This is the third in a series of ‘dueling cblog editorials’ I will be doing with CaffeinePowered
You can check out his opinion on today’s topic HERE
Point & Counterpoint 2: Originals vs. Remakes Originals Remakes Point & Counterpoint 1: Video Game Violence Violence Doesn’t Affect Gamers Violence Affects Gamers
As most people who’ve played video games know, the SNES definitively has the greatest library of RPGs of any console in history (and arguably the best library period, but we won’t get into that here). Squaresoft ruled the 16-bit era, but the SNES also saw fantastic RPGs from other developers in Breath of Fire, Lufia, EVO, and the other game being discussed today, Earthbound. While all of the aforementioned are fantastic games in their own right, I’ll be arguing that Chrono Trigger is the greatest RPG available on the SNES.
Today’s Topic: Earthbound vs. Chrono Trigger
In case you couldn’t tell by my avatar or the paragraph above, I think Chrono Trigger is fucking awesome. In this article, I’m going to explain exactly why Chrono Trigger is the best SNES RPG, and why no other game can compare. I don’t know if I’ll be able to fully cover the greatness of this game in a mere blog post, but I’ll try my best.
The Story & The Characters
It’s hard to really put into words just how engaging and deep the story of this game is. I’ll spare everyone a story recap since I’m sure most of you have played this game. If you haven’t, stop reading this now, quit whatever you’re doing, and get a copy. Be warned, if you actually haven’t played the game, some spoilers follow
, and to spoil a game this great should be an international human rights violation.
The story behind Chrono Trigger is epic, spanning multiple time periods (obviously) and a number of well-developed villains. From the first few minutes of the game when you’re exploring the fair to one of the many potential final showdowns, the story grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. I can’t think of a single time in the game when I felt like I just wanted to rush the game along and get to an interesting part; the entire game is engrossing, and everything you do has a purpose. There are no stupid fetch quests for inane items to fill time (OH NO THE BRIDGE TO THE NEXT AREA IS CONVENIENTLY OUT!! PLEASE DEFEAT THE EVIL ELF LORD TO RETRIEVE THE HAMMER OF REPAIRING SO THAT WE CAN REBUILD!); all of your actions and quests serve to move the story forward.
Of course, many games can boast that they have a good story. What I feel really sets CT apart from these other games is the way the characters are intertwined with the story, and the way they develop. Without a doubt, every character in Chrono Trigger is fleshed out and plays a vital role in saving the world. When I played this game for the first time, I remember feeling like it was the first game where every character had a genuine personality. Crono is stoic and stalwart, Marle is giggly and flighty yet deeply devoted to Crono, Magus is an all around badass whose villainous actions in the first half begin to make sense later. Many other games of the time either threw in so many characters that it was impossible to flesh them all out and care about them or threw three or four characters at you, told you almost nothing about them, and then left them unchanged throughout the entire game.
This is already difficult because I have so much more to say on the topic, but in the interest of keeping things short (relatively), I’m going to move on. The Music
One of the best parts of Chrono Trigger was its phenomenal soundtrack. The regular battle music, the boss battle music, all of the character’s theme songs, Chrono Corridor (Kingdom of Zeal overworld theme), the Undersea palace music, Schala’s theme, ; I truly believe that it’s some of the finest video game music ever created. A pretty hefty portion of my music library is all video game music, and within that I have a ton of Chrono Trigger music, both original and remixed. Almost 13 years after the game came out I can still whistle/hum pretty much every song in the game in its entirety. And it’s not just me who loves Chrono Trigger – over at OC remix there are 86 mixes alone based off of the CT soundtrack. (I believe it’s the most remixed game on the site, but I’m not positive. Maybe Dale can clear that up.) In fact, I’m listening to a bunch of CT music right now so I feel more inspired. I find it difficult to describe music in words, but if you’re not familiar with the soundtrack I strongly suggest you check out youtube and OCRemix to see just what you’re missing out on.
While they’re all great, some of my favorites from OCRemix are:
Back 2 Skala Chronodyne Marine Time Circuits High Voltage Sacratus Bellator Time Management Chrono Symphonic – A Whole Album of Glory
These are by no means the only good ones; I suggest you check out as many on the site as possible.
The Innovative Time Travel Mechanic
The time travel mechanic was something new to the genre, and the way Chrono Trigger implemented it was ingenious. Again, there’s so much to talk about on this topic but for the sake of brevity I’m going to mainly focus on one or two reasons why it’s so amazing.
One of the coolest features I think of the time travel is that you were able to directly see how your actions had an effect down the line in the future. Open a box in the Middle Ages? It’s gonna be opened when you jump back to the present time. Help restore a forest in the past, and suddenly the future map you’d been used to for the last 25 hours has been drastically altered. What’s especially cool about this system was that it made side quests a whole lot more interesting. Chrono Trigger had a lot of them, and it was nice to see quests that were nicely tied into the story and not nonsense “Collect 6 gems and stick them in a statue and you get the ultimate weapon!” CT’s sidequests involved slaughtering your mortal enemy (or befriending them?), restoring war torn lands, laying to rest the soul of a long-departed adventurer, and, my personal favorite and what I think is the most emotional moment in the game (especially if you fuck it up the first time you play like I did), healing the crippled. All of CTs sidequests in some way altered the path of the story and the game, and made you actively want to seek them out and complete them all even if you’re not a 100% completion whore (especially compared to things like FFVI’s Coliseum, which I couldn’t give a flying fuck about).
However, the true genius of the time travel lies in what I’m about to discuss next, and is so amazing that it’s getting its own section.
Multiple Endings and New Game+
Prophetic foreshadowing, since both are possible.
As a kid, I remember finishing the game and basking in the glorious afterglow of the final ending scene. A perfect way to end a perfect game. As the credits finished rolling, I noticed something new had appeared. What’s this? New Game +? Investigation on the internet (We were wired at my house from a very early age) revealed that not only could I play the whole game again and not have to go through the hassle of leveling up, but THERE WERE 10+ MORE ENDINGS that I could experience based on when in the storyline I defeated Lavos. As I read that, I probably came as close to orgasm as possible for a pre-pubescent 10 year old boy. THERE WERE 12 COMPLETE ENDINGS. No lame shit like you get a picture with a different caption depending on when you finish the game, you literally get full fledged endings. While some are comedic, they’re still actual endings, and this was absolutely unheard of in 1995. Add that to the fact that for many of the endings, the sidequests you completed altered the endings even more (Lara certainly won’t be walking around in any of them if you let her legs get crushed). The amount of thought, dedication, and continuity that went into planning this whole game and story is just mind-boggling. Again, there’s so much I can say on this topic, but I’ll calm down and leave it at that. NUS
Nus are amazing. There will be no debate or discussion on this topic. I am right, and if you disagree with me you’re wrong.
“All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu. This is the truth!”
If you don’t like this game, I hate you
While MAYBE a little extreme, it pretty accurately sums up how much I love this game. I sat down and genuinely tried, and I could not think of a single flaw with this game. None. I could go on and on and on and rant about the double/triple tech system or the graphics or the awesome manual or how awesome riding a pterodactyl is or the greatness of Ozzie, Slash, and Flea (OZZIE PANTS FTW) or Spekkio or “But you’re still hungry” or Yakra (DRRRRRRRROOOOOO) or Yakra XIII or Alfador & Baby Magus…THERE IS SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT.
Despite what Caffeine says, and despite how good of a game Earthbound is (and it’s really good), the complexity and story depth, soundtrack, and character development of Chrono Trigger (as well as 50 million other things I didn’t get to talk about) easily make it the best SNES RPG of all time. Just listen to these REAL LIFE TESTIMONIALS from some awesome people!:
“Chrono Trigger captured the best of character development and emotional resonance with one of the most effortlessly unforgettable stories in an RPG to date.” – Colette
“It has the best start up ramp to a game ever. Where most games start slow, this game is just sooo fucking full of win at the start. Everything leading up to the trial and the prison breakout and then escaping to the future is just fucking brilliant. God, the trial. That’s just so amazing.” – Wedge
“Without a doubt Chrono Trigger will take you on the most fantastic journey through time and space that you can experience in the Golden Years of the RPG. This is a must-have/must-play game for any RPG enthusiast.” – BigPopa
“Ammmmmaaaazzzzinnnngggg!” – Chad
(Note: Chad didn’t actually get back to me with a quote in time, but I feel like I accurately captured the gist of what he was going to say. ;) )
Also, here’re some comments from the fail parade:
“Best game that I still haven't played because I suck.” – Necros
"I've never played the game." – CTZ
“... My not-rom was broken. The switches, man! The switches!” – Jim “Don’t read Wardrox’s Blog” Sterling
(I originally meant for this all to be people saying how much they loved the game, but the first three people I asked for comments failed me. They have all NOT been sent a rom (that, if it existed, would have working switches) and also have NOT been sent an emulator. Mock them mercilessly until they don’t-play it.)
For those who HAVE played it, I know it’s hard to choose just one, but list your favorite Chrono Trigger moment (just one!) in the comments. I bet we end up with at least 10 different responses, if not more, because Chrono Trigger is so good that every scene in the game has the potential to be favorite moment material.