SNES

I know that, before the internet, Chrono Trigger was a bit of a cult classic – I really only knew one person who had it, and that was my cousin Luke, who is of course to blame for me playing it, as I had watched him play it a few times and decided I needed to see what it was all about. 

Nowadays, everyone has seen it, played it, or at the very least, HEARD of it, and because of this, many hipster-gamers will come out and say “Chrono Trigger isn’t even that good, it’s overrated, I prefer [Insert obscure, awful game developed by defunct, shit company.]”  I don’t waste my time nerd raging at them, because I know they’re just being trolling ass-ferrets.

I’ve had many times where people have accused me of hopping on the CT bandwagon – “Oh you just like that game because everyone else thinks it’s so good.”  Bullshit.  I don’t like Chrono Trigger, I love it.  It’s absolute perfection in my eyes.  Before Chrono Trigger, I had played through FF6, and it took me weeks to find the pieces of my brain scattered around my room after it blew my mind, then I happened across CT and the same happened again, except a thousand times over.

I’m repping the CT every day, because this game obviously means something to me, and I’m going to tell you exactly why.

First off, a little personal backstory:

My childhood, like many others’, was less than ideal.  Up until age 7, everything was pretty solid, but my parents’ divorce was a swift kick in my (at the time) undescended testicles, and it caused a great deal of emotional trauma that I was battling up until about 3 years ago.  I dealt with the struggles of watching my family fall apart, watching my mother struggle with the burdens of being a single mom, and watching myself change from a child to an adult, all at a young age.  I grew up quickly because I had to – I had to make my own breakfast, lunch, and dinner, due to the long work hours my mom had.  I had to be my own babysitter, because I was usually the only one home, depending on if my brother was hanging out with his friends or not.  One of the things that I kept with me from the better times, was video games.  I used to play games with my dad and brother all of the time – in fact my dad was the one who initially wanted video game consoles, and bought them for us.  He gamed as much as we did!  So I took that memory and brought it into the more damaged part of my life.  Video games were an escape for me, and they still are – so for me, games have always served multiple purposes.  They provided me with fun and entertainment, for hours on end, and continue to do so to this day, but they’ve also provided me with a way to cope with the unrelenting world I was thrown into, and I can safely say that on numerous occasions video games have helped keep me level headed, and have helped me deal with hard times.  You might be wondering where Chrono Trigger is going to come into play, and it happens to be right now.

Chrono Trigger tells the tale of Crono, whose mishap of running into a girl named Marle at the Millenia Fair turns into a quest to save time and space.  All of the elements of a good RPG are here:

  1. The battle system is tight, with the option to have Active Time Battle or Wait Mode – this is good for people who like to take their time, and people who have menus and abilities memorized to a point where they don’t need to wait for SHIT (that would be me.)  
  2. The sprites are big and beautiful.  There are lots of bright colors, great palette choices, and overall great controls.  The ability to "run" was a HUGE help – it’s like having a permanently equipped “Sprint Shoes” relic in FF6.  The engine plays beautifully, and makes for an enjoyable playing experience, all while being pretty to look at. 
  3. The story is something that was so impressive and engaging, that I have yet to find anything that rivals it (the Knights of the Old Republic games came close, because I fucking LOVE Star Wars, as well as the Mass Effect games because let’s face it, Bioware kicks ass when it comes to storytelling), as it succeeds in many things where plenty of other games, especially modern ones, fall completely flat.  This next section WILL contain SPOILERS.  If you haven’t played this game yet, then there must be something seriously wrong.

The first thing is that the characters are lovable – even Magus, who’s a complete dick the first few times you meet him, has a soft side when you figure out that his motive this entire time, was to save his sister Schala, who has been abused by his evil mother Queen Zeal.  But the most powerful part for me is once that’s very central to the story.  When Chrono sacrifices himself at the fight with Lavos, just so he can save his friends, I was legitimately upset.  I thought “How could this be?  How can Crono be gone?!   He’s the hero, he has to be there to save the world from Lavos!”  But he was gone – there was nothing I could do about it.  I continued playing, and I tried to imagine what Marle and Lucca must have felt, or what Crono’s mom would do if she heard that he was gone?  I continued playing and eventually Gaspar gives the party the “Time Egg” – or the “Chrono Trigger.”  He tells you that it has the power to bring Crono back, but there’s only a chance that it would work.  So Crono dies, and you finally get something that could bring him back, but it’s only amaybe.  This was soul-crushing, and very powerful for the narrative.  The way all of the characters interact and unknowingly depend on each other is such a meaningful aspect of the story, that I think sometimes players might often overlook.

Second, the ability of time travel fits seamlessly into the story.  Many games have done the time travel thing, one in particular did it pretty well, and that’s the Time Splitters series – Future Perfect had a really interesting implementation of the “time paradox” that’s worth checking it out for, but many, if not all other "time travel" games that I've seen have implemented the idea so beautifully.  The reason that Chrono Trigger sticks most with me isn’t just because it’s an outstanding game with a powerful and moving storyline with engaging characters, but the idea of time travel is one that has been on my mind since I was younger.  When my world was falling apart around me, and I was still a young 7 years old, there were many nights where I wished I could travel back in time and change something for the better, so that no one had to go through what I had been  going through – and this idea is the exact core of Chrono Trigger.  Crono and company travel through time to prevent the world being completely destroyed by Lavos, so that no one would have to go through what they all witnessed on the computer screen when they traveled to the future – the complete and utter destruction of their world, loss, death, starvation – the plights that the people of the year 1999 (in the game, mind you) had to go through when Lavos set the planet aflame.

So Chrono Trigger had an astronomical impact on my life, because not only was it a beautiful game with a rich story, but it was a story that applied to exactly what I was going through.  The most important part of that story is that in the end,  Crono and all of his dear friends succeed in defeating Lavos (depending on how good your party is, of course, but either way, they get around to it eventually), and save the world from that torment.  In a time where I had little faith in life ever being enjoyable again, Chrono Trigger showed me that it does get better.  You may have to lose a shit-ton of times on the Golem Twins because you forgot to get Ruby Vests before you got on the Blackbird, and you might lose to Giga Gaia over and over because you don’t have Crono /Ayla in your party to use Volt Bite and destroy his ass, or hell, you might even say the wrong thing and fight Magus instead of getting him in your party, and realize that your last save was hours ago, and hate yourself for it, but even if real life is rough, things do get better.  We may not have the Epoch to go zipping through time to change things to our liking, but we do have control over our futures, and in a sense, Chrono Trigger gave me that knowledge, to know how to change my future to the way I want it, and that knowledge has given me a diligence when it comes to furthering myself.  I don’t look at Chrono Trigger with nostalgia goggles – the game has aged beautifully, and is still enjoyable to play through, but most of all, it still plays that important role in my life.

Overall:

-Graphics: 10/10, big, gorgeous, colorful sprites

-Music: 10/10, not a single forgettable track in the entire game

-Story: 8/10, it's not perfect, and convoluted at times, but successful

-Price: $$$$, Expect to drop around $80 for the cart, and $200+ complete

-Overall: 10/10, if you're any kind of jRPG fan, you absolutely need to play this game.  I understand it isn't 1998, and no one has heard of this game, because with the advent of the internet, word got around that CT was an incredible RPG, but there are still some who haven't played it.  It's a beautifully aged game for being from 1995, and makes great use of the SNES hardware to create quite frankly, my favorite RPG experience of all time.