GAME REVIEW- Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The mid '90s were a good time to be a fan of console-based role-playing games. Shiny commercials advertising Final Fantasy VII were still a couple of years off, thereby granting a tight but dedicated fandom a handful of A+ titles on the Super Nintendo.
Good feelings for Squaresoft's Chrono Trigger have endured for thirteen years, since 1995. That's a paltry amount of time next to the millions of years its protagonists zip around as easily as children going down a slide, but it's a remarkable amount of time for a game to remain in such good standing. Chrono Trigger deserves its reputation, which is why the DS adaptation suits both old fans and curious newcomers. It's worth saving the world again on-the-go even if you've already done it once, parked in front of a television set. If you haven't experienced Chrono Trigger at all (give the old timers a second to gasp and fan themselves from the edge of fainting), now is the time to right this wrong. The RPG has aged well thanks to beautiful graphics, a great battle system and a soundtrack that rings through the memory.
Time To Look Good
Chrono Trigger is about a boy and a girl (two girls, actually), their adventures with time travel, and the time-appropriate friends they pick up along the way (a cave woman, a humanoid robot and a...frog?). Eventually, they're tasked with saving the world from a planet-devouring evil. Chrono Trigger's story is done in the style of high-quality shonen manga like Dragon Ball and One Piece; it's pretty easy to follow, but no less compelling for its simplicity.
If boredom sets in (rare), there's always something pretty to look at. Chrono Trigger DS' graphics are ported directly from the original Super Nintendo game and they still impress. The appeal can be credited to both nostalgia and sheer skill: sprite graphics are nearly a lost art that's been petering out since the ascent of 3D games. Chrono Trigger's sprites might not have the smooth movement of a polygon figure, but the colours are expressive and the personality undeniable. From the humid, rocky planes of Prehistory to the ruined craters and blowing rain in the wrecked Future, every era Crono visits carries its own theme of toil, prosperity or despair, depending.
Time To Listen
Chrono Trigger's soundtrack has long been celebrated as one of the best in the SNES' vast library, if not one of gaming's very finest. Put together by Yasunori Matsueda and by-then RPG music veteran Nobuo Uematsu, very little about Chrono Trigger's background music can be faulted. Tracks like “Sealed Gate” and “To Faraway Times” still pull at the emotions as strongly as ever.
Owners of Chrono Trigger DS will in fact gain a few tracks that had to be cut from the original title. In turn, they'll lose a bit of sound quality. Whereas most of the game's music ported over well, certain sound effects have been gimped. Gone are the awesome wet sounds of Marle and Frog's water spells. In their place are rubbery tinks and tonks.
Time To Fight
It's not enough for a game to look and sound fantastic. If it's not fun to play, it's more use to just watch a movie or listen to a CD. Happily, Chrono Trigger is still a blast to play. Its tech-based battle system (which lets characters combine magic spells into destructive forces that look insane and whomp a lot of ass) is still a fun to experiment with. Players will find they'll be swapping out characters regularly to discover which combinations suit their fighting style. Chrono Trigger wasn't only revolutionary for its tech system: the game abolished random battles as well, often letting players choose whether they wanted to confront enemies or let sleeping monsters lie.
Time To Play
Some retooling and bonus dungeons will greet players who are already familiar with the game. Most notably, the game has anime cut scenes ported from 1999's badly put-together Playstation port. These are all done in character designer Akira Toriyama's distinct style and are for the most part welcome (they can be skipped or turned off)--but unfortunately the animated intro replaces the classic montage that used to precede Chrono Trigger's title screen.
Chrono Trigger DS has received a new translation as well, which goes a long way to rounding out bits of story that were initially missing because of text space and cartridge limitations. Admittedly, the original translation by Ted Woolsey had more quotable one-liners that are missed, but the expanded story content is worth the sacrifice.
The game's “bonus dungeons” are relatively unexciting and don't tie into the initial story in any profound way. The new Arena, which lets players raise and battle their own monsters, is spartan but provides a nice distraction. Other bonuses include a bestiary and a music player.
Time After Time
So, is it worth it for an old-time fan to turn back time and purchase Chrono Trigger DS?
For the most part, absolutely. Chrono Trigger isn't revered for nothing. The bonus content staggers, but there's so much of it that it's hard not to be pleased about some small part of it.
Should a JRPG fan who's never experienced this sixteen-bit masterpiece give it a go? Yes. Everyone should play Chrono Trigger. It's worth getting jealous over the fact that someone out there is going to get to experience Chrono Trigger for the first time.
Mania Grade: A-
Game: Chrono Trigger
Platform: Nintendo DS
Replay Value: B-