The idea behind the Retro Love series is to pay tribute to the amazing games from a good while ago. While we have covered a good number of games in this series so far, we have always done that with the conscious effort that what we express reflects our experience with the game and that we do not get carried away by nostalgia. This has been achieved to varying degrees, to be honest, and why not, because nostalgia is a good thing. But the idea of writing about Chrono Trigger has had me nervous right from the beginning of the Retro Love series. It was going to sound way too good for a game from 25 years ago, at least to the uninitiated. But a timeless gem like this needs to be given credit for what it is. So, this is going to be short, sweet and honest. Here goes.
Released towards the tail-end of the SNES era, Chrono Trigger is one of the best RPGs of its time. A mechanically sound game which was also one of the best looking on the platform. This game truly pushed the boundaries of what an RPG needs to be. And the result is one that holds up to this day both visually and gameplay wise (not kidding) even in its original SNES format.
Chrono Trigger game had everything that modern RPGs follow even today. Multiple endings, side quests that flesh out characters, random encounters, party members you actually care for, new game plus, it was all there. And the game somehow gets it all just right. From the initial moments when you wake up in your room and move on enjoy the local fair, the game’s complex and hard-hitting story will keep you invested throughout its run time.
You take on the role of Crono (or whichever name you choose for the character), and along with you is your best buddy Lucca who builds and fixes machines, and also happens to have built a teleportation device.
Throw in an encounter with a princess who agrees to test the device and goes missing in the process and you have a recipe for a time-travelling, adventure that takes you across various periods of time ranging from the prehistoric age to a post-apocalyptic future and everything in between, while introducing memorable characters along the way who you can recruit as party members. The story was nothing short of ambitious and when you think of it in retrospect, it is really astonishing that they were able to pull this off on a 16-bit console.
The game gives you a sense of atmosphere unlike any other from its time. With birds cawing in the serenity of Cronos’ home kingdom, to the festivities in the local fair, to the howling wind while walking on a platform between two huge towers, the visuals and the sound effortlessly immerse you in the game. Couple that with an impeccable story and you have the Mass Effect of the SNES era, albeit in a fantasy setting. Yes, it is an apples vs oranges comparison, but this game really was that good. There I said it.
Having played the game way too long ago, the details can be a bit murky, but I still remember, Frog, Robo and Magus. In an era where fighting games ruled and rest of bestsellers were 2D side scrollers with little to no room for a solid story, these guys were some of the best characters I had seen in a game.
I have to say, I stand accused of not completing the game on the SNES, thanks to the release of the PS1 and its then awesome 3D graphics. But damn, Chrono Trigger was also released on the PS1, this time complete with anime cutscenes. The game has since seen releases in multiple platforms and is alive and kicking to this day.
Being a game built around time travel, the sweet irony is that this game hasn’t aged one bit. It has truly stood the test of time and shines like a gem representing the 90’s rather than being a relic of its time. It truly makes me happy to see that such a game from the past is preserved and purchasable to this day. For the ones who have heard of the game, and the ones who had no clue about it, I encourage you to try this game out. My usual disclosures of “Don’t mind the graphics or clunky controls” do not apply for Chrono Trigger. Find it on Steam, Android or iOS, and spend this lockdown period by treating yourself with this gem. It deserves to be experienced by anyone who is even remotely curious about RPGs.