Chrono Trigger Review

Chrono

Title: Chrono Trigger
Developer: Square Enix
Game Type: PlayStation Classic
Download:  282 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable

 PlayStation Classics bring timeless classics to the PlayStation Vita.  PlayStation veterans can think back on the days of the original PlayStation system and remember dozens of games they enjoyed playing, back then.  PlayStation Classics allow those people to revisit those memories and those games on their PlayStation Vita handheld system.  However, they not only bring back games from the PlayStation era, but also before that.

These eras spawned dozens of new franchises that would go on to gain great fame.  In the Role-Playing genre, the 16 and 32-bit eras brought origins to a lot of franchises and games that are well-known today, such as Lunar, Tales Of, Mana, Suikoden, and more.  None of these surpassed the fame and recognition of one such RPG that debuted on the Super Nintendo, and later came to the PlayStation.  That game is Squaresoft’s time-traveling classic, Chrono Trigger.

There is much debate about whether the PlayStation Classic edition of Chrono Trigger is worth the $9.99 price tag.  Much of the community is torn between talk about unbearable load times and glitches that make the game absolutely unplayable.  How much of this talk is true?  Let’s find out.  Here is the PlayStation Vita Review Network’s coverage of the PlayStation Classic, Chrono Trigger.

Story

The plot of Chrono Trigger is one that is remembered across the majority of the gaming community and viewed as one of the best of its generation.  We follow the steps of a young boy named Crono, as he visits the fair of his kingdom, unknowingly tying events together to embark on a journey that exceeds time itself.  Collecting allies from many timelines, Crono seeks to prevent the destruction of the world at the hands of the unknown enemy, Lavos.

Time travel is a tricky element to put into the plot of any story, and Chrono Trigger does it well, for the most part.  There are a few things that do not make sense, like being able to open up the same chest in past and then opening it up again in the future to get the contents more than once, but for its time, it is a tale well-written and does not leave enormous loopholes and questions for events that unfold.  They did a fine job, from the beginning, at showcasing possible repercussions of time travel and make it into something that even children can understand.

The biggest aspect of the plot that makes the game interesting is having characters and interacting with them from different timelines.  From A.I. from the future to cavewomen of the prehistoric times, each character comes with their own story that makes them unique.  The second biggest aspect is how the story’s ending can be altered.  There are several different endings of the game, which I will go into detail about later, and it is interesting to see how different things can play out, depending on what you do while playing the game.

The game does a fine job at doing what it needs to for the plot, though it isn’t a deep one.  It’s easy enough to understand and get into without diving deep into the depth we have today.

Gameplay


Like most games that Squaresoft (Before they merged with Enix to become Square Enix) made in the era, Chrono Trigger is an RPG with turn-based combat.  The game consists of everything you would expect of the genre.  You explore the world map, travel through dungeon and villages, meet and recruit allies, and fight monsters.  This is all with the twist of time travel being involved, which allows you to see the same world as it develops over time.

Exploration is as you would expect from the genre.  As you encounter towns on the map, you can enter them or enter different buildings within them.  There are homes, Inns where you can rest to restore HP and MP, as well as shops to buy items, weapons, and armor.  This is done slightly different in that you don’t go to a new screen to go into a town.  You simply walk up to a building on the world map and, when a name appears on the screen, you can enter that building.

The time travel aspect of the game deals with portals.  Early on in the game, a science experiment goes wrong and a portal to the past is opened up.  Crono falls into the portal and is quickly followed by a friend, Lucca, who invents a device that can open and close portals between times, as they are scattered around the world.  When you find a black orb in the game, you can interact with it and travel to a different time, arriving in the same place, but in the future, past, or present.

The battle system is turn-based, and uses the Active Time Battle system, such as the Final Fantasy titles of the genre used.  This means that there is an Action Gauge by each character and, when it is filled up, they can choose a command, whether it is attacking the enemy, using a skill or magic, using an item, or escaping the battle.

There are also two styles of this battle you can choose from the beginning, Active or Wait.  What you choose, essentially, can make battles easier or harder.  The Wait version of the ATB system means that when you are moving through the menu and selecting a command to use, time stops so the enemy will not attack you during this.  If you choose Active, however, enemies will continue to fill up their own ATB gauges and attacking you while you’re picking and choosing your commands.


Party Skills are one thing that makes Chrono Trigger shine above other RPGs of the genre.  As you play the game, you earn points that go towards learning skills.  These skills range from normal skills and attacks for your characters to use, but some are for multiple party members to use at once.  These are like combination attacks, like one character casting ice magic and enabling a second character to strike their sword through it to cause a huge Ice Sword attack.  These attacks can combine two, or even three party members together to perform much stronger attacks than you can with only one character.

The battle setup also is unique for Chrono Trigger.  In most RPGs, you go to a completely different screen for the battle, but in this game, enemies are already on the map in dungeons.  While some are hidden, others are in plain sight.  To start a battle, you simple walk up to them and the battle will begin.  Your characters will take a stance somewhere on screen and the battle will begin.  This is another part of the uniqueness of this.  Characters and enemies move around on the battlefield as you fight, so if some enemies get close together, you can use a skill to hit more than one at a time, whereas if they move apart, you lose the ability to hit multiple enemies with those skills.

Another thing that makes Chrono Trigger a time-sink is that it has multiple endings.  There are several different endings you can achieve, depending on when you beat the game and how you perform certain events.  In total, there are twelve different endings.  This is more easily obtained with a New Game Plus feature, which allows you to retain all of your character’s levels and stats into the new game, making replaying the game a breeze.  You’ll need it, if you intend to obtain all twelve endings.

All in all, it has the standard 16-bit RPG formula, and adds a few things to make itself unique.  While it may seem repetitious, fighting battles the same way again and again, it is fun to get into, and there are plenty of character you recruit that fight in different ways to make the game have somewhat of a variety of things to do in battle.

Controls


Controls in Chrono Trigger are nothing very complex.  You will not find yourself using the Vita’s full array of buttons in this game.  As with other PlayStation Classics, remember that you can hold the Home button to bring up settings and map controls in any way you want, along with mapping buttons to the corners of the touch screen and the R1, R2, and R3 buttons to the Rear Touch Panel.  If you wish to use the standard controls for the game, it’s not too hard to get used to.  The controls for Chrono Trigger are as follows.

By default, character movement and moving through each menu are done by the D-Pad buttons.  Along with this, the X Button serves as the button for selecting menus to go into or commands to select.  The Circle button does the opposite.  It serves as going back one step, or closing out a menu.  The Triangle Button brings up the menu from a non-battle screen.  The Start Button pauses the game, whether in battle or on the field.  The rest of the Vita’s buttons are not assigned.  So, going with the default layout, you will mostly just be using the D-Pad, Start, X, Triangle, and Circle.

It’s not a hard layout to get used to.  It’s very simple and the most you may have to adjust to is if you’re used to games where Circle is the selection button.

Presentation


This will be the most crucial part of the review.  First off, let’s start by talking about the way the game looks.  This is a 2D game, so each of the character models, background, and even effects of skills are hand-drawn artwork.  This also has a very anime-like design to it.  This is mostly due to the fact that the art designers for this game were the same group that designed the Manga and Anime show, Dragon Ball Z.

On the Vita’s screen, the game doesn’t look bad, though it is not in its native resolution.  The game was built to be run on a television from back in the 90s, before they started making widescreen displays.  So, some things look wider than they ought to be, but it works and doesn’t look blurred or faded.  Still, it’s not in it’s native resolution, so it doesn’t look pristine and perfect.

The PlayStation version of the game, thankfully, does not lose any of the sound quality of the original release.  As you may or may not know, many of Squaresoft’s Super Nintendo games were ported to the PlayStation.  Final Fantasy V, for example, lost sound quality in the porting process.  This was not due to limitation, but rather that they produced a lower-quality MIDI-version of each soundtrack file.  Chrono Trigger did not suffer that loss.

A nice addition that was made to the game was the new content.  The original version of the game did not contain the anime intro, ending, and cutscenes that this version, and all future versions of the game contained.  These were a nice touch that really gave life to the game and to the characters involved.

The one thing that most people debate about are the glitches and load times for the game.  First of all, there are no “glitches” in the game.  The game doesn’t freeze or close itself or anything like that.  The game runs well, but the load times are something that could be an issue.  Each time you open the menu, go to a new area, or start a battle, there is a pause while the game loads the next sequence.  Each of these sequences takes roughly 5-6 seconds to load.  I you can be patient, this is not a problem.  But if you are used to quick load times, they will take some getting used to.

Overall, the presentation works well.  The load times can give you some issues, if you’re used to faster load times for these types of games, but they are nowhere near “game-breaking”.  The community over-exaggerates this, but the decent load times do exist.

Overall

Overall, Chrono Trigger is something that any RPG fan should experience, at some point.  It has been popular since its original release on the Super Nintendo, and has spawned a sequel on the PlayStation and re-releases on several platforms.  While the PlayStation Classics version of the game is brought down by fair load times, it is a title worthy of your Vita if you can live with the load times.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network rates Chrono Trigger a 7/10.

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