While I realize that Chrono Trigger has already been mentioned in another the start of the affair articles, I still felt like I needed to tell my story.
If I were asked which game has had the greatest effect on my life, it would no doubt be Chrono Trigger. It not only immersed me for the first time into the RPG genre it also served as a catalyst for me in developing my first long lasting childhood friendships.
<backstory (skip if you wish)>
Since being born in 1987 (year of the rabbit, btw) in Aberdeen, Scotland, my family and I have always been on the move. My dad being an expatriate working in the oil and gas industry for BP was continuously relocated from country to country. After my first birthday, our family moved to Stavanger, Norway; where we lived for 2 years. After living in Norway my dad took an opportunity in Jakarta, Indonesia; where again, we lived for 2 and half or so years before moving onto Mexico City.
While the life I had lived up until this point was invaluable in terms of the gaining unique and rewarding experiences in regards to growing up in all these different countries and interacting with the people that lived there. It didn’t permit the development of long lasting friendships. My parent’s recognizing this in both of my older brothers and me; decided it would be best to settle in our home country of Canada.
My family moved to Calgary, Alberta in September 1994; I was 7 at the time, and like many times before I was dropped into a new environment where I had no clue of anything. My first year, in grade 2 was a little bit of a drag, sure I had “friends” but no real legitimate connections. It wasn’t until the following year, where both my passion for gaming (RPG’s in particular) and a long lasting friendship began to develop.
While I did have both a NES and SNES at this point of time I never really got into gaming. Up until this point I had only played action games like Mario bros. ,Super Street Fighter (Ken ftw), and games like Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. While they were good, classic games; they were nothing in comparison to the type of experience and immersion that Chrono Trigger would soon be offering me.
I met my soon to be best friend at the time, on the first day of grade 3. He had just got Chrono Trigger as it was recently released and he invited me over to come try it out. Little did I know this moment would have such an impact on my life. As said before up until this point I had never played or even heard of an RPG. So starting a new game and being the total noob that I was, after being enthralled by the beautiful bird’s eye view opening I finally got to the naming screen. Not knowing exactly what to do, I started hitting random buttons to try and progress past the screen; as a result of these rash actions, the name of my hero for my first play through of Chrono Trigger had devolved from Chrono to Bono (no joke).
(in retrospect, I should have named Frog, “The Edge”, with the double tech: “U2”).
Name antics aside, My Chrono Trigger experience had begun, and I was mesmerized. Even after hours of playing I was still enamored with the mystique surrounding the game. Heroes imbued with magic abilities racing through time to stop an omni-present threat that has existed for millennia. With a plot like that how could this game possibly suck?
I believe one of the things that really spoke to me was the aesthetic values of the game itself. Even when I wasn’t playing the game it still had a prevailing effect on me as I distinctly recall spending hours upon hours tracing and drawing Akira Toriyama’s illustrations of Crono and the gang that were presented both on the box and the official strategy guide.
However there was one major aspect about Chrono Trigger that totally blew my mind. Double and Triple tech, whoever came up with this concept was a genius. These techniques not only allowed for creative crazy synergies between your party in the game, but it also spurred for crazy creative synergies between your friends outside the game, namely during recess. I can’t count the number of times where a group of 3 us would perform random triple techs on unsuspecting people on the playground. Sure our victims would respond to us like we were on crack but we didn’t care; it was pure creative magic.
To top it all off Chrono Trigger had a deep and rich story, complete with a diverse breadth of characters both in appearance and personalities. In most games, you pick and choose your favourite characters and stick with them for the whole game; however in Chrono Trigger all the characters were so likable that I enjoyed playing with all of them. From the frisky Ayla to the quizzical Robo, each character had something to offer that was both unique and rewarding to the story.
Unlike other games, Chrono Trigger allowed the user to choose how the story finished in the form of 12 different endings, depending on when you the player decided (or was able) to defeat Lavos. This was something totally unheard of at the time. I was used to playing games with linear narrative progression, where I would have to beat all the worlds before I could face against the final boss. With Chrono Trigger, I was able to decide which quests I wanted to do and when; I became quite literally the master of time and destiny when playing the game. From a design stand point, having Lavos being available to fight once you got to the end of time was quite a genius move as a means of instilling a sense of fear and dominance over the player until they felt that they were able to overcome this obstacle.
Personally for me I remember trying to defeat Lavos once I was introduced into the bucket in the End of Time, only to be annihilated in one hit. Lavos’ power and difficulty really was instilled into me at that point as I watched the earth get destroyed in the cut scene that followed, with the words coming up “But… The future refused to change.” Chills, serious chills. At this point I was determined to overcome my brutal adversary, and when I did finally beat the shell I thought it was over...I had won! Wait what’s this? My true enemy lies waiting inside? The epic-ness of the Lavos boss fight is still to this day one of the better boss fights I have ever played both in difficulty and in immersion as the revelation of what Lavos actually is comes to fruition and is revealed to both the player and the characters.
As stated before I owe a lot to Chrono Trigger: firstly, it introduced me into the glorious world of RPG’s , and secondly, it connected me to a group of friends that shared the same interests at the time and that lasted for quite a long time. This is my story, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.