Vintage Game Club plays Chrono Trigger
March 17, 2009 2:53 PM   Subscribe

Good morning, Crono! (Cf.) Starting this Friday, the Vintage Game Club will play through the RPG classic Chrono Trigger, a game beloved and praised but perhaps not well understood. The discussion is beginning here (little substance so far).

(Chrono Trigger was published for SNES and Playstation, and is available in a new Nintendo DS port.)

The Vintage Game Club is an online discussion group dedicated to playing through and understanding true classics of video games. It is a project of Professor Michael Abbott (great glossy-style profile) and Metafilter's own danb (and some other dudes).

Chrono Trigger is the VGC's fifth game. You can find archived discussions for the first four on the forums:
posted by grobstein (46 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice. I just recently got Oddworld on Steam, it was the first game I played on the PS1, very addictive and incredibly frustrating.
posted by voltairemodern at 3:09 PM on March 17, 2009


I loved CT. I remember it as the last marquee RPG that you could do absolutely everything in based on clues in the game, without having to consult a strategy guide. My compliments to the RPG "dream team."
posted by Law Talkin' Guy at 3:13 PM on March 17, 2009


Wow, I should really check this out... every one of the games they've played thus far stand among my personal favorites...

I wonder how long before they get to Earthbound...

Anyway, thanks for this!
posted by bookwo3107 at 3:41 PM on March 17, 2009


I'm a huge fan of the game and was excited to play it again this summer when they released it on the DS - I loved the presentation of it, the way they adapted it to the two screens was really effective I thought. They added new areas and dungeons, though, and those were incredibly awful - boring and repetitive and completely unnecessary.

I like to hold on to the notion that games are art. Some games, like Chrono Trigger, are absolutely beautiful, and engage you in a way that other genres - visual art, literature, music - can't. Not in a better way or a worse way, just a different one.

The thing is, though, I wish they were treated that way by the companies that own them. Let's make a silly analogy and say that Chrono Trigger was, say, Beethoven's 9th. When they re-released it on CD, say, would they add a new movement or two and say, oh hay, new content! I hope they wouldn't.
posted by Rinku at 3:50 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I haven't played the DS version, so I can't say for sure . . . but that sounds like a letdown. It certainly wasn't the grind that made me love the original. At least the new stuff is optional!

I think overall Square has started to do a really nice job with its remakes. I played FFIII for DS and was really impressed, and the latest FFIV remake is supposed to be sweet. Dragon Quest IV and V DS look really great, too.
posted by grobstein at 3:55 PM on March 17, 2009


I like to hold on to the notion that games are art. Some games, like Chrono Trigger, are absolutely beautiful, and engage you in a way that other genres - visual art, literature, music - can't.

Is it possible to have any RPG thread without this debate being started?

No?

Fuck.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:59 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I haven't played the DS version, so I can't say for sure . . . but that sounds like a letdown.

The DS version is good. There's a new area after you finish the game, but you really don't need to care about it. The port itself is solid and the (optional) DS-centric UI they added is well-done.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:01 PM on March 17, 2009


Abe's Oddysee sounds fun... if I have the choice, which should I play: PC or PSX?
posted by alexei at 4:16 PM on March 17, 2009


It's not the idea of porting something I object to - ports can be great. I'm playing Dragon Quest V for the DS right now, and so far it seems like they've done an amazing job with it. I was just complaining about additions for the sake of additions.
posted by Rinku at 4:17 PM on March 17, 2009


Nice that the VGC is gettin' some love.
posted by colemanm at 4:36 PM on March 17, 2009


for you chronotrigger fans

check this out
shame the project was shut down. Theres a petition going around to uh, resurrect the resurrection.

The music remake is really good. I especially liked the corridors of time
posted by 5imian at 4:58 PM on March 17, 2009


I've been playing through Chrono Trigger DS, and I'm not sure it stands the test of time. A brief example: The music in the original was impressive, for its time. A far cry from the NES era and even PC midi music of the time. But since then, a number of people have gone on to create far more impressive pieces interpreting the music without the SNES limitations. In effect, it inspired people to create things even better than itself. Which says something, but not "best there ever was and ever will be."
posted by pwnguin at 5:00 PM on March 17, 2009


Really? The music is the only thing I'm sure I won't mind when I replay Chrono Trigger. I've listened to probably hundreds of arrangements of those old tunes, done outside the limits of the SNES sound hardware, but I like those old sounds whenever I hear them.
posted by grobstein at 5:26 PM on March 17, 2009


Never played Chrono Trigger, but Deus Ex and Grim Fandango are two of my favourite games - just spent a hour happily reading the discussions on DX.
posted by Electric Dragon at 5:35 PM on March 17, 2009


I actually think there's a good FPP to be done about Chrono Trigger's music and its life after the game's publication. I imagined this post as mostly about the VGC, but now I'm wondering if I should throw together a grand collection of CT music links and drop it in this thread. Problem: don't really have time for two link-dumps today.
posted by grobstein at 5:43 PM on March 17, 2009


Of all the games I've ever played, Chrono Trigger takes the #1 spot.

I stumbled across it 1998, via the (relatively new) SNES emulators on the PC. I had no preconceptions about it at all, and was absolutely, utterly hooked. Chrono Trigger actually broke my fiendish Counterstrike addiction for several weeks.

When the game got to where you were running around in a graphically-impressive ghost forest, the emulator at the time didn't render the overhead transparencies correctly, so I couldn't tell where I was going. So I immediately spent about a hundred bucks on a used SNES and a used cart on eBay, and as soon as they showed up, off I went again. Absolutely buried for weeks.

The game is incredibly long and intricate, with puzzles that have you bouncing back and forth through time. Things you do in the past change the future, which is really pretty remarkable, considering that the entire game fits in just 4 megabytes. I can't even imagine how they were able to squeeze as much as they did into this cartridge -- they must literally have been sweating it down to individual bits. I spent a good 150 hours on my first two playthroughs -- once straight, and one with "Mynock's Guide to Chrono Trigger", which is probably the definitive walkthrough on the game. (you can get it at GameFAQs.) I suggest doing it the same way -- play through once on your own, and then use Mynock's to explore the 13 or 14 possible alternate endings.

I've played multi-gig games that had nowhere near the content of the four megabyte Chrono Trigger.

They've just rereleased this game on the DS. Personally, I like the DS, but the screen is just a little too small for comfort on my aging eyes. If I didn't already own it, I think I'd buy the DS cart, and then download the old SNES ROM and play it on an emulator, so I'd have the big screen.

Best game ever, in my personal opinion. I doubt anyone playing it fresh now would think of it as 'best', but virtually anyone would think of it as 'extremely good'.
posted by Malor at 5:47 PM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


So far my participation in the Vintage Game Club has destroyed my fond memories for both Deus Ex and Grim Fandango. I'm looking forward to trying a game I haven't played before. I wasn't much of a console player and always thought Chrono Trigger was some sort of shoot 'em up.
posted by frenetic at 6:17 PM on March 17, 2009


Cool this gives me a chance to play CT for the first time with others.
posted by achompas at 6:59 PM on March 17, 2009


perhaps not well understood.

?

That said, this is excellent, and I'm looking forward to checking out the Deus Ex analysis, too.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:31 PM on March 17, 2009


Malor, I was all set to correct your cartridge size statement, but it looks like you were right—Chrono Trigger was a 32 megabit game, which is indeed 4 megabytes.

I am stunned yet again. I may have to go pick up the DS version.

(I actually have the original SNES cartridge, but lack the SNES to actually play it on. Whoops.)
posted by pts at 7:33 PM on March 17, 2009


I'm looking forward to trying a game I haven't played before.

Check out System Shock 2. Its considered to be a really quality game- up there with Deus Ex. It was the inspiration for Bioshock.
posted by 5imian at 9:19 PM on March 17, 2009


5imian: Thanks for the suggestion. System Shock 2 was a good game (though a bit buggy and too hard with the re-spawning baddies). I still love all those games but I was disappointed how Deus Ex's AI in particular stood up over time. I had memories of feeling like I was really being pursued or in heated battle with Deus Ex's AI and nowadays it's pretty chumpy and lame.
posted by frenetic at 9:36 PM on March 17, 2009


chronotrigger is the game that addicted me to games. curse/ praise be its name.
posted by Glibpaxman at 11:02 PM on March 17, 2009


Malor, I was all set to correct your cartridge size statement, but it looks like you were right—Chrono Trigger was a 32 megabit game, which is indeed 4 megabytes.

Yeah, I hated the megabit thing. Drove me nuts. Useless marketing spin. I've always used the proper terms when I could, and Chrono Trigger was four megaBYTES, dammit. :)

(I actually have the original SNES cartridge, but lack the SNES to actually play it on. Whoops.)

Both Snes9X and ZSNES play this game fine. I was infected by a virus in the immediate proximity of downloading and installing SNES9X two or three months ago, so tread carefully. The author didn't answer me when I emailed him. (I stupidly deleted the original file instead of saving it.... I'm an idiot.) I don't know that SNES9X is virused, but with his open-mirror policy, it's more of a possibility than it is with most downloaded programs.

The ROM is not at all hard to find -- and it's not like it's even unethical for you to download it, since you have the original cart. I have a good Google search phrase you can use. Drop me a MeMail if you need it.
posted by Malor at 11:35 PM on March 17, 2009


I've been playing through Chrono Trigger DS, and I'm not sure it stands the test of time.

I think it does. I just replayed it last year, using the PlayStation re-release (the game itself is identical, but it adds a few anime-style cutscenes) on my PSP. It's still amazing, and the music is as good as ever. Chrono Trigger is one of those rare games that's completely timeless. One of the very greatest achievements in console games. Even Final Fantasy VII, which I would have put in the same "timeless" category until pretty recently, is showing its age a little now, but Chrono Trigger still holds up.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:19 AM on March 18, 2009


For my senior project as a music major, I did an hour and a half long presentation on the history and social importance of video game music. The latter half of the presentation involved a few pianist friends of mine and two flautists performing various re-arrangements of things from Chrono Trigger / Cross, and some of the songs had professors of mine who have been professional musicians for decades in tears.

The wonderful thing about Chrono Trigger is how well it holds up in all respects, but the music - christ, it might actually be the game that got me into music. I remember when it first came out I rented it, and was absolutely struck by the melody of Gato's Song for some reason, and after the rental period I sat at the piano (never took piano lessons, still am pretty terrible to this day) and tried to pick up the melody by ear for days until my mom got me the game for my birthday, and I was able to sit at the piano with the TV going to get it. I did that with almost every song on the soundtrack, and honestly, that's really when I started getting into music. It's amazing that I can throw a playlist of all the songs on my computer on shuffle when I'm reading or something, and the ones that give me pause are the 16 bit masterpieces Yasunori and Nobuo came up with.
posted by Mali at 5:31 AM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


...I was infected by a virus in the immediate proximity of downloading and installing SNES9X two or three months ago...

...The ROM is not at all hard to find...

I think it is a much more likely scenario that one of those ROM sites you surfed through had a drive-by virus install.

(Also, while it's not morally wrong to download the ROM for a game you own, I think you might be in legally murky waters, depending on where you live.)
posted by ymgve at 5:35 AM on March 18, 2009


chronotrigger is the game that addicted me to games. curse/ praise be its name.

It is the Best. Game. Ever.

I played through it at least 14 times (12 times for each ending, and 2 more some years later).
posted by tybeet at 6:00 AM on March 18, 2009


Ooooh, somewhere I can nerd out about one of my favorite games ever! I'm so excited my pendant's starting to glow. Thanks for sharing!
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:16 AM on March 18, 2009


I played Chrono Trigger via emulation; it's one of maybe five RPGs I've actually finished on any platform, all the way back to Ultima III on the c64. (The only other RPGs I can think of offhand that I finished were Chrono Cross and Okage. Oh, and Black Crypt.)

Looking at some of the links here and seeing the Akira Toriyama concept art, and an aborted 3D fan recreation that's faithful to his designs, I realized something: This is a game that was made stronger by not actually being faithful to the concept art. Really. Look at the image on the front of Square's page for the DS version, then look at any in-game art. I would not have played the thing through if the characters hadn't gotten many times cuter when they were drawn as tiny little sprites; that drawing promises a really ugly-to-look at game to me.

I have never played the Playstation version, with faithfully-Toriyama cutscenes. I suspect they'd diminish the experience for me.
posted by egypturnash at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2009


What sold me on Chrono Trigger as being one of the greatest games ever was how the flow of time worked on the sealed chests. You could go into the future, get an item from the chest, then go BACK in time and get an item from the same chest. I actually deleted and started a new game once I figured that out. As a 14-year-old game nerd, it blew my mind that developers thought to include that level of logic. It may have existed in games prior to that, but I never played 'em.

Now I'm debating dusting off the DS and picking up a copy of the game even though I have absolutely no time to play. DAMN YOU, METAFILTER!
posted by educatedslacker at 8:12 AM on March 18, 2009


Oh, and to add on about the music, if you haven't checked out the Chrono Symphonic from OCX, you must do so.
posted by educatedslacker at 8:17 AM on March 18, 2009


I'm excited for this. I missed the SNES; wrong age for it. I tried playing Chrono Trigger in emulation a year or two ago and loved it, but got bored and wandered away. A new NDS release plus a group of like-minded nerds playing it through together? Perfect!
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on March 18, 2009


I am Gato
I have metal joints
Beat me and
Earn 15 silver points


Also, it's a good way to get a couple levels before heading out into the game proper.
posted by owtytrof at 9:09 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Chrono Trigger and Earthbound, also mentioned above, represent, for me, a golden ear of RPG games. Perhaps I'm under the influence of a bit of nostalgia, but both games seemed so awesome that I've yet to experience the fun I remember having playing these two games since.

One could argue that Personas 3 and 4 come close, but I always love Chrono Trigger and Earthbound the most.
posted by elder18 at 9:19 AM on March 18, 2009


Elder18, these games definitely do represent at least one golden age of RPGs. The SNES had so many fantastic titles to come out around during its tenure - a brief list would include Final Fantasies V and VI, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Earthbound, Breath of Fires I - III, Illusion of Gaia, Soul Blazer, ActRaiser, Super Mario RPG (cheesy as it was, still a great game)... I'm sure I'm missing many that are worthy of note, but still, that's an impressive list unto its own. The Playstation age of RPG gaming was phenomenal as well, but there's something about the sprite graphics and 16-bit music that, for some odd reason, really speaks to me. I could never get into the PSX/2 stuff until many years later when I picked up Xenogears, and even now I still go back and fire up the SNES to play through Secret of Mana for the umpteenth time.
posted by Mali at 11:48 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it is a much more likely scenario that one of those ROM sites you surfed through had a drive-by virus install.

No, because I've had the ROM for many, many years. 1998, in fact. I also have the cartridge, of course.
posted by Malor at 7:18 PM on March 18, 2009


Huh. Golden age.

The funny thing about that statement for me is that I bought Chrono Trigger and FFVII for the SNES at the same time (never a good idea having two new toys) and, having spent very little time with both, basically threw FFVII in a corner and didn't look at it again. It wasn't that I was hooked on CT and didn't want to spend the time; I just couldn't switch to it afterward. It was such a lesser experience.

Funny because at the time FFVII was received SUCH accolades. CT was recognized to be great, but I doubt anyone who hadn't played both would have guessed at my reaction from the reviews.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:28 PM on March 18, 2009


Durn, Final Fantasy 7? Wasn't that PS1-only?
posted by Malor at 7:46 PM on March 18, 2009


Malor: Durn, Final Fantasy 7? Wasn't that PS1-only?

Actually, it also came out for the PC, but it sure didn't come out for the SNES. Maybe he means FF3.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:50 PM on March 18, 2009


Ahh, Chrono Trigger. It's one of the few games aside from FF VI, Secret of Mana (and its internet translated sequel), and Super Mario RPG that I have played over and over in various forms. I am now tempted and will probably endeavor to join the VGC.

Also, the music is great. I particularly love the jazz/easy listening arrangements. They're quite wonderful if you loved the original music. I also own the OST though so maybe I'm just a huge CT geek. Now, I'm downloading this Chrono Symphonic thing...
posted by lizarrd at 9:07 AM on March 19, 2009


The "jazz/easy listening arrangements" must be Brink of Time (I believe Mitsuda did these arrangements himself; at least he was involved). Chrono Symphonic is pretty good; there are a few tracks I really like but overall I'm not crazy about it. But fans should be sure to check out the 92(!) Chrono Trigger arrangements on OCR; many of them are good.
posted by grobstein at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2009


Damn you all. I just started Final Fantasy 12 and now you've got me aching to start another RPG. At this rate, I'll never see the light of day!
posted by phredgreen at 11:29 PM on March 19, 2009


Yay, FF12, the game that introduced MMO grinding into a single-player game!

</sarcasm>

FF12 is fucking terrible. CT is so much better it's not even in the same game-design galaxy. The graphics are incredibly cheesy in comparison, but the game? The game is actually fun. I've found this to be a fairly important feature.
posted by Malor at 2:23 AM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't quite have the hate for FF12 that Malor seems to harbor, but I do agree that your time would be much better spent with CT.
posted by owtytrof at 10:13 AM on March 20, 2009


Ack. Right you are. VI/III.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:53 PM on March 20, 2009


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