Developer: Square Enix | Year: 2008 | List Price: ~$29.99 | Buy from Amazon
If you’ve been following Kantaloupe over the past 6 months or so, you’ll have seen me really get into JRPGs. I played my very first one back in February, Bravely Default. After beating that in June, I bought Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger DS at the same time, but decided to play the former first, since it came out earlier. After that I proceeded immediately to this game, which I have now beaten. (The marathon continues! I just bought a PS Vita on Thursday and downloaded Persona 3 Portable yesterday.)
Chrono Trigger, originally released in 1995 for the SNES, is often hailed as the best JRPG of all time. Fans often cite the unique battle system and large world to explore, due to the presence of a time travel mechanic. I got the DS remake, which as far as I can tell, didn’t add or take away much, except for a few translation differences here and there. I must admit that for the first 2/3 of the game, however, I wasn’t really convinced that this was a better game than FFVI. But then the stakes began to rise, the world began to open up more, and I really began to notice all the things that were improved upon between the SNES Final Fantasys and this title.
First of all, the random encounter system has been replaced by one in which you can see enemies on screen. This gives a skilled player the chance to avoid many enemies if they so wish. Also, I found the game to be significantly less grind-heavy, meaning that if you generally try to fight every enemy you see, you’ll probably be able to kill the next boss within two or three tries without having to backtrack and grind. Finally, the battle mechanics deviate a bit from the traditional JRPG formula, taking place directly on the dungeon floor and taking enemy formations into account.
Design: 10/10 Chrono Trigger’s premise is a fascinating one. After accidentally gaining a method of time travel, a group of youths discover a future apocalypse and decide not only to stop the future calamity, but also to uncover its cause. The world, while not as sprawling as FFVI’s or even Bravely Default’s Luxendarc, is multiplied several times over because of the different time periods you can travel to. This leads to some interesting sidequests that take advantage of the time travel mechanic. The story is less character driven than that of FFVI, but the overall plot more than makes up for that.
Visuals: 9/10 In remaking Chrono Trigger for the DS, Square Enix didn’t get too ambitious, and the end product doesn’t look too dissimilar from the original, save for a few more polished changes, such as a smaller text size that accommodates the full names of items and such. The world is colourful and the art style is unique and pleasing. There are also full anime cutscenes here and there that are rather well done.
Sound: 9/10 I can’t say I enjoy the music quite as much as FFVI’s, but there are some classic tracks here, my favourites being Frog’s Theme and Delightful Spekkio. The audio on the DS still isn’t quite as good as the original SNES’, but still very enjoyable. There are a bit of skips and static audible in the anime cutscenes, however, but it’s not too noticeable most of the time.
Gameplay: 10/10 Chrono Trigger really shines in the gameplay department. Everything runs with a lot of polish, and the battle mechanics honour JRPG tradition while adding a cool formation mechanic to spice things up. All of the characters are balanced and it’s fun to try different combinations to see all the different Dual and Triple Techs. The world is quite open to exploration and the game rewards you for it with cool items and gear. Chrono Trigger was pretty much the benchmark for all JRPGs that followed, and while games since have done some other pretty cool things, Chrono Trigger showed the world that JRPG’s didn’t have to be derivative.
Value: 9/10 Chrono Trigger is short by JRPG standards, only 20-25 hours long on the first playthrough. That said, there is a New Game+ option that lets you restart the game with all your experience and items. Why would you want to do that? There are actually 13 different endings to ‘collect’ and to see them all requires you to beat the game in different ways. So while the game is short, it can vary from playthrough to playthrough, and trying to get all the endings could easily push you well over the 100-hour mark.
Total: 47/50 (A)
List Price: ~$29.99 | Buy from Amazon
Have you played Chrono Trigger? How did you like it? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Tell us in the comments!
Like I said, I just got a PS Vita, so I’ll be writing a review on that as well as one on my 3DS XL to be able to compare the two. Next on the JRPG list is Persona 3! I’m about 4 hours in and really enjoying it. It is a really long game, though, so don’t expect a review anytime soon!