For this series that I’m calling Retro Reflections, I’m going to be looking back at games I loved when I was younger, gush about them, and talk about how they hold up today in comparison to other games that are similar.
*It’s important to note that there will most likely be spoilers for the game I’m talking about. But it came out in 1995 so I think the statute of limitations on that is pretty long gone*
I figured it would be appropriate to start this series that’s about going back in time with a game that is about going through time: Chrono Trigger.
Chrono Trigger released in March of 1995 for the Super Nintendo. The story follows the silent protagonist, Crono, and his allies on a journey to save the world from being destroyed by an all powerful being called Lavos. The game also features artwork by Akira Toriyama, known for his work on the Dragon Quest series and more notably the creation of the Dragon Ball comics. The game is consistently on the short list for multiple “greatest game of all time” lists, and it is my personal favorite game of all time.
How does it stack up today? Honestly, very well.
The RPG landscape has been veering away from the turn-based menu driven systems for so long now, that games like Octopath Traveler that harken back to something similar to Chrono Trigger seem novel and refreshing. Chrono Trigger’s combat is simple but has a lot of variety that can lead to a huge amount of strategy in terms of what attacks you use and which characters you decide to have in your party. It also relies on enemy positioning in a way that few RPG’s have used, with enemies actively moving around the battlefield giving the player opportunities to line up the perfect area attack.
The game is also shorter than the average RPG.
An average playthrough with no extra content done will take most people around 13-14 hours to get through, which is great for a game like Chrono Trigger which has THIRTEEN different endings based on how the game was played and who ends up in the party at the end.
Speaking of endings, it’s worth noting that the story also does something unique in that Crono dies about midway through the game, and its up to the player if they want to bring him back or not, which is a big factor in obtaining some of the endings in the game. On top of a great story and great gameplay, the game also looks beautiful to this day. The Akira Toriyama drawn and animated cutscenes still look great, and the use of pixel graphics instead of 3D polygonal models means that no matter how far along we are in time, this game will still look great compared to games like Final Fantasy 7-9, which I love but are certainly starting to look ugly in comparison to modern titles.
On top of the visuals, the soundtrack is incredible and is something that I listen to frequently when I want to relax or just have something playing while I work on a project.
Chrono Trigger is a shining example of how good an RPG can be, and how good Square was at making games. I play through this game at least once a year every year, and it’s a tradition that I can see myself doing for a long time to come.