With the recent trend of remasters and remakes I thought I would highlight games that have aged well enough to still be played and feel as though it was just released yesterday. The first game that popped into my head was Chrono Trigger.
Chrono Trigger was first released on March 11, 1995 for the Super Nintendo. The game was developed by a superstar team that included Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy), Yuji Horii (Dragon Quest) and artist Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball & Dragon Quest). Yasunori Mitsuda (Xenogears, Chrono Cross) composed the music for the most part, but Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy) also contributed once Mitsuda fell ill.
Chrono Trigger is a role-playing game that featured some revolutionary and innovative features that have since become the norm in most modern role playing games. Enemy encounters weren’t random. Enemies are visible on the map and are avoidable. Unlike previous role-playing games that had a separate battle screen when you encountered enemies, fighting in Chrono Trigger is quick and happens directly on the map. And when you’re fighting, the game features “Active Time Battle” which means that enemies won’t wait for you to attack before attacking themselves which makes battles more hectic, intense and fun. Another welcome addition to the battle mechanics is the ability for characters to team up and combine moves together to perform some devastating attacks. My favorite aspect of Chrono Trigger is the ability to travel through time. This ability allows you to visit the same areas at different time periods, so as you complete side-quests in the past you can see how your actions affect the future. Chrono Trigger also has 15 different endings (including a bad one). Playing through the game multiple times was made easy through a new mode called New Game+. In this new mode, special abilities, your characters’ stats and equipment carried over from your previous game. This allowed you to beat the game at a much faster pace, encouraging players to try to view the other endings without making it feel like a chore.
The game still looks good after all these years partly due to the detailed pixel art. Good 2D visuals tend to age much better than good 3D visuals. Each time period in Chrono Trigger has their own unique color pallet and theme, so you’ll easily be able to distinguish each time period easily and areas don’t have that “same-y” feel. The characters all look great as well, which is rare for a JRPG, there always tends to be one or two badly designed characters. Each character has an interesting backstory and distinctive personalities. As you travel through time learning more about each character, you see how they developed into who they are. The villain, Lavos is another unique aspect of the game. Lavos is a terrifying, huge parasitic monster. Villains in JRPG’s usually tend to talk a lot about their motives, reasons for why they’re trying to achieve their end-goal. Lavos is special in the sense that as a creature, it doesn’t speak. There is no reasoning with Lavos. It has one purpose in life and that is to drain planets of their energy before moving onto the next one.
Since the Super Nintendo release of Chrono Trigger, the game has been re-released on the Playstation, Nintendo DS, the Wii’s Virtual Console, iOS and Android. The best version to play is the Nintendo DS version which includes two extra dungeons, the animated cut-scenes, an improved translation and a second screen, that shows the map of the area you’re in and allows you to place menu shortcuts. Amazon still sells the Nintendo DS version for a pretty decent price. But if you don’t own a Nintendo DS or a 3DS, the smartphone version of the game is based on the DS version of Chrono Trigger. You’ll just be stuck with touch controls and no second screen, but on the plus side it’s only $10 which is a steal for a game like Chrono Trigger. The Playstation version can be downloaded if you own a Vita, but I would avoid this version because it (for some odd reason) adds load-times, there’s also an issue with slowdown during battles and an inconsistent sound quality.
Chrono Trigger is one of those titles that every person who enjoys video games should play. The same way every movie fan should watch the Godfather at least once or anyone who loves music should listen to the Beatles. Chrono Trigger will stick with you, I first played the game almost 20 years ago and I never forgot it. There are scenes and moments in the game that will stick with you: the courtroom scene, the jail break, the first time you visit the future. Are early memorable examples. I carry Chrono Trigger around with with my 3DS at all times, sometimes I’ll start a new game but not to necessarily beat it, but just to just have a taste of the game and meet the characters all over again. This was the game ultimately changed my life by introducing me to role-playing games. The characters, the art, the music, all near perfection.