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8 Reviews

Chrono Trigger

Well, it's about time

They don't make RPGs like they used to. And there'll be moments when DS owners tackling Chrono Trigger for the first time will be thankful for that, because at times, Chrono Trigger looks every bit its 15 years of age.

The rambling, unfocused level design is typical of the mid-'90s 'tips hotline' culture. At times, you'll have to walk through solid walls, and one transporter-packed room is so bad that you'll want to put the cartridge between two crackers and bite down.

It doesn't help that this remake sees Square Enix (who retouched the likes of Final Fantasy III so beautifully) revert to laissez-faire mode. It's a lazy port, with ugly menus, near-unusable (but optional) stylus controls and additional dungeons so half-heartedly incorporated that they seem positively incongruous. But while you might need glasses to read the squint-inducing text, they needn't be rose-tinted, because for all its flaws, this remains one of the best RPGs ever made.

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Clock hoppers
Chrono Trigger takes place in a comparatively small game world, but by exploring the possibilities of time travel it sends us on a journey far longer, wider and richer than any that could be experienced on foot.

As the story unfolds, our heroes, led by the suitably spiky haired Chrono,1 unearth a number of portals that allow them to travel freely from one era to another, with events in the past affecting the future. Is some guy unwilling to hand over a valuable artefact? Just go back a few hundred years and teach his ancestors the benefits of sharing, and the wisdom will trickle down the gene pool faster than it takes to teleport back. There are many similar instances, some of which have personal resonance for your party, but Chrono Trigger's touching, unpretentious story is too good for spoilers.

It's also wrapped up in one of the best menu-driven battle systems ever seen in this type of game. So flexible is the Tech system it permits the removal of tired genre throwbacks such as random battles and, by association, grinding, instead throwing up tricky bosses that are defeated by nous instead of number-crunching.

Even if you normally hate RPGs, Chrono Trigger might win you over - it's that good. Endlessly enjoyable and replayable, despite its foibles, it's an eccentric mix of game design's circuitous past and innovations which, even now, pave the way for the genre's future. Fitting, given the subject matter.

The verdict

Not as perfect as grandad remembers, but its design quirks fade under an onslaught of unrelenting brilliance. For this classic, time truly has stood still.

8.7
Format
Nintendo DS
Developer
Square Enix
Publisher
Square Enix
Genre
Unknown

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