Retro Game Review – Chrono Trigger
If you grew up playing video games, odds are that you have “that game.” You know; the game that you played so much as a kid that you still know it like the back of your hand. Like a long lost friend that you still get to see from time to time, and things are always just like they were the last time you saw them. For me, this game is Chrono Trigger. A game that was so far ahead of it’s time. A game that takes players on an adventure through the ages. Chrono Trigger managed to take the limitations of the Super Nintendo and deliver a game full of beautiful artwork, breathtaking music, and one of the best stories I have ever experienced in a video game. In addition to a great story, Chrono Trigger features a total of 13 endings, giving this game a ton of replay-ability.
Originally released for the Super Nintendo in 1995, Chrono Trigger follows the story of seven characters, ranging from many different time periods, banding together to save the planet from the parasite Lavos. The main character, Crono, is a silent protagonist from 1,000 AD. The journey begins when a science experiment goes awry, sending Crono and the girl he just met, Marle, back 400 years into the past. After some adventures in medieval times, and meeting a few new faces, the crew returns to their original time period. This is just the start of many adventures, and what you do in the past has huge effects on how events play out in the future. This cause-and-effect feature brought a new depth to video games that had never been experienced before. While the game leads you on in a linear fashion, it always feels like you are in complete control of how the story progresses.
I have been replaying this game over the past few weeks on the Nintendo DS, a rerelease of the game that includes extra content, further expanding this epic journey. This game was the first that made me feel like I was truly in charge of how the story played out, and even though it definitely has its flaws, it can be considered near perfection when you take into consideration this game was released on a console in the 16-bit era. Along with the great story, soundtrack and amazing characters, Chrono Trigger features a very intuitive battle system that allows for characters to utilize double and triple-techs, combining character’s moves and expanding the strategy of the game to an entirely new level.
The game features a variety of time periods for the player to explore, beginning in modern times of 1,000 AD. After venturing to the medieval period (600 AD.), the team ventures to the far future of 2,300 AD. Later in the game, Crono and the gang venture as far back as 65 Million BC., and all the way to the End of Time using what are known in the game as “Gates.” The End of Time acts as the hub connecting all the various time periods that you can travel to, even taking players to the time of the Kingdom of Zeal, where magic was still commonly used by humans. Along the journey, Crono and company must fight enemies that range from monsters and prehistoric lizard people to futuristic robots and world ending parasites which include Lavos and his spawn.
There is a wide variety of areas to explore, with each time period bringing in it’s own set of enemies and problems to solve.
Created by Squaresoft, Chrono Trigger brought together many of the best in game development at the time to work on this masterpiece. Hironobu Sakaguchi (of Final Fantasy fame), Yuji Horii (of Dragon Quest), and Akira Toriyama (of Dragon Ball) were the primary development team behind Chrono Trigger. The story was written by Masato Kato, and the masterful soundtrack was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, as well as legendary composer known most for his work on the Final Fantasy series, Nobuo Uematsu.
Chrono Trigger features what is to this day my favorite video game soundtrack ever. From lighthearted tracks such as Gato’s Song and Guardia’s Millennial Fair to some of the most serious tracks I’ve ever heard in a video game such as Chrono Trigger, Memories of Green and Magus Confronted. To this day I continue to listen to the soundtrack from time to time, which brings me right back into the world of Chrono Trigger. It still amazes me how such a masterpiece could be composed for a 16-bit system utilizing midi sounds.
A few of my favorite tracks include:
Chrono Trigger sits atop my list of the best video games of all time, and to this day brings me great joy to replay and experience. While getting your hands on an original copy for the SNES will set you back a pretty penny, there have been numerous rereleases of the game, from the Sony Virtual Console on the PS3 and a disc release on the original Playstation to releases on the Nintendo DS and even on smartphones. It is very easy to get your hands on one of the best video games ever to be released. Chrono Trigger is the game that opened my eyes to what video games can be, and sparked my passion for the Role Playing genre. This is a game that everyone should experience, and is not only a video game, but a work of art.
What game had the most influence on you growing up? What is your favorite video game soundtrack? Share your thoughts in the comments down below!