|"..." Definitely "..."
- August 30, 2000 - Chris Jones
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed
within this column are those of the participants and the
moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the
GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive
material afoot. Human wheels go round and round, while the clock keeps the pace.
Don't say we didn't warn you.
There's plenty to be said about today's topic, Crono Trigger.
And a lot is said below, both by the readers and myself. (And, by
the way, consider just about every letter but the two DQ letters
full of CT spoilers.) But
reading through the many messages people sent in about the game
leads me to one inescapable conclusion:
I need to dust off the SNES
one of these days and plug CT in.
|Let the unbridled
|Agent tat is Double,
Woohoo! Normally I don't write to these letters columns, but there's no way I
could keep my mouth shut on this topic.
I'm an RPG fan. I just don't play RPGs. My little brother does, and I watch
them. Better than TV. But there are those rare occasions where I am so taken
by a game that I actually shove him out of the chair, take up the controller,
and start my own file. Chrono Trigger was one of those games. (Plus, I built
off of his New Game pluses... makes it a lot easier for me. 8^)
And I played, and I played, and I played (though, notably, I never did bring
Crono back... that was on purpose 8^P ). It was the first (and, to date,
only) game I've ever actually beaten. This game kept my attention. It was
simple. It was different. It was fun.
The characters ROCKED. There wasn't a single really "useless", or even
annoying one among them. Ayla kicked butt. Marle didn't take no crap. Lucca
was my IDOL. Frog made sacrificing Magus worth the trouble (helllooooo,
Glenn!), though Magus was also cool in that villain chic sorta way. Robo was
quite noble, and Crono... well, he was the hero. A man of few words and many
deeds. You gotta admire that. It was a small cast, I know, but you really did
get to know and care about all of them (which brings up a flaw in the
sequel-- with such a large cast, it's hard to get truly attached to any of
There we just all these little things that made the game SO DAMN COOL.
Bekkler's lab. The little poses they struck upon entering the Gate. Playing
with clones. The Reptite dungeon music. Dancing (which I wish they coulda put
into CC... with characters like Miki and Mojo, that woulda been FUN). Schala
(EVERYBODY likes Schala). That one ending where Marle and Lucca rate the
guys. Marle smashing through the stained-glass window. That lovely line,
"...but why does my tummy hurt so?".
I could go on (and on, and on) with that list. But my point is that it was
all those little moments, those details, that, among other things, made
Chrono Trigger so cool.
That, and they had character sprites that didn't look like midgets. Hooray!
Rather than have various letters bringing up CT's virtues one by
one, I figured I'd get them out in the open all at once. And the fact
that it got a non-game player (sorta) to actually play a game speaks
But while I liked Schala the character, Schala the name sounds like
the title of a 50's do-wop song. An odd little quirk that marred the
game for me ever so slightly.
|Just a few words,
followed by many more
| Why do we love Chrono Trigger? I can tell you
in just a few words.
It had heart.
Oh sure, Final Fantasy VI was by far greater in scope, with it's
enormous cast, ominious plot twists and grandiouse design. But Chrono
Trigger (released a year later, as you remember) was a different animal. In
contrast to the overly serious tone of FFVI (despite the scattered comic
relief, the latter half of the game grew almost deadly serious), CT wasn't
afraid to be goofy, to be off-beat (what was the deal with those cats at
Crono's house? or that fortune teller? and how the hell can the Chancellor
jump THAT HIGH!?), to be unusual, while at the same time presenting a
serious goal and a few dark overtones. It celebrated its cliché, as Nich so
eleqouently mentions in his Vault.
Of course, there was the great graphics, the wonderful music, the
inspired writing and character design, blah, blah, blah. And the multiple
endings. I'll never forget the time I got to the programmer's ending and
that rat pulled the fake reset on me; my heart literally stopped for a few
-- Justin Toon, who finished Chrono Cross in eleven days
The problem with such accurate analyses is that they give me little
to argue with, so I have to attack straw men. Hmm, how about: "Chrono
Trigger, while excellent, lacked the high lobster content I expect
from all my RPGs."
Whadda ya think, too political?
|It's about Time
You want to know why Chrono Trigger was such a great game? I... uhh...
acquired a... err... copy of CT.... yes, that sounds good... a little less
than a year ago. I'd heard so many great things about it, so I figured I'd
put it to the test. As I played it, I found out that the hype was true. It
was indeed a great game. I couldn't put my finger on it, but then I figured
it out after I beat it. How many times have you ever watched a movie that
dealt with time travel and been incredibly disappointed by the lack of
continuity with the space-time continuum parts? CT dealt with it in a
realistic and believable way. (This was also one of the redeeming points of
FFVIII.) Things that you did in the past altered the outcome of the future,
such as Fiona's forest, the moon stone, and of course Magus's summoning of
Lavos. I think the playful nature of some events made for a nice relief from
dark, mythical, and serious RPGs. The characters were all well developed
with distinct personalities. The New Game+ option gave the game tons of
replay value. The sacrifice of the mute lead character made for an
interesting twist. The notion that an incredibly advanced civilization
existed before time was recorded was a very good idea. And of course, the
spiky-haired lead character paradigm wasn't overused back then!
It was just an enchanting game that looked incredibly advanced on an aging
console. I enjoyed it a lot more than FFVIII, which I was playing at the
Oh, and Stockdale could be those stupid Tiger handheld games with the LCD
panel and the playable character in six different positions. You know you
owned at least one of those crapboxes!
Ed Ruane, wishing he owned a PSX if only for FFIX and CC.
Now this I can speak to: while CT did time travel very well,
especially for a game, it's hardly the best treatment of the subject
I've ever seen. Just off the top of my head, the Back to the Future
trilogy, Time Bandits, and 12 Monkeys made much better use of the
subject material, and I won't even go in to all the excellent written
sf works that deal with time travel.
But it was an enchanting game, regardless. I'm not sure it can be
argued any better.
|Is it any wonder I love
DQ fans so?
|I could gloat about how DQ7 nearly outsold FF9's sales of 2 weeks in
it's first 2 days, only being stopped by the fact that stores just plain
ran outta copies, but I won't. (Anymore than that) Instead I'll just
quickly mock your Japanese correspondant's clueless letter that got me
fired up so badly a month ago and go back to playing Chrono Cross.
Just a quick tidbit here: Final Fantasy 9 was indeed at the top of
Japanese sales charts for a long, long time. (2 weeks) Then a game
called Dragon Quest 7 came along and bumped it down in about 3 days
(read: they sold every last copy, all 2 million of them, in the first 2
days). Now that the next 850,000 strong shipment of DQ7 CDs has hit --
and probably been snatched off of -- shelves you can expect good old
DQVII to completely blow FF9's sales away.
Says a lot about DQ's Japanese popularity these days, doesn't it?
The Knight in Tarnished Armor
....and a voice echoed on the wind... "I told you so..."
In the endless quest for fairness, I feel compelled to print stuff
like this: equal time and all that. However, that doesn't mean I gotta
agree with it.
First off, JT knows way more about Japanese gaming than 99% of
the "hardcore" gamers who write in. Calling him clueless just speaks
volumes about your own lack of understanding. It's also pretty amusing
to me that just about everyone I talk to who actually lives in
Japan is somewhat lukewarm about the game, whereas the game's
biggest boosters seem to be the more-obsessed-than-thou import crowd.
That's not a universal statement, but it's close.
Now let's get down to brass tacks. Yes, DQ7 has sold about 3 million
copies. It probably will outsell FF9. This should not be a surprise,
since the game has been on preorder for damn near 3 years. How
many of those orders were made in the initial rush after the game's
announcement, and how many of those preorders would have liked to
change their minds as the development times drew longer and longer, I
can't say. But at this point I think it is pretty clear that anyone who
wants a copy of DQ7 has one - it may be number one right now, but
it'll sink like a stone soon, I guarantee.
The real proof of the game isn't going to be how many copies it
sells (which at this point represent the accumulated good will the
game had in the past, not how it's currently seen) but what the
reviews look like, and how the next DQ and FF sell
comparatively. And that info's not in yet, as much as I'd love to put
this debate to rest. Come back when the reviews start coming in, and
we'll finish this thing.
|So it was good for
|Okay, I have to admit, Mystic Quest left much to be
desired. But image if you were a nine-year-old girl and this was your
first RPG. Yes, this game actaully managed to do what others considered
impossible. It created a new RPG fan, and a girl at that. Surprising,
In fact, this was what FFMQ was supposed to do: be an easier,
entry-level RPG for the American audience, which had not embraced FFIV
with the fervor that Square had hoped. Generally it gets a lot of
flack from gamers, but looking at letters like this I have to wonder
how successful it actually might have been.
Yes, it was a real letdown
after FFIV (I know it was for me) but looking at the sales numbers,
very few other people have a right to feel that way because very few
other people actually played FFIV when it came out. On the other hand,
lots of people must have played FFMQ, because I got so many letters
bitching about it. And looking at the relative Square sales numbers
pre-MQ and post-MQ, I have to wonder how many people, how many of you,
the audience, are in Malika's position. Indeed, I may owe FFMQ a debt
of gratitude, because who knows how many hits this site would be
getting if it hadn't come out?
|Duckman Alien Madeline
|There are tons of reasons why people love Chrono Trigger - I'm sure this
column has already been filled to the brim with them. And yes it rocks most
psx rpgs. But it has some infamous flaws.
1) Lavos's final form - brave attempts at describing this atrocity range
from "duckman" to "alien ". While the background-cycling and special effects
in this last battle were top-notch, a last boss with more intimidating than
Madeline Albright would have been nice.
2) $80 sticker price - I was your average pre-teen back when it first came
out. There was no way I could afford this gem. I just could garner enough
cash to buy a game or two every year. Yeah I tried renting it too, but I
rarely was able to get hold of it long enough to get very far at all. I only
completed the game by borrowing it from various members of my friends and
family. Even now, it commands at least a $60 asking price on ebay. Nothing
on SNES has this kind of value. It's almost sick.
3) Missing components - Losing out on the music track "Singing Mountain"
didn't really bother me, but for goodness sakes - they took out Schala from
the game! This is no Aeris resurrection hoax; I remember reading about this
years ago in an interview with one of the Chrono Trigger developers. I can't
remember if it was for space considerations or budget problems or rushing
the game release, but whatever it was, we'll always know in our hearts that
Chrono Trigger was never fully complete.
4) I would say something else, but it somewhat relates to Chrono Cross, so
until you get your CRT, I'll keep my mouth (er, fingers) shut.
Some good points here. Boss design is fairly subjective (I liked
Lavos better than Ex-Death, for example) and every work of art ever
made has some sort of gap between what the creator wanted to do, and
what the finished product actually ended up as. Thanks for keeping
quiet about CC.
But the $80 sticker price actually brings back warm fuzzy memories
for me, and I'll tell you why. *Warning! Warning! Nostalgia alert!
Evacuate this letter immediately! Evacuate...* I think we can
dispense with that, thank you very much.
Crono Trigger came out Fall, 1995. I was just going in to my
sophomore year, and had decided I was doing well enough with my grades
to bring my SNES to school with me. I had an academic scholarship for
the semester, not a lot of money but hopefully enough for me not to
lean on my parents. And one fateful Saturday, I headed out to the
mall to buy some new clothes. I still stuck my head into Babbage's occasionally, less because I
was going to buy a new game (which I didn't have time for) than
because I wanted inhale the forbidden scent of SNES games. But then I
saw Square had a new RPG out, which from the box screenshots looked
about as interesting as FFVI. Within minutes the game was in my hand
and nearly 90 of my precious dollars (Austin has a very high sales
tax) were in Babbage's cash register. Never did get around to getting
new jeans that semester, but never regretted it either. It's all about
|He's talking about
|NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Why must one suffer to get
their hands on thou mother name RPG?????? It is like asking Bill Clinton
why he would score with an ugly woman named monica! They already made a
law in Japan saying that a Dragon Quest game can be sold ONLY on a
holiday or a weekend. They should have givin' a baseball bat to anyone
who pre-ordered the game!!! But seriously, This is just rediculous, just
like tickle me elmo. Or when those stupid cabbage patch kids dolls first
came out in the early 80's. Numerous people were badly injured because
one wanted to buy a stupid doll. Then again, we are talking about Dragon
Quest here. At least in America we don't have to stand in long lines
even if we pre-order a copy of a game. And game's cost less here also
(Who would pay $79.99 for a playstation game if your not ordering from
NCS?). I would feel soooo pissed if I had to wait in line and pay $79.99
for a game on CD, just to have it stolen a couple of blocks from home. I
think my point is made.
Ian M. Cowell
If anything I'd argue that this is an indication of just how
popular DQ7 really is: I remember seeing stories about at least 20 kids
getting beaten up and robbed of their Pokemon cards over here in the
US. In comparison, one or two assaults aren't nearly as big a deal,
even considering that it's the relatively polite Japanese we're
Still, you're right about needing a baseball bat with a copy of the
game. Or better yet, they could go the Working Designs route and give
away a fully functional mystic broadsword as a packing bonus. I'd
definitely buy a copy for that.
|SNES to the max
Chrono Trigger, in my opinion, showed what Square could do when
it knew everything about the Super Nintendo. After releasing a few
games on it, the knew exactly what the SNES was capable of, and
built a game that used every bit that they could squeeze out of 16.
Playing it now, I can see why it is still regarded as a masterpiece.
The graphics, while being 2 dimensional, are beautiful due to the use of
varied colors. The music all have their place in the game, there seems to
be a piece of music created for ever scene, every mood. The story, while having the same "save the world" plot that most RPGs have, was unique enough with it's time travel concept that it was et apart from other games. The sheer number of branches that the story takes are all well thought out and cleverly done. The fact that there was more then one way to beat the game (the first time through) was unique also, most games now a days offer one way to solve a puzzle, or one way to go along with the story.
The battle system was a twist of old and new, using the Active Time Battle
that Square had been using for a few games then, but adding the use of Dual
and Triple Techs: combination attacks from 2 or 3 different
The characters were a draw to the game also, no two characters were a
like. Each character had their own plot arc, and their attacks were different
from other characters in the game. Frog was a squire who had lost his knight,
and was out for revenge. Robo was a robot who couldn't remember who or what
he was before he was deactivated. When Robo finds out, he freaks out. Each character had their own theme music, something that was usually only for the main character.
Chrono Trigger was, and is, unique when it comes to games these days.
It had a wonderful translation, which kept the "spirit" of a fun adventure
when everything was going well, and the dark feeling of doom when everything
went wrong. It was ahead of it's time, and I thank Square for making a game that is truly a gem that, while being a little old and technically dated by what can be done, it still a shining to this day.
I'd disagree with the "ahead of it's time" statement: the spirit you
describe is something that should be in every RPG, not just modern
ones. The fact is that at some level, Crono Trigger hacked in to
something very close to the perfect RPG, and everything else that
follows from here on out is gonna be living in its shadow.
Well, I'm pleased to announce that after a delay of over a week and
a half, the movers are delivering my shipment as I write this. Will
everything arrive undamaged? Will I be playing Chrono Cross at this
time tomorrow? Who knows? Just send me whatever you like and I'll fill
you in on the details in 24 hours. Later.
-Chris Jones, feeling the Dual Shock in his hands already.