Chrono Trigger is a pixel art JRPG that was originally released back in 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and has quickly solidified itself as one of the most iconic games of all time. Developed by Squaresoft back then, this classic title kicked off a whole series of games that have gone on to have a major impact on gaming in Japan and worldwide.
The development team included a holy trinity of legendary game developers, including the creator of Final Fantasy, the creator of Dragon Quest and the author of the Dragon Ball manga series. With the art style, gameplay and story, let’s examine why Chrono Trigger is cemented as a certified classic role-playing game.
The game is set in a world where you will travel through various eras, including the time of the dinosaurs, the medieval age and a desolate, post-apocalyptic future. Opening in the year 1000AD, we are introduced to the kingdom of Guardia celebrating their new millennium with an extravagant parade. Here we meet Crono and Marle, who are newly acquainted friends and main characters of Chrono Trigger. The main attraction of this celebration is the unveiling of a teleportation machine developed by Crono’s inventor friend Lucca. Marle eagerly volunteers to be the first test subject and subsequently disappears, after which Crono goes after her to try to save his new friend. We quickly learn that they have travelled four hundreds years into the past, kicking off an epic, sprawling, time-hopping plot!
You will jump back and forward between different eras, recruiting new party members, discovering new items and encountering a cast of colorful characters. These characters are standard JRPG archetypes, but they are incredibly well written with their own distinct personalities, ambitions and apprehensions. We won’t dwell too much on the story because it is vast, spanned with excellent pacing over the course of its 24-hour runtime and twelve unique endings.
The art style here holds up very well, with 16-bit pixel graphics. Character sprites are unique and the backgrounds are a treat to behold as you jump between timelines and explore lush green valleys, dark, fantasy dungeons and high-tech futuristic facilities. There is a clearly defined color palette for this title and while it does offer some personality, it does result in some sections appearing a little washed out and one-note.
Chrono Trigger operates as most classic Japanese role playing games do, with an overworld map that you will navigate, encountering enemies and triggering battle sequences. While most games of this style opt for random encounters throughout the overworld, Chrono Trigger switches things up a little bit by placing the enemies on the map and will engage you if spotted.
If you do spark a battle with these enemies lying in wait, the combat will take place on the overworld map rather than cutting to a separate battle arena. This creates a seamless combat and adventure experience which doesn’t result in slow transitions between battles and exploration like similar titles do.
Combat takes place through an active time battle system whereby time will not stop during fights. As time passes in battle, enemies will move around the arena and you will need to wait until your attack gauge is full before unleashing melee, magic or tech attacks. All of this creates a fluid experience that has aged incredibly well.
Another unique feature that Chrono Trigger employs is the cooperative attack system, where you can combine moves with your party members to produce devastating moves. For example, one character may have a flame attack that can be combined with another character’s sword slash to create an incendiary move that deals more damage than the individual attacks would.
There are seven playable characters here and all of them can combine in interesting ways that will keep you experimenting and switching up your party to find the most effective combinations.
The sound design in Chrono Trigger is amazing, with a variety of distinctive tracks that always set the scene and create a memorable experience.
It is easy to see why Chrono Trigger is regarded as one of the best games of all time and certainly one of the best role playing games ever made. The wonderfully crafted plot that jumps between eras is a delight to experience through its seven distinct playable party members.
Offering a very innovative feature for the time in new game+, Chrono Trigger offers excellent replay value and it would be quite easy to lose days of your time in the kingdom of Guardia! We will definitely be jumping back in to try to experience some of the multiple endings on offer.
With a fluid overworld, unique combat system and sprawling fantasy plot, Chrono Trigger is a timeless masterpiece that every player should partake in!
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