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SummaryA very shallow RPG. Too easy, too kiddy, too dull.
The GoodAh what can I say? I enjoy RPGs, and while I've always been a PC guy, there's always been a spot in my heart for them good ol' console RPGs. Chrono Trigger was a game that had been thoroughly recommended to me via friends and relatives, and I'd seen such praise about it here on Mobygames and on various message boards, I thought it was finally time that I tried it out for myself.
Right from the very beginning, this game glowed with that "SNES classic RPG" feel that I'd gotten so many times, from so many games, and for most of them I have Squaresoft to thank. Nostalgia instantly hit me as I saw the ticking of that thing in those grandfather clocks (you know what I mean - that bar with the circle on it? It goes tick-tock? Erm...anyway...) even though I'd never played this game before. I knew I was going to enjoy this romp.
So I began my game and...well, I'll finish this paragraph in "The Bad". For now, let me reflect on the good parts of the game.
It's a console RPG. If that ain't a "good" thing, I don't know what is. None of these new-fangeled game engines with wacky rules that are too confusing to understand. Nope, instead, this is a very simple game that takes absolutely no time to figure out. Once you begin playing, you understand the game. Anything "new" that the game might bestow upon you (such as spellcasting) is introduced with a warm in-game tutorial, so you're never lost. Good ol' console RPGs.
If you didn't know already, the game's plot revolves around time travel. (I'm not giving too much away here - you figure this out two minutes into the game) This is one of the few RPGs, or games in general I've played for consoles that involved time travel, and being an ol' kiddy sci-fi whacko, I loved the idea, and I felt the game did it very well. I also liked traveling back in time to see what the land was like, say, one thousand years ago...or foward in time, to see what it's like several thousand years in the future. Familiar landscapes and cities are a welcome treat. Some of your events in the past are even retold by people in the far future! This added a great thrill to the game.
You can fight the "big bad boss" at almost any point in the game, and possibly kill him (though I wasn't able to until I'd completed all the other parts of the game). I love this sort of open-ended gameplay.
The BadNow, where was I? Oh, right. So I began my game and was instantly disappointed. Why? Because there is absolutely no atmosphere in this game at all. Almost nothing to entrance me, nothing to bring me into this game. RPGs have a way of making you feel something about the characters in it, they have a way of making you become the character you play. I've never seen an RPG fail at this so horribly as this game. Now, don't get me wrong, the game was fun...but it completely lacked the atmosphere RPGs tend to have. Every NPC you talk to spits forth the most boring and unrealistic series of dialogue I've ever read. You never have any sense that what you're doing really matters because the people that your actions affect never seem to care about anything. Walk up to someone and they might say, "Did you hear about the weather? Yeah, it might rain. Oh, and I hear there's a secret entrance underneath a bush near the cave to the East."
I've played plenty of console RPGs, so I know that dialogue (particularly in Squaresoft games) is never really "realistic", but this is way below par. Never in the game do YOU ever acomplish anything on your own, except perhaps defeat a boss. Everyone directs you wherever you need to go, everyone tells you all the secrets, and if they're not doing that, they're dropping little "hints" that are so obvious that if you didn't get them perhaps you shouldn't be playing video games anymore.
Even worse than the NPCs in the game are the ones you get in your party, which include two annoying girls, a frog and a robot, none of which I gave a damn about. One girl is some sort of scientist, the other's some psycho hyperactive princess whom I got rid of as soon as I got more than three party members (as per the norm, you can only have three fighting at a time), and the other is some sort of robot that has feelings. Every time a part in the game comes along that requires one of my party members participates in a dialogue exchange, I want to just turn the television off so I don't have to endure their childish, boring, unrealistic and unimaginitive stories and obvious questions.
The characters are also all about five to eight years old, I would suspect. That, or they all escaped from the short bus. It's a personal pet peeve of mine in games when the "hero" is some eight year old kid with a sword. And by the way, why do you start with a sword? What happened to the whole "I wielded this sword to defend myself!" acquiring of your weapon that happens in so many classics? Link grabbed a sword to fight those ball-spitting things. That Secret of Mana kid pulled one out of the thing to defend himself. In Final Fantasy 2 you were a knight, fighting for justice or something. In this dumb game, you're just an eight year old kid who happens to have a sword with him and gets himself into a whole lot of trouble. I wonder what his mother thinks of him wielding that thing around? And another eight year old kid is armed with a pistol!
One of the "key scenes" to this game was one in which you race someone in a post-apocalyptic ruined highway. This has got to be the most overrated worthless "scene" I've ever bothered to watch. First of all, it's not a damn race. It's a two minute animation of two guys on bikes (which, to their credit, did look pretty cool for SNES games) who are constantly getting ahead of each other. There's no strategy involved here. You just try and be the one "in front" when you reach the finish line. Here's a funny story - I set the controller down and just won the race.
The game is also painfully easy. You get tons of cash for killing easy monsters, and aside from boss battles, I've never lost a fight, and typically, I just hit the "A" button until the battle is over. Strategy? Tactics? Who needs'em? Well, actually, they come in handy in boss battles...
This game has the setup for a really great story, and it almost comes together at times, but it's completely ruined by the fact that your actions seem to have no affect on anyone but your damn annoying party members. And while it's typical for console RPGs, the entire setup at times just seems way too unrealistic.
"Let's save the world!"
"Do you know how to use a weapon?"
"Nope, but let's save the world!"
Save the world? I say let'em burn. Maybe they'll give a damn then.
The Bottom LineIt's obvious that this game was targeted at a younger audience, but old farts like me still love to play these games, so guys over the age of eight still make up at least half the market. I just can't see this game appealing to anyone over eight years old, unless they REALLY enjoy console RPGs and don't mind stupid kiddy dialogue, ininteresting (and uninterested) NPCs and annoying party members.
The time travel thing is a great idea, and it comes together in some places, but not enough for me to care.