In this turn-based Japanese RPG, young Crono must travel through time through a misfunctioning teleporter to rescue his misfortunate companion and take part in an intricate web of past and present perils. The adventure that ensues soon unveils an evil force set to destroy the world, triggering Crono's race against time to change the course of history and bring about a brighter future.
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It's also incredible how many lines of dialogue they had to write for every party member in each scene, and the sheer amount of ending states this game has is also impressive. Despite most of them leading to the same conclusion, it's still very cool to see how they managed to work out a different finale situation for that many different parts of the game. These loose dynamics of choosing who you want to see in your party at any given part of the game plus choosing exactly where you want to beat it makes the game feel tailor-made for any given player.
With that being said, I still had some gripes with it. Chrono Trigger is a much simpler JRPG than Square's own Final Fantasy. Combat systems, difficulty curve, short overall length, even the amount of active party members being set at 3 is a shift down in complexity (FF7 also did that, but it was a limitation of the PS1). It's definitely more tuned to be an entry-point JRPG, which is fine, but once you combine this casualness of the mechanics with the easy-breezy presentation of the characters and settings, it strips away some of the seriousness that the plot is trying to convey. It feels clashing to me, like the story is pushing this world-ending gravitas but the Akira Toriyama character designs and the kid-friendly combat mechanics were telling another tale. The lack of a main villain also hit me hard, that's usually one of the most dramatic parts of a JRPG's story. Golbez, Kefka, Sephiroth, Kuja, there were instrumental to carry the emotional punches of their games, but CT has none of that.
Of course, I understand that Chrono Trigger is aiming for a Disney-esque feel, but Final Fantasy 6 was also a SNES JRPG that was at times funny and goofy without sacrificing it's somberness. Chrono Trigger lacks that emotional intensity.
The soundtrack is good and the pixel-art is wonderful, and as much as I felt unsatisfied with the overly simplistic combat, I still appreciated how snappy it feels and the amount of different combinations when you mix and match party members.
Chrono Trigger is a game with high-quality visuals, a great soundtrack and overly simplistic combat mechanics that get old fast but never really get in your way. The highlight is the intricacy of the plot and variety of dialogue and story outcomes based on player choices and preferences, but it's levity and short length water down the emotional impact it could've had.