Chrono Trigger – The Legendary RPG

If a retro gamer were to approach a group of nerds who are at least in their late 20’s or early 30’s and ask them what the best RPG of all time is, you are likely to hear at least half of them (probably almost all of them) shouting the words “CHRONO TRIGGER!” In the world of RPG’s, Chrono Trigger is the stuff of legend. The game came out in August 1995 (in North America) with little fanfare but it literally turned the world of console RPG’s on its nose. the game set more standards in RPG epicness than any other console before and arguably more than any other RPG ever made. If I were to approach the same group and simply shout the words “Chrono Trigger!” without asking about their RPG preferences, I would likely be met with cheers of support and make instant friends. I have played this game more times than I can count but have never reviewed it on here. Per the request of one of my site fans, I decided to review the legendary RPG “Chrono Trigger”.

  1. Foreword
  2. The Story
  3. Gameplay
  4. Review
    1. The Good
    2. The Bad
    3. The Ugly
  5. Final Thoughts


Before I start this post, however, I want to discuss a few items. I have always thought Chrono Trigger is a great game and I hope that this post reflects my high opinion. The thing that I disagree with is that I don’t think the game needed as much hype as other gamers give it. It is one of the best RPG’s out there even though it is not my favorite RPG. When I expressed to some readers that CT was not my favorite, this was somehow misconstrued as “RGB doesn’t like Chrono Trigger”. I do like the game and you will see why. I just like the story and concepts in some other games better. Lastly, before I review a game, I feel it is only logical to play it recently so that I have a fresh opinion. This case is no different. I played CT from beginning to end right before this post. Also, I promised myself that I would try to play the game as though I have never played it bef0re and try to give opinions based off that. Are we clear? Okay! Enjoy my review of the game, the myth, the legendary…CHRONO TRIGGAA!!

Chrono Trigger Intro

The Story (highly condensed)

Welcome to Truce Village in 1000 AD. The sound of ‘Leene’s Bell’ rings clear and loud to signal the beginning of the Millennial Fair in Leene’s Square. We are introduced to Crono, a spiky red-haired youth who is woken up by his mother so he doesn’t miss the fair (Trivia Note – The main character’s name is technically ‘Chrono’ but when the game was ported to the American SNES, the name variable only allowed 5 characters instead of 6). Crono heads out to the door only to be reminded that his childhood best friend, the brilliant girl genius Lucca Ashtear will be showing off ‘her craziest invention yet’. When Crono arrives at the fair, he meets a pretty blond girl who appears lost or so excited that she can’t focus. Crono bumps into her and knocks her over, dropping her pendant. When Crono returns the pendant, the girl identifies herself as Marle (I always pronounce it like Mar-Lee) and asks if he wouldn’t mind exploring the fair with her. Crono agrees and the two soon find that they enjoy each others’ company. Together Crono and Marle find their way to Lucca’s invention expo. It turns out that the girl genius has created a short distance teleporter which she dubs “The Telepad”. After very little convincing, Crono agrees to be the guinea pig and steps on to the telepod. Lucca and her father Taban (also a brilliant inventor) fire up the telepod and ZOOM Crono appears on the other side of the teleporter. Excited by this, Marle says that she wants to try it next. When Marle steps onto the telepod, however, something reacts to her pendant and she is sucked into a blue vortex and vanishes leaving her pendant behind. Crono agrees to go through the vortex the same way as Marle in hopes of saving her. He holds the pendant and steps on the device. In much the same way, he disappears into the vortex only this time, the player sees him travel through a whirling colorful mist and POOF he ends up in Truce Canyon 400 years in the past (600 AD).

From here, we learn that Marle is actually Princess Nadia, princess of the Guardia Castle in 1000AD but she bears an uncanny resemblance to Queen Leene, the queen in 600 AD and the namesake of Leene Square and Leene’s Bell. Turns out that the real Queen Leene has been kidnapped by someone and was being searched for but when Nadia (Marle) was found wandering in Truce Canyon, they assumed she was the queen and called off the search. Your character heads to the castle and meets Marle even though everyone thinks she is the Queen. However, Marle soon vanishes and says she feels that she is being ‘torn apart’. Turns out that because her heir, the real Queen was not found, Marle ceased to exist! So, the game now unfolds into the true theme of the game – time travel.

You are soon reunited with Lucca who has called the vortex a ‘gate’ and has created a device called the “Gate Key” to allow you to transport through time. Eventually, you save the real queen and restore Marle but then you end up zapping off to 2300 AD, 301 years after the ‘apocalypse’ is triggered by an interstellar monster known as “Lavos”. You eventually learn that Lavos landed on earth in 65000 BC and has been absorbing the life force of the planet ever since. As the story progresses, your characters meet other people such as the cave girl Ayla from 65000BC. You meet Frog (originally a human named Glenn) from 600 AD. Robo the robot from 2300 AD and, if you follow the right path,  Magus joins you even though he spends the first half of the game as the main enemy.

Ultimately, the game’s major turning point occurs when the characters accidentally appear in 12,000 BC in the ‘Zeal Kingdom’ after the team interrupts Magus as he was summoning Lavos.It turns out that Queen Zeal, the leader of the kingdom created a massively advanced society by drawing upon the power of Lavos using a tool called the “Mammon Machine”. She introduced magic into the world and ushered into what appears to be a utopia. Unfortunately, the exposure to Lavos’ energy corrupts the Queen and she becomes so absorbed by the desire for power and immortality that she becomes the human manifestation of Lavos. Her actions in 12,000 BC cause a lasting scar on the entire future of the world and eventually she creates a trans dimensional  fortress called the Black Omen that allows her to exist as an immortal even at the cost of every fabric of her human conscience.

Finally, the team infiltrates the Black Omen, destroys the Mammon Machine, destroys Queen Zeal and must face off against Lavos itself (himself?) when its pawn (the Queen) is destroyed. After destroying the outer shell of Lavos, the team must battle the Lavos processing core and eventually Lavos ‘s true form, a highly evolved form of human conscience.Their exposure to the direct energy of Lavos causes them to realize that Lavos represents the highest form of human life and that the desires of the many humans Lavos controlled were combined into a single being… the ultimate wish of humans. Once the team beats Lavos, the space-time continuum is restored to normal and the future of the world is forever changed.

If you follow the steps to what many refer to as the “Best Ending” (though various events may change some portions of this) then this is what will happen. Crono wakes up in his house and is being summoned to the castle to stand trial for his involvement in the kidnapping of Princess Nadia (Marle). When he arrives, he ends up meeting with the king as all of the people from all of the different time frames (Kino from 65,000 BC, King Guardia XIII from 600 AD, and Doan (leader of the remaining people  from 2300 AD) who show that they are all ancestors of Princess Nadia and how Crono’s adventure not only saved the world but also made Nadia’s ancestors leaders of society throughout history. Crono and Marle are zoomed off to enjoy the Moonlight Festival which is the final event of the Millennial Fair. You can walk around and talk to most of your old friends right up until you go back to the telepod. At this point, you see a parade of the characters from the other eras as they return to their worlds – Ayla and Kino to Prehistory, Frog and King Guardia XIII to 600 AD, and Robo and Doan to Post Apocalypse. Lucca agrees that her Gate Key should be destroyed and the time machine (you acquire in the game) should be dismantled. The end credits roll as Marle and Crono go flying across the world in the time machine.


Example of the battle system from Chrono TriggerChrono Trigger launched a NUMBER of gameplay innovations that are part of what made it such a legendary game. The first element is the on-screen monster battles. In other RPGs of the time, most fights were strictly ‘random encounters’ (Outside of boss battles of course) wherein your characters would walk around on a world map and suddenly the screen would shift to a battle and bring up the menus for attack. Not in Chrono Trigger! The enemies you fight actually show up on screen (usually walking around or hopping out of hidden spaces). At this point, the battle music would start and you would suddenly have the various menus in a normal RPG battle screen. When the enemies are defeated, they disappear from the screen and you no longer fight them. Most of the time, if you kill the monsters in a particular room, they won’t come back unless you leave the area. Did I mention that CT also uses a derivative of Active Time Battles (much like I talked about in my FFIV post)? They do! Faster characters (and monsters) attack faster than others.

Another innovation found in CT was the use of ‘Techs”. Most other RPGs of the time featured specific character archetypes. The warrior folks can attack with weapons, the fighter guys can attack with their hands or karate or whatever, and the spellcasters cast magic. The secret to defeating a particular boss was usually to find the best individual actions for each character to perform to win. In this game ALL characters have techniques. Each battle ends with the characters earning experience points to allow them to level (up to 99 in this game), gold to help you buy stuff, and Tech Points. After a character earns enough Tech points, they are able to learn a new technique… sometimes many techs. Later in the game, your characters learn elemental magic such as Fire, Ice, Lightning and Shadow. But it doesn’t end there! Your characters can learn Dual Techs and even Triple Techs (the largest party at any given time is 3 characters). The Techs you learn depend on who you have in your party when the points are awarded. For instance, if you often travel with Crono, Lucca and Marle, you are likely to have the Ice and Fire Sword Techs (Crono and Marle or Crono and Lucca respectively) and you are also likely to have the Antipode tech which features Ice and Fire mixed together (Lucca and Marle). You might eventually get the Delta Attack which is Lightning, Fire, and Ice (Crono, Lucca and Marle). However, if you travel with Frog, Robo and Crono, you are more likely to learn things such as X-Strike (Crono and Frog)  or Maximum Cyclone (Crono and Robo). I never got any triple techs with that group but that is not to say that they don’t exist. Also, you can equip your characters with different colored orbs that you find along the way which will allow you to use certain triple techs even if the teammates don’t naturally have triple techs.

Many of the RPGs at the time of Chrono Trigger had a relatively linear storyline in which a particular chain of events lead the player through the full storyline from start to end with very little variation. One of the greatest innovations in this game was the more open storyline offered to the player. At the beginning of CT, the game’s storyline is relatively linear even though your characters are jumping through time. Midway through the game, the players are taken to the “End of Time” location and at this point the player can choose to attack the final boss at any time. Also, there are opportunities such as whether or not to fight Magus the second time or forgive him which can change the story of the game. Depending on the current storyline events your team has completed, going after Lavos changed the ending you received and the game becomes less linear. Finally, in the last chapter, “The Fated Hour” the player has completed all of the storyline up to the final boss fight but the player can choose to complete none, some, or all of the side quests. Each side quest required a varying amount of skill to complete and some were far more challenging than others even for a high level player. When the player completes ALL of the side quests, they STILL have multiple different methods in which they can engage the final boss and the decision they make can change the ending they receive. This was something that was completely unheard of at the time that CT was released.

The final gameplay innovation and possibly the greatest (or second greatest) innovation in Chrono Trigger is its accurate depiction of time. In the history of console RPG’s, no other RPG has come close to properly representing time travel and time manipulation better than CT. Other RPG’s tried to show time passed for the characters by random messages like “10 Years Later…” but these games didn’t make the player “FEEL” that time had passed. In Chrono Trigger, if the character completed an event in 600 AD, hopped through a gate and went to 1000 AD, the players could clearly see how an event in the past changed the future. For instance, when Crono finishes the first story arc in 600 AD (restoring Queen Leene to the throne), the King of 600 AD says that the kingdom must create some sort of justice system to punish future criminals. When Crono comes back to 1000 AD with Marle and attempts to return her safely to the castle, he is imprisoned and…you guessed it… subjected to the Guardia legal system. In another example, there are special treasure chests that are sealed by magic from 12000 BC that your team does not figure out how to unlock until later. If your character opens one of these treasure chests in 600 AD, it is NOT present in 1000 AD but if your character opens the chest in 1000 AD first, they can go back to 600 AD and the chest is still there. Even one of the main enemies in the early part of the game (Magus) has a story that explains why he acts the way he does because of an event in the past. Many of the end game side quests can only be accomplished by carrying out events in a specific order and time including the “Sun Stone” quest where you must beat a monster to acquire a ‘moonstone’ that is drained of energy. You take the moonstone to a location in 65000 BC and when your heroes zoom to 2300 AD the moonstone has become the Sun Stone (well, after completing a slightly humorous quest in 600 AD).

Lavos "Rain of Destruction"I could continue to write about the many innovations in this game but the review would become needlessly long but I will touch on a few quick points. First, the music was very good for the era and still has some of the most memorable audio tracks from any SNES games (the main Theme… Marle’s music-box style theme, Robo’s techno mechanical theme, etc.). The game made a terrific use of Mode 7 Graphics for many different aspects of the game including flying the Epoch, Lavos’ ‘Rain of Destruction’, and even some of the game’s version of cut-scenes (in the SNES version, not the PlayStation version). The game’s package and manual included artwork by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame. Etc. Etc. But one of the final important things to discuss is the ability to use the New Game+ feature once you complete the game. When you beat the game, you unlock the New Game+ which allows you to start the game over from the beginning but keep all of your equipment and experience. This feature allows you to actually try all the other endings and to see what different results you might get if you did things differently in the game. Unfortunately, beating the game on New Game + does not change the final ending or any of the story.


This part of my discussion on Chrono Trigger is one where I must tread lightly. To some gamers, saying anything negative about this game is the equivalent of blasphemy in religious circles. However, I must be bold and express my thoughts in an accurate and informative way. Is this game legendary? Yes! Is this game one of the most innovative games of the time? Yes!  Is it worth all the hype? No. Is it the best RPG ever? No. (I will pause to give those of you who disagree time to scream your insults. …. There… ready to move on? Let’s go!)

When the game was released, it received very little media coverage in the USA. In fact, I don’t think I even saw a commercial for it. It literally appeared on the shelf one day at my favorite game store with a price tag of $80 which is roughly equivalent to $125 in 2014. Let’s put this in perspective… Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a hot RPG for the PS4 today and on Amazon, even the Collector’s Edition only costs $50. Hopefully this helps drive home how expensive Chrono Trigger was at the time it was released. Even so, if you read the back of the game box and saw the images from the game, you could be easily convinced that it is worth the money – I know I did. From the moment that the player plugs in the Chrono Trigger cartridge (or ROM file) and starts up the game, it is apparent that this game is a whole other world of SNES RPG and a whole other world of RPG altogether. But in keeping with the spirit of many of my other reviews, I will start by discussing the Good, then the Bad and then the Ugly.

The Good

ooh! Time Travel!This game is amazing! Don’t get me wrong! When you look at other competing games of the time, Chrono Trigger offers a wealth of things that make it legendary. The graphics of the sprites and the world they inhabit are wonderful given the power of the SNES hardware at the time. The majority of the game world has smooth edges and quality finish. The sprites, though still sprites, are much more active and interesting to watch than others of the time – Crono moves his head, laughs, dances, even shows distress with full sprite motion which was relatively unheard of at the time. The game transitions from game area travel to battle and back to travel seamlessly which makes the progress of the story easier to follow. As mentioned earlier, the game makes highly effective use of Mode 7 graphics and even uses them in ways that were unusual for the time (such as the race with ‘Johnny” the robot across the wastelands of 2300 AD). I also enjoy the ‘wavy lines’ you see when your characters travel through a gate. The colors change rapidly and the color lines change direction quickly. Sure, it looks like an acid trip in some ways but that’s cool. It reminds me of the time travel sequences from the opening theme of the old Doctor Who.

I also think that the music is one of the things that makes this game so awesome. Every single song on the soundtrack fits perfectly where it appears on the game. When you are in the forest, the music has this weird forested feel where the sounds are kind of muted and the main melody sounds like it is composed of actual forest sounds. The desolate music and the solemn bell that rings when you are walking around in 2300 AD seems to fit the appearance and life of those who survived the Apocalypse so well. I still enjoy listening to the Zeal theme with its Kashmir sounding harps and Dobro music  that seems to fit the weird utopia in the world theme of that place and so on. The music really does a great deal to make the game seem organic. I mean, come on, there is even a ‘meow’ noise that plays when you try to ‘talk’ to one of the many cats in the game. Who thinks of that? Sure, I get kind of tired of hearing the ‘elephant’ sound when certain monsters attack and the ‘whistling’ sound of other monsters but that just serves to get your attention when you are mesmerized by whatever lush environment the game has you walking through.

Another great part about Chrono Trigger that really makes it a great game is the battle system. Again, other RPG’s at the time focused on random Crono casts Luminaireencounters as one walked around the map and then when a battle was triggered, the game would transition into the menu driven battle system that is the standard for most RPGs even now. Not CT… you could actually see most of the monsters as they approached and you knew that if you got too close to another monster, it would attack you. If you were tricky (or high level) you could avoid some of the monster fights by walking around the monsters which brought a more live-action element to the game. But once you were in a battle,  you found a battle system that was a cool mix of the old style battles (menu driven) but had some new elements such as the Double and Triple Techs, the Active Time Battle system which made battles between fast and slow characters more realistic. I also like that this is one of the first RPG’s of the time where the magic attack and techs were shown from start to finish. If Crono is going to blast someone with Luminaire, he would jump into the screen, bow his head as if to enchant and then unleash his zappy wrath upon the foe. As I mentioned before, depending on the other characters that you had in your party, the types of techniques learned were different. It was wise to change party members frequently so you could see all the cool different techs that the crews could learn. Furthermore, with only three party slots to fill, you really have to think HARD about the enemies you expect to face in this or that dungeon so that you bring the right party members. Sure, you could change them instantly once your characters go to the End of Time but that doesn’t’ help if you are being owned by the boss who’s immune to fire damage and you only have your fire casters and lightning caster in the party.

Lastly, the story itself is very complex. Do notice that I added the phrasing “Highly Condensed” to the end of the “Story” heading? That’s because if I typed the entire storyline of this game out on my blog, you would be reading for hours before you even saw the review. The story is not perfect (as I will discuss in the “Bad” section) but it is certainly complex and far reaching. The game’s story is written in a way that screams ‘It’s complicated’. You will spend the first half of the game wondering what the heck is going on and the second half of the game eating tiny morsels of what is going on until you suddenly empty the pantry and want more crumbs. Any game on the SNES hardware that can make a story as long as CT and as complicated deserves some merit. I can’t imagine the amount of compression that had to be performed just to fit the data on the game cartridge even though I can’t find any record of the game including an FX chip or any other on-cartridge chip (Think Starfox or Mega Man X2). That tells me that the programmers must have done some crazy stuff to make this game as big as it is. I think it seems only sensible that the developers released a PlayStation version of the game with CD-quality cut scenes and then a Nintendo DS version with even more storyline. Unfortunately it came too late for the SNES.

The Bad

One of the game’s strengths is also one of its weaknesses – the story is too complex. Now, don’t get me wrong, a great story is vitally important to a game. The problem with Chrono Trigger is that the game’s story was built with such complexity that it also seems glaringly incomplete in areas. For instance, there is a great deal of time between Pre-History (65,000 BC) and the Dark Ages (12,000 BC) and the player is left wondering how on earth the people became so advanced. Also, there is a great deal of time between 1999 AD, the “Day of Lavos” which brought on the Apocalypse and 2300 AD which is the farthest in the future that the game goes. Even upon completion of the game on the best possible ending, the game still does not tie in all story arcs. The game paints this amazing story in this world and gets the player excited only to leave them unfulfilled when it is completed.

In a similar fashion, the game has too many endings there, I said it! The game has TOO MANY ENDINGS. I am totally cool with a game that offers you a few different endings and even some modified versions of the same endings. But there are so many endings in Chrono Trigger that it is highly frustrating. If I did the research right, there are at least 7 distinct endings to the game and some of those endings change slightly based on certain events (Did you beat Magus the second time and restore Frog to Glenn? Did you save Lucca’s Mother? etc.) But then again, the game has enough unique options and potential areas that could change the ending that one must question if we have actually found all the endings. While I certainly get that the creators wanted to make sure the game had replay value for years to come (it still does almost 20 years later), it also cheapens the value of the ‘best ending’ because one must question if this really is the best ending.

The last of the ‘bad’ parts of this game is the way that the Active-Time Battle System runs sometimes. I already expressed that I think that ATB is awesome and one of the ways that the game excels but it can also be its downfall. It’s one thing to get beat up by the baddies, have a chance for one or two people to attack, then have another baddie wave, etc. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t seem to take into account some of the speed bonuses it offers. You can find ‘tabs’ around the world that are supposed to increase a particular attribute (i.e. Power Tab or Speed Tab). However, it really seems like you must feed the characters EVERY speed tab you find just to make them a 1/2 second faster. The unfortunate result is that almost ALL battles seem to have the exact same battle order regardless of circumstances. This means that if you are in an area where battles are frequent such as the Tyrano Lair, the Ocean Palace and various others, it seems mind numbingly repetitive to face battles. Oh gee… Crono is attacking first.. what a surprise (sarcasm)… oh look there comes Marle… wow I didn’t see that coming… oh and *Gasp* now Lucca is attacking however did I guess? . Seriously…. that is what it felt like in most of the battles. Most of the time this is not too much of a problem but when you are fighting bad guy A and you KNOW that you need to do a particular Dual Tech to really damage this guy, you find you are constantly waiting for the characters action bar to fill up even though you have given them enough Speed Tabs to make them have Roid Rage. To make matters worse, if you are fighting an enemy who uses some kind of status attack that makes your characters confused or berserk, you may literally have to sit for round upon round of attacks from the enemy (and even your own team) until the status wears off. You would think that if all characters got a status the made them freeze, the game would at least give you a timer or something to know how long you have to sit there. Granted, I know that if all your characters have some kind of ailment that does not go away (like a freeze or something) then the battle simply ends and you have to return to your save point but it makes the great advancement of the ATB seem like a nuisance more than a cool bonus.

The Ugly

Now the two worst things about this game in my mind can be discussed. You can disagree with my next few statements if you would like but please understand that these are my opinions based off my extensive experience of playing retro games and RPGs and even modern games. The two worst parts about this game are actually two of the main characters: Crono and Lavos. The ultimate good guy and the game’s final bad guy! You can prep your tomatoes now…

cronoderpFirst of all, let’s talk about the main hero, Crono. WHY DOESN’T HE TALK? Seriously, this is one of the most annoying things about the main hero. I believe that a good story in an RPG requires the main hero to develop and grow and change over time. For example, the main hero in my favorite RPG, Final Fantasy II, Cecil, he starts the game as – by all intents and purposes – a bad guy. As the game progresses, he changes his ways and he grows. NOT CRONO. Nope, the dude doesn’t talk at all. So basically, we see all of the other people around him (Marle, Lucca, and Frog especially) grow and change as the game progresses. You start to feel for the characters and can even watch Marle falling for Crono as the game progresses. You even see the bad guys like Magus and Queen Zeal change over time (the latter becoming more insane as the game progresses). But not Crono… he doesn’t talk so therefore he cannot grow as a character. Now I KNOW what you are going to say! He doesn’t talk because you, as the player, are supposed to be Crono and your thoughts are his thoughts, your words his words…etc. MALARKEY! I can’t find myself emotionally engaged and attached to a character who does not express what is going on in the game. Last I checked I am not a 17 year old dude in Truce Village so how can I know/feel for the character.Sure, he nods his head in response to some questions and the fact that he goes along with the gang shows that he agrees. However, I can’t CARE about Crono as a hero. Why does Crono care if Lavos destroys the world? Does he even care that Marle has emotions for him? Does he care about Lucca’s heart? His lack of dialogue makes it impossible for me to really connect to him. If you want me to care for the character, he needs to grow and change as the story does and I have to see him motivated if I am truly to motivate myself as the player. Yes, I know that many characters of other RPG’s don’t talk either but most of them don’t necessarily have a story that is directly dependent on their actions alone or if they do, you can at least PICK what words your character says but this is not the case with CT. Still don’t believe me? Then answer this… in one instance of the game (spoiler alert) Crono ‘dies’ and the team carries on without him. You CAN actually beat the game without ever resurrecting the HERO! Granted, it’s not the best ending but it can happen and that is my point. What other game can actually be beaten without the hero? None that I know… Sorry CT but I really don’t like your hero.

Second, I think that game does a great deal to build up the horrific nature of Lavos as the game progresses. One Meme I found on the internet explains lavosmemeLavos pretty clearly “No talking,  no warning, just a horrifying scream and start killing shit”. This is how Lavos is presented throughout the game. Anyone who has played this game will connect the “gurgling water scream” of Lavos with chilling memories. When you battle him the first time you see this giant shell thing with a head that you cannot describe and he constantly changes attacks to match those you have fought before. Yeah… he is scary… UNTIL YOU BEAT HIS SHELL. Once you beat his shell, the only logical thing your team thinks of is “lets go through this hole in his face and see if there is something inside. Once inside you beat the mecha suit Lavos which looks like a pipe monster. Then you fight the REAL LAVOS he’s a.. umm… lunatic dancing robot of doom… WTF? (The picture caption to the right says: LAVOS Because when you think “Alien Parasitic Killing Machine” you think of a dancing alien.”). Seriously… look at how ridiculous this final boss is. If he is the highest form of evolution, I am thankful that I believe Darwin was full of it. LOL. With all the hype leading up to the boss, you finally fight him and he looks like a weird, chicken alien thing. Not to mention, if you read some of the internet chatter about him, the rumor is that Lavos is actually the Right Bit (little robot next to the chicken thing) and the middle character is just another support unit. But the bits bring me to another reason why I think that Lavos is a dumb final boss is because of his bits. Okay, I have seen some bosses do WEIRD things like Gygaz in Earthbound saying weird stuff as you fight him or bosses that do weird ultimate attacks. Lavos… THROWS A ROBOT AT YOU! Really? I mean REALLY? How am I supposed to take the dumb chicken dancing robot seriously if he also throws his own supports at you? I can’t. For all of the awesomeness that you are lead to believe about Lavos, he is a major letdown. In fact, he’s not even that hard to beat. Sure, if you read my review about RunSaber you will see that the final boss is extremely lame. YES but the game doesn’t hype him up the whole time either… now do they? When I see all the crazy stuff that Lavos does and how he exists throughout time and space, I expect to feel like I am challenging a demigod when I am in the final battle but instead, Lavos barely feels like a boss at all. Sorry but that is not acceptable!

Okay, I will now allow you to hurl your vegetables at me… okay… good! Now on to the conclusion!

Final Thoughts

So in summary, let me review. Chrono Trigger is a great game. It has an awesome graphics engine built into it that uses Mode 7 in new ways and breathtaking background environments. The music soundtrack is one of the best ones for the SNES era and if you visit OverClocked.Org you will here some amazing reworkings of the soundtrack. I also really liked the way that battles are carried out in the ATB, the extensive use of dual and triple techs and the on-screen enemy system. Lastly, I think that the storyline is really cool and is something that really was a paradigm shift in the gaming world and has yet to be properly mimicked in any other game.

Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of the game’s complete story. While I find the story very interesting, I feel that the length and breadth of the game was so large that many story items were not really addressed in a clean way. Secondarily, the games ridiculous number of endings makes the game feel like it was a bridge too far and a bridge that will never be completed. Lastly, the ATB is an awesome concept that took the RPG world by storm but due to other game mechanics in Chrono Trigger not quite adding up, the ATB ends up being more of a frustration than an asset to the game.

Worst of all in Chrono Trigger are the hero and the final villain. I believe that Crono makes a weak main character because the story does not really show his personality growing and advancing in the same way that the stories of the other characters are advanced. I simply cannot care as much about the main character and his mission when he seems like such a flat character that can even be left out of the game and still allow completion. I also think that the second and third forms of the last boss, Lavos, completely destroys any respect I had for this boss. What appears to be a psychotic killer mollusk ends up being a dumb dancing robot who throws things at you. I wish Lavos was cooler but he really isn’t. Now let’s address the actual questions I posed at the beginning of my review.

1.) Is this game legendary? Yes it is! The game did so many amazing things that were previously unheard of in the RPG world. No other RPG since has done such a good job at representing time and its relative flow nor has any other game at the time truly tested the limits of what the SNES console was capable of performing. Chrono Trigger set so many standards in the RPG world that continue to appear in modern games. Thanks to this game, the industry saw what RPG’s COULD be and changed things for the future of RPGs in general.

2.) Is the game one of the most innovative games of its time? Yes! I will wholeheartedly agree that this game broke plenty of new ground. It made the switch to on-screen battle and did away with random battles (sort of). It properly handled issues related to the flow of time in a way that few Sci-Fi movies even come close to. The use of double and triple techs in battle and the use of specialized attacks based off party members was a huge hit too. As I said earlier, the way that CT used Mode 7 and various other technologies made the game seem much more advanced than other games at the time. There is no doubt that the game did some amazing things and helped set standards that we still find in modern RPG’s. In many ways, Chrono Trigger was the progenitor of modern console RPGs.

3. Is it worth all the hype? No… I am sorry but it is not. There are many amazing things that the game does but they are not necessarily the first ones to do them. For instance, the Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu II) was released in 1993, a few years before Chrono Trigger. It featured a derivative of the real-time combat system used in CT and versions of the ATB. It featured a spiky haired character who did not talk much and he was accompanied by two other girls, one a yellow haired girl which a striking resemblance to Marle, and a red-haired sprite who looks similar to Lucca without a hat. In fact, when I saw Chrono Trigger’s box cover at my game store back in the day, I wondered if it was some kind of sequel to Secret of Mana. SOM also used the Mode 7 graphics to achieve many of the textures and graphics as CT did. So what I am getting at is that CT is not entirely a new concept (although I could say it is a refined example of many other games of the time). And honestly, when you boil it down, Chrono Trigger is a very standard RPG in that you have a hero trying to save the world from evil using a cool sword who is accompanied by other cool people (including a love interest). The heroes blast through baddies with magic spells and cool weapons, etc. Yes, the time travel element is a new device in some ways but not entirely. If you consider each “Time” to be likened to a separate world, RPG heroes have been blasting to other worlds since RPG’s began – the only major difference is that the ‘time worlds’ are linked together in the story of CT more closely than alternate worlds in other games. Chrono Trigger is unique but when you boil it down, it really is not much different than other RPGs of the era.

4. Is it the best RPG ever? In my opinion – No it isn’t. There are a number or reasons why I feel this way and I hope you will understand my angle. First of all, for me to call something “The Best RPG EVER”, that means every part of the game has to be the best ever. In Chrono Trigger’s case, I think that the story has many incomplete portions that leave me feeling unfulfilled – if it was the best RPG, I could not find anything wrong with the plot. Second of all, the best RPG ever needs to have a cast of truly remarkable characters that the player is devoted to and CT does not have this. Yes, some of the characters really grow and impress me such as Frog, Marle and Lucca, heck Magus’ story is even pretty cool – unfortunately THE MOST IMPORTANT character, Crono does not impress me much as a hero. If CT were the best RPG ever I would really want to BE that hero and I have no desire to become Crono. Another important thing preventing me from calling CT the best RPG ever is the ridiculousness of the final form of the last boss. Lavos is massively cooler when you see that he is this giant screaming killing machine but when you actually fight him in his final form, he is a dumb monster. I find him to be a major letdown as a final boss. I am not afraid of the inner core of Lavos AT.ALL. So when I finally do beat the inner core, I have lost all respect for the boss that I used to fear. I would have expected the inner core to be something more sinister than the dancing robot who throws stuff. I feel good that I put the abomination out of its misery but I feel bad that the game lets you down so much on the last boss – the ultimate fight of the game. The perfect RPG would have a final boss that I am scared to fight, who packs a wallop, and then makes me feel exhilarated when I defeat them – Chrono Trigger’s last boss does not offer this so it cannot be the best RPG ever.

At long last we have come to the end of my review of the epic Chrono Trigger. I hope that you have found my review helpful and that it increases your interest in the world of retro games. Until next time… this is Retro Gamer Boy signing off!


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4 Responses to “Chrono Trigger – The Legendary RPG”

  1. *Throws lots of fruit.* Just kidding. I am definitely a fan boy of the game. It impressed me early on and I played through it a good 9 times or so using the New Game + as a young teenager. I definitely am one of those people that think you take on the position of Crono, but that’s ok that you don’t agree with that idea. I can see how he can be lame by not talking. I also agree with the dancing alien at the end; was not impressed. I think for the time, the endings were very well done. You have to remember that endings for RPGs back in that time consisted of a quick, “and they lived happily ever after,” type endings followed by credits. I personally wouldn’t have minded more endings, but I guess that’s all up to your opinion.

    Overall, you did a very thorough job on your post. I hope lots and lots of people will read it; it’s very good.

  2. Curtis Richins says:

    This was a great read, Dave! (Now that I finally got around to it) – and I can definitely see the pro’s and con’s what has become a rose-tinted experience for me. I’m curious as to your thoughts about other games that feature a silent protagnist (I’m looking at you Skyrim) as well as those that have a voiced protagnist (ala Mass Effect).

    Granted, these are not retro games by any means. Kudos on the review!

    • RGB says:

      Thanks for your comments Curtis. This review was a direct response to your request for a review and I am glad I didn’t let you down. You will certainly not find me able to review much of Skyrim or Mass Effect. I have not played either. Simply put, modern games don’t do it for me really. They are far too long and theatrical anymore. I thought I would be excited when FMV became the standard but I am not. I mean come on… a game where a single summon spell literally lasts 5 minutes? Ain’t nobody got time for dat! I need a game that I can play in small bursts and yet feel like I accomplished something. For instance, I have been playing FF5 and I am nearing the end-game. Last night I was able to complete three quests in about 20 minutes before I went to bed so even with a brief play time I got the joy of accomplishing something. I have played WoW and some other modern games but I still enjoy the ease of retro games.

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