Chrono Trigger Recollections
As we convene here at the Chrono Compendium to celebrate Chrono Trigger's tenth birthday, one could ask why we, the fans, have such dedication and adoration for the game. The new generation of gamers who never had a Super NES, or simply people who have never chanced to play it may wonder why a classic, seemingly limited title can attract these acolytes, and ponder what exactly is it about Chrono Trigger that has such a mass appeal and secures such a wide audience. That answer is both simple and complex - it's an amazing game! But what makes it so is not merely a lone standout feature, timely marketing, or clever special effects. It's solid and dense throughout; each facet is thorough, highly-detailed, and complete - qualities that started a trend continued by the next Chrono game.
The presentation was first to wow gamers and secure the game's legendary status. The music of Yasunori Mitsuda dazzles with high-octane, energetic pieces, supplemented by entries from Nobuo Uematsu. Who can forget the solemn notes of "The Day the World Revived" atop Death Peak, or the happy journeys traversed to the music of the "Wings of Time"? As Mitsuda's first major project as a composer of game music, it immediately established his power and artistry, as well as his work ethic and attention to quality. After committing himself so hard to the development of the game's score that he contracted a stomach ucler, Mitsuda accepted a helping hand from Uematsu, the world-renowned composer of Final Fantasy music. Filling in the few holes left in the soundtrack, he carefully ensured that the songs of Chrono Trigger would evoke an entire range of emotion from players, and would establish a masterpiece aural layer to the story. So too would Akira Toriyama add luster and sheen to the presentation of the game, though with a different instrument - the pen. A pillar of the success of anime at home and abroad, the Dragon Ball architect lent his distinctive style and flair to the game, giving true triumph to the smiling faces of the heroes and angry despair to those of their enemies. Through his illustrations, players were immediately able to immerse themselves in a familiar and welcome world. But what of the world itself?
Chrono Trigger's plot, setting, and events were well taken care of, also supported by masters of the RPG trade. Handled by Masato Kato, relatively unknown at the time but soon to impress all with Xenogears and Chrono Cross, and Yuji Horii, game designer for the popular Dragon Quest series, the storyline and scenarios are sweeping and scenic, culminating in the beauty and tragedy of Zeal. The characters of the ancient civilization were noble and venal, set against a setting of classical paradise. With their contemporaries across time, and the deep and engaging plot which intertwined them in a tale of temporal adventure, the colorful cast and happenings of the game stunned and reached the audience with incredible depth. The issues and paradoxes of time travel were elegantly dealt with, ensuring that studious players could suspend their disbelief while Gating to the various epochs. All facets of story and theme were tastefully blended and presented in the end by Hironobu Sakaguchi, a titan of the Japanese game industry (with over 60 million units sold to date), and a wise director for the project. His standard of creativity and innovation reached a new high in Trigger, and was dutifully retained and applied by Masato Kato for Chrono Cross.
With such talented people unifying in a single effort as a "Dream Team," it's no surprise that Chrono Trigger itself is nothing short of a dream game. At the time, it was considered Squaresoft's last great hurrah for the Super Nintendo, and fulfilled those claims by proving a smash hit with gamers everywhere. Permanently lodged in the top ten SNES game charts in Nintendo Power until the system's retirement, Trigger redefined the standards of RPGs. It inspired an entire generation of gamers, who over the last ten years have convened to discuss, analyze, and celebrate the game. Truly, the establishment of the Chrono series with Trigger had an explosive impact, followed deftly with the imaginative side story Radical Dreamers (available to fans now via English translation) and the masterpiece beauty of Chrono Cross. Though the team is disjointed currently, with Kato and Mitsuda both working as freelancers, and though Square Enix is set to continue its focus on the Final Fantasy series of games, there is hope yet for a new entry in the Chrono series, and with the star of Chrono Trigger burning as hot as it did in its release - even hotter, some say, as a new generation discovers its magic - the future cannot help but to acknowledge and feel its influences. Chrono Break may be a reality someday, but on this day of anniversary, let us celebrate and share our enjoyment and experiences with a game that changed the future.
Remixers and representatives of the various Chrono communities today gift us with their recollections and experiences. Discover what inspired the more musically gifted fans of the series to venerate the game with aural imagery, or read what drove a few dedicated fans to establish communities and ensure Chrono Trigger's legacy would last forever.
Also, here are some things you might consider doing to celebrate the birthday:
Playing Chrono Cross could also be fun. Really, don't take the word of others' for it if you were told the game is lackluster. There's a reason Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross (perfect 10 at GameSpot) are some of the highest rated games to ever grace reviewers' columns - they're both excellent games! And if you have any questions about Cross, as the plot can be a little confusing early on, don't be afraid to ask. All right, have fun everyone! And don't forget to check out the 10th Anniversary Celebration Page!
The Dream Team
Click to enlarge
Hironobu Sakaguchi is currently teaming up to do two RPG titles for the X-Box 360 by his company, Mist Walker.
Masato Kato is now a freelance scenarist, and recently made an album with Yasunori Mitsuda.
Akira Toriyama still works for the Dragon Quest franchise, and occasionally makes a new mini manga series.
Yasunori Mitsuda is a freelance scorer, and hopes to release a new Chrono Cross arranged album.
Yuji Horii recently finished the eighth Dragon Quest game, and heads up his company "Armor Project."
Nobuo Uematsu is touring the United States with his Dear Friends concert, and continues to score games.