In the wake of Final Fantasy VI‘s success, Squaresoft released yet another RPG epic for the Super Nintendo console that to this date is widely regarded among RPG fans as a golden classic. That game is Chrono Trigger. By taking common RPG elements and throwing in a unique battle system for the time along with a story centered around time travel, Squaresoft created a fan favorite that has stood the test of time and is talked about even to this day.
Chrono Trigger takes place in a world not unlike our own, in the year 1000. The small village of Leene is celebrating the new millennium by throwing the Millennial Fair. Crono, the story’s protagonist, attends the fair and accidentally runs into a mysterious girl named Marle. The two decide to try out an invention that Crono’s friend Lucca is demonstrating at the fair – a molecular transporter. After Crono survives what seems to be a successful test run on the device, Marle has a go at it. The pendant she is wearing around her neck resonates, and a vortex opens, sucking her and Crono into the year 600 A.D. Upon their arrival in this new era, the two accidentally end up changing the course of history and must set out on a course to correct it, for failing to do so could have catastrophic consequences.
This is just the beginning of a what eventually evolves into a much deeper plot that spans across millions of years, all the way from 65,000,000 B.C. to 2300 A.D. and beyond. By traveling through a variety of time periods and and undoing the deeds done by evildoers in the past, the heroes must fight to save the world from its imminent destruction.
Chrono Trigger introduces many concepts that were new to RPGs at the time. It was one of the first games to make use of dual and triple techs – special moves that combine the abilities of more than one character. For example, Crono’s Whirlwind attack can be combined with Lucca’s Flamethrower attack to create Flame Whirl, a much more powerful version of the aforementioned standalone attacks. Characters gain abilities and levels by fighting enemies, and thus the basic mechanics are very familiar to most RPG fans. Battles take place using menus and employ the semi-real-time ATB system seen most commonly in Final Fantasy games.
The music in Chrono Trigger was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, another great composer who doesn’t get the fame he deserves, and my personal favorite. It’s an outstanding soundtrack that, despite the limitations set by 16-bit sounds, easily rivals many video game compositions of today. The graphics are just as impressive, with some great details and effects that push the limits of the Super Nintendo’s capabilities. The character design in this game was done by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame, and those familiar with his art style will definitely see the resemblance.
If you’ve never played Chrono Trigger, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. The original SNES game cartridge may be hard to come by, but a recent port of the game is available for the Nintendo DS. There is also a port on the original Sony PlayStation, which was part of the Final Fantasy Chronicles collection, and includes pre-rendered anime-style cutscenes to accompany the story. Both ports include additional content and are adequate substitutes to the original version of the game.
Chrono Trigger, originally on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, is also available on the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo DS.