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Published January 25, 2009

Crono AccordinoChrono Trigger. Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you’re quite familiar with it. In fact, even if you haven’t played it, you’d know that to even describe it means to delve into the most glowing pool of praise that video game criticism, be it either professional or pure internet trolling, has ever seen.

To put it briefly, Chrono Trigger was one of the late, great SNES RPGs. It represents one of the strongest collaborations of Japanese game-design talent ever seen, and was released at the height of the install base of one of the most popular game consoles to ever grace either side of the pacific. Is it any wonder why, with all of that talent, (Hori, Toriyama, Mitsuda, Uematsu and Sakaguchi) we have what is regarded as one of the best, nostalgia-soaked RPGs ever made?

I don’t think so.

What might surprise you, however, is that this JRPG-loving, Dragon Ball super-fan had never seriously sat down to play through the game until just recently.

It’s not as if I haven’t tried. In fact, Square’s masterpiece has long-since been the test-pilot for practically every SNES emulator Magic VCR™ I’ve ever tried to shove onto a computer. My experiences were roughly the same each time:

“Tick. Tock. Pendulum. Wake up Crono! Millenium Fair. Foot-racing freak-show. Eat that guy’s lunch. Chug soda. Hooray. Now which game should I try?”

So when I received a copy of the “enhanced” DS port for Christmas, I was 2-parts excited, 1-part nostalgic and 1-part wary that I’d never make it through to one of those fifty or whatever ending sequences people keep raving about. It’s not enough that I’ve come to learn almost every nuance of history surrounding Chrono Trigger that’s available*, but with my friends telling me it’s one of their all-time favorites and even Jeremy Parrish halting from his usual game-remake loathing to admit the inflated, SquareEnix-taxed price tag was well worth it, well, I couldn’t really escape it.

It was high time it got the boot from my hall of shame list. Radiant Silvergun, watch your back.

And wouldn’t ya know it, 6 hours in, I’m more than happy with my gift. Never did I think I would be so content with a direct SNES port, but hey, if there was one game to directly port, this was it (screw you, Final Fantasy Chronicles). But rather than sit here and regale you with how much I appreciate every second that was spent on this epic, time-defeating (literally) jewel of entertainment, I want to focus on what about the game truly catches me off guard.

Two things really.

1. How critics love the game’s artwork despite its famous creator.

This seriously baffles me. There’s absolutely no end to the misguided prejudice that flows from the lips of critics that caught one episode of DragonBall Z, scoff at the thought of manga, yet absolutely love all that is Chrono Trigger. It’s made all the more ridiculous when you take a second to compare a few of the characters in both works. Crono and Goku could be brothers. Lucca and Bulma are the same character. And if imps and saiba men don’t look the same to you, well, it’s glasses time, son. It seems as if, at least on these shores, Toriyama’s artwork in the gaming realm is often a minus on the game reviewer’s scale of RPGs. Too child like? Too generic? Maybe. But if that’s the case, get off your high horse and stop playing JRPGs in the first place. Toriyama’s style is one of the most original and intrinsically Japanese components to ever be included in an eastern RPG. If you’re going to mock Blue Dragon’s character design, you had better not give Chrono Trigger a free pass.

2. There’s no end to the media-ties that Chrono trigger has created.

Maybe it speaks to the uber-popularity that the game has come to see over the past 14 years, but I simply can’t sit down to play without a comparison to some other damn song or tv show popping up. Maybe you’ll understand why when I see this:

6a00d83452033569e200e54f7b11f08834-800wi.jpg it reminds me of this: Goku

Or when this guy shows up:

Robo , I hear this: Rick Astley

Or even seeing this:

Gato , Makes me think of this: 50

(Ask for the links and I will oblige)

Seriously, the world has done wonderful and awful things to Chrono Trigger.

But despite all of the outside references and influences that the game has had on other culture (and vice-versa), I’m still finding myself enthralled by what I think is the core experience.

For a chrono-virgin like me, I guess only time will tell.

*Like, for example, that Mitsuda demanded to do the game’s composition, less he quit. He landed it and ended up giving himself stomach ulcers from laboring over the work.

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