Chrono Trigger for the DS is a remastered version of the SNES game of the same name and it contains all of the features from PS1 and SNES versions. The story focuses on Chrono, a young aspiring swordmaster who visits a local fair. While taking part in the activities, he runs across Marle, someone who is a princess named Nadia. She is sneaking out to have some fun instead of performing her royal duties. They decide to hang out together and enjoy the fair.
Chrono’s friend Lucca is working with her father to create a time machine when the device suddenly malfunctions and transports Chrono and Marle into the medieval times. The out of place duo have to find a way back into the present. Lucca is also transported and joins up with Chrono and Marle and they set off to find their way home. They eventually learn about a mysterious being named Lavos who in thousands of years from now, will destroy the earth. Now it is up to Chrono and his friends to stop Lavos from executing his future plans. To do this, Chronos and his companions have to change the past by exploring 7 different eras in history.
Chrono, Marle and Lucca befriend many allies from various time periods who help them on their journey. They also help them solving their own problems such battling prehistoric reptiles that are terrorizing the village or helping the people of the future make their current situation better.
The characters were interesting and unique and the story is very well written and complex. The main theme of this story is time traveling and what would you do to change the past, present and future. You can select the names of your characters if you like. Your story decisions in either the past or the future will have massive consequences. At one point in the game, Chrono sacrifices himself in order to defeat Lavos. This is one of the most tragic parts and there is an option to prevent this by winning a doll that looks like Chrono and placing it instead of the real Chrono so that he can live.
If you choose to spare Magus, one of the antagonists, he becomes a member of Chrono’s party. One key story decision is when Chrono is on trial and witnesses can either vouch or speak against him concerning his actions at the fair at the early part of the game. There are also even hidden side quests in the game that affect how the future will be. On one quest, you have to find a way for plants to grow so in the long term the future can be a brighter place than what it is now.
Each time period you visit has its own distinct design and atmosphere and there are multiple different time periods to visit. 2300 AD for instance, has a dark and bleak atmosphere. The end of time serves as an in between to all other time periods where you can rest up and select which party members you would like as travelling companions.
You can visit dungeons as you progress on your journey where there are elements of puzzle solving. You have to turn off and turn on certain switches and use the DS control system to enter certain passwords. Dungeons are all unique and they have their own methods on how to pass through them. There are many secrets to discover inside and outside of the dungeons.
The game has plenty of lighthearted entertaining moments. one part where you are in Medina village and the non human residents refuse to sell to you, have to get into a fight in order to force them to sell.
There are about 13 different endings to the game depending on your actions and when do you decide to face Lavos. You can play the game at your own pace and you could fight Lavos earlier if you want but it is not recommended. You can make the game as long or as short as you want it to be. The game is challenging without being too difficult. You can have up 3 different party members each with their own play style.
The game has a very customizable combat system. Combat is initiated by either being ambushed or coming into contact with enemies. You can avoid being ambushed by sneaking around them in most cases. Each character has their own different special abilities and stats such as Magus having a high magic attacks or Robo having great strength. You can select either turn based combat which is slower or a fast-paced active time battle system as used in other Final Fantasy games. You can select which enemy you would like to target and which command you would like to use. Enemies and characters can move in many different directions in combat and this is part of strategy in defeating them. Hitting the main enemy can either do little to no damage but cutting off its support system can lower the defenses and prevent the enemy from healing.
The tech system in combat comprises of either special magical or physical attacks. It is based on the magic system in Final Fantasy where you can cast spells but it drains mp meter at the same time so when the mp meter or in this case the tech system runs low, then you cannot use it until you refill your meter with ether.
Each character represents a different element. Chrono is Lightning which means he can use lightning based attacks. Each character also has their own special abilities to use in the tech system. You can practice your magic attacks at the end of time with the master of war Spekkio. Spekkio’s power reflects the current level and power the party has and defeating him will give you special items and capsules to increase your stats. Hit points show how much damage you or an enemy has sustained.
You can combine your tech attacks with either one or all of your party members to create a powerful and devastating tech attack to an enemy. If Lucca and Chrono were to combine their tech attacks, they can use a cyclone whirl mixed with fire to cripple all enemies in the area. Other tech abilities can affect an entire area of enemies potentially wiping them out. You can unlock powerful tech attacks by finding various kinds of special rocks, and by leveling up.
There are plenty of enemies to fight, each from their own time period. The boss fights feel unique and challenging and you can’t just use the same attacks all of the time. You need to pay attention to see if there is an opening to strike. You also have to be careful which part you hit as certain parts can lead to a powerful counter attack wiping out your party.
You can find many different items and equipment in the game to help you in your journey. Treasure chests are available in dungeons and in other parts of the game universe that contain many different items. You can buy and sell many different items in the game. Strength, magic and speed capsules can be used to increase your characters stats. Some equipment has its own special benefits like increased elemental damage and some are only exclusive to certain characters. If party members fall and you don’t have any Athenian water to revive them, then its game over.
You can inflict status afflictions on enemies and they can do the same to you and you can also sneak up on enemies in order to get an advantage and launch a surprise attack. Defeating enemies will give you items, money and xp points to level up. Combat is overall one of the highlights of the game and it helped revolutionize JRPGS at the time.
You can change the control systems to either make it more like the SNES version or keep it the DS version but either way the controls are very easy to learn and familiar to older players. The game takes full advantage of the dual screen with one showing the map and user interface at the bottom and the other showing gameplay at the top. The user interface was easy to learn and pretty straightforward.
The game has a self-completing map which means as you progress. the map will open up new areas and when you find all of the areas the map will be fully completed. This aspect encourages you to explore around dungeons and the game. The maps use an overhead view showing the world in a more scaled down manner as you navigate your way around. Exploring the locations changes into a more up close and realistic view where you can interact with the locals, buy items, solve puzzles and explore dungeons.
You can save at green checkpoints before or after you face a boss and there is a mp health recharging gauge at the end of time just in case you are low on health and you need to go somewhere. You can use your tents at green checkpoints just like in Final Fantasy 4 to heal up.
The pixelated graphics and animation is very good and even today it still looks highly detailed. The artwork,world design and character models is done by the dragon ball creator Akira Toryiama and it fits perfectly in this game. The games anime cutscenes by TOEI looks really incredible and you can rewatch them anytime you like. The dialogue in this version has more accurate English translations in contrast to the SNES version. The music is remastered from the SNES version. It is a very close rendition of the original one is very good. The superb quality audio sounds very clear and a bit retro.
Time traveling is a key element in the later parts of the game. You can find the Epoch or whatever you like to rename it as and you can free travel to any area you want and any time period you wish to visit. Time gates and pillars of light are scattered in many parts of the worlds you visit and these can transport you back and forth to different eras of time.
There are numerous extra content and replay value in the game. The fair can be revisited at anytime if you wish to play any of the mini games. You can earn silver points to spend on free prizes or take part in activities. Once you beat the game, new dungeons to explore are unlocked and one connects it to the sequel Chrono Cross. You can also get new weapons and equipment from Melchior by finding the right magical stones to unlock more powerful tools. The remastered version also has new equipment to find post game.
New game plus is also available where your progress and stats are carried over.
There is an arena in the game where you can create a monster and choose which elemental ability it uses. You can feed them certain treats that either increases one set of stats while decreasing another set. You can send the monsters you created to train in different time periods and coming back will also increase or decrease different stats. When your monster wins, you can earn many different prizes to choose from. You can even take part in bike races in 2300 ad and when you win, your best time is posted. Dimensional vortexes appear after you beat the game and this will lead you into fighting more dangerous opponents.
There are the occasional design hiccups in the game. Backtracking and fighting enemies when they respawn after you leave can be tedious. Objectives are not really clear so you have to pay very close attention to the dialogue. Some of the objectives can be awkward as when you have to learn magic, you have to walk multiple times from wall to wall in a counter clockwise manner instead of just learning it right there. One part, you have to chase down a rat which is faster than your characters and you can find yourself doing these multiple times. This is somewhat alleviated as there is now a map showing the pattern the rat follows. The rats themselves are also stealing your curatives and there is no way to get them back as you can’t really fight the small ones.
Overall, Chrono Trigger is a great game with excellent replay value. The dialogue, music, world designs are all excellent with the combat being the highlight. This is one of the best JRPGS and DS games I have played.
It gets 5 stars out of 5.
Newcomers and veteran JRPG fans will find Chromo Trigger great entertainment and will replay this game many times.