Old RPG Review #20: Chrono Trigger

NuMetalManiak
Here it is, Number 20. I will be reviewing the one and only Chrono Trigger for the SNES, and what a game it was. Squaresoft's Chrono Trigger was such a magnificent game that I had to put it at the top of my favorite SNES games, over Final Fantasy IV. If you have not seen my "Top Ten Interesting Facts about Chrono Trigger" do so for some more fun.

Gameplay: There are standard RPG mechanics around here. The battles are active time just like Final Fantasy IV, but you can twist it with either Active or Wait when using menus. What I like about Chrono Trigger's battles is that the enemies are not encountered at random. Some are just sitting there waiting for you to attack them or they ambush the characters instead. Only three characters can be in the party, and you can change them anytime except in battle. Sometimes during the plot you'll be stuck with a certain character, like the main character for pretty much the first half of the game.

There's techs and there's magic spells. Some techs are physical and some require elemental magic, and there's four types: Fire, Water (Ice counts as water), Lightning, and Shadow. There's single, double, and triple techs, and each one functions differently. Examples: One enemy, all enemies, enemies in a straight line from the character, enemies in a horizontal line, enemy radius, character radius. There's a lot of possibilities. And that's what makes Chrono Trigger's magic system so damn fun.

I love the settings in Chrono Trigger, largely in part thanks to the time travel mechanic. Among the different time periods are several settings like the prehistoric age to the middle ages to the bleak future. There's quite a lot to do in just about any of the settings, as well as the places in those settings. Another thing I enjoyed in Chrono Trigger is that you don't have to excessively grind levels to win. You know, for how much I've enjoyed FFIV, there's a lot of grinding, whereas you don't have to do too much of it in this game. So that makes this game much better. To finish up with this bit, I gotta say that I just like the New Game + feature. I can go back and kick ass again? Sweet! Grade: A+

Characters: When it comes to the playable characters of Chrono Trigger, I found that each one has at least one notable strength in their moveset, usually many. I'll do something different and rate each playable Chrono Trigger character, from least favorite to most favorite.

Bringing up the rear is Marle, who is actually the runaway princess of Guardia. From what I know, Crono's whole adventure started because of her getting sucked into a time portal, and they were just having fun at the Millenial Fair. Although Marle's weapon of choice is a beastly crossbow, she doesn't have the power to do enough damage when compared to others. Her ice magic is her best offensive capability, and it's still not as strong as some of the other moves. She's one of the healers though. Just above Marle is Frog. Frog's actually got weaker magic (water-based), but makes up for it with better physical attack power using broadswords. It's still not better than a number of other characters though. Frog's got healing magic too. I like him more for his backstory, and for his vow to avenge Magus. Above Frog is Robo. Now Robo's got some pretty interesting techs, but he's not branded with magic due to being inorganic. Still, Uzzi Punch and Shock are two pretty cool techs, and Robo does have some minor healing to him. So Robo's pretty useful in a lot of situations. It's just that Robo's kind of a quirky character, he's also really slow. At the middle of my ratings is Ayla, the prehistoric lass who speaks in broken English. She's the strongest and fastest physical attacker without a weapon, and holds some physical attack techs and a charming spell. Triple Kick is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, she's useless against enemies who are very resistant to physical attacks. Beginning my Top 3 is Magus, the wicked mage who is a fan favorite for being a villain in the game beforehand. Having him join is just awesome though, as he is equipped with a variety of spells, plus his own Shadow elemental spells. It's too bad that he can't use dual techs with others, and triple techs involving him require certain accessories to be equipped.

Now my two favorite playable characters are Crono and Lucca. Both of these characters have their own element. Crono is Lightning and Lucca is Fire. Crono is awesome and fast as a physical attacker, and his physical attack techs like Cyclone are pretty good damage-wise. His Lightning spells are wicked powerful too, especially the big one known as Luminaire. All in all, Crono stays completely above average in just about everything, and getting him back after he is taken off the party is just sweet in itself. Now Lucca's pretty decent for a character too you know. She may not have the physical power or the speed of Crono, but in my game Lucca was the best damage dealer overall. For me, fire spells did more damage than anything else, especially Flare which had the most damage output out of all the spells. Lucca's cooperation when it comes to dual and triple techs only improve on her damage dealing.
When it comes to the best spells in the game for me at the end, at level 55 or so when I finished, Crono's Luminaire did approximately 1700 damage each time. Magus's Dark Matter was above that with 1900 damage or so. But Lucca's Flare does at the very least 2400 damage. I don't try to overlevel my characters in this game, heck, it isn't actually difficult to get through the entire game at a low level. Still, it's fun, and makes early moments during a New Game + laughable. Grade: A+

Plot: There are so many times in the game where you can get completely down with it that I'll just talk about the main plot for most of this. Or at least, the stuff I did in my game.

Okay, it's 1000 AD so Crono's awoken by her mother who tells her to go to the Millenial Fair. He collides with Marle and they have some sort of date or something. They meet Crono's other girl friend Lucca, the scientific nerd who built a teleporting machine, and since the other people around the area are complete sissies, the two try out the teleporter. Crono's teleportation was successful, but Marle gets sucked into a time portal and Crono chases after her in the Middle Ages (600 AD).

So Crono finds Marle and everyone mistakes her for a queen at the castle. This is bad because the real queen could be removed from existence in this time period, and since Marle's the ancestor, this culminates in Marle completely disappearing. Lucca had to explain the whole thing, and they journey to the nearby cathedral, where Frog joins them. They rescue the real Queen Leene and everyone's back at the castle, where Frog laments and runs off and the three millenial characters return to their time period.

For some stupid and utterly delusional reason, even though Crono saved Marle, the authorities think that he kidnapped her, and he stands trial. Regardless of the verdict, they sentence Crono to death. With Lucca to save the day again, they bust out of prison, where Marle rejoins them in the escape from the castle. They enter another time portal to be swept into the future. And this future is post-apocalyptic with nearly-dying people and ruined landscapes. The party discovers that the world had been destroyed by a nasty creature known only as Lavos in 1999 AD and make a promise for a brighter future. In another place, Lucca repairs a defunct Robo and he tags along. Only for some reason though, time travelers can only adventure in groups of three, so the next time portal they use takes them straight to the end of time. It's here that the characters (excepting Robo) learn magical abilities from Spekkio the master of war.

Journeying back to the middle ages, the group makes a conclusion that Magus was the one who summoned Lavos in that age. So they fight his troops across the bridge and go up the mountains where the Masamune is. They find the legendary sword in broken condition, and meet Frog in a nearby forest. The hilt of the Masamune is here, so the party decides to see the swordsmith Melchior in their own time period to repair it. It needs a Dreamstone though, and that's something the party finds in 65000000 BC. They meet Ayla there, and after some random party, get the Dreamstone. But of course, everything has to be so complicated, as thiefs ransack the hungover party. Ayla joins the party as they reach the reptites lair, where the leader Azala has the key. After defeating the bodyguard, Azala gives the key back, Ayla returns to the village, and the party repairs the Masamune with Melchior.

Giving the Masamune back to Frog, the party puts him in the team and he vows to defeat Magus, with a number of flashbacks showcasing Frog as Glenn with his friend Cyrus. Making their way past the generals Slash, Flea, and Ozzie, the party confronts Magus. As they defeat him, a giant time portal swallows everyone up, and they end up in...Ayla's village? She helps the group out to confront Azala at the Tyrano lair. At the top, they finally defeat Azala and the Black Tyrano, which culminates in Azala's death and the occurrence of Lavos destroying the reptite species.

Crono's party winds up in the dark ages of 12000 BC. Everything is lavish but foreboding in this time period. The party discovers that the kingdom of Zeal and their malevolent queen are trying to harness the power of Lavos. When the party intervenes, they are imprisoned. Schala sets them free, but a mysterious prophet asks for Schala to take them out of this time period. Although that happens, the party seeks out Belthesar in the future and get a mobile time machine, named Epoch. So they return and with Schala's help, seek to prevent Zeal from awakening Lavos. Venturing to the Ocean palace, the party confronts Dalton and his golems, and are too late to stop the awakening of Lavos. At this point is a forced loss, where the party is defeated. The mysterious prophet then intervenes, reveals himself to be Magus, and attacks Lavos. But he fails too, and then Crono decides to be a big hero and take on Lavos himself, only to be completely wiped the f*** out.

The remaining party members get captured by Dalton, who wants to rename the world as himself (seriously?). He also took the Epoch, but it isn't long before the party stealthily gets their stuff back and gives Dalton his comeuppance. After that, they land and find Magus, who reveals himself to be Schala's younger brother in that age, and that he really wanted to summon Lavos so that he could destroy him (but as shown in Crono's death scene, he failed; sure as hell is lucky that he survived). You can either fight Magus or don't, and it's much better if you don't because then, he decides to help your party. Awesome.

Now, if you want to get Crono back, you need two things. The titular Chrono Trigger item given by Gaspar at the End of Time, and a Crono clone, which can be won at the Millenial Fair in a not-so-annoying minigame. And then, scaling up Death Peak in the future, the party reaches the summit to use the C. Trigger, where it breaks and sends them to that exact moment where Crono got wiped out. Substituting Crono for the clone, they rescue Crono. Note that this is strictly optional, but it's for the better as Crono is a kickass character not worth losing.

At this point, there are a number of things to do. Either directly take on Lavos right now, or do a number of sidequests. Some were character specific, others not. I won't go into detail though. There are two ways to get to Lavos. One is via the Black Omen, which appears after you finish the Blackbird scenario and appears in every time period save for 65000000 BC. It's a long but linear dungeon, and you fight Queen Zeal and the Mammon Machine at the very end. The other way is by warping to 1999 AD and crashing Epoch into Lavos. Inside of Lavos's inner core, the party confronts it's inner beings in two very difficult but thankfully final boss battles.

Now there's a number of endings. The one I got was the one where I went through the Black Omen (so I didn't crash Epoch into Lavos). This one I believe is the official ending, and it's just pretty happy, everyone goes home and stuff, and then Crono's mother makes a booboo and enters a time portal chasing a cat. Whatever, it's a fine ending. There are a number of other ones, the most famous being the incredibly-hard-to-reach "Dream Team" ending where the makers of the game appear in-game. Very cool. Plot grade: A+

Music: And would this RPG fail me in music? HELL NO! Practically every music track is great in this game. The main overworld theme in 1000 AD is my personal favorite overworld track, along with the 12000 BC floating city track (sorry I don't know the real names of the songs!). Forest theme is genuinely fine, as is the Guardia Castle theme. Cave themes in 65000000 were pretty neat. Battle and boss themes were cool to hear and never got old. One cool thing is that each character has a theme, which plays when you decide to put a reserve party member in your party while at the End of Time (talking to them in person in other words). But my absolute favorite theme ever is Magus's theme, heard when actually fighting Magus in Magus's lair. So...flipping...epic! Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

Let me get this out of the way right now. If you hate Chrono Trigger enough to put it on a "Worst games" list or something, you have NEVER PLAYED IT. This game does not suck at all, it really is the greatest RPG I've ever played on the SNES and people definitely should play it. Every aspect of the game is worth mentioning as something fun and adventurous. Seriously, don't miss this game ever.

Comments

Good review - Skullkid755

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