Monday, September 20, 2010

Thoughts / Chrono Trigger

Why aren't games made with the same quality as they used to be? I just spent almost 30 hours with Chrono Trigger on my PSP, which is a fat PSP1000 model with an SNES emulator. Just finishing the game a minute ago, I had to write about it.

Chrono Trigger is one of the many video games I played during my youth. This game probably being my absolute favorite. Partly because I could hardly ever get my hands on a copy to play. I always had to borrow it from a friend or maybe rent it if I happened to see it in a video store.

The great games of yesteryear were made with so much love and care, and it was always evident. The games of today are made with a lot of money and many years of development time. It's all about the prettiest graphics and reaching out to as many people as possible, despite who your true fans are. Even if it means an incredibly easy game, or making the game's progression systems extremely linear or basic. In other words, everything is about making the most money. I understand that money was a priority back then, this is a business after all, but the truly great games from my childhood never screamed "money maker". They had absolutely amazing storytelling and they took risks, appealing to a select group of players at times. Everything nowadays has to be extremely fast paced and appeal to the casual gamer. Developers, more often than not, look to see what's popular, and then try to emulate that rather than create something that will stand the test of time and be played for many generations. Anyone that understands Chrono Trigger will find that a tad ironic. This game easily stands the test of time.

Finishing a game like Chrono Trigger really makes me feel like a kid again, and there's nothing else on this planet except for games like these that make me feel this insane sense of nostalgia. I can't even describe it really, watching the ending just now brought on a feeling that I can't even begin to explain properly. It hit me so deep that I truly felt like I was around 15 years old, beating it for the first time. Sitting on my bed in a tiny upstairs bedroom, back in the town I grew up in. The ending music was certainly key in making me feel this way.

If anyone has read this far and doesn't know much about Chrono Trigger then I'll explain the game's story briefly so you get an idea. Chrono Trigger takes place in a fictional world in the year 1000AD. A kid named Crono stumbles upon a way to move through time, at first to the year 600AD. Then later on to the future of 2300. In that year Crono and his friends discover that the world has mostly been destroyed, this destruction happened at the hands of a seemingly alien creature by the name of Lavos. The origin of this creature is unknown until later in the game, but by accessing a computer in the year 2300, they find out that about 300 years earlier, the creature broke through the planet's crust and destroyed most of the life on the planet. Crono and his friends decide to use their ability to move through time to find the origin of Lavos and hopefully destroy it.

Chrono Trigger is an RPG for the Super Nintendo and was released in 1995. All the battles take place right where you stand, instead of transitioning into the traditional RPG battle screen. It used the Active Time Battle system that was created for Final Fantasy IV. This ATB system was governed by the speed stat. There were also the usual stat types, power, stamina, evasion, etc. In Chrono Trigger these stats were important. Raising your magic defense stat was actually useful and sometimes necessary to give you an edge in a boss fight.

Each character had abilities called techniques. This is where Chrono Trigger was vastly different than any other game at the time, and even now come to think of it. Depending on which techniques you had learned, dual techs and eventually triple techs were learned. You could mix and match different techniques from different party members to use much stronger attacks that had some pretty awesome results. So Crono could mix his Lightning spell with Frog's Leap Slash to create Spire. Frog would leap up and stab the enemy, then Crono would summon lightning to hit the sword. Doing massive damage to the targeted foe.

Now that I got all of that stuff out of the way, I want to talk about my experience with the game a bit more. First off, this game has incredible music. It kind of reminds me of how I feel about Final Fantasy VII's music. Everything just feels like it fits together. All the tunes in Chrono Trigger have their own melody that is easily distinguishable from other games, even from games from the same time period. I hope at least some people out there know what I'm talking about.

After beating it just now I was reading the end credits and I had no idea so many well known developers were involved. Hironobu Sakaguchi was a supervisor I read. This man is responsible for all my favorite Final Fantasy's growing up. He has since left the company and started on his own projects. I believe they are mostly Nintendo Wii related though, so I'm not too familiar. Nobuo Uematsu is listed as a composer. Makes perfect sense since this soundtrack is probably my favorite, if not my second favorite of all time. Nobuo composed all or most of the tunes in many of the Final Fantasy games, especially the games in the series before the Playstation 2. He is now working on Final Fantasy XIV for the Playstation 3 and PC,  and I'm so excited to have him back. There were a few more like Yoshinori Kitase, another Final Fantasy veteran. As well as Yoshitaka Amano who was involved with the world map, as it said in the credits. Yoshitaka did all the old concept art and character designs for many of the classic Final Fantasy's. I'm sure these talented Japanese minds did more than what I've mentioned here, but that's all just from my head.

As I said at the beginning, Chrono Trigger is quite possibly my favorite video game of all time. I've played games like Final Fantasy II and III on my Super Nintendo probably a lot more, but Chrono Trigger, in my opinion of course, is the best and most complete game ever created. This was easily the highest quality game on the SNES for it's time. From the characters, animation, music and sound effects, battle system, multiple endings, new game+ option, and of course the superb story, Chrono Trigger definitely deserves to be remembered for the rest of time.