Author Topic: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?  (Read 1830 times)

FaustWolf

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The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« on: February 04, 2008, 01:37:03 am »
Just something that's been clinking around in my noggin over the past few days. Perhaps the greatest challenge fan artists (whether we focus on visual, written, or audio works) confront is internalizing the "spirit" or "mood" inherent in canonical materials and weaving that certain magic into our own works. I've come across many references to the "Chrono Feel," but I've never been quite sure what this entails exactly. All I can say for certain is that Chrono Trigger had it, Chrono Cross had it, Radical Dreamers had it, Prophet's Guile has it, and Chrono Crisis and Crimson Echoes will strive to have it.

But what is the "essence" of the Chronoverse that keeps us wanting more, inspiring us to record our own conjectures in fanwork when Masato Kato is unavailable to regail us? To say that the "Chrono Feel" is generated by the prospect of time travel and dimensional travel would be a bit too simple, I think.  Some basic concept or set of concepts  must bind the three canonical games together on a deeper, psychological level.

Doing a quick mental breakdown of the plots of the games, I can come up with four "themes" or "motifs" that recur in the Chronoverse scenarios:

*Striving against fate; taking power into one's own hands and shaping the future on one's own terms -- and the good and ill this may bring. CC did much more with the last part than Trigger. Though it had its melancholy moments, Trigger seemed to be a relatively happy-go-lucky romp through time for me, whereas Cross made my heart just ache with its palpable atmosphere of doom. Having the main character see his own grave at the beginning of the adventure really set a melancholy tone, and it didn't let up. Especially when the player finds out their favorite Guru is essentially playing God with people's lives, populating Chronopolis with ghosts in the process. I was pretty spooked and intrigued by that affair especially.

*A strong sense of naturalism; Planet = the Entity is obvious. But there's also the reliance on the sea in Chrono Cross, and the whole matter of Fiona's forest north of Porre in Trigger as well. The games seem to communicate something about our ultimate dependence on our planet for survival, and the need to respect it.

*Mysticism. Magic (Trigger and Dreamers) and Elements. Just about every RPG has a mystic quality by definition, I guess. It gives us something cool to look at during battle. But the psuedo-religious mysticism in Trigger and Dreamers certainly seems significant to the cultures that inhabit the Chronoverse. Mostly the various peoples seem to call upon their gods and goddesses to wreak havoc on one another, which brings me to --

*Addressing the challenges that multivariate peoples face in coexisting with one another. Mystics/Humans; Zealians/Earthbound; Demihumans/Humans in Cross and perhaps Dreamers. I think Kato said something to this effect in an interview, and I wonder if this wasn't a major driving force in including so many wacky characters in Cross. What better way to promote acceptance and cultural relativism than to stick a giant motley crew together speaking with twenty different accents and making them journey to the ends of...uh, El Nido, together? But were the accents even in the Japanese version? In any case, the characters don't really need accents to be different. Just look at them!

What other observations would you all make regarding the "Chrono Feel?" Feel free to dispute the nature of anything I've listed as well, or to argue that one or more of the canon games actually lacked the Chrono feel. My goal with this thread is to discover something approaching a definition of the Chrono Feel, subjective as such a definition may be.

ZeaLitY

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 01:51:15 am »
Number one pretty much made it. Kato loves the character of Kid, and basically expressed his dream in one way with the entire idea of "Radical Dreamers", those who are unabashedly unafraid to dream big and seek out their fortunes. It goes right back to the dream of saving the planet in Trigger:

Quote
Kid:
   If the world's gonna
   be destroyed, then let
   it be destroyed!
   If history is gonna be
   changed, then let it
   bloody well be changed!
   I'll show you what
   Radical Dreamers
   really dream about!

And then comes the entire Lucca statement that sums it all up:

Quote
[Lucca]
   The Time Egg...
   The ancient sage, Gaspar,
   once called it the Chrono
   Trigger, you know!?
   Each of us allows our
   feelings to be a trigger...
   Letting them loose changes
   our world, time, and history!

Dare to dream; dare to effect your noble will upon the world. Mitsuda was asked to capture this essence musically, and he did in The Dream That Time Dreams on the Chrono Cross soundtrack.

With that said, I'll add Dreams to the list. Aside from all that above, we have the dream species of Masa and Mune, the planet's dream to stop Lavos, the planet's...second dream to stop the Time Devourer, FATE's dream of being human or becoming its own species someday, Kid's dream of finding the Frozen Flame, Magus's dark dream of defeating Lavos, Frog's deferred dream of knighthood and peace in Guardia...each of these acts out with fierce determination and unrelenting desire. There is life in every breath of those who dream. As one who is in love with the concept of the springtime of youth, you may think I'm seeing what I want to see. But those quotes above, and Kato's comments leave the conclusion that the Chrono series is about resisting fate, shaping the future, and achieving your dreams. The only limit is your will to dream, so...Dream radically, and if history is to be changed, then let it change, baby!


FaustWolf

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 02:51:07 am »
Excellent. Yes, the dream aspect is critical to the Chrono series; I forgot just how key it is, and it's even in one of the games' titles! We're getting closer to the Chrono Feel!

Stormsend

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2008, 02:53:08 am »
The Chrono series to me is akin to the closet door that is cracked open juuuuuuuust a little bit. As a child, you're told there is nothing there, but something inside you makes you think that there is, and you want to explore, but you can't. It's really metaphorical of Time itself.

There is the fact that the series does close the door to the characters they portray, but the door is cracked, and you wonder... is there more to that character? Is there more to that event? Is there more to this world? Universe? And what of the power of the dreams of Zeal, and those of the rest of history's people?

The series is closed-ended enough for closure and satisfaction, yet open-ended enough to grab the imagination while you're not looking.

Merlandese

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2008, 08:08:02 pm »
I think Stormsend said it well with the closet door analogy. The only thing more powerful and impressive than the imagination of talented artists such as Kato, is your own imagination. With subtle details and variable facts, the entire world is fleshed out alongside the memorable characters, but the grand scheme that eventually links them all together is your own perspective. The creators keep the fruits of their labor dangling from a low branch, allowing you to see the accomplishment, but leaving you to imagine the taste.

The previously mentioned "dreams" theme is just as accurate. The radical dreams of the characters are only half of it. The rest you dream up yourself.

FaustWolf

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2008, 08:52:15 pm »
Wow, excellent input guys!

Very true, and I think the "open-door phenomenon" is what made Final Fantasy VII such a favorite for me -- right up until the point where Square picked up the franchise again and started fleshing it out. Once more was explained regarding FF7's backstory, it totally lost its magic for me, at least. Perhaps because Square took FF7 in a direction I would not have gone myself had I been the scenario writer. While the Chrono franchise has been left derelict, we can use our imaginations to fill in the gaps and I think that's a big part of the appeal of the Chronoverse. It's largely undefined in many respects, and therefore we can make of it what we please. Hence the awesomeness of Prophet's Guile, and the awesomeness that will be Crimson Echoes, Chrono Crisis, and myriad fanworks, the list of which is too long to mention here.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2008, 08:58:22 pm by FaustWolf »

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2008, 02:00:53 am »
Wow.

I was gonna head in the direction of Zeality... but after reading it, there's no reason to.

You hit it on the head, mate.

ZeaLitY

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2008, 02:49:47 am »
I wouldn't say the Chrono series is minimalist. There is nothing subtle, thematically or concretely in plot, about Lavos up-front incinerating the surface of the earth, and the development team pulled no punches in making El Nido the most colorful place ever envisioned.

Decadent Sympozium

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2008, 08:22:03 pm »
Please bear until the end...

In my resemblance, the above-mentioned «Chrono feel» is the cry of perfection – this particular attribute everyone will avoid, or deny, in their subjectional idea which I not-so-humbly encounter with denyal of my own – that this imense masterpiece, titled «Chrono Cross», is truly an incarnation of probable perfection, to approach the interest – made by hand of man.

At one time in my past, during the humorous but advancing discussions among friends, we somehow reached Chrono Cross. This «soliloqui» o' mine lead to comments such as «Ok his eyes are glowing», «Hey man, slowdown.», and similar. Later, one of them rethorically asked «You really like this thing, don't you?». It was then when I gave myself a moment for thought, and concluded that I do not just like Chrono Cross, that I do not just have likings for a fun-sighted game, rather, that I love this Chrono Cross, and that the existence of such philosophical art thrills me to shivers, moreforth, today, after playing it for 127th time, as much as first or second, or fifthy fifth time. You have this song, this particular composition that lifts you, a movie that sets you away, or a place in this world where your mind soothens. But it eventually becomes dull. When we calculated the time, one complete year of my life was devoted to Chrono Cross. In my terms, this kind of effect can only a perfection produce, even if it's on just one man. How can I say perfection?

This beautiful experience is a perfectly curved blend of all senses one human kind can utilize. These man, the script writer, the director, an artist, and scorer, performed a natural harmony, what the likes of Baudelaire might have described, as if they spent an eternity trying to sketch the master plan for eachself. Your vision is drowned in gentle pools of wonderous colors, and shapes that form Chrono Cross, they transform and bring you the order in power of imaginary space – if you look at each character, at Kid, into Lynx's eyes, you will say they belong to this Chrono Cross, that they posses the burden of humankind, they, from Serge and Kid, over Nikki and Orhla, to Lynx and Harle, are the social intersection of human society; if you spot the reflections under the brige in Arni, you will enhale to this beauty of warm details, and if you climb up the Tower of Geddon, you will enjoy the incredible mysticism of shattered, silverine-blue metalic creation, each twist, each bend of the particular metalic appearance being right there where it is supposed to be, each of those plasma screens in Chronopolis, each cracked stone in Terra Tower, and each standing wave of Dead Sea is right there where it is supposed to be, exactly in the colors it should be, exactly in shape it should be to comfort you. That is the promised perfection of Chrono Cross's vision, brought to you in shadows of Yasunori's blessed inspiration. I happen to compose, and live from music since early age, and I happen to believe that Scars of Time is most beautiful composition I experienced. Were you not standing still for several moments as the intro finished, and «Press start» occured? I know I did. And I also believe that any person which didn't either is not perceptive enough to confirm such mass of creation, or just doesn't deserve words to speak. I looked at the ocean on that screen, and in silence just monitored what in the heaven's name happened. This «game», which I usually avoid to title that way, had me right there, right there when the book opened, when flute played, violin crashed with Kid, Serge, Lynx, and Harle turning to look at you, I knew that it will change my thoughts, myself, and my approach to life. Yasunori Mitsuda being one of the carriers with never-heard-before sense for music, and harmony. For heaven's sake, he made over fifty compositions, neither boring, neither aggresive, neither pushed you away, but opposite, they were to stop the game, and listen. They brought the emotions up, they didn't provoke the environment. They weren't even similar. Know why? Because he did what had to be done, he used the tempo which human ear perceives as «correct», he trailed notes that bend from sustain to emotional epicy, his dominant instruments were piano/harp, flute, violion, guitar, and music box, all five instruments that any person will rank as most beautiful sounding; These instruments, their sounds, their progression, for some reason, touch us, humans, even a single hit of any note on these instruments contains mass associations in our mind, and he used scales that simply affect majority. Wether it be precalculations, or natural gift in its full spectrum, what Yasunori did for Chrono Cross is unique in our history, is, simply, perfect. The power of these notes, and these compositions empowered Chrono Cross's primary magic to it's final – without any of the two, the vision, and the sound, Chrono Cross's thought would not mean as much as it actually does.

There is something I always ask, even when it sometimes makes me look as if I think I am superior. Do you understand what Chrono Cross is? No, it's not just a game, it's beyond that because, if it was just a game, it would not make you wonder, especially not after 7 years. In these 20-30 hours of gaming, five or of of which is the story, this man, the scenario writter, set entire mankind, culture, symbolism, society, evolution, religion, and plain thought, into imaginary form where he further described, explained, and resolved this mankind through an epic, warm story. The love, hatred, fate, evolution, breed, god, time, mind, revenge, anger, rage, sadness, path, meaning, purpose, say any relevant noun, any noun that a philosophist from past dissasembled to explain, and you will find the thought on this matter inside Chrono Cross. Howcome anyone cannot see the genious mind that presented this, the details, an absolute purpose of each individual, tiniest element, like a word in character's discussion. Many felt that there is no real emotions among characters. How so? Serge, and Kid are literally bearers of an entire idea – that no matter what, regardless of what life, existence as such, will propose to you, will test you to, you will find your place next to your pair, even if it takes forever. Pair, exactly that – pair, assembly of two pieces, like Shyamalan said, ends of two spectrums that form one unity, which is how they made Chrono Cross medium for describing, better, explaining, how world functions – Love and hate, laughter and tear, paired elements (Water – Fire, Earth – Sky, Day – Night), Harle and Kid, Kid and Serge, Lynx and Wazuki, two dimensions, two swords, the Dragon Tear – Two faces of person...then how they blended the theory of evolution – that the appearance which wiped dinosaurs (comet, as supposed) is a primal flame (by many theorists, it all started from flame) «Lavos», is the twister of time, then how humans evolved, then the Darwin theory of evolution, the survival of the fittest, the cruelty of competition in life due to false resonances – then – the very idea of how fate (destiny) works (That's just plain genious) and the simbolicy of erasing FATE to show that we eventually choose our own paths defined by our own decisions, and all the time-traveling, time-bending plots...which, regardless of our knowledge, make so much sense, finally, leaving us with wonderful song «Jewel that Cannot be Stolen», and our Kid, us, searching for her destined, or...perhaps selected by her own will. Oh god, the shivers again. :)

To this «Chrono feel», there might be the clue in last chapter of this creation, the burden. As colorful as it is, Chrono Cross, in it's paradoxal pairness, is actually a classic, an incredibly sad, romantic vision which leaves hope. The content of this creation is as brutal, and cruel as any war. If those Dwarves, Fairies, and humans were three nations today, we would not think of it as «side-quest». Chrono Cross, his creators, like wise from the mountains, imply how hard life is. Kid is the mark of that, and probably most fatal character, if not in entire game genre, then in Chrono. But eventually, she brings you the hope – eventually – the only thing that really pushes you to move forth after the fall in your life, wether it be a bad grade in school, arson of your home, or devouring alcohol. Eventually, Chrono Cross blesses you to move on.

I think that's the Chrono feel.

FaustWolf

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2008, 08:58:29 pm »
Holy cow, Decadent Sympozium. Yes, Chrono Cross is a wondrous life-altering experience if you approach it from that angle, and are willing to part with preconceptions formed during the playing of Trigger. That is a promising first post if I've ever seen one. Welcome!

BROJ

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2008, 09:17:06 pm »
Indeed, truly a deep, meaningful approach to the work of art that is Chrono Cross.

I, also, welcome you to the chrono compendium!

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2008, 10:15:34 pm »
whoa.

what a first post.

V_Translanka

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2008, 11:40:20 pm »
I dunno if it'd just go in w/the "A strong sense of naturalism" or a wholly separate section, but I think there's, at least at times, a focus on Man Against Nature. The future, with all of it's advanced technology, was still practically & utterly destroyed. You could argue that Lavos itself is nature (depending upon it's origins...)...but the fact that the Reptite Dimension was able to do so much w/o such technology, by staying much closer to nature, is something to think about.

And, of course, there's the opening scenes of Chrono Cross where we're forced to kill baby lizards & their mother in order to make a necklace...

Decadent Sympozium

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2008, 05:46:44 am »
I dunno if it'd just go in w/the "A strong sense of naturalism" or a wholly separate section, but I think there's, at least at times, a focus on Man Against Nature. The future, with all of it's advanced technology, was still practically & utterly destroyed. You could argue that Lavos itself is nature (depending upon it's origins...)...but the fact that the Reptite Dimension was able to do so much w/o such technology, by staying much closer to nature, is something to think about.

And, of course, there's the opening scenes of Chrono Cross where we're forced to kill baby lizards & their mother in order to make a necklace...

That is one of the primary problems Chrono deals with -atleast to my knowledge - it is clearly obvious that our actions are bringing planet to abyss. The species are dissapearing to extinct, the energy resources are approaching to end, and regardless of 80000 human rights & human standard groups, organisations, destruction of next person in your line rose. The school system literally teaches you to crush the other one in order for you to suceed. People just don't care enough, so it seems, and it is getting worse (and I'd say even bizzare) from year to year.  We could be wrong to think but it is almost impossible (thanks to convincing connections in Chrono Cross where every object or appearance has purpose and pair, link between) to believe they just made that quest to roll the plot. Even if they did, they did it pretty damn good because those meaningless dragons we killed are eventually trying to destroy us, and we eventually realize that we, so to say, betrayed them - as nature - and now they strike back. Moreover, it's a lame necklace (Which I personally didn't want to collect but had to. :=P)  because of which we killed five animals, just like ilegal hunters do, killing 20 elephants for one human-size necklace. We could say that Serge killed a famility to get Leena her necklace, just like a mindless thief will break into someone's house in order to gain anything, and then, either on purpose or in fear, slaughter beloved when they attempt to protect their own. because of what happens in this world, I don't think anyone can make it wrong when says that we are destroying everything. Chrono cross recognises that, and puts us into position of ambivalent opinion. we were responsible for Hydra extinct, for Dwarves being ridden, and them killing fairies, for dragon betrayal, for marbule slavery, and so forth. Like Dwarf cheiften said. "Filthy humans".

Ps

Oh thanks guys, sorry I didn't introduce. =]

Thought

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Re: The Chrono Feel -- What does it mean to you?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2008, 02:04:08 pm »
To a non-Chrono-specific extent, the games were wonderfully fresh. There were games about Time Travel before Crono Trigger, but none that handled the topic in such a manner (time travel, magic, sword weilding frogs, and robots?). Then came along Radical Dreamers and it wasn't the same. Somegames merely rehash what was done right the first time, but Radical Dreamers was happy to tred new ground. And if time travel is old hat, Crono Cross took it a step further and focused on dimensional travel, while still maintaining the other themes of the Crono series.

In sort, the series captures "innovation," the sort of innovation that Brian Clevenger put so well in his Old School v New School essay (unfortunately, the link to it on his site no longer works, but someone in the 8-Bit Forums reposted it here), rather well.

The series is innovative as a whole and from game to game.

And of course, let us not forget, as Brian put it, "Magus, sweet zombie Jesus, Magus!"
« Last Edit: February 19, 2008, 02:06:31 pm by Thought »