Sunday, May 15, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Games: #2—Chrono Trigger

Japanese RPG’s have taken a dump on my childhood. Only in the past few years have they fallen utterly apart. Every protagonist has to be some emo fop of a half-man; and the curdled milk of a story leads to complete boredom.

It sucks that I even have to use the term “Japanese RPG”. It’s a backhanded genre classification that gives leeway to mock once great games. Oh, how I wish the next Final Fantasy actually stayed true to it’s name and was the final one.

You’d have to trek back fifteen years to find the last innovative RPG Square actually made? Chrono Trigger.

It’s actually quite weird. I didn’t play Chrono Trigger until 2004. Some of the most iconic games ever don’t hold up—GoldenEye, I’m looking at you---but many games in the SNES library, like Chrono Trigger, are surprisingly refreshing to play despite their age.

Chrono Trigger finds a way to be of its time, and an example of what RPG’s can and have been recently…just not Japanese RPG’s. It’s ironic that a series like Mass Effect shares more in common with Chrono Trigger than its development studio brother Final Fantasy. 

Choice is what separated Chrono Trigger from the rest of the riffraff RPG’s of its age. Sure the story has a cliché ultimate evil being that needs to be destroyed to save the world; but how you go about accomplishing that is at your own leisure.

SPOILER: Few games have the balls to kill the protagonist half way through the game; and even fewer give you the choice to save him or just say “Fuck ‘em” let him stay dead let’s finish this beast now!

It’s a beautiful mix of bold ideas with traditional RPG gameplay that makes Chrono Trigger so memorable. And why fans have been cosplaying for a new sequel for the past ten years.

Based on your actions throughout the world, or lack of action, the ending to Chrono Trigger varied wildly. Some 12 endings are possible to obtain. Some were slight variations; others were completely different depending on your decisions during the story.

Even little things like displaying enemies on screen—as opposed to random battles—was something that most JRPG’s didn’t feature until years later. 

I never played it on the SNES, and still, years later Chrono Trigger still holds up!

I even loved the absurdity of each party member you obtained. Frog was my favorite…you need only look at the right side of this page to see that. There’s something to be said about that art style too—not Akira Toriyama’s, although I’ve mentioned I’m a fan of his work—I mean how Chrono Trigger has the “SNES” look about it: characters are squat and have enlarged heads; huge expressive eyes, and the pixilated look is actually very charming even today.   

Without a doubt the first--and maybe last, based on how stale they’ve become—Japanese RPG a person should play is Chrono Trigger. Final Fantasy VII isn’t the best Square-Enix game; neither is Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III for Westerners). That title goes to Chrono Trigger…maybe the last truly great Japanese RPG.

Do your thing Frog!

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