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Chrono Trigger (DS) artwork

Chrono Trigger (DS) review

"The best addition to the game proves to be the use of the DS to redesign the menus and controls, and the dual screen functionality which makes viewing the menus a breeze. It might not be much more than a fresh look at the classic, but then fans werenít really looking for a reinvention."

Iím a chump. Tears came to my eyes as I tore the wrapping off my copy of Chrono Trigger DS. This was an act that I had mimicked thirteen years ago, when first opening the Super Nintendo version of the game, and despite having steeled myself for it, the nostalgia was simply too much. I had to sit down and take a deep breath and drink a glass of water. It should be no secret that I am an avid Chrono Trigger fan. Most of us who played the original game are. Letís look at it objectively, though.

As you might guess from the title, Chrono Trigger is a game about time. Have you ever wanted to go back in time and marry your childhood self or convince your mother not to have your little sister? Sadly, Chrono Trigger isnít about these things. But it IS about an epic romp through time, blatantly leaving your mark on the past in a well-intentioned attempt to change a bleak future. Chrono Trigger is a game that exudes personality, from the exuberant characters to the jaunty script. Itís mostly this personality that results in the gameís high score. If nothing else, Chrono Trigger leaves an impression.

Another of Chrono Triggerís main selling points is the variety of its level design and graphics. Today developers can only create so many palettes, what with the demand for costly complex and realistic graphics. In 1995, when Chrono Trigger was released, this wasnít a concern, and the developers took advantage of that. No two locations are alike. Even between similar locations, like two mountains, youíll find extreme differences in the palettes and backgrounds. One mountain, for instance, is a fog covered series of grassy peaks connected by mammoth chains; another is a snow buried wasteland pitted with dark caves. There is a large musical selection, too, and all of it sets the mood remarkably well.

The battle system isnít nearly as interesting. While Chrono Trigger, with its lack of a seperate battle screen, may seem innovative at first, the only substantial twist on the classic ATB system comes in the form of the special attacks (called techs). Early on, these add a tactical element to the game, as they target enemies based on their position, causing you to hold your attacks until the enemies are lined up right. However, as the game progresses, your characters quickly learn ďtarget-allĒ techs that destroy all semblance of strategy and the system quickly falls into the stale pattern of using your best techs over and over as MP allows. Fortunately, the variety of dungeons and the twists in the plot keep things moving enough that I promise you wonít get bored on your first play through. You may not feel inclined to go back and get all thirteen endings, though.

Of course, this is all old news for those of you who have played the game before. Chrono Trigger long ago used its personality and brilliant level design to secure its place in RPG fandom. Unfortunately, as far as new material goes, thereís little to get excited about.

The first major addition, a monster arena, is weak. Basically a pokemon style monster breeding/fighting mini game, the arena tries to incorporate the wireless capabilities into the game, but the effect is stymied by a non-existent user base. After all, who wants to observe two monsters fighting in extremely slow paced matches with little player control?

A couple new dungeons also make appearances, though neither of them is up to the par of the original setting. The first, called Lost Sanctuary, is basically a series of fetch quests, and it breaks the gameís cardinal variety rule by having you run over the same area over and over. The second, the Dimensional Vortex, breaks the same rule by starting out as a compilation of areas youíve already been to. However, it eventually shows some originality, and the new story elements that you witness upon completing it are appreciated.

The best addition to the game proves to be the use of the DS to redesign the menus and controls, and the dual screen functionality which makes viewing the menus a breeze. It might not be much more than a fresh look at the classic, but then fans werenít really looking for a reinvention.

Inevitably, remakes fall into one of two categories. Either you liked it the first time and arenít going to change your mind, or youíre playing it for the first time and arenít getting it. Really, the reason the game appealed to those of us who played it originally is because we were young adults at the time, and Chrono Trigger is a classic young adult epic in both presentation and story. Therefore, I recommend it specifically to that crowd. This is a chance for the next generation to include Chrono Trigger in their childhood memories. For those of us who already have those memories, the DS allows us to relive them in all sorts of new places... like the city bus, or the bathroom at an expensive hotel. And youíre not a true fan if you can say no to that.

zippdementia's avatar
Freelance review by Jonathan Stark (December 15, 2008)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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overdrive posted December 17, 2008:

I think this review did a good job of reminding me why I'm always annoyed by companies re-making their old classics over and over again. It just seems that it's so rare when the game is really anything more than a nostaglia trip for retro gamers who might not have played it when it first came out or people who played it, loved it and want to have a "new" copy of it.

Essentially the exact same game, but with a couple of extra quests that don't seem to add much to the experience. I can see why you'd give it a 9, as CT is one of my personal favorite 16-bit RPGs and I can see me playing the original version again (for the 4th or so time) in 2009 or 2010 (whenever I have time). But I just can't personally get excited about a system coming out with ANOTHER remake of ANOTHER game I've seen before. With remakes, the DS is becoming the new GBA.
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jerec posted December 17, 2008:

For PAL regions, at least, it'll be the game's first official release. We've had to live on roms or rare imports.
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zippdementia posted December 17, 2008:

I agree, Overdrive. You can probably pick up on a bit of my annoyance in the review, once I reach the "new features" section. At the same time, I appreciate the gesture, and I do think it would be cool if it actually reaches a new generation.

What's really exciting about all this is that now there's finally the possibility of a decent sequel.
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psychopenguin posted December 18, 2008:

Good review. I'd just like to comment on OD's opinion that the DS is becoming a remake factory.

For SE, this is the 2nd remake of a game for DS that came out in America before I can think of (along with FF4, which was a great remake. Felt like a new game). Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy III never came out in America before.

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