CHRONO TRIGGER - NDS - Review
Next to Final Fantasy, few RPGs mean as much to gamers as Chrono Trigger. It’s the game many grew up with on the SNES, the console that best represented RPGs before the genre exploded with the release of Final Fantasy VII on the PSone. Given the heritage and inevitable nostalgia, Square Enix can’t simply do what they wanted with Chrono Trigger. Because one misstep is all it takes to enrage the game’s many fans and ruin a legacy that has yet to be tarnished.
Thus, when porting the game to Nintendo DS, the publisher and developer stuck with most of the series’ original content. The graphics, music and battle system remain unchanged. High-quality animation sequences – first introduced when the game was ported to PSone several years ago – are included with the DS version and look stunning when displayed on the top screen. Chrono Trigger’s journey hasn’t evolved, nor has the story, but you will notice that some of the text has been re-polished. A very basic multiplayer mode has also been added (two game cards are required) along with some additional dungeons.
In other words, this is not a sequel or spin-off to the original Chrono Trigger. It is not a full-fledged remake or a mega revision of the classic SNES game. But for those who love it but do not have a copy in their collection and for those who have longed to have a handheld iteration, this is an RPG that must be purchased.
As many of you are aware, much of Chrono Trigger’s praise revolves around its inventive and lightning-quick battle system. Using the Tech attack scheme, players can strike their enemies and heal their allies with an impressive variety of mixable options.
Individually, the Techs are solid. Crono, with his Cyclone attack, will leap toward one or several enemies within close proximity and unleash a quick sword strike. Marle, a strong healer, can heal herself and others with her Aura Tech. And with his Flamethrower Tech, Lucca can burn all enemies who fall within a straight line on the battlefield.
Technically, this portion of the Tech system isn’t that different from every other RPG (the developers merely chose to give its “special attack” system a different name). But Chrono Trigger does contain one battle innovation that has influenced many other games: combo attacks. After more than a decade it is still a commendable feature. When certain characters’ Techs are used simultaneously, their powers are greatly increased. Ex: Crono and Frog can combine their Cyclone and Slurp Slash Techs (the latter of which attacks with Frog’s tongue) to create the X-Strike Dual Tech. If Crono’s Cyclone is paired with Marle’s Aura, the resulting Tech – Aura Whirl – will restore HP to all allies at the same time (as opposed to just one with the Aura Tech alone). Better still, three Techs may be combined to form a Triple Tech, creating some of the most powerful moves in the game.
The Music of Our Time
Maybe it was that the medium was fresher at the time, or maybe it had something to do with the quality of the game itself, which could inspire any composer, but the music in Chrono Trigger is still impeccable. The DS speakers don’t provide the best presentation, and without a full re-recording, the quality is … not dated but certainly retro. That doesn’t hurt the score, which is incredible in any form. The sound effects are very basic by today’s standards, but there’s definitely something special about them, particularly for fans of the original Final Fantasy games as well as the SNES version of Chrono Trigger.
All good-looking games will once become dated. But artistic games – those whose visuals are uniquely inspiring – will retain their charm forever. Chrono Trigger is one such game. The sprite-based characters and 2D world map view are nothing compared to RPGs of the last 10 years. But the actual artwork of each character – conceived by Dragon Ball Z mastermind Akira Toriyama – is excellent.
DBZ fans will notice similarities between its cast and the stars of Chrono Trigger, perhaps more now than when the game was originally released. When CT hit the SNES, few Americans knew a thing about the Dragon Ball sagas. Now that Gohan and Goku are household faces (thanks to its Cartoon Network run in the late 90s), it’s hard to look at them without thinking of Crono and vice versa. Vegeta is an even closer match. Still, the artwork is superb, and with anime sequences being used to enhance the story, their character development is better than ever.
Chrono Trigger fans that have been craving a brand-new experience will have to keep waiting…or play Chrono Cross, if they still haven’t. But even if that’s what you were hoping for, this is still a worthwhile RPG that you will be glad to own in handheld form.
Review Scoring Details for Chrono Trigger
Excellent turn-based combat that uses Square's trademark "Active Time Battle" system (if you choose), plus a slightly non-linear quest with objectives that are not always obvious and puzzles that are occasionally challenging. Touch controls are now available but may be turned off.
Older Chrono Trigger fans will love the visuals but it's unlikely that anyone else will be able to appreciate them.
Just as grand as you remembered.
A part of me almost said "easy," but then I remembered that this is 2008 and I've had years of RPG experience since Chrono Trigger's original launch. It's actually one of the more difficult RPGs, even though you can level up to defeat just about every monster and boss in the game (just like most RPGs, of course).
Nothing significantly new or groundbreaking added to the game; just a grand port of one of the grandest RPGs ever made.
Nintendo encourages developers to include at least some kind of multiplayer functionality in their DS games, which explains what happened to Chrono Trigger, a game that didn't really need a multiplayer mode. Rather than have a series of three-on-three battles with two players using their most powerful, high-level characters, you simply raise a monster (via menu screens) and throw him into an arena against other monsters. Battles are not directly playable since you cannot choose your monster's actions. This mode is not playable online but two game cards are still required since both players must raise their own monster.
The must-have DS RPG you've like already played through, Chrono Trigger is a thoroughly entertaining game with a lengthy quest, an excellent combat system, an unforgettable soundtrack, likable characters and so much more.