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Chrono Trigger - Retroview

The Square SNES Classics, Part 2

By: Robust Stu


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 6
   Plot 9
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Moderate
   Time to Complete

35-40 hours

 
Overall
9
Criteria

Chrono Trigger
 

   This is the story of a little game you might have heard of called Chrono Trigger. Along with Final Fantasy 6, this is arguably one of the two greatest RPGs of the 16-Bit Era. And yes, it is THAT good. Nearly everything in this game was done right, and it adds up to one of the greatest gaming experiences ever. Let's see what makes this such a great game.

   The story is about a kid named Crono, who wakes up one morning to go to the Millennial Fair, and inadvertently finds himself sucked into an enthrallingly intricate series of events, through several time periods, in which the fate of the future hangs in the balance. You will go everywhere (or is that everywhen?) from the Prehistoric Period, to the Dark Ages, all the way to the bleak and horrifying Future, where Crono and company learn the true fate of their planet and resolve to prevent it. Along the way he enlists the aid of such allies as his childhood friend Lucca, a robot named Robo, and Marle, the princess of Guardia. It is a really great, and intriguing, story and as such, I am reluctant to give away too much, but suffice to say that it has some of the most amazing plot twists of any RPG you'll ever play.

   The battle system takes the Active Time Battle (ATB) system of the SNES Final Fantasy games, and adds a few neat elements to it. First and foremost is the tech system. Each character has their own set of (mostly) unique techs, but the cool part is after learning the individual techs, you can then combine them to perform double techs, which are basically combinations of the individual techs that cause an extreme amount of damage. And then there are the fabled TRIPLE TECHS, which are like double techs, but...that's right, you guessed it...involve all three members of the team. These are probably the most powerful attacks in the game, and can make the difference in some of the tougher boss battles. Other neat battle features include the ability to see the enemies roaming around the map before you actually fight them, which takes away from the randomness of the battles, something many gamers loved. Also, the enemies move around during battle, which means that moves that damage enemies in a certain area can be affected by their location. Also, you can see the enemies attacking, instead of the usual "enemy blinks and your character gets damaged" type thing seen in most RPGs of that era. I personally found that to be a nice touch.


That's not Pat Tanaka, that's GATO
That's not Pat Tanaka, that's GATO  

   The graphics were a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the background were beautifully detailed and, in some places, breathtaking. Great care and a lot of effort were put into the locales here, and it shows. On the other hand, the sprites, both characters and enemies, didn't look very convincing and in a lot of places, were downright silly. The characters design was not what I would have expected out of a game like this, especially given the quality of the backgrounds. I don't care how famous the guy who did them is, I didn't find the character design great or even good.

   The music, on the other hand, was very good, as the quality and variety of tunes are one of the main things that will suck you into this game. A neat thing about the music is that there is a different overworld theme for each time period you visit, and each piece fits perfectly. There is also a wide variety of dungeon music, and the battle music (including several boss themes) gives the perfect feeling of pressure that would go with being attacked by a giant dinosaur or robot. The sound effects weren't quite up to par, however, as they sounded very unrealistic and in places kind of took away from the serious gaming experience, though not enough to lose too many points.

   Fortunately, Chrono Trigger didn't suffer from a sub-par translation. The story and dialogue were very easy to understand, and you weren't left scratching your head at very many lines. This was one of the few quality translations of the SNES era, and a refreshing change from "You spoony bard!"

   A lot of people seem to feel this game has lots of replay value with the New Game + feature, but I don't agree with that. Basically, the idea behind this feature is that after you beat the game the first time, you can go through the game again, but with the stats and equipment you had the first time you beat the game, with the ability to fight the final boss at any time. The only difference is you get a different ending depending on what point of the New Game + you beat the final boss at which, while it sounds neat, wasn't enough to make me want to beat the game seventeen times. Still though, a second play through is definitely warranted, as this game is a lot of fun and very riveting, and a lot of the stuff that happens earlier in the game makes a lot more sense the second time through.


Here's Johnny
Here's Johnny  

   This game had a lot of features that hadn't been seen before, or had been seen very little. The Tech system, the ability to travel through time, and I suppose New Game + are all interesting new features that make this a worthwhile gaming experience. Fortunately, this game is exactly the length it should be, which is about 40 hours. And if that's not enough for you, you can play the New Game + feature until your head explodes from Chrono Trigger overload, if that's what you really want.

So which was better, Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy 6? Well, Chrono Trigger had a better battle system and slightly more replay value, but that's about it. I thought Final Fantasy 6 had better graphics and sound, a better story, and I loved the Esper system, so I guess my answer would have to be Final Fantasy 6. But that doesn't mean that this is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it is probably the second best RPG of the SNES era, and that's saying a LOT. If you can find this game, get it, NOW. You will not be sorry.

Very Highly Recommended.




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