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Oh, I wish I wish I hadn't killed that fish...

By Joshie on May 19th, 2009 under RPG, NDS, SNES,

A long time ago, in a world that still had such delights such as lolcats and the Cheeky Girls to come, a little game known as Chrono Trigger was conceived inside the little grey cells of Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. This was a time before the drink abuse and five AM hallucinations convinced him to create a $137 million box office face palm, in which Sakaguchi even succeeded in securing Yuuji Horii and Akira Toriyama of rival Dragon Quest fame to create a world destroying dream team in desperate need of a rock guitar theme song. Being the JRPG nerd that I am then, it will probably surprise you then that I have never played the bastard love-child of the two most popular Japanese series' of all time.

It's rather curious that the classic Square-Enix formula of jazzing up the graphics for games past their sell by date was not used on the love-child, something I can presume was the result of a miscommunication between Square head office and the riverside sweatshop from which ports and remakes are sent out on a rolling conveyer belt. Despite how many lost sells Chrono Trigger DS may have received from not looking as "hip" and "with it" as Imagine Babies, I'm personally delighted that Square took the hit so that Europe could receive the game in its original 2D glory. Besides, they can always remake it again with Chrono voiced by an Australian surfer next year.

When Chrono sleeps he provides the same amount of input as we does awakeChrono is an interesting character by the virtue of being mind blowingly boring. Silent protagonists were all the rage back before Sega showed us how incredible FMV games could really be, but Chrono does an impressive job at not only being a mute, but by also being utterly removed from the world around him. So far in the couple hours of Chrono Trigger that I have played, our cast of merry men have traveled back in time, saved a princess from the claws of an evil foe, returned home only to be sentenced to death, successfully avoided that unscathed and made their houdini escape by traveling into the future. Through this entire experience Chrono has yet to bat an eyelid, and while the other cast members may occasionally address him, they are never really looking for his input, but instead are simply checking to see if he's still conscious out of common decency. All this made me wonder who the hell Chrono even is. This guy has the ladies hanging from his arms, wields a mean sword, has spiffing hair and the ability to travel in time and he still lives with his mother? Really Sakaguchi?

By this point the whole narrative of the game comes into discontent. While I have clearly only seen just a small part of the whole pie, I can already see where it is going. One of the things that really strikes me about Chrono Triggers story is how incredibly light hearted it really is. Our merry crew find themselves in an apocalypse future in which the surviving inhabitants are starving to death and their first reaction seems to be to giggle and laugh. Even when Chrono is sentenced to death by a malicious middle management type, the follow scene proceeds not to show us signs of lost hope or misery, but an escape plan MacGyver would be proud of in which the whole "execution" thing can just be shrugged off. Looking back at what Squaresoft would later produce; it's surprisingly what a difference a couple years can make.

Reading this you probably get the impression that I absolutely hate Chrono Trigger. Following such hype and fanfare the cynic in me actually wanted to dislike the game just to prove the world wrong, and yet I simply can't. Despite it's questionable hero, story and tone, the raw classic JRPG game play is so pristinely perfect that I've become hooked to it like a baby to breasts. The musical score composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu is just incredible despite the DS's craptastic speakers and the 2D presentation of a world that allows you to span history itself is just gorgeous.

While the tale Chrono Trigger has to tell has yet to truly hook me, the game play is more than I could have ever asked for. I will return to report how my feelings have changed when I have made more progress, but for now, why not let me know what you think?

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