Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Chrono Trigger (SNES/PSX)
You Are: Crono, the quintessential mute protagonist. Joining you are Marle, a sprightly young woman with a secret; Lucca, inventor extraordinaire; Frog, a croaking knight; Robo, a (uh...) robot; Ayla, a prehistoric cave lady; and a sekrit karaktor!
Your Goal Is: To destroy Lavos, the world-eating alien monster. Problem is, it doesn't actually come up until 1999 AD, at which point it's too late...
General System: RPG Lite at its finest: Walk around, talk to people, shop. CT is nice in that you can have any character lead your party (still haven't figured out why the vast majority of RPGs don't let you do this). The main concern in this game, and the one that makes it so enjoyable, is time travel; you flit back and forth between time periods, first via "gates", and later via a time machine. It's really fun to see the little (and big) changes that occur throughout the world in the different eras. As for skills, each character has a set of 8 spells/techniques they can learn (each character has a different element or specialty). Double and Triple Techs are learned automatically when the corresponding single techniques are learned, but there are five Triple Techs that can be used by equipping accessories. Equipment-wise, each character gets a weapon, an armor, and an accessory and they're happy about it, dammit!
Oh, and of course I have to mention the first-ever feature of New Game+, which lets you keep your stats and equipment, and see a variety of funny little endings when you beat the game in the middle of it.
Battle System: Active Time Battle, yay. Bar fills up, you attack. If it's two characters' turns at once, they can do a Double Tech, and similarly for Triples. The neat thing is that this is one of the only non-action games I've ever played where the battles take place in exactly the same spot as the exploration. Enemies run around during battles, and their placement affects the range of your techniques (some hit in a circle, some in a line, etc.).
Graphics: Some of the best SNES pixels you'll ever see. It puts many of the blockier PSX games to shame. The characters and monsters are all extremely animated and chock-full of personality. Cartoony goodness.
Music: One of the best soundtracks ever made. Seriously, it's one of the strongest video game OSTs on the market. There's something for everyone; a lot of excellent tracks. Of course it's SNES quality, but it's excellent SNES quality - it blows away any other SNES game.
Story: Certainly original, if not laden with depth. (Well... there is some depth there, but you have to discover it yourself, because conversations aren't as wordy as later RPGs allow.) The time travel idea, though riddled with plot holes, is a breath of fresh air, even a decade later; it's pulled off with style and a lot of fun. There's a lot of variety in the story and settings, keeping you on your toes. The localization is whimsical, with a lot of good lines, and very professionally done (unlike many games released within five years before and after).
Length: About 20 hours
My Thoughts: What's to say? Chrono Trigger is the best kind of classic - the kind that you can replay ten years later and still have every bit as much fun as you did the first time round. Though the battles aren't difficult, you often can't just mash A and get to where you're going; there is some strategy in most fights, and every boss has a trick or gimmick to it (which I like). Although Crono is mute, he's more expressive than most of the cliched hero or anti-hero types that populate your run-of-the-mill RPGs. His friends are all fun to use and be around (each one has customized dialogue even in generic situations). Exploration and dungeons are also a blast, with just the right amount of battles to keep you interested without overwhelming you with randomness. The cute little secrets are also neat.
Chrono Trigger has the unique distinction of being a game that very few people dislike. If you haven't played it yet, you're doing yourself a grand disservice. It's out on PSX as part of Final Fantasy Chronicles, or if you can't find it, just download the ROM (I won't tell anyone). But play it! The clock's ticking!
Overall Rating: 9.5/10