Revisiting Chrono Trigger

Being neither a new game nor a new port, Chrono Trigger for the DS may be an odd one to talk about, but when I found myself plumbing my backlog for a fix when my 360 popped its clogs a while back, this is one of the unplayed gems that I found myself returning to, even after the big black monster was back.

I adore Chrono Trigger, and have ever since I first played it when it remained the holy grail of what a UK gamer could find only on the import ‘grey market’. Indeed, the DS version, released 14 years after its original release, was the first time it was actually available in PAL territories without braving inflated eBay prices or less legal routes.

Chrono Trigger

I’ve owned and played all three versions, but I’ve never actually finished the game, which made it an even easier choice. Classic RPGs and portable systems just go together in my book – this complementary relationship was how I finally got the Final Fantasy VII monkey off my back – so if I was ever going to do it, this would be it. Throw in the fact that this is the best version of the game – the largely issue-free SNES version lacked the extras and animated scenes of the PSX, while that one suffered from unforgivable slowdown and crippling load times for a SNES port, and this one takes the best from both – and I was set to be a happy, mildly obsessed chap.

First, though, that new translation, because it’s probably the most contentious change. Cleaning up old translations generally gets the thumbs up from me because, let’s face it, most translation work from the 16-bit days could, at best, be described as ‘charming’, but it’s hard to ignore one particular tweak in this one. Some of the changes make sense, like ‘Antiquity’ is a better and more fitting name for the ancient magical realm than ‘Dark Ages’, and taking advantage of the fact that names no longer have to be limited by cartridge space is a no-brainer, but did they really have to drop Frog’s Shakespearean ‘ye olde’ dialect?

Cheesy it may have been, but it was cute and fit the character, and I think it’s a good reason – this is the other reason – why Frog is such a fondly remembered character. Even if it wasn’t in the original Japanese, there are other quirks that didn’t make it in, so staying true to the original wasn’t top of the agenda. It’s no big deal and Frog is still a great character, but he’s lost something.

That’s really my only complaint, though.┬áIn short, Chrono Trigger is still one of the best RPGs ever made. It has it all: timelessly beautiful art; a great, multilayered story; memorable characters; a classic – in many ways – soundtrack; no random battles; tons of totally optional side quests that add to the characters… Hell, it popularised if not invented the New Game+ concept and had 14 different endings when most games could barely manage one. They really don’t make them like this any more.

And that’s another unfinished classic RPG off my list. Next stop: Persona 4… maybe.

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