At its core, Chrono Trigger is a pretty typical JRPG, but it’s in its refinements that it excels. Characters are given free movement rather than being bound to tiles, enemies appear on the map eliminating random encounters almost entirely, and stats and equipment are all handled perfectly. The Tech system is particularly excellent, as it’s both simple to understand while also being extremely rewarding and versatile. Characters only learn a handful of abilities, with very few abilities shared between characters, but are also given several dual and triple techs usable between various character combinations, greatly increasing the ability pool.
Basically, from a technical and mechanical standpoint, everything in Chrono Trigger handles perfectly, and is perfectly paced. As a result, playing the game never feels like a drag, even in instances where you think it would.
Story / Value: 10.0
Where to begin? You embark on an epic time traveling adventure across the eras to not only save the planet from fiery destruction, but also help as many people you can along the way, in what are often very meaningful ways. The story is large, yet never confusing. It’s weighty, yet never takes itself too seriously. The cast is wonderful, and not only your main party members! Supporting characters, villains, and even secondary sidequest characters all add a ton of personality to the story. Speaking of sidequests, there’s a lot! Chrono Trigger leaves itself fairly open, allowing you to tackle different quests at various points in the game, as well as completely unlocking at the end.
You’re never left not knowing what your options are, and everything unfolds at an excellent pace. All of this would be more than enough on its own, but throw in the fact that there’s thirteen different endings, and that Chrono Trigger was one of the first (if not the first) games to implement a New Game+ feature, and you have some phenomenal replayability, a rarity in RPGs of this era.
Simply put, Chrono Trigger looks amazing. Sprites and characters are highly animated and expressive, and the monsters in the game are right on the same level. This is thanks in no small part to Akira Toriyama providing the art and style to the game, and I’m definitely a fan. Environments and spell effects all look fantastic, and there’s not a single graphical hiccup or slowdown along the way. It doesn’t hurt that Chrono Trigger has one of the best UI’s in a 16-bit RPG either!
The only game in the world that might have a better soundtrack than Chrono Trigger, is Chrono Cross, but we’re not quite there yet! It’s not just that the music is beautiful (it is) but it’s how well the music is used throughout the game to elicit moods and emotions. Every character has their own theme, each as wonderful as the next, and every single track in the game is unforgettable. Whether Frog’s theme is inspiring you to take up the sword and defend your lawn, or you’re getting Rick Roll’d by Robo’s theme, the music of Chrono Trigger will have a permanently lasting effect.
Memorable screeching roar from Lavos? Check. Cameo appearance of Kefka’s laugh? Check. All the sound effects in the game just work so well together, and sound so satisfying. When Crono takes a stance with his katana you’re ready for battle. When Robo connects with his Uzi Punch you feel it. That’s not to say anything of the ambient noises, from wind flying over a mountain to the buzzing of computers and conveyor belts around you. It all just comes together to complete the already perfect experience.
Fun / Afterthoughts: 10.0
This’ll be hard to believe, but I honestly went into this game with my expectations in check.
Surely, I thought, there was no way this game was as good as I remember it being. Oh, it was definitely great, but it couldn’t possibly compare to the way I remember it. Then I started playing… Leene’s Bell sent me straight back to my childhood and from there it only got better and better. Even sections of the game I had fully expected to take issue with ended up being just as enjoyable as anything else. Frankly, Chrono Trigger at it’s absolute worst is better than most game’s best. I can’t wait to start playing again.