemies have reactions to your attacks, like counterattacks, stat drops, or even interactions with other foes that the player must take into consideration. When you get to bosses, they feature even more quirks, like multiple parts, defensive stances, temporary vulnerabilities that need to be triggered by specific attacks and even more elaborate counterattacks.
This is not endgame mechanics, mind you: the very first enemy in the game, Gato, has a twist to his patterns: his strongest attack is, by far, his counterattack. After getting hammered in the face a couple of times, you’ll notice that this attack is only performed if Gato is close to a character when he’s hit, thus, if you let him walk away before attacking, the battle is then made much easier. From that moment, the game shows the player how they’ll need to learn these quirks and exploit them: just mashing A will quickly get you killed.
Another beloved element of CT’s combat is the skills performed by multiple party members, which the game calls Dual Techs and Triple Techs. Battles run on ATB gauges, and whenever you have two or more characters ready to act, with specific techs learned, combination techs might become available. Mind you, that’s a lot of extra abilities for you to consider: three for each combination of two characters, plus a bunch of others for each possible party combination. It’s no wonder not many games do this.
It certainly paid off here, however, as it added an extra dimension to party building and battle strategies. They’re also extremely satisfying to use, as the sprite design and animation in Chrono Trigger are works of art: every time a character swings a sword or uses a tech, it feels like they’re truly putting their strength into that attack. When they jump in for a critical, from the animation and the sound, you feel the impact of the blow as well.
But of course, you can’t expect that magic to last forever, and indeed, the game is over before it gets stale. Just like the story has no filler, neither do the dungeons. There are no random battles, and neither are there pointless long treks through a bunch of identical rooms. And if you do happen to get stuck, just talk to Gaspar at The End of Time, and he’ll give you a hint as to where to go next. This design decision is known to have been done for the sake of not having the player wander around aimlessly, like it would often happen in other RPGs at the time.
Chrono Trigger was truly ahead of its time, a masterpiece that’s easy to understand why it is so well remembered. I adore it to bits. There’s so many RPGs from that time that I once held dear but feel underwhelming to play nowadays, but Chrono Trigger stands strong as the one game that I can always look back on, twenty years after first trying it, and never be disappointed.