What I loved about Chrono Trigger

A long, long time ago–well, back in March 2012 really–I beat Chrono Trigger. It was both a great and grueling experience, and I put down some notes on the things I disliked about the RPG legend that is legendary among RPG fans. And people reacted. Think the post even made it on Reddit. Yeeeeeah. It was like I called their sweet little grandmother a raging prostitute that was the reason STDs spread or kicked their dog into the middle of traffic on a busy highway. It’s either the depression in me or my strengthening pessimistic outlook on life that I can’t see anything as perfect. Videogames can be great, can be a lot of fun, really enjoyable–but never utopian.

Okay, that’s enough intro. I could really go on about all the little things I dislike in games I adore, but my point is just that both exist, and sometimes they co-exist, and other times one is the predator stalking the prey. For now, let’s use the  dual tech Slurp Kiss (Ayla and Frog!) and get into the love.

mighty music

Surprise, surprise–it’s amazing. Here, let me name a few tracks: Corridors of Time, the hauntingly Secret of the Forest, an overworld theme that is both whimsical and foreboding, Zeal Palace, or that battle theme that really gets you into the fight and will thankfully never leave my body. And there’s plenty more. Basically every soundbite, whether it is a song or sound effect (Robo has some great ones!), is highly memorable. Both for its quality and charm.

Chrono Trigger was scored by Yasunori Mitsuda and Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. Mitsuda spent many nights sleeping in the office, which led to many songs feeling dream-inspired. I totally hear that. He also later suffered from stomach ulcers, and so Uematsu was brought in to finish up about ten songs. Either way, the music from Chrono Trigger is universally loved–and deservedly. I still listen to more tunes from Chrono Cross, but that has to do with a more orchestral feel to them than anything else.

The Millennial Fair

When it happens, it’s downright magical. You’re on trial, accused of trying to kidnap Princess Nadia and take over Guardia Castle. You even get called a terrorist. And you, the player, know none of this is true, and are ready to defend yourself against your accusers. But then the Chancellor begins bringing up actions you took–or didn’t take–at the Millennial Fair, where you first met the princess. Seemingly normal encounters are now twisted and distorted to make it appear like you are one shifty soul, even if you’re definitely not. Like, if you grabbed the dropped pendant before checking on the princess, you are labeled greedy and after the throne. Small things mattered. But you don’t learn this until it is too late, and so it doesn’t matter how many silver points you earned playing games at the fair: you are a criminal. And you’re put in a cell for your alleged mistreatment of the princess, which really gets the ball rolling plot-wise. It all felt so natural as it unfolded, too.

Visible enemies

My distaste for random encounters continues to grow as I get older. I find it way more annoying now, and so when a game gives me enemies on screen, leaving it up to me to fight or flee or sneak by, I am overjoyed. Granted, this phenomenon seems to be more of a later trend, making it a nice surprise when I could watch Blue Imps and Goblins wander in the grass in Chrono Trigger before taking them on. Not only do you see enemies before you fight them, the battle itself takes place right there. The UI switches to reflect this, but other than that, you are fighting where you are standing, and it’s all very quick, a definite upgrade from slower turn-based RPGs.

The jet bike race

It’s random. Really random. But I guess someone wanted to put the SNES’s Mode 7 graphics to use. The jet bike race is found in 2300 A.D., during and after Beyond the Ruins. It allows you to take a shortcut across the ruins, avoiding a couple of screens of monsters to fight. That is, if you win. Which is not as simple of just gunning it all the way. You’re racing against Johnny, a half-tricycle automaton, and he has this way of constantly inching his way in front of you. Rubber-banding, I believe it’s called. It’s tough, but at the time a great change of pace, and you can come back to race Johnny later for various prices, like a Power Tab and Ethers. Once you get the Epoch, you can skip the race entirely as it is avoidable. I’m saddened that this element never spawned a tie-in: Super Crono Kart.

That evil laugh

There is only so much a sprite character can do to evoke emotions. Usually, they hop around and squirt drops of water off their heads if excited or run back in forth in place to express various levels of excitement. My favorite little animated moment is one I discovered purely from curiosity. Games like Animal Crossing: Wild World and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion taught me that sitting in chairs is something one can do in videogames. It’s just as exciting of an action in digital life as it is in real life. And so, when in the Giant’s Claw, I took my lead character at the time–always Crono, yo–and plopped him down in Azala’s chair. He changed. He laughed with mirth and evilness, and he looked right at me as he did it. And then he rejoined his party members to continue the hunt for  Lavos. It’s a really small, random occurrence, but I love these little additions. They show a sort of shared consciousness between the player and those that made the game, that they realized someone would try to sit here, and for that that did, here’s a bonus animation.

Right. Those are the things I loved. I hope this clears up any non-obviousness over how I feel about Chrono Trigger. It’s a fantastic game. It has some problems, but the great outweighs the bad unarguably. I played it fully once now and am glad I did. Given my gaming habits and time schedule, I doubt I’ll ever play it again, whether via New Game+ or starting all over, but other than different endings, I saw a really good chunk of the whole experience. And just like Chrono Cross, I’ll revisit the soundtrack when the mood strikes me, so it’ll always be there, the legend that is legendary.

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