Chrono Trigger is a well known game originally released in 1995 that truly set the bar for other role playing games of its time. Both Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy were developed and published by Square, so it’s not too surprising that the two games share a bit in common. The first Final Fantasy game was released on 1987 and was missing story line, but gave us a classic leveling system and turn based combat that is still used in JRPG’s today.
A name shared between these two franchises is Hironobu Sakaguchi, a man who has been involved with games since 1984! He was a designer for both Chrono Trigger and the first Final Fantasy, and during Final Fantasy VI he was a producer (VI came out a year before Chrono Trigger). Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy have a lot in common. If you enjoy Final Fantasy games, particularly the early ones, then you will love Chrono Trigger. Seriously.
Spoilers abound ahead! Turn back now if you want to save yourself from having parts of the story ruined for you!
First things first, the characters. Your main dude is Chrono (yup, his name is in the title for a reason, but I won’t be spoiling that for you), then you have Lucca and Marle, who are also very important. Eventually you wind up recruiting Ayla, Robo, Frog, and Magus. They each have their own personalities that can be developed through story line, side quests, and even their speech patterns. The characters are all well put together and I love the way they are developed. If you ever play the sequel to Trigger, Chrono Cross, these feelings you develop for the characters are very important. Magus is particularly interesting, or at least to me, if you pay attention to him. While everyone’s story in Chrono Cross is pretty sad, I think the unresolved nature of Magus’ story is what really does it for me.
Time travel is a big thing here in the Chrono Trigger universe, as the main character’s friend, Lucca, has just created something ingenious called a Time Egg that can make a portal to another time. In a series of unfortunate events you travel backwards, forwards, and to the end of time. Throughout your journey you learn that the world will be destroyed by Lavos, so you go on a quest to kill this mysterious invader before he destroys everything. The group finds out that human evolved into what they are today because of Lavos and that the Reptites (who were dominant before humans) were wiped out almost entirely because of Lavos.
Time travel is a really tricky subject and particularly hard to pull off without confusing people. Unfortunately, Chrono Trigger does become rather confusing as the game goes on and multiple timelines are theorized. This is cleaned up and explained a bit better in Chrono Cross, but Chrono Trigger really leaves you with a sense of ‘I understand this part, and most of this, but what was going on here?’
The timelines also interject a lot of surprise family members, like Ayla is Marle’s great-great-great (continue this for a few centuries) Grandmother. The timelines have their good side too though, with an optional side quest with Robo leading to the resurrection of a dead forest in first time period. Overall, I think that the confusion of the time periods is balanced out by the way the story line uses it to make a great plot and great game.
There is also a magical world called Zeal that is introduced along with some important characters, particularly Schala. Schala has an amulet that is very similar to Marle’s, but that would make Schala a distant ancestor of Marle, which can’t be the case as Schala went missing until Chrono Cross many years later. People think it was just a coincidence, but the developers had to have known how similar these things would appear.
One awesome fact I definitely want to include is that the artwork in Chrono Trigger was done by Akira Toriyama, the same guy who did Dragon Ball. Does the picture of Lucca below not remind you of Bulma? They even have a bit of the same personality, both being inventors of awesome inventions! The female characters in Chrono Trigger are really great and diverse, and this was back in 1995, jus’ sayin’. A good female character doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, all tits. Sorry, that was a little off topic!
Honestly, if you enjoy older RPG’s than I cannot think of a reason that you wouldn’t like Chrono Trigger. The characters are amazing and the story line can be confusing, but is really worth it.