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Chrono Trigger

by Jonathan Metts - December 23, 2008, 1:28 pm PST
Total comments: 13


A legend is reborn.

There is no disputing Chrono Trigger's importance to the Japanese RPG genre. Combining talents from both Square and Enix, along with animator Akira Toriyama, the game is truly a "dream team" project. In some respects, its stature within the video game realm is parallel with such legendary collaborations as Kind of Blue and Raiders of the Lost Ark. And, like these pillars of music and film, Chrono Trigger is timeless. Its technology may be quaint by today's standards, but the game itself hasn't aged a day.

With the Nintendo DS version, Square Enix (now a single company) departs from its lavish remake style and instead presents Chrono Trigger almost exactly as it existed in 1995. The graphics and sound have been restored to some extent, and the translation has been appreciably revised while presenting no jolting differences with the original English text. Most fans of the game are unlikely to notice these slight differences, while newcomers will see a Super Nintendo game presented as such. A new DS presentation mode cleans up the display by moving status information and menus to the lower screen; this style of play is recommended even if you ignore the touch controls, which are inelegant and wholly unnecessary.

There are several gameplay additions, all optional and of varying quality. The first to become available is the Arena, which is accessed through a new portal at the End of Time. You receive a monster to train for special battles, but the training itself is automated, and the result is largely dependent upon which item you give to the monster. This feature is definitely the least interesting addition.

Upon obtaining the winged Epoch, you'll gain access to a new area, the Lost Sanctum, which exists in Prehistory and the Middle Ages. It's a secluded village of friendly Reptites, surrounded by some new battle areas that are based on familiar environments: forest, swamp, cave, and mountain. The Lost Sanctum is essentially a long chain of "fetch quests" that involve repeated transfers between the two time periods. Few of the tasks are memorable, and the rewards mostly consist of gold coins. Considering the hours required to complete this area, its blatant recycling of assets, and the nearly useless product of your labors, the Lost Sanctum is a shallow way to extend the game's length.

Dimensional Vortices are far more engaging bonus content, but they don't appear until the game has been completed once. You can either load your last save before fighting Lavos and warp out to seek the new areas, or you can play through a New Game + file until you have the ability to fly to the vortices. Either way, you'll find these new areas to be challenging. Each Dimensional Vortex begins with a series of rooms from earlier in the game, which you must traverse in exactly the same way as before. The next part consists of a new "dungeon", with fresh puzzles, epic treasures, and some new enemies, yet remixed from familiar areas like Death Peak and Geno Dome. The climax of each area is a boss battle against an evil doppelganger of Crono, Lucca, or Marle. These fights can be quite difficult and may require special preparation (such as equipping elemental armor), but if you emerge victorious, the corresponding character in your party will gain an extra status boost in Speed, Strength, Magic, etc. Even combined, the three Dimensional Vortices are quicker to complete than the Lost Sanctum, but they are far more interesting to play through, and the rewards are much more useful.

You'll need those stat boosts and superior weapons to tackle the final bit of bonus content: an ultimate boss battle that is far more difficult than any form of Lavos. Defeating this mysterious new enemy is probably going to require a few trips through New Game +, but that's perfect for devoted fans who are already eager to take multiple paths through the story. The new boss also provides a nice link between Chrono Trigger and its quasi-sequels, Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross.

Overall, the extra features do little to justify the infamous "Square Tax" that makes Chrono Trigger and other Square Enix RPGs among the most expensive DS titles. This is essentially a Super Nintendo game being repackaged and sold to you for more than full price; however, the value proposition may be easier to accept in light of secondary market prices for the original cartridges. Regardless of price or underwhelming extra features, this is an excellent and authentic port of my personal favorite game of all time, and one I would recommend to virtually anyone. If you can read, you should play Chrono Trigger, and the new DS version is an accessible way to do that.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 10 8 10 9 9

Chrono Trigger was already one of the most beautiful SNES games, and it looks even sharper on the petite DS screen. Few games have such memorable characters, animations, and even special effects.


One of gaming's best soundtracks has been remastered but is otherwise unmolested. Even the sound effects are classic, like the "rip" of Luminaire. Enjoy it with headphones.


As with most RPGs, the menu-driven gameplay is extremely simple to command. A modern attempt to provide touch control is not successful, as the character movement doesn't respond fluidly. Just stick with buttons and D-pad.


Chrono Trigger is simpler than any Final Fantasy game, yet more story-driven than Dragon Quest. The main quest can be completed by nearly anyone, but the numerous side-missions can be extremely difficult. This is a game with something for all players, and the brilliant new translation makes it even more indispensable to the gaming lexicon.


With over a dozen endings, tons of optional content, and the innovative New Game + system, this is a rare Japanese RPG that can and should be played multiple times. Each trip through the story can last 35 hours or as little as 30 minutes, depending on the path you take. The new bonus areas aren't terribly interesting, but this game already had plenty of content.


Chrono Trigger has aged exceptionally well, and this new DS version highlights the original game's strengths while making subtle improvements. Attempts to insert extra content are mostly fruitless, but that can't tarnish this lovely packaging of a truly classic and crucial video game.


  • Arguably the Game of Forever
  • Looks and sounds fantastic on DS
  • New DS mode cleans up presentation
  • Bonus content is mostly rehashed and repetitive
  • Touch screen controls are clunky (but optional)
Review Page 2: Conclusion


Tybo68December 23, 2008

This game is truly a masterpiece and I think anyone that has a DS that hasn't ever played this game should.

What he said.

Review seems spot on. Its a great game, one of the best, but it doesn't have anything added that is that great.
Its still great to be able to play this game pretty much anywhere.

I don't know how to say this, but...I never played Chrono Trigger for more than a few hours. You have to understand that back then, I was not an RPG fan. Even now, there are very few RPG's I can stand. Super Mario RPG is one of them.

Would I like Chrono Trigger today?

I always liked RPGs, but everytime I've tried to pick up CT via emulator, I couldn't stand it. It might be because of the emulation though, I hate playing games that way.

Bah! Why didn't I order this game so I'd have it for my upcoming, Internet-less vacation?

mac<censored>December 23, 2008

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

Bah! Why didn't I order this game so I'd have it for my upcoming, Internet-less vacation?

An excellent question.  Hopefully you're going someplace that has game stores...

AVDecember 23, 2008

I decided if I get gift cards it will between this game and the newest DS Castlevania.

both are excellent games.

Quote from: mac

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

Bah! Why didn't I order this game so I'd have it for my upcoming, Internet-less vacation?

An excellent question.  Hopefully you're going someplace that has game stores...

I doubt they'd have it in English.

broodwarsDecember 23, 2008

Chrono Trigger is my all-time favorite game, and in my mind the closest to perfection the RPG genre has ever gotten.  That said, this DS version has issues with the new content being incredibly tedious and boring, and I just don't see the point in the touch screen stuff at all (I always turn it off when I start a new game).  Still, you can't beat the sheer level of customization the game gives you for how you want to experience the game, and I really appreciate that we got the stuff from the Playstation version like the FMVs.  Did anyone else notice just how quiet the FMV audio is, though?  I can barely hear them.

Incidentally, it's a minor quibble but has anyone else noticed that the black "screen wipe" effect that was occasionally used in the game for dramatic effect (see: Ocean Palace and Rainbow Shell sidequest) is now missing, replaced by a generic "fade to black?"  It's a minor thing, but those scenes really lack some of their dramatic punch without it.

mac<censored>March 18, 2009

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

Quote from: mac

An excellent question.  Hopefully you're going someplace that has game stores...

I doubt they'd have it in English.

I guess this reply's uselessly late, but I just happened to notice that the Japanese version of DS Chrono Trigger can be switched between Japanese and English via a config menu setting (so, anytime you want in the game, except during battles or cut-scenes)!

Ugh. I wish I had known that before I imported the U.S. version from here in Japan. Blech.

mac<censored>March 22, 2009

Quote from: TheYoungerPlumber

Ugh. I wish I had known that before I imported the U.S. version from here in Japan. Blech.

Hmm, well maybe you can switch your U.S. version to play in Japanese then ... :-)

TJ SpykeMarch 22, 2009

Sorry Typ, at least you helped the NPD numbers for the game though.

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Chrono Trigger Box Art

Developer Square Enix

Worldwide Releases

na: Chrono Trigger
Release Nov 25, 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Chrono Trigger
Release Q4 2008
PublisherSquare Enix
eu: Chrono Trigger
Release Feb 06, 2009
PublisherSquare Enix

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