But she has ICE powers...!

As much as it pains me to jump on the bandwagon, Chrono Trigger has got to be my favorite game of all time.

The game's strongest suit is that it's incredibly tight. It's really short, but you get the feeling it's so short because they cut as much of the unnecessary material as possible. The game is much shorter (in fact, it can be beaten in less than 15 hours, I've done it), but, despite getting less game time for your dollar (compared to, say, Disgaea), the experience of playing the game is more enjoyable. At this point it becomes impossible to translate into dollar-to-enjoyment-ratio, but that's not really a concern of mine.

As I already said, the best part of Chrono Trigger is that everything you do is in service of the main plot. As I mentioned in my extended review of Breath of Fire 2, the part that stopped me on that game was the moment at which I said, “What am I doing?” and didn't have a good answer. At every step of the game in Chrono Trigger, it's fairly obvious how what you do next will contribute to stopping the apocalypse. Even when you have to find the dreamstone, which amounts to pretty much just a fetch quest, you end up fleshing out the main plot in the meantime, not to mention meeting another party member.

This brings me to the other big plus about Chrono Trigger. There are six additional party members, all with their own separate backstory, but all of the backstories (Robo is a little iffy, I admit) tie into the main story directly. Barrett from FF7 has an interesting little story behind him, about his town and Dyne and Shinra moving in, but aside from the fact that it involves Shinra being evil, you could cut all of those events from the game, and it wouldn't change the main story at all. If you cut Ayla and the Reptites from Chrono Trigger, you'd have no explanation for how Lavos showed up, if you cut Frog, you'd end up cutting most of Magus and the Masamune, which would leave you without a connection to Zeal.

Because the game is so short, there's very little room for rambling, and most important plot developments double up as an important moment for a character as well. Curiously enough, if they had split everything up, making the game much longer, I think my total enjoyment of the game (and therefore enjoyment per hour and enjoyment per dollar) would be drastically less.

This is precisely what the problem with Chrono Cross was, I think. Virtually nothing you did seemed to be directly in service of the main plot. I'm trying to find this artifact, and then eventually fight Lavos again, so... First I'm going to run around the island looking for parts of a clown skeleton, then rig a casino on a ship, and finally stage a concert for ghosts.

Sigh... at least the music was good.

1 comment:

Sestren said...

I never did complete the clown skeleton, and I think I avoided the Radical Dreamers entirely -- I regret neither.

Quite a shame, really. I recall liking the plot...at least, what my haphazard memory remembers. Leene's bell, some of the original heroes, and Lucca's dad (who has the strength of a bloody titan) all had potential.

"Clearly, we need an alien", said a SquareSoft employee. That was the last nail in the coffin.