Many games are great, few revolutionise. One such example is highly regarded as one of the greatest RPG’s of all time, one of the greatest SNES games of all time (THE greatest SNES game of all time in my opinion) and one that broke the mould, going on to influence games decades after its release, I speak of course about Chrono Trigger.
Released all the way back in 1995 courtesy of Square Enix (then known simply as Square) it was developed by what the famed development company referred to as the dream team. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the legendary Final Fantasy series; Yuji Horii, creator of the Dragon Quest series and Akira Toriyama, a manga artist known for his work on Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball all headed development to this bonafide classic to bring an innovative twist on the classic turn based combat system, a beautifully bold and detailed art style and one of the best soundtracks to ever grace a video game composed in most part by Yasanori Mitsuda but passed the task on to Nobuo Uematsu late in development due to health reasons. Since then Chrono Trigger has been put on a pedestal as a genre defining title and has a long tenure in my ever changing top 10, one its characters has even gone on to influence my Twitter and Instagram handles, several ports to other consoles have been made of Chrono Trigger over the years, some great like the PlayStation port complete with polished graphics and anime style cutscenes and some not so great like the mobile port, which was just awkward let’s just put it that way. Fans have attempted to remake the game in full 3D in the forms of Chrono Resurrection and the Chrono Trigger Remake Project, both of which were handed cease and desist notices by Square Enix, the closest we have come to seeing a 3D trip into this magnificent lore was Chrono Cross a sequel on the PlayStation in 1999 which of course received universal praise.
Chrono Trigger’s story is as massive as it is awesome. You meet Crono, a graduate of the Gordon Freeman University of silent protagonists and an overall bad ass with a sweet katana, living in the kingdom of Guardia in the year 1000AD. While attending the Millennial Fayre, he bumps into a young woman named Marle and they quickly become friends. After hearing word that his childhood friend Lucca’s time machine will be the main presentation at the fayre, Marle becomes an eager volunteer, but after a strange reaction with her pendant she is thrown 400 years into the past and breaking the time machine. After finding a way to get the time machine up and running, Crono and Lucca travel to the year 600AD and begin an adventure spanning all the way to the end of time. The method of storytelling used in Chrono Trigger is (no pun intended) way ahead of its time, first of all the cast of characters present, each with their expansive backstory are unlike any other, a verified smorgasbord of the most colourful personalities in RPG history and even though this is a game released 22 years ago on a 16-bit console, Marle, Lucca, Frog, Robo, Ayla and Magus all show so much charisma and animate such emotion that it makes each one unforgettable. The different time periods you visit all hold their own unique atmosphere and the going from one extreme to the other when you go from the dark middle ages to dystopian future keeps everything feeling fresh and exciting and combining that with a tale that makes you change history in order to save the planet and even at one point to revive the dead gives the story a massive sense of importance and depth and with so much that happening along the way, not for one minute losing any momentum makes this game a rare pedigree and introducing the main antagonist; Lavos so far into the game, disposing of Crono like it was nothing and making Magus (who at that point was the villain as far as you were concerned) look so weak makes this creature look like an overwhelming and insurmountable threat. Chrono Trigger was also the first game to introduce multiple endings – 13 in total – which are obtained depending on how you played and what you did and didn’t do, one of which featuring the developers themselves.
Chrono Trigger’s gameplay in the most part is what you would expect from a Square RPG but with its own little differences, so people didn’t think it was just another Final Fantasy copy it was a beast of its own, yes, it was turn based combat, but in a way people had not yet seen. First of all, random encounters were in hindsight, not at all random, as you knew they were coming. As you traversed the awesome environments the screen didn’t engulf in a huge blur and BAM! You were in a battle, you saw the adversaries on the field and you could approach or avoid as you see fit and when you did wind up in a fight, you weren’t whisked off to a separate battle screen, unlike it’s counterpart it was right there, right now! Making the action flow more fluid and not stopping it dead in its tracks. By keeping the exploration and battles one and the same you are enthralled in this world consistently, not once taking a break from these beautiful surroundings. During battles each character had their own specific skills as well, making them feel as unique in combat as they did in the story, and with the moves being so animated and dynamic, showing what the SNES was capable at the time along with the fact that two characters can combine two of their skills to create one supermove! Is what set Chrono Trigger ahead of the rest. This game is the earliest title I can think that holds a sense of consequence as you play. At a point in the game you find yourself on trial, the outcome always remains the same, but you can do things that can make you look better or worse. For example, I knicked a roast chicken from a table at one-point NO BIGGIE RIGHT!?! It’s an RPG and I’m saving the planet when has this ever mattered? HERE IT DOES! It was used as evidence in my trial! I thought it was a healing item! For the first time your actions have an effect, imagine in Zelda if link received a bill to compensate for all the pots he has smashed over the years! Or you were arrested for looting treasure chests in people’s houses in Kingdom Hearts, it was something that brought a new reality to gaming.
And on the outside, it was a title that again showed what the SNES was, capable of, how far Nintendo had come since the NES and what an advantage it had over the rival Sega Genesis (which is still a great console by the way) Chrono Trigger was simply beautiful. The sprites were charming, delightful and didn’t feel like cardboard cut-outs or simple structure of 1’s and 0’s and the places you visited were full of life, colour and electricity. The darkness and overbearing mist of the middle ages, the rubble and grim colour palette of the future and the blistering winds of the and pure snow of Death Peak were highlighted by the ongoing struggles of the time period’s inhabitants and the bright, bold colours of the prehistoric age with its sharp reds and solid stones made you feel the heat of the time, the flying Kingdom of Zeal was crafted in a way where you always aware the you were miles in the sky, the same goes when you are fighting aboard the Blackbird. As a whole the dream team did everything they could with 1995’s capabilities to make the most immersive world they could, and they succeeded with flying colours. And the music! MM! that soundtrack! Composed by two of the greats, Chrono Trigger has one of the most highly regarded soundtracks of all time with every character, location and confrontation being presented masterfully through its majestic scores, composed in a way they when you hear it even to this day you think ‘Oh yeah! That’s Chrono Trigger’.
Chrono Trigger is not just an entity that has stood the test of time, it looked it dead in the eye and gave it a stunner. The sheer fact alone that internet geeks like me are still talking about it in 2017 is enough reason for it to be celebrated, and good enough reason for Square Enix to revive it and either create a banging remake that the fans have tried to create or make a long-awaited sequel to Chrono Cross. A trademark was made by Squaresoft for ‘Chrono Break’ in 2001 leading to an insane amount of speculation, however nothing came about it and it expired in 2012, disappointing fans and making them question why they didn’t act on this considering the phenomenal sales of the Chrono Trigger DS port. Everything about this game from its story, gameplay, presentation and music it one of the all-time greats and showed why the past is looked upon so fondly by many gamers. If you have played this game, get off your arse and play it again! call work, tell your boss you’re sick, cancel dinner with Mom and Dad and relive this classic. If you have never played Chrono Trigger why the hell not!? Close this page, follow us on twitter! (wink, wink) and find yourself a copy! You can thank me later.