Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Few Words on Chrono Trigger

(DISCLAIMER: When I can't think of anything music-related to write about here, I end up blabbering about old video games. But if you've been keeping up with this blog for a while, you probably already gathered this. Ah, creativity!)

Chrono Trigger will probably always be one of my all-time favorite RPGs, which makes it all the more confusing to me why I haven't finished a playthrough of it in at least five years. I guess I could just blame familiarity; I've played through the opening segments of the game so often, I get sick of it early and become easily distracted by some new game (well, maybe "sick" is too mean of an adjective - but when you keep starting the same game over and over again for almost a decade I guess it's apt). So my most recent experiences with Chrono Trigger have consisted of firing up the usual ROM, playing 'till the trial part or the future part or wherever, and promptly dropping the game totally after the initial urge dies out. The last time this happened was a couple years ago, where I started maybe my briefest Trigger playthrough ever, quickly sweeping to the side in the wake of my sudden Zelda infatuation after barely starting it. In short, Trigger and I have had a very frustrating stop-start relationship that hasn't gone anywhere in years; the romantic spark we once had has faded into the ether.

Oh, okay, expanding on that metaphor (this is a good one): Chrono Trigger and I had a mutual break-up some years ago, but we still - awkwardly - meet for coffee once in a while. Every couple years one of us will try to convince the other that maybe we could hook back up, have it like it used to be, but y'know, it never pans out. Then I go off and fuck many other beautiful women.

Y'know let's just end the metaphor here. Bad idea from the start.

Chrono Trigger is still a great game. And I still love it. It makes most earlier Final Fantasy games (with the exception of maybe 6) look stiff and boring by comparison. Its story dabbles in some common JRPG-anime pretentiousness once in a while, but it hardly ever bogs things down (unlike its sequel, Chrono Cross, which I still kinda like but c'mon that story made no fucking sense). Chrono Trigger's charm lies in the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously, keeping its characters chipper and fun even in the wake of large spikey lotus monsters bringing forth Ultimate Apocalypse. And in retrospect, its gameplay feels much more flexible than most Final Fantasy games, removing obnoxious random world map battles and incorporating weapon range and multi-character attacks into the usual Square RPG formula. It has one of the best soundtracks in game history (par the course for Square RPGS of the period) and has that whole multiple-ending-new-game-plus thing that makes it all the more replayable. Oh, and it's also one of the best looking games on the system, utilizing every last wonderful detail of later-day SNES technology.

So yeah, Chrono Trigger has a lot going for it. Most people know this, which is why it's one of those super-duper rare SNES cartridges you've gotta pay 100+ buckos for on eBay. So why have I replayed Final Fantasy VII and VIII so many more times, games that have - both graphically and gameplay-wise - aged much worse than the nigh-timeless Trigger? OH lordy lord I don't know.

But now Trigger's finally getting the DS remake it deserves, so I feel like it's somehow appropriate to take another whack at it. But I'm playin' on a ROM - Trigger was the first game I ever emulated, and I like to keep up the tradition. But now I've gotta worry about this fancy new remake, which will make it very, very awkward if I finally finish the game completely and I somehow end up getting the remake as a Christmas gift. Oh ho ho that would kind of suck.

Well, um, that's it. I haven't updated in a week and this is all I've got to show for it - a piddly little post generically lauding Chrono Trigger, a game that everybody else has already praised to the high heavens.

Tune in next week when I write a complimentary article about this "Beatles" group I just heard about.

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