Should I Buy? – Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is often held to be one of the best Japanese RPG games of all time, and in fact is one of a four part ensemble of games releases on the SNES back in the 90’s to have a legitimate claim for that title. Those games, for any of you interested are Final Fantasy IV & VI and Earthbound.

Chrono Trigger itself was for a long time something of a cult icon. It had a very loyal following despite only ever receiving one sequel and never being released in Europe. A few years ago though, Nintendo seemed to remember that they had another potential goldmine to exploit with a re-release, and now the game’s had a world-wide release on both the Nintendo DS and the Wii’s Virtual Console.

And a damn good thing too, because even in the far flung future of 2011, this game holds its own as fun, engaging, well designed and has a simply gorgeous soundtrack (if you like 16 Bit videogame music, that is). The basic premise is that you play as Crono, a young boy with ridiculous hair and a katana that saves the world from an evil monster alongside a bunch of friends including a princess that he falls in love with. As a side note, if Crono looks like Goku, that’s because the guy who designed the characters for this game was the main designer for Dragonball.

So far so cliché, right? Well, yes. But Chrono Trigger adds a few twists into the bag and is simply so damn charming that I can ignore the straight-faced cliché of it all. For starters, the plot involves time travel between the present day, the Medieval era, the Prehistoric era, the far flung future and the Age of Magic. The characters are similarly varied too, including a genius teen inventor, an anthropomorphic frog knight and a cavewoman who rips apart enemies with her bare fists.

I could go on about the design and the soundtrack (go on youtube and search for Frog’s theme, it’s amazing!) but that’d make this entry overrun. Instead there’s a few things I want to say about the combat and general challenge curve of the game.

When you enter a battle, you and the enemy spread out over the surrounding area instead of whooshing off to some special screen to stand in lines. This isn’t just visual, special attacks have different properties. Some attack everything in a line, some a circle etc. It’s a nice feature that alleviates some of the monotony of JRPG combat and you can even use it to time your attack for when the enemy moves into just the right spot to deal huge damage to a group of them.

On the challenge front, the game’s difficulty curve has a few nasty spikes but unless you know the kind of tricks you learn from having played this game previously, you should find every boss that right kind of challenging that makes the game an intense but exhilarating challenge.

By the way, getting this on the Virtual Console will get you a straight port of the original SNES classic while the DS version has a new translation and some bonus content, including anime cutscenes, a bonus dungeon and a music archive.

Price: £20 (CEX)

900 Nintendo Points (Virtual Console)


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