This is the big one, ya’ll.
People who know me in real life have been pestering me for this one. But I’ve been saving it for the perfect moment.
Chrono Trigger is THE game.
I’ve purchased Chrono Trigger three times now: once for the SNES, once for the PlayStation, and once for the Game Boy DS. If it came out on Steam today I would buy it again.
I think the reason I love CT so much is because it is the first game that really felt like a world that could respond meaningfully to my choices. I loved role playing games like Final Fantasy because they let me come along on a journey. But the “role playing” part of most games of this sort was extremely limited, confined only to tactical battle decisions and not to the way that key story events unfolded over the course of the action.
Take, for example, the trial scene at the beginning of the game, in which Chrono gets framed for kidnapping the princess Marle. I loved how the game actually remembered your choices, large and small, and judged you accordingly. It was a great introduction to the way that the game would treat the player’s jaunt through time. Actions, in this world, had consequences, foreseen and unforeseen.
Chrono Trigger was the first game I ever played that opened up midway through and allowed the player to chart their own course. Your decisions about where and when to intervene in history would have massive repercussions that reverberated through time. The planet itself becomes a character, an Entity that can “level up” beside the player as the mistakes of the past are corrected and a new future is charted.
The game even had a multitude of endings depending on when and how you beat the final boss, Lavos (and thus, on which events in the game’s story line have been completed and which were left undone). I obsessively sought out every one of course. The best one, in my opinion is the one concerning the most interesting characters in the series: Janus (aka Magus) and Schala.
In fact, all of the music is to die for. CT has one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. But that is another post.
Apparently the creators of CT agree with me, because these two characters are central to the pair of quasi-sequels to the game, the extremely difficult to find Japanese visual novel Radical Dreamers (now available in English as a hacked ROM for those of you who are so inclined) and the weird and tonally incoherent Chrono Cross. But that, I suppose, will have to be a post for another day. In the meantime, check out the amazing outpouring of text from other fans at the Chrono Compendium and mourn with me for the now-abandoned third game in the series Chrono Break and the amazing looking fan game Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes, which was shut down by Square-Enix.
I’m hoping that in this age of revamps and remakes that one of these projects might see the light of day. Or an HD remastering (which, one hopes, might rejuvenate enough interest in the property from younger fans to warrant a sequel).
What are your favorite time-traveling moments? Let me know in the comments!