Chrono Trigger

aka: The Dream Project

Nintendo DS version

If only we could go back in time and tell Yuji Horii to write this properly.

The Good
The opening is at least effective at establishing that the protagonist is inexperienced and unprepared for the challenges ahead of him, though this doesn't really come to anything.

Perhaps the solitary moment that stood out was when the frog-guy's backstory was revealed. While it didn't really say a whole lot about his character, it was a legitimately moving moment.

I'll also say that the soundtrack is strong, with some catchy tunes here and there, particularly for boss fights. Having said that,

The Bad
The tune for regular fights is pathetic, it's just an opening that doesn't go anywhere. Speaking of fights, they brought over that horrible Active Time system for Chrono Trigger, where attack orders are completely random and it's impossible to judge whether you'll get pummelled if you spend to long looking for the best attack, even in Wait mode. But here, it's made even worse by only having three party members active in one fight, which would make you think about who you assign abilities to except you can't even do that. The only way anyone gains an ability is by levelling up.

The fights just have no depth to them. All of the abilities are essentially the same swing of a sword but with a different elemental effect, and getting to them is a pain with all the identical names and the needlessly obtuse menu design. This should at least make one be able to make judgements as to which abilities are needed for each fight, but even that's hampered by the aforementioned lack of customisation meaning that, since only one person knows the healing spell, you'll only ever have one slot in the party free to assign, reducing any thought process on your part to trial and error. Each real fight has one and only one way of winning, but even that goes out the window as you get near the end, with some big bads making up their own rules as they go along. So basically, the only way to beat Chrono Trigger is to level grind excessively. Which is impossible because there are no random encounters.

And yes, those two moments mentioned above still stand. But apart from those, the game is pretty flat, just meandering around through contrived plot thread after out-of-left-field twist, leaving each before getting the chance to go into any narrative depth. The frog-guy is the only person here with even an implication of character development, other than that it's just the same re-used archetypes that are so done to death that the game's writer Yuji Horii had actually parodied a few of them in his earlier career(see also: Alena from DQ4).

The Bottom Line
The idea of Yuji Horii writing a game for Squaresoft should have been handled with more care and attention that was shown here. Chrono Trigger feels like it was made after a few scribbles on the drawing board with no real thought as to how the concepts would fit together.

by CrankyStorming (2913) on June 23rd, 2011

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