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Chrono Trigger – SNES

Chrono Trigger – SNES

20302_frontPlatform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Developer: Squaresoft

Publisher: Squaresoft

Release date: August 22nd, 1995

Genre: Role-Playing

Nerd Rating: 10/10

You always remember your first time. A decisive moment that changes the way you look at the world, changes your tastes and interests..

You see, Chrono Trigger was my very first role-playing game. The notion of turned based battles, leveling up your characters, and party classes were all completely foreign concepts to me prior to this game. It probably would have passed under my radar had it not been for the extensive coverage that it had been given by the legendary Nintendo Power magazine during the summer of 1995. Previews led to reviews and walk-through’s of the first sections of the game, and after that on-going discussions about it in their monthly RPG section; Epic Center. So, armed with my printed words of assurance that the game was indeed awesome, I took a chance on a rental, and delved into the world of Guardia.

Nothing prepared me for just how special Chrono Trigger would end up being. No other game has resonated with me in quite the same way Chrono Trigger has. Even today it’s still the standard by which I compare all other role-playing experiences.

So what is it that makes Chrono Trigger so special? Certainly other RPG’s have made fantastic strides in almost every area of the genre. One could argue that my affections toward the game could be chalked up to the fact that it was my first RPG experience, however, if that was the sole reason, wouldn’t it have lost some of it’s appeal after playing through it multiple times? I don’t think that it has at all. Instead, Chrono Trigger still endures today, just as fresh and fun as it was back in ’95, exhibiting a timeless quality that is somewhat ironic given its main theme of time travel.

Chrono was one of the prettiest games on the SNES

Chrono Trigger was one of the prettiest games on the SNES.

There has already been plenty written about the origins of Chrono Trigger. The game was the result of a “dream project” between the designers of the two largest Japanese RPG makers; Enix (Dragon Quest series) and Squaresoft (Final Fantasy Series) long before the idea (or the need) for the merger that would take place years later had crossed anyone’s mind.

Its artwork and designs leaned towards the Enix side of the marriage, with character designs coming from long time Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball Z artist Akira Toriyama. Sprites are large and detailed and represent some of the best graphics that would be seen on the SNES. 19 years later the artwork still holds up well, refusing to look overly dated in the face of increasingly powerful hardware.

Squaresoft’s influence can be felt in the Active Time Battle system that was carried over from the Final Fantasy series. The ATB was modified through the addition of combo attacks, which gives two or all three of your party members the chance to use their turn to team up and perform a stronger attack against your foes. This allows for a bit more strategic thinking, and forces you to choose from performing three separate moves, two, or one in a turn.  The combo attacks are all unique and are dependent on which characters are in your party at the time.

No random battle screens in Chrono Trigger!

No random battle screens in Chrono Trigger!

In the 16bit era, designers were unable to utilize much in the way of recorded dialogue because of the limitations of those machines. Music was of the utmost importance, especially in an RPG, because it had to become the tool through which the emotions of the characters were conveyed. The job of composing the soundtrack for Chrono Trigger fell to Yasunori Mitsuda, who had previously only worked as a sound designer for Squaresoft under the tutelage of the legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. Mitsuda was able to weave together an instant classic that is still beloved to this day. Simply put, Mitsuda was able to give the game its life and soul, and without his work, Chrono Trigger would have been a different experience.

Every RPG lives and dies by its story and characters, and the Chrono team did a fantastic job of writing an elegant tale. The story begins in the kingdom of Guardia in the year 1000AD. It’s the opening day of the Millennial Fair, and you (A teenager named Crono) are off to see a demonstration of a teleporter, a brand new invention by your best friend (Lucca) and her father. Not long after arriving at the festival, Crono literally runs into a pretty young lady named Marle. After a brief interaction, the pair explore the fair together and eventually make their way to Lucca’s demonstration. Needless to say, the demo does not go according to plan.

In fact, it actually rips a hole through the space-time continuum and sucks Marle through the vortex. Crono jumps in after her and winds up 4oo years in the past. Thus begins a tale that winds through numerous points in the history of Guardia, from millions of years in the past to all the way to the distant future. Chrono Trigger’s tale is somewhat simple by today’s standards. It eschews some of the convoluted twists and head-games that we would see in later Squaresoft games (Final Fantasy 7 and 8, I’m looking at you), yet there is an elegance in that simplicity. The theme of time travel is at the core of the story, and the concept does allow for some unique opportunities to take action in one time period, and see how that manifests itself in the future.

chrono-trigger-ipad - Copy

Did I mention that this game is beautiful…

One of my favorite features in the game is the lack of random battles. Enemies are seen on the screen before you encounter them, and some can be avoided all together. Personally, I prefer this method over the more traditional random battle because its so much less intrusive to the exploration aspects of RPG’s.

Another unique aspect that sets it apart from many other role-playing games comes after you beat the last boss. Chrono Trigger was the first title to offer a “New Game +” mode. This allows you to play through the entire game again, but lets you start at the same level you were at when you finished, and with all the same items, equipment, spells etc. It’s a great idea and I wish every RPG would include it.

And you will want to play through again because the game also has multiple endings depending on what point you go to face the last boss and who is available in your party at the time. There are twelve different endings in all making Chrono Trigger one of the most re-playable RPG’s ever.


One of my favorite moments in all of gaming. Just looking at this screen evokes so many memories and emotions.

There really isn’t anything that I would want to change about this game. I’m sure that it could be argued that it could have done a bit more as far as actions that are taken in the past echoing in the future, but given where the state of RPG’s were in 1995 you have to admit that they did a pretty good job of pushing the boundaries.

In all my years of gaming there has not been another game to which I have returned as often as this one. Every single element still feels as fresh and new as it did almost twenty years ago. Even without the personal affect that the game had for me, it still remains as a timeless classic, and a shinning example of everything that is good about the RPG genre and the 16bit era of gaming.

Chrono Trigger is still my favorite game of all time.

Nerd Rating: 10/10


Written by The Watchman

The Watchman

The Watchman is a journeyman gamer who has seen and played a good chunk of gaming history.
He’s also an actor, a reporter, a pro wrestling connoisseur, and some say he’s a cat whisperer.
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  1. Pingback: Nerd Bacon Celebrates Retroary! (Retro + February = Retroary) - Nerd Bacon Reviews

  2. I remember the 1st time I saw this game at some store like 10 years ago… it was going for $70! I had never seen a game go for that much, much less an OLD game like this! I was sort of amazed and I wanted to buy it right away! But I could never afford it. 🙁


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