CHRONO TRIGGER review
A Definite Must-Play for Newcomers
Hello there, potential consumer. Welcome to my Chrono Trigger DS review. There are two things you need to know before you read this review. I am a newcomer to the game myself, I believe my score is fair and is not affected by nostalgia; and the 5 score does not mean it is the perfect game. There is no such thing as a perfect game. The 5 means a "Must Play" from me. Here's my rating system:
5 - Outstanding, with very little or no flaws. A must play for fans and newcomers of the genre.
4 - Great, with minor flaws. Fans of the genre should definitely pick this up.
3 - Good, with several apparent flaws. Die-hard fans of the genre should pick this up, others should look into it.
2 - Bad, with major flaws. Only die-hards should look into this one.
1 - Just plain terrible. Many major flaws mar the experience, almost making it unplayable. Not even worth a rent.
Now with that out of the way, let's get the show on the road!
The story of Chrono Trigger starts you off as Crono, a young red-headed swordsman living with his mother in 1000AD, the present. Today is the day of the Millennial Fair, and your job is to get out there and have some fun. So, you get outside and enter the fair, looking for your purple-haired, female inventor friend, Lucca; so you two may have some fun together. At the fair, you bump into a mysterious blond-haired girl named Marle. It seems that she lost her pendant during the impact of the bump. You find it and return it to her. Both of you quickly become friends and enjoy the fair together while waiting for Lucca to finish her invention. After buying some candy, playing some mini-games and maybe a battle with a robot named Gato, it's time to check out Lucca's newest invention, teleporter pods! For a demonstration of what the pods can do, you jump into the left pod. *Ta-da!* you come out the right teleporter pod intact! Lucca is happy with the results and lets others try the machine. You introduce friend A to friend B, and Lucca gives Marle a turn on the contraption. So she steps in and is given the green light. The machine starts up as normal. But suddenly, somehow, a time gate appears! Marle is sucked into the ominous portal and leaves her precious pendant behind. As her friend, it is your responsibility to go after her! So there you are, with the pendant, wearing your poker face and standing on the machine looking for the ready-go from Lucca. As you might have guessed, another portal rips up; but you intentionally hop in. This is the start of Crono's time traveling adventure!
At first, the story seems a little bland and overused. But don't worry about that; the story rapidly picks up speed and turns into an epic tale of friendship, time-travel, revenge, magic and the fate of humanity. You'll visit the middle ages, complete with Knights, Kings, Queens and Monsters; the future, which contains robots, manufacturing plants and laboratories; the prehistory era with Dinosaurs and cavemen; and the Antiquity, a place where a special race of magic wielding humans reside. All of these eras connect to each other, describing the origins and growth of the being that could potentially destroy the world.
It's hard to give a story a score, but for the sheer scope and epicness of the tale, the story gets top marks. Especially because of it's unique way of storytelling, time travel. Bang! bang! skid, skid, here comes the big, bad five out of five.
In this section I will be reviewing the presentation of the game, involving the music and graphics. These subsections will be receiving separate scores and one overall rating with all of them combined.
For its time, the game was stunning. It had it all: carefully detailed backgrounds, clean, visible sprites, great animation, and a clear, high quality soundtrack. But now, in 2008/2009, the gem was getting a bit rough and it was losing some of its shine; it seems as though time had eroded this beauty. The graphics have become very weak and the soundtrack quality is outdated by technical standards. The soundtrack is not orchestrated, and the animation pales in comparison to recent 2D DS titles, like Castlevania. But hey, you know what, that's okay. The game is still beautiful thanks to it's breathtaking artistic design. It's still got it's beautiful pixelated gray castles; dark caves, eerie dungeons; damp prisons, busy cities; and lush forests and tall, floating mountains. The characters are colorful; the bosses, still huge and frightening; and the soundtrack still retaining its ability to be energetic and haunting. The game looks better than most DS games, and is one of the better looking 2D games in general. The battle sequences are a lot cleaner now, thanks to the DS mode option. No more menus covering up one-third of the screen. This game's got soul.
The music is more than capable of setting the mood. It sounds a bit beepy and boopy, but it's loud and the songs are still catchy. This game has one of the best video game soundtracks ever made.
Here's the Chrono Trigger theme song, for you to enjoy.
Music - 5/5
The graphics are detailed and can still project the bosses and locales the way they're supposed to be, but the graphics are in no doubt outdated. I'd like to see this game take the Final Fantasy III and IV treatment, where the 2D graphics are turned 3D. You won't get any eyesores, but there are a lot of better looking games out there.
Graphics - 3/5
Presentation Overall - 4/5
The game has fine controls. You move with the D-Pad, bring up the menu with the X button and interact with the A button. Standard stuff, but it works well enough. The controls are very responsive, and you can move in all eight directions. These excellent controls can help you avoid many enemy encounters you may face. In combat, you move the cursor with the D-pad and select with the A-button. You'll thank the responsiveness of the controls here as well since you've got to give commands quickly to keep up with the ATB battle system. That's it I think...
Oh wait, I almost forgot! Now you can control the game with the touch screen! The touch controls take some getting used to at first, especially when it comes to interaction, but they do, in fact, work. Double tap the touch screen to interact, and move your character by dragging the stylus along the touchscreen. You can only use touch screen commands in battle when DS mode is turned on. Just touch the commands with the stylus, and your characters obey. Nice, simple stuff. When you're not in combat, the bottom screen will show you your map and some shortcuts. These shortcuts, while looking insignificant, are actually very handy. They can shave a few seconds off maneuvering through the main menu. The normal controls are better in my opinion, but be sure to give these controls a try. You might have more fun with this one.
The game has two working control options. The game's controls get an excellent five out of five.
Now, onto the most important part of my Chrono Trigger review; the gameplay section. Alright, I'll tell you what the gameplay is like and explain how it works.
In Dungeons/Overworld Map:
The dungeons of Chrono Trigger are short and simple. There aren't very many puzzles, so most of your spelunking will be about monster encounters and exploration. At the times you do encounter puzzles, it's usually a find and click the switch affair. It works fine here since the game emphasizes on exploration. You can't get past some dungeons without finding the switches. There are many rooms to explore, possibly with treasure chests hidden inside them. These treasures are usually placed close to walls and dead ends, rewarding your exploration efforts, in a sense. There are stat-upping capsules hidden in the rooms too; you'll have to keep a close eye out for those guys. They are indicated as shining blue dots on the ground. The map on the bottom screen is very helpful and will keep you from being lost.
The overworld map is only a means of transportation for getting from point A to point B. You can enter buildings in cities by standing on top or beside them and pressing A. You can only enter the buildings in the cities; you can't "enter" the city itself like in the Final Fantasy games. Cities in the game are basically a bunch of these buildings put together. This is actually a good thing because traveling across a town or a city may take a while; it'll slow your journey, or make things a bit repetitive. I mean, I wouldn't want to walk 5 minutes along the side walks across the city just to reach the dang weapon shop! So, be thankful you can skip the streets and just enter the buildings themselves. There are treasure chests and capsules hiding in some buildings, so remember to check them out. In the overworld map, there are no treasures or capsules, but exploration is still encouraged; hidden caves and towns await you.
There are no visible NPCs on the overworld map, but there are certainly some in the cities and towns. Talk to them; some sell items, some sell armors, and some sell weapons. Some of them might even offer all three as an option. NPCs that aren't shopkeepers or merchants are mainly there to provide the player with hints, giving the player an idea of what to do next to progress in the story. Some NPCs are needed to progress in the story, some are needed in or start side quests, and some NPCs are just there for fun. You'll find some of these "fun NPCs" in bars most of the time. Give them some cash, and they might play a song for you!
Dungeon crawling and overworld exploration can be a lot of fun. There are many times where you will feel like a true explorer!
Dungeon/Overworld - 5/5
A battle is initiated when your character touches an enemy in a dungeon. You can avoid these battles by carefully maneuvering around the enemies or just using the run option in battle, but you will inevitably encounter a few foes. Battles take place on the map, there's no special battlefield like in other RPGs. This keeps the gameplay fluid and rolling. The battle system is simple, yet effective. Chrono Trigger uses a modified version of the ATB, a battle system used in the older Final Fantasy games. Your character's speed will determine when it's his/her turn to attack. When your turn is up, you select your attacks, techniques or items from the menus and try to pummel your foes to death. After the action, you must wait for the bars to fill up again. But just because you need to just deplete your opponent's health to win doesn't mean you should be using the same attacks over and over. You'll need to strategize to overcome many bosses and particular monsters. Some monsters and bosses are immune to an element, so use a different element to take them out. Don't keep spamming lightning because it's your most damaging spell against a different foe, use something else if you your current enemy resists it. Use an element they're weak to; that should teach 'em. Sometimes enemies are just resistant to magic altogether, but don't give up hope; use physical attacks! Most bosses will counter a few moves with deadly moves of their own, so use a move that they can't counter. Strategize! You have many destructive options in battle. You've got magic, single techniques, double techniques and triple techniques. Normal techniques, while already powerful, take up more MP and do less damage than double techs but only use up one character's turn. Double techs are techniques used by two characters, they do more damage than single techs, and cost less MP because the characters "share" the cost, but both characters use up their turn. Triple techs are just like double techs, but they involve the whole party, and are stronger. Be careful when using this because all your characters will have to wait together to perform another move, leaving you open for a while. Magic is the same as a technique, but it follows a different stat to determine power. Instead of using attack it uses the magic stat. Magic attacks can be used to heal or attack. Each character, except for two, have a certain affinity; Crono is great with Lightning spells, Lucca with fire, and Marle with Ice/Water. There are more characters, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you.
Characters can be equipped with armor, weapons and accessories to boost stats or give special effects. These items can be found in treasure, or in shops in the towns or cities. Just move up to the NPC and click A or double tap. A menu will pop up and you will be able to select items in the different sections. Touch the tabs or press the L or R shoulder buttons to get to the tab you want; armor, weapons or items. Customize your character to his or her specialties. Are they good with magic? Then boost up his meaty magic stat further with a good accessory or weapon. Is he or she sturdy enough? Do they use too much mana? The right items can solve these problems.
Like in every other RPG, you can level up. The thing that's so great about this game is the fantastic pacing. You will rarely have to stop and grind; this game keeps things flowing!
The battles are accessible and can become pretty deep. No need to talk it out with a battle system like this!
Battle - 5/5
Both the battles and exploration factors are rewarding and worth your time.
Gameplay Overall - 5/5
The normal time it takes to finish the game is around 15 to 20 hours. Adding all the extras and thirteen endings, you've got around 50. This game is very replayable and has many extras to unlock. You can unlock areas for the Treasure Atlas, an atlas that tells you where treasure is in an area; you will unlock some songs for the music box; pictures for the gallery, and endings for the ending log. There's also a bestiary in there ready to be filled up. Toss in the Monster Arena, and you reach the 50+ hours of gameplay. The Monster Arena reminds me of Pokemon; you select are "starter monster", which are Smidges with different elemental affinities; and you train them. Increase their stats and have them learn skills by sending off for training. Give them items for an extra boost to their stats during training. Some items increase attack, some increase magic, and some may trigger a class change. Each training session will be ten real-life minutes long. A class change will allow your monster to battle in higher tiers; each tier rewarding the players with more valuable items as they progress. The monsters utilize the ATB system in battle, but instead of selecting techs and magic from menus, you hand them an item. The monster may or may not use the item depending on their trust level. Some items heal, and some will allow your monster to use their learned abilities. Upon winning a battle, you are rewarded an item, and your monster gains trust. This is a very neat addition, and it can be used to obtain some items early.
The game is very much replayable; but the real question is do you want to replay the game? If there was a harder mode, I'd reply with a resounding "HECK YES!", but since there isn't any, I'll respond with a less enthusiastic "Alright." This is mainly because the game will become too easy during the New Game +, an option that allows you to replay the game from the start, while keeping your levels and possessions. New Game + becomes a breeze, and takes away some of the fun. Because of this, the game's replayability will only receive a solid four out of five.
If you've noticed, I've been extremely positive about this game. The game IS that good, but it's still not perfect. Here are some things you may not like about the game.
Easy (Kind of) - The game has a pretty good difficulty; it's no cakewalk with it's gimmicky bosses and many encounters and all, but it does leans towards the easy side. Some battles may feel like they ended too early, and some bosses are weaker than they look. You can customize the difficulty by setting the battle speed, but that's really only for the first playthrough. In a New Game +, your characters will keep their levels making the game easier than it already is. I wish they had put a hard mode in here or something.
New Dungeons/Side Quests Suck - They do; and there's no nicer way to put it. The new side quests involve walking up a mountain for like 50 times, which is not fun at all. It's repetitive and can really kill your buzz. I stopped playing for three days because of these terrible fetch quests. The new dungeons suck as well; the "new dungeon" is ironically just a compilation of rooms in the old dungeons. Not cool. I don't want to go through the same levels I finished before, jeez. Boring stuff, right there. Thank GOD these are optional. Even though they suck, be sure to check them out; there are tons of great items to be given to you for completing these treacherous tasks.
This game is near perfect. It's got story, gameplay and presentation down; and it's got it down better than most games out today. Get out there and pay the extra ten dollars Square Enix is forcing you to pay; because this may be the best $40 you'll ever spend. Chrono Trigger stands the test of time and remains to be, or one of the, best RPGs ever made.
About the author
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