Games

Mystified by the Cult of Chrono Trigger

Excited as anybody by the upcoming DS re-release of Chrono Trigger, I'm curious as to what makes it such a well-regarded and influential game.

Did you hear? Did you? Chrono Trigger is coming out for the Nintendo DS. Chrono Trigger!

Of course, anyone who has witnessed Square Enix's recent track record when it comes to re-releasing their old RPGs and still happens to be surprised by this isn't really paying attention. Chrono Trigger, which gained the majority of its notoriety as a classic RPG for the Super Nintendo, has already been re-released once, as part of Final Fantasy Chronicles for the original PlayStation, complete with a few bonus cutscenes created for the purpose of giving the included games a reason to live on the PlayStation.

Like a lot of kids who were just getting in to the whole "video games" thing in a big way during the time of the SNES, I simply didn't notice Chrono Trigger amidst a sea of Final Fantasy games; my time with the SNES was limited as I didn't own one, and the only RPGs that I ever played at my friends' houses were variations on the Final Fantasy name (II/IV, III/VI, Secret of Mana and so on). Phantasy Star was my drug of choice, RPG-wise, and Chrono Trigger barely registered a tick on my still developing hype meter.

As such, despite the fact that Square Enix might just be releasing another port for the sake of a quick buck at the hands of a ravenous fan base (most recently exemplified by The Brainy Gamer's assembly of his RPG class syllabus and the drooling posts from some of the major blogs), I'm pretty excited about this, as it's the first time I'm seeing Chrono Trigger during a time in which I'm actually likely to care (the PlayStation re-release came and went while I was transitioning from Nintendo 64 to PS2, unfortunately).

My question, then, is this: What makes Chrono Trigger better than, say, Final Fantasy IV? Or VII, for that matter? Why should I play Chrono Trigger ahead of more advanced fare developed specifically for the DS, like the Pokémon games or Atlus' Rondo of Swords? It's obviously an influential and beloved game, but why? Or would it be better, at this point, to be surprised?

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