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.
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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