"He's like a brother to me," and Why Those Words Don't Have Any Meaning

by Sage Gaspar

Warning: Contains Chrono Trigger Spoilers

I was reading the editorial column on RPGamer (as I often do every time I visit, because it is practically the only section worth reading and updated; but that is another editorial, for another time), when I came across an editorial titled with a Chrono Trigger quote: "He's like a brother to me." Only I didn't know it was a Chrono Trigger quote at the time, which I was obviously supposed to know, since I did play the game. After all, it seems that out of all the quotes you read in RPGs, you should probably remember one said immediately before or after a death, right? So what went wrong in Chrono Trigger's case?

It's not a mere lapse of memory, or the fact that you had to take certain characters to get that quote, as one might assume. Rather, it's the fact that Chrono Trigger never really had the impact on me that other games have.

The reason? Not a silent character, as some would say, but the way Squaresoft dealt with their silent main character, along with the way they handled their plot and its time travel aspect.

A silent main character is perfectly fine, as long as we're allowed to get inside the character's head or create his personality for ourselves, through making his decisions and choosing his actions. No traditional console RPG has yet allowed gamers to give a character depth while still maintaining a quality storyline. It's extremely tough to allow a gamer to choose a character's path and have each path be equally rewarding, or, at least, developed. Chrono Trigger attempts to let you choose decisions for Crono on several occasions, but those occasions were trivial and ultimately meaningless. The only thing that comes close to seeing inside Crono's head is his sprite actions, such as nodding, which are abundant, but not very helpful.

The plot, when it comes down to it, it's your traditional "save the world" quest. The factor of time travel adds a new dimension, but falls short of what was intended. There are an incredible amount of plotholes never explained. Genuine plot inconsistencies. Not open-ended questions, like Final Fantasy 7's ending (barring Red XIII's seemingly asexual reproduction; but if you can explain away for Chrono Trigger, why not do the same for Final Fantasy 7?).

No, Crono's death didn't mean anything to me, and neither did much of the rest of the game. In an RPG, if you don't care about the characters, and the plot is weak and full of holes, the game won't have an impact on you.

Nostalgia is a large factor in contributing to a like or dislike of a game, I will agree to that. However, nostalgia influences your personal taste in games. It should not influence a numeric score, and makes for a biased review. Chrono Trigger's plot is full of plot inconsistencies, its characters lacking emotional impact. Instead of trying to explain away faults to give their favorite game a good review, reviewers need to focus on really examining a game.

[Editor's Note: Well, he gets two points off for saying that editorials are the only worthwhile section on the site... I mean, I love all the sections, otherwise I wouldn't have applied. But that's irrelevant, we're all entitled to our opinions (but woohoo! Someone loves the eds!). What this editorial is about are opinions.

It makes some quite excellent, non-argumentative, points. However, it does lack examples, which would greatly improve the point. The grammar is excellent, which I must credit the author for. I love people who have excellent grammar. It would have been nice to give me permission to double-check (just in case), but if you're grammar's good, there's no real need.]

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