Chrono Trigger is one of this writer’s favorite RPGs. Nay, favorite games of all time! Tomorrow marks the 20th Anniversary of the series. Yes, series. So let’s just get into it.
The game launched on the Super Nintendo on August 22, 1995 in the U.S. It has since been ported to the PlayStation, via a compilation with Final Fantasy IV, the DS, and most recently iOS. It was a dream project between Square and Enix before they merged companies. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy, designed the project. Nobuou Uematsu, composer on the FF series, co-wrote the music. Akira Toriyama, artist on Dragon Quest, did the art. Yuji Hori, the father of Dragon Quest, co-wrote it. And these are just four names in a long list of amazing talent.
As for the story, it centers on Crono, an ordinary boy thrown into an unordinary journey. He runs into the Princess Marle at a local festival, who is then sucked into a time rift when an experiment, done by Crono’s friend Lucca, malfunctions. Crono and Lucca travel back in time in order to rescue Marle and thwart an evil sorcerer from destroying her ancestry as well as uncover a plot concerning the end of the world via a monster called Lavos. It may sound cliché by today’s standards, but the integration of multiple timelines accompanied by a cast of lovable heroes make it stand out.
It’s such a great, forward thinking game. The enemies were on the map, getting rid of random encounters, plus there was no transitional load into a battle screen. The combat was simple, yet refined for a turn-based RPG. And that music! And that art! Ooo, it all still sends shivers down this writer’s spine. All these things and more make it so easily accessible for anyone to pick up and play.
While this dream team never reunited, there is a legacy beyond Chrono Trigger. A 16 minute anime was released a year later in Japan, though it only featured side characters and was more of a comedy. A character and music gallery, as well as a Jet Bike mini game, were released on the Satellaview: a Super Famicom add-on that let players download exclusive games to the system. These were all fine and good, but they didn’t expand the universe.
Enter Radical Dreamers, another Satellaview exclusive, which launched on February 13, 1996. It’s a text based visual novel depicting events that would later lead up to the pseudo-sequel to Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, which was released on August 15, 2000 on the PlayStation in the U.S. First, let’s dive deeper into RD.
Radical Dreamers starred Serge, Kid, and Gil who were looking for treasure in an old castle. There were little graphics, and for that matter, hardly any means of interaction. Players could fight enemies, though only in text, as well as make directional choices. It never released officially in America, but there is an English translation out there for the mildly curios.
Again, Radical Dreamers was more of an inspiration for Chrono Cross rather than an epilogue to Trigger. Serge, Kid, and Gil all appeared in Chrono Cross. Instead of a narrative focusing on time travel, CC was about alternate dimensions. It’s a good game by RPG standards, but not as a sequel to CT. Everything about it is dated comparatively, except for the stellar soundtrack.
Aside from ports of CT, Chrono Cross was the last game in the series. It’s been fifteen years now with rumored sequels, like Chrono Break, leaking around the Internet, but with no results. Fans have taken it upon themselves to make their own sequels. Rom hacks are the most popular way, though people have dabbled in various editions of RPG Maker for the PC as well. There’s even a beat’em up, Chrono Killer, which takes assets from the original game and reuses them. It’s simple, but also kind of rad.
The love is clearly there and fans have been clamoring for more Chrono for ages. So why hasn’t Square Enix done something about it? Was the series not profitable? Whatever the case may be, in Square Enix’s current state, CT isn’t getting a sequel anytime soon. Thankfully, sequel or not, nothing can change the fact that Chrono Trigger is still a phenomenal game.
Special Notes: Check out the video retrospective on the Chrono series on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.