In March of 1995, Japanese gamers were treated to the release of a new franchise from Square. Developed by a dream team including greats like Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yasunori Mitsuda, and Akira Toriyama, Chrono Trigger hit the ground running, winning plaudits and praise from every corner of the Japanese game industry. The first two million copies of the game were delivered to Japanese retailers in the first two months–at the time, a practically unheard-of sale rate for a JRPG. Across the seas in furthest America, people took notice. The swift localisation and August 1995 release of Chrono Trigger in North America was met with enormous success. Subsequent re-releases on the PlayStation and Nintendo DS were also very well received, posting chart-topping sales figures each in their turn. The PlayStation release of Chrono Trigger remains a best-selling PlayStation Network ‘Classic’ title more than a decade after its initial disc-based release, and several years into its digital availability.
In 2013, the success of Chrono Trigger is on par with other Super Nintendo-era greats such as Final Fantasy VI. Routinely featuring in historical “top ten” and “best of” lists, it came in second place (against Final Fantasy VII) in the first-ever GameFAQs “video game battle”, and it was last year named by GamesRadar as the greatest JRPG of all time. Re-released and ported to a variety of systems, it has continued to sell well despite its wide availability on the internet, having surpassed three and a half million copies sold. The DS version was one of the most well-received titles for that system–a remake which is still held up as an example of precisely how to correctly re-release classic 16-bit JRPGs.
The game opens with the titular protagonist, Chrono, waking up in his hometown in the Kingdom of Guardia. The year is A.D. 1000 and a Millennial Fair is about to take place. Chrono’s friend Lucca–an inventor–has built a matter transporter with the assistance of her father, Taban. It is this device which sets events into motion. Chrono’s fortuitous meeting with a young woman named Marle is the catalyst for an adventure which will span not merely the breadth of the world, but the very length of time itself.
All areas of Chrono Triggers‘s presentation have been praised since its release nearly a score of years ago. The music is widely considered to be one of the greatest soundtracks ever written for a video game. The graphics represent the pinnacle of sprite-based design; the DS version especially is renowned for its beautiful presentation, including the anime cut scenes from the PlayStation version, and an updated interface which makes use of the second DS screen for menus, freeing the top screen to display an unfettered view of Chrono Trigger’s colourful and detailed environments.
Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, tactics you are employing, and what you are getting out of your playthrough. Do you feel that the presentation of Chrono Trigger has held up since its release in 1995? Are there aspects of the game that you would change, or that you would hold up as an example for modern game developers to emulate? How has your experience with other RPGs released after Chrono Trigger changed your impressions of the game? Do you have any stories about your first experience? Tell us in the comments!
The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in four weeks. For our fourth and final week, we invite users to finish the game. However, feel free to join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate, regardless of game format, speed of play, or familiarity with the series. Tell your friends!
Without further adieu, it is our very great pleasure to invite you now to join the The Starlight Megaphone staff members, guests, and readers as we return to the sunny days of the Guardia Millennial Fair in Peaceful Days: A Chrono Trigger Playthrough!
Having taken a bit of a head-start, I am just past the 10h mark! That said, I’m going to hold off on commenting until I see where other people wish to take the discussion.
Except to mention that the music is exceptional and that it has aged very well.
My only worthwhile contribution to this discussion is only this: There simply aren’t enough games with the timeless qualities Chrono possesses.
I’m considering joining this playthrough, making it my first.
Not sure which version to get though. Maybe I’ll look around for the DS one.
By the way, “Chrono” Trigger being timeless seems paradoxal.
I’m very curious to see how I react to the game this time around. I’ve tried to play through it a number of times to varying reactions and playtimes. Definitely have not experienced the same thing that most seem to with this game. I would blame the age, but I also played FFVI late and really got into that. I’ll buy my copy for DS on Tuesday and join in the conversation!
@All: We’ve said it on the podcast a few times, but it is worth saying again in ‘print’:
*** The DS version of Chrono Trigger is the DEFINITIVE way to experience the game. ***
Woolsey’s translation was rushed (he was given only 30 days to work on it) and censored, and the interface on the original SNES takes up a large chunk (~1/3rd) of the screen during battles. The DS version remedies these things: the translation is tight and brilliant (but just as whimsical and cheery as the original), the interface is moved to the bottom screen, and the graphics are pixel-sharp.
Definitely play the DS version if you can. Not only is it portable, it’s awesome.
I’m extremely interested to find out how I react to this game. I’ve played this game time and time again (usually as an SNES Rom) but never managed to finish it, either through some graphical glitch or losing my saved game. Now that I’m playing on an official DS cartridge, I’ll have less of an excuse to give up before the ending.
At the same time, though, I’ve tried to replay JRPGs that I used to love (FF VII, Xenogears, Vanguard Bandits, etc.) and I’ve found them borderline unplayable. My sensibilities and expectations about what constitutes a “great” story have changed so much since I was younger, and I’ve personally felt that those early JRPGs were hampered by their translations and technical limitations.
That all being said, I’ve started replaying and I am still captivated with the Millenial Fair. What a perfect way to introduce the players to the world and its mechanics without feeling forced or arbitrary. Other games have used the Fair setting to introduce players to the world, but I really think Chrono Trigger pulls it off the best.
“The PlayStation release of Chrono Trigger remains a best-selling PlayStation Network ‘Classic’ title more than a decade after its initial disc-based release, and several years into its digital availability.
I was under the impression that FFVII was the best selling PS1 classic.
@SN: Read the sentence again, NooB!
This is probably the dozenth time I’m playing Chrono Trigger. More often than completing it though, I would play through maybe Zeal, or somewhere between 5 to 15 hours just to get the feel of this absolutely wonderful and delightful game before moving on to newer ones. Consistently rating #2 in my book (since FF7 supplanted it), CT is one of several, all-time favorite games and RPG’s that I had started over a few times before actually beating it because I loved the feeling of the beginning so much that I’d get nostalgic – even within the first few years of its release!
I got the game soon after it came out, having already been enticed not only by its coverage in Nintendo Power, but the mere fact that it was a Squaresoft RPG. I think as early as Final Fantasy Adventure I was aware that they were making the games I loved most besides Nintendo and Mega Man, so I knew it would be up my alley. The only thing delaying purchase was its rather high price point; Kay-Bee Toys was selling it for $79.99, and my 11 year old allowance would take awhile to catch up. But several Blockbuster rentals eased the time (part of why it’s been replayed over and over).
Some of my most fondest memories playing video games growing up was waking up and playing CT an hour before sunrise and getting ready for school. That dark, quiet time juxtaposed with a bright, happy, beautiful game were great, and if it happened to be raining too, well there was no better feeling in the world.
So that’s my reminiscences. It’s raining heavily where I’m at tonight, so I’m going to get cozy and enjoy playing it. I started another playthrough which got cut off to wait for the Caspius.com feature, but now I’m in 2300 a.d. about to do the bike race.
One thing I’ve noticed is how easy it’s gotten. It was frustrating back in ’95, but now I’m not grinding at all while beating bosses handily. I would always level up with Gato at the Millenial Fair before going off, but skipped it this time (and thus had nothing but positive character witnesses at The Trial). Every area is perfectly paced to get enough experience and gold without backtracking.
Chrono Trigger is a love letter to video games and RPG’s in particular. I’d understand if those playing it for the first time, or the PAL blokes and sheilas who had to wait til more recently aren’t as enamored, as it is a product of its time, while also somehow being timeless. So bully to those who did love it and will fall in love with it despite its age. This was once a pinnacle, definitive moment, to treasure forever.
Playing CT always feels like a summer holiday.
There are some games that I prefer, but relatively few which are so breezy and pleasant.
SKULL SMASH! X_X
I cannot think of another RPG as cheery and yet as serious as this one. Every moment makes me smile, and yet, I am never unaware of the seriousness of what the protagonists are involved in.
Is there any other game which manages to fuse the light-hearted and the grave so well?
@Lusi: Even when FFVII and FFIX do it, it still creates a slight atmospheric contrast. CT on the other hand is absolutely seamless!
This is actually the first time I have played this game in any capacity (I always heard good things about it, but never got around to giving it a whirl). I am enjoying the game a lot, the story so far is engaging, and the characters (excluding Frog, who I don’t enjoy at all to this point) are very likable. I also like the fact that it isn’t particularly grindy. I saved right outside of the Magus’ Lair (I think I have played around 7 hours) and am definitely looking forward to seeing how the story continues to develop.
We’re coming up on the end of the first week. Who’s on target to hit the 10H mark? (I am!)
I have just finished the prehistoric maze + cave dungeon, and am about to return in order to fix the masamune.
While I am not on target to hit the 10H mark, I have set aside significant time this weekend to hit the mark. With Monday being Memorial Day, I plan to get a chunk of the next 10H done as well.
It should be reduced to five hours. Make the next goal attainable within fifteen hours.
I am about to start the prehistoric maze + cave dungeon. Am playing the SNES version and am not really having any problems with how much space the battle commands take up on the screen.
I am nowhere near the 10H mark, but like Gyme I intend to use the Memorial Day weekend to catch up.
Canada already had its long weekend, but long weekends are busier than normal weekends for me (which are already busier than weekdays).
ANYWAY, after searching 5 stores, I had to go to Amazon, and my copy finally arrived today! I am going to play the shit out of this to catch up! Good timing because Caileigh just discovered Uncharted and has taken over my PS3.
*** WEEK TWO BEGINS TODAY! Next stop: 15-20 hours. Post where you are and what you are doing! ***
I am at the 11H mark and just entering the Tyranno Lair. Expect updates from me on a daily basis charting where I am at the end of each day. :)
I was just wondering, what does anyone think the most difficult boss battle and/or area has been so far (up to the 10H mark)? Secondly (and especially for newcomers), what do you think of the mobile enemies on the battlefield and area effect Techs like Cyclone and Flame Toss? Interesting innovations, not really, or have you seen similar or better implementations?
Just about to head into the Beast’s Nest (Time broke 16 hours, but that is skewed because of one time where I forgot to pause when I couldn’t save). Still continuing to enjoy things quite a bit.
@Matt Dance: I like the mobile enemies on the field in as much at it allows me to skip around fights if I feel like I have meandered enough to not need participate in every possible battle I come across (or if I just find a particular enemy tedious, I can give it a pass).
Finally have had some time to put in. Still behind, but absolutely having a blast so far. The opening hours were always my favourite, so it’s been more of a nostalgic blast than I expected. And Caspius is absolutely right about the DS version. Small changes can make a world of difference.
Cleared Tyranno Lair this evening and got up to Enhasa. Moving from Pre-history to Antiquity is instantly made more awesome by the amazing music that plays in the Kingdom of Zeal.
Just got Robo. I can’t stand the names “Frog” and “Robo” so I renamed just them, but I also wanted to honour their generic origins, so I named them “Greg” and “Roy” respectively. The soundtrack is much like I remember so far with some incredibly bright spots and then a fair bit of filler, but these are still early impressions.
Swapped a clone and am at Ozzie’s Fort now. I am continuing to enjoy the story quite a bit. I feel like I am a bit ahead of where I need to be. Also thinking I am going to actually finish this playthrough. Before I went to get the clone I opted to fight Magus. Didn’t like him in either form in which we see him.
Still in Enhasa! I’ve been busy!
Matt Dance: After the first few hours of the game, I hardly used the AoE abilities. From that point on, it’s easier in almost every circumstance to just chop things down one by one.
I am just about to enter Magus’ castle. This game is so damn fun still! I’ve been using characters I haven’t used much in the past which means more Robo. I have also been having a hell of a good time with the berserker accessory. I killed the guard robot in the future before it could even initiate its first countdown. Hilarious! I also saved up money and for the first time ever decided to buy a weapon for 65,000 gold from the mystics in Medina Village. I got the Demon Blade. We’ll see how long it takes for it to become obsolete. SO MUCH FUN!
Caspius, the place you arrive at the fifteenth hour should be the goal for this week. Not the twentieth hour. Unless I am the only person who has dreams here.
Ethan, name three songs that are filler.
Name just one…
Just finished Magus’ Castle. That is an amazing dungeon with one of the greatest boss battles of any game in any genre. I love how Magus brings you down a couple notches by forcing you to use whatever magic HE chooses. It makes the battle longer and really epic.
*** WELCOME TO WEEK THREE! Post your progress updates! ***
I am up to the village of the Earthbound Ones in Antiquity, having been chucked out of Antiquity once by the Prophet, only then to return in Epoch.
I actually finished the game just now (ended up around 26 hours I believe). Was not expecting to float away hanging on to a bunch of balloons as the ending visual (I was curious what happened in 1999, and chose to fight there). The ending felt similarly serious and fun, keeping with the feel of the rest of the game. Robo’s exit is a bit sad though, with the uncertainty as to whether he will continue to exist or not. All in all, the game was quite entertaining, and I am glad I made my way through it.
I really don’t know what it is. I can’t find many bad things to say about the game. Looking at it objectively, I pretty much have nothing but praise. But I just can’t get into this game. It doesn’t hold my interest and excluding the opening hours, I just don’t have reactions to anything that happens. I wish this wasn’t the case.
I am at the Ocean Palace, one of my favourite dungeons in any RPG ever.
I just finished the Ocean Palace. It is one my favorite RPG dungeons as well. The song is mind-blowing. It was a lot shorter than I remember it though. The first segment has three switches you have to hit, then a room with a bunch of staff-wielding dude, and finally an elevator. That’s it. The Golem Twins kicked my ass until I found out how susceptible they are to status effects.
**** FINAL WEEK: Finish the game ***
Post your ending and clear time along with your final thoughts!
No one has finished? :o
I just finished. My time was about 19 hours. I had such an awesome time doing all the side quests because they aren’t boring fetch quests, they aren’t long and drawn out, and they have excellent rewards which includes really nice additions to the story and character development. I decided not to save Chrono this time because I always save him and I wanted to do something different. My final party was Lucca, Robo, and Magus. I equipped the Blue Rock, Prism Specs, and Sun Shades for my characters accessories and that resulted in 5000-damage Omega Flares! Totally awesome.
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