The Chrono Chronicles: Part 1

Three Gamechurch writers embark on a journey through Chrono Trigger.

Written by Gamechurch Writers / Published on March 13, 2014

Chrono Trigger is widely considered one of the greatest games of all time. Upon finding that one of our writers had never played the game, we decided to revisit Chrono Trigger and share our results with you. We are not interested in determining whether Chrono Trigger is a great game or not. Instead, we’re interested in exploring whether playing Chrono Trigger today will add any value to our lives. Will we be any better off, even in any small way, for playing Chrono Trigger? 

In this week’s post, we discuss our hopes, concerns, and expectations for this experiment.

Drew Dixon

There was a time in my life when I would have made the argument that Chrono Trigger is the greatest game ever made. The truth is, I haven’t played the game in over a decade and since then have played a lot of really great games. And more than whether Chrono Trigger is a great game or whether it still holds up, I wonder if all the time I invested in Chrono Trigger those many years ago were worthwhile. Did playing Chrono Trigger add value to my life beyond being a fun videogame with a “great story”? Am I a better person in some small way because Chrono Trigger was a significant part of my life in middle school and high school? Will playing the game again add value to my life now?

What I remember most about Chrono Trigger and what I expect to still find valuable after all these years is the game’s very eclectic cast of characters that grow in their love for and commitment to one another. Despite the game’s playful art style, I remember the characters being surprisingly mature. I will be interested to see if I still feel the same way today.

I will also be interested to explore Chrono Trigger’s many JRPG tropes and whether those tropes add to the overall experience of playing the game. CT has armor, shops, turn based combat, potions, status effects, world maps, leveling, magic, monsters, and incredibly cute characters. Does the game justify the presence of these tropes in any meaningful way?

Anyway, I am getting all warm and fuzzy just thinking about CT, so I am going to stop writing and start playing. What about you, April and James? I know you have different levels of familiarity with the game. I am eager to hear what you hope to find in CT.

April-Lyn Caouette

Chrono Trigger has been in my backlog for over a decade. I love JRPGs, but somehow the only one I’ve ever managed to complete was Final Fantasy 10. Even then I used a cheat disc to get through the last boss; at that point I had lost interest in “beating the game” but needed to see the story through to the end. Recently I’ve accepted that I simply don’t have the attention span for longer games, and have shifted my focus almost entirely away from AAA games to shorter indie games. I’m excited to finally play through what I’ve heard is one of the greatest JRPGs ever made. Playing it through with you guys will keep me committed.

I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with a generation of games that I almost entirely missed as a young gamer. Growing up, we upgraded the NES directly to the Playstation, and as an adult I sometimes regret not having much nostalgia attached to the the SNES or the N64.

Also, I’m listening to harp versions of the game’s music as I write this, and it reminds me that on each of my previous attempts to play through it, I was struck by how good the music is compared to a lot of other game music from the time. So I’m looking forward to that.

From a more critical standpoint, one of the things I’ll be watching for is how the game approaches the notion of femininity. Female tropes in video games have been getting a lot of attention in the past few years and my memory of CT is that its female characters are painted with a much broader brush than in many other games of the time, or at least that there are a wider range of character types than just the “damsel in distress“. I’d like to see if I’m remembering this correctly and how it plays out through the rest of the game.

I can’t wait to start playing!

James Roberts

When talking about my expectations for a game with a reputation as pronounced as Chrono Trigger’s, you have to understand that they are going to be very high. It’s a game that is almost always put on a similar pedestal as Final Fantasy VI, which is pretty high praise and something that makes me very skeptical. I’ve been told that it’s got an incredible story, that it has multiple endings, interesting and fleshed out characters, a great battle system and a memorable soundtrack. If the game can offer even a few of those things, I expect I’m really going to enjoy my time. I’m going to be open minded and patient though, given that it’s a much older game and that a lot of the things we now expect are likely going to be absent and likely frustrate me at a times.

I have a love-hate relationship with JRPG’s. I came to the gaming scene later in life, and the majority of videogames I played were more arcade style and just good for a bit of mindless entertainment when I was in the right mood. It wasn’t until I discovered my first JRPG (Final Fantasy VII for the Playstation) that things really took off. The story, the characters and the world all taught me to explore my own imagination and express my emotions in a way that before I had found extraordinarily difficult, it was a life changing moment for me and really sparked that passion for video games that has shaped my life.

With more experience I tend to find the tropes of JRPG storytelling to be incredibly jarring and immersion breaking, evoking little more than an eye roll most of the time. I haven’t really enjoyed a JRPG since last generation’s Lost Odyssey for the Xbox 360, and even that presented me with more than its fair share of frustratingly cliché plot points and moments.

With Chrono Trigger I’m hoping for something that evokes that nostalgia of the early years of the JRPG, for me. I want an interesting and enjoyable story that doesn’t need to rely on over the top special effects and lengthy cut-scenes to draw you in. Dialogue that doesn’t make me groan and want to mash the A button to skip through it. I want interesting and diverse characters that aren’t immediately there from some pre-determined archetype, characters that I want to get to know and understand as the game progresses. The gameplay mechanics aren’t so much of a concern for me, it’s going to be a turn-based combat system which I can cope with, and I’m expecting a lot the usual RPG-esque features you would find in this kind of game.

Really my focus going in is whether or not it’s telling a story I want to see through to the end, something I still look for in almost every game I play. I think when it comes down to it, what I really want is Doctor Who meets Final Fantasy VI. Anything less and I’m going to be disappointed.

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  • Nathan Strange

    I’m looking forward to this series! Several years ago I found myself getting bored and tired of playing the latest JRPG that everyone said “was as good as the classics!!!” to only find myself disappointed by cliches and poor imitations of the memories I had of playing the older Final Fantasy games and Chrono Trigger. Did that mean I had outgrown JRPGs? Was I just getting too old for them?

    I was pleasantly surprised that not only did Chrono Trigger hold up after all those years, but I found myself getting more out of the story and character than I ever did as a youngster. In the lede paragraph you said, “we’re interested in exploring whether playing Chrono Trigger today will add any value to our lives,” and I think that’s the exact way Christians should be approaching video games. I found myself getting a lot out of Chrono Trigger, and I’m looking forward to reading about your journeys. Heck, there’s a really good chance that all this reading is going to make me go back and play it again myself haha.

    (In my opinion, the best version of the game was the one released for the Nintendo DS. They added several new things (like a new dungeon), one of which fixed a gaping plot hole from the original game!)