The Super Nintendo classic, Chrono Trigger, was released by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS in late 2008. Although the game has also been ported to the PlayStation, this is its first time on a portable console. Is this famous RPG as good as its Final Fantasy cousins who have also made the leap to the DS?
Story (3 out of 5)
Chrono, the typical boy from a small town with big dreams hero, goes to a local festival and meets a girl who just happens to be a princess (although he doesn’t know it at the time). The boy’s friend, Lucca, and her father have created a teleportation device that they show off at the fair. When the princess, Marle, agrees to take part in the teleportation experiment, her locket interacts with the machine and creates a time portal. Chrono and Lucca go into their own time portals to save her and thus their adventures began. The game’s events go back in forth in time from the year 65,000,000 B.C to 2300 A.D.
I really like time travel done well, and I think that story is well told. Going backward and forward in time and exploring each place, and how time travel has effected them, is very interesting. However, I think Tales of Phantasia handled the time travel somewhat better.
Gameplay (3 out of 5)
Chrono Trigger is a very standard RPG. There is a world map that you can save on and use to travel from place to place (including towns and dungeons). There are NPCs to talk to and side quests to complete. A nice touch is the fact that there are virtually no random encounters. You can see all enemies before you engage them in battle, therefore eliminating one of the most annoying aspects of most RPGs.
The DS was a nice choice of port for Chrono Trigger. You can choose if you want to control the game the classic way, using only the directional pad and the A,B, X, and Z buttons in combat, or the DS way by using the stylus and touch screen. The original controls are easier when walking around towns and the world map. For some reason the upper screen shows the action while the bottom is just a map. It is a little hard to use the stylus like that. In battle, however, I preferred the DS mode.
Battles are similar to Final Fantasy IV in that each character has a bar that must be full before they can attack (based on the level of speed). It’s a nice way to make turn-based combat more interactive, but I still can’t get behind it totally. I did find it annoying to wait for the the bar to load. It seems to add a lot of lag to the battles, something that doesn’t happen in real time combat.
The DS version sports some updates over the original. There is a new dungeon and a multiplayer mode in which you can battle monsters with a friend. Both of them are nice touches, but they don’t really add or detract from the game in any way.
Graphics and Sound (3 out of 5)
This is where Chrono Trigger really disappoints. For starters, the game doesn’t look updated at all from its days on the SNES. The backgrounds are actually quite beautiful but the characters themselves are not. I’m not a big fan of Akira Toriyama or his Dragon Ball manga so that might explain it. The character designs really throw me off, and they don’t blend into the backgrounds at all. They are all lined in black and stand out like bad drawings in a lovely world. With all the wonderful things the DS is capable of they should have spent more time updating it.
The music of Chrono Trigger is actually quite good. It’s varied enough to never get annoying and as the music changes with each location it fits the mood and style of the game well. The sound effects are a little weak, and I wonder if they were updated at all either. It doesn’t sound like it.
Fun (3 out of 5)
Chrono Trigger is a solid RPG and should be a lot of fun if you like Final Fantasy or other similar RPGs. I prefer more action oriented RPGs, but I still enjoyed playing it. Exploring each new time period was exciting and the plot twists kept me guessing. However, the artwork did distract me at times.
Overall (4 out of 5)
Chono Trigger is another classic release for the DS. Lots of old fans of the series have been waiting for this, and it shouldn’t disappoint. If you like RPGs, try this game out. Sure, Square Enix is releasing it for the money, but it is still worth it.