Chrono Trigger (クロノ・トリガー Kurono Torigā?) is a console role-playing game developed and published by Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1995. It is the first game in the Chrono series. The game's story follows a group of adventurers who travel through time to prevent a global catastrophe. Square re-released a ported version by TOSE in Japan for the Sony PlayStation in 1999, later repackaged with a Final Fantasy IV port as part of the Final Fantasy Chronicles in 2001. A slightly enhanced Chrono Trigger was released for the Nintendo DS on November 25, 2008, in North America and Japan, and went on sale in Europe on February 6, 2009. The SNES version was released fast on PAL territories on the second quarter of the year 2011 via the Wii's Virtual Console service. The iOS version was released on December 11, 2011, on the App Store.
The development team of Chrono Trigger was headed by three designers that Square dubbed the "Dream Team", consisting of Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series; Yūji Horii and Akira Toriyama, two freelance designers known for their work on Enix's Dragon Quest series; Nobuo Uematsu, a composer for the Final Fantasy series; and Kazuhiko Aoki, who produced the game. Masato Kato wrote most of the plot, while composer Yasunori Mitsuda scored most of the game before falling ill and deferring remaining tracks to Nobuo Uematsu.
Chrono Trigger received an endless amount of praise by reviewers and was commercially successful. Nintendo Power described certain aspects of Chrono Trigger as revolutionary, including its multiple endings, plot-related sidequests focusing on character development, unique battle system, and detailed graphics.
Chrono Trigger features standard RPG gameplay with several innovations. The player controls the protagonist and his companions in the game's 2D fictional world, consisting of various forests, cities, and dungeons. Navigation occurs via an overworld map, depicting the landscape from a scaled down overhead view. Areas such as forests, cities, and similar places are depicted as more realistic scaled down maps, in which players can converse with locals to procure items and services, solve puzzles and challenges, or encounter enemies. Chrono Trigger's gameplay deviates from that of traditional RPGs in that, rather than appearing in random encounters, many enemies are openly visible on field maps or lie in wait to ambush the party. Contact with enemies on a field map initiates a battle that occurs directly on the map rather than on a separate battle screen.
Players and enemies may use physical or magical attacks to wound targets during battle, and players may use items to heal or protect themselves. Each character and enemy has a certain number of hit points, and successful attacks reduce that character's hit points, while hit points can be restored with potions and spells. When a playable character loses all hit points, he or she faints; if all the player's characters fall in battle, the game ends and must be restored from a previously saved chapter, except in specific storyline-related battles that allow or force the player to lose. Between battles, the player can equip his/her characters with weapons, armor, helmets, and accessories that provide special effects, and various consumable items can be used both in and out of battles. Items and equipment can be purchased in shops or found on field maps, often in treasure chests. By exploring new areas and fighting enemies, players progress through Chrono Triggers story.
Chrono Trigger uses an Active Time Battle system named "Active Time Battle 2.0". Each character can take action in battle once a personal timer dependent on the character's speed statistic counts to zero. Magic and special physical techniques are handled through a system called "Techs". Techs deplete a character's magic points, and often have special areas of effect; some spells damage huddled monsters, while others can harm enemies spread in a line. Enemies often change positions during a battle, creating opportunities for tactical Tech use. A unique feature of Chrono Triggers Tech system is that numerous cooperative techniques exist. Each character receives eight personal Techs which can be used in conjunction with others' to create Double and Triple Techs for greater effect. When characters with compatible Techs have enough magic points available to perform their techniques, the game automatically displays the combo as an option.
Chrono Trigger features several other unique game-play traits, including time travel. Players have access to seven eras of the game world's history, and past actions affect future events. Throughout history, players find new allies, complete sidequests, and search for keynote villains. Time travel is accomplished via portals and pillars of light called "time gates", as well as a time machine named Epoch (Silbird in Japan). The game contains thirteen unique endings; the ending the player receives depends on when and how he or she reaches and completes the game's final battle. The re-release of Chrono Trigger for the DS features a new ending that can be accessed from the End of Time upon completion of the final extra dungeon, which also contains a new optional final boss. Chrono Trigger also introduces a New Game+ option after completing the game, where the player may begin a new game with the same character levels, Techs, and equipment that they ended the previous game with, though certain items central to the storyline are removed and must be found again.
Chrono Trigger takes place in a fictitious alternate timeline of Earth. The characters have to travel through time to battle enemies, make friends, gain allies, gather equipment, and obtain magic for their quest. The time periods the characters travel range from 65,000,000 B.C. at the dawn of civilization to 2300 A.D., a post-apocalyptic time period. The party gains access to the period known as the End of Time (represented as the year ∞), which allows them to travel to other time periods. The party eventually acquires a machine capable of time travel, known as the 'Wings of Time', renamed 'Epoch' by the party. This craft is able to warp between time periods without the party having to go through the portals located at the End of Time.
Chrono Trigger 's seven playable characters (with two of them being optional) come from different eras in the game world's history. Chrono Trigger begins in Present with Crono, Marle, and Lucca. Crono is characterized as a fearless young man with an interest in the art of wielding katanas. Marle is a sheltered girl living within the Castle, daring but reckless, who on one occasion slips out of the castle and attends the Millennial Fair, flouting the decorum of her royal lineage. Lucca is a friend of Crono's and a mechanical genius who wields a gun; her home is filled with laboratory equipment and machinery.
From the era of 2300 AD comes Robo, originally designed as "R-66Y", a robot with a helpful and near-human personality created to assist humans and outfitted with a powerful robotic arm, which it uses to attack. Found lying dormant in the future, Robo is repaired by Lucca and joins the group as an act of gratitude.
The fiercely confident Ayla dwells in 65,000,000 BC. Unmatched in raw power, Ayla is the chief of the Ioka Tribe and leads her people in the war against a species of humanoid reptiles known as Reptites.
The last two characters- Frog and Magus- originate in the year of 600 AD. Frog is a former squire once named Glenn; Magus turned Glenn into an anthropomorphic frog and also slew his friend Cyrus. Chivalrous but mired in regret, Frog dedicates his life to protecting Queen Leene, the Queen of Guardia, and avenging Cyrus. Meanwhile, Guardia in 600 A.D. is in a state of war against the Fiends (known as Mystics in the SNES and PS versions), a race of demons and intelligent animals. Under the leadership of Magus, a powerful sorcerer, they wage war against humanity. While Magus appears to be a powerful magician, in his seclusion he contains a long-lost past, a time when he used to be known as Janus, the young prince of the Kingdom of Zeal, which was destroyed by Lavos in 12000 BC. The incident propelled him forward in time, and as he ages, he plots revenge against Lavos and broods over the fate of his sister, Schala. Lavos, who awakens and ravages the world in 1999 A.D., is an extraterrestrial parasitic creature that harvests DNA and the Earth's energy for its own growth.
In 1000 A.D., Crono and Marle watch Lucca and her father demonstrates her new teleportation device at the Millennial Fair. When Marle volunteers to be teleported, her pendant interferes with the device and creates a time portal that she is drawn into. Crono and Lucca separately recreate the portal and find themselves in 600 A.D. They learn that Marle's presence has created a grandfather paradox by preventing the recovery of Marle's kidnapped ancestor. Crono and Lucca, with the help of Frog, restore history to normal by recovering the kidnapped woman. After returning to the present, Crono is arrested on charges of kidnapping the princess and is sentenced to death by the king's dubious adviser, The Chancellor. Lucca and Marle help Crono flee, haphazardly using another time portal to escape their pursuers. Upon arriving in the year 2300 A.D., they eventually learn that an advanced civilization has been wiped out by a giant creature known as Lavos that appeared in 1999 A.D. The three vow to find a way to prevent the destruction of their world.
After meeting and repairing Robo, Crono and his friends begin to travel through time, assisted by Gaspar, an old sage at the End of Time, to collect more allies, items, and information and face Lavos. Their party expands to include Ayla and Frog. They come to learn that Lavos was an alien being that descended upon the planet millions of years in the past and began to absorb DNA and energy from every creature on it, eventually having enough power to raise and raze the planet's surface in 1999 A.D. However, Lavos' presence had been discovered by Queen Zeal in 12,000 B.C. The Queen believed she could summon Lavos and harness its power to achieve immortality and caused her son, Janus, and the three Gurus, Gaspar, Melchior, and Belthasar, to be spread throughout time, preventing them from collaborating and stopping Lavos' return.
Janus vowed to learn how to summon the beast himself so that he could destroy it. He took the alias of Magus and gained a cult of followers, who believed that he sought Lavos as a means to usurp the planet from humans. The party initially mistakes Magus as the cause of Lavos' emergence but later comes to learn the truth. They travel to 12,000 B.C. and storm the Ocean Palace to prevent the Queen from summoning the being. However, they are ill-prepared for their assault and as Lavos attempts to kill them all, Crono sacrifices himself to protect everyone. Magus fails to defeat Lavos, and the creature's power causes a tsunami that destroys Zeal and covers most of the world in water. The Ocean Palace then rises into the air, becoming the Black Omen, which, if not destroyed, exists in all future time periods. The group turns to Gaspar for help and he gives them a device called a "Chrono Trigger" that is able to replace Crono with a doppelganger moments before his death. The group collects the necessary components for the process and travels to 2300 A.D., where on "Death Peak" they activate the Chrono Trigger, which takes them back to the moment in time just before Crono is killed and swaps him for a doll that resembles him to absorb the attack, saving his life. After gaining enough power, Crono and the others assault Lavos and are able to defeat it, thus saving the future of their world and closing all-time portals exiting throughout the land.
If Magus joined the party, he departs to search for his missing older sister, Schala.
Crono's Mother accidentally enters the time gate at the Fair before it closes, prompting Crono, Marle, and Lucca to set out in the Epoch to find her while fireworks light up the night sky. Alternatively, if the party used the Epoch to break Lavos's outer shell, Marle will help her father hang Nadia's Bell at the festival and accidentally get carried away by several balloons. Crono jumps on to help her, but cannot bring them down to earth. Hanging on to each other's arms, the pair travel through the cloudy, moonlit sky.
Chrono Trigger was produced by Kazuhiko Aoki while director credits were attributed to Akihiko Matsui, Yoshinori Kitase and Takashi Tokita. Supervisors included Hironobu Sakaguchi, producer and creator of the Final Fantasy series, and Yūji Horii, director and creator of the Dragon Quest series. The game was originally developed without involvement from Tokita and Kitase, the latter being busy directing Final Fantasy VII.
A fan of time travel fiction, Horii fostered the theme of time travel in his general outline of Chrono Trigger with input from Akira Toriyama. Masato Kato subsequently edited and completed the outline by writing the majority of the game's story, including all the events of the 12000 BC era. Kato devised the system of multiple endings because he could not branch the story out to different paths. Yoshinori Kitase and Takashi Tokita then wrote various subplots. The characters of Chrono Trigger were designed by Akira Toriyama, creator of the manga Dragon Ball and a longtime contributor to the Dragon Quest series. Other notable designers include Tetsuya Takahashi, the graphics director, and Yasuyuki Honne, Tetsuya Nomura, and Yusuke Naora, who worked as field graphic artists.
Early alpha versions of Chrono Trigger were demonstrated at the 1994 and 1995 V-Jump festivals in Japan. A few months prior to the game's release, Square shipped a beta version to magazine reviewers and game stores for review. An unfinished build of the game, it contained unused music tracks, locations, and other features changed or removed from the final release—such as a dungeon named "Chanting Mountains", and its eponymous song entitled "Singing Mountain". The ROM image was uploaded to the internet, prompting fans to explore and document the game's differences, including two unused world maps, several character sprites, and presumed additional sprites for certain non-player characters. Rumors of a planned eighth character exist but are wholly unsubstantiated. However, in 2011, an old interview with Akira Toriyama that surfaced mentions a cut playable character with the placeholder name "Sage", who closely resembles Gaspar in his Zeal regalia.
Chrono Trigger used a 32-megabit cartridge with battery-backed RAM for saved games, lacking special on-cartridge coprocessors. The Japanese release of Chrono Trigger included art for the game's ending and running counts of items in the player's status menu. Developers created the North American version before adding these features to the original build, inadvertently leaving in vestiges of Chrono Trigger 's early development such as the song "Singing Mountain". Hironobu Sakaguchi asked translator Ted Woolsey to localize Chrono Trigger for English audiences and gave him roughly thirty days to work. Lacking the help of a modern translation team, he memorized scenarios and looked at drafts of commercial player's guides to put dialogue in context. Woolsey later reflected that he would have preferred two-and-a-half months, and blames his rushed schedule on the prevailing attitude in Japan that games were child's toys rather than serious works. Some of his work was cut due to space constraints, though he still considered the game "one of the most satisfying games I ever worked on or played." Nintendo of America censored certain dialogue, including references to breastfeeding, consumption of alcohol, and religion. Square shipped the game with two world maps and Japanese buyers who pre-ordered received holographic foil cards.
A Nintendo Power reader poll conducted in April 2008 identified Chrono Trigger as the third-most wanted game for the Virtual Console. There have been two notable attempts by Chrono Trigger fans to unofficially remake parts of the game for the PC with a 3D graphics engine. Chrono Resurrection, an attempt at remaking ten small interactive cut scenes from Chrono Trigger, and Chrono Trigger Remake Project, which sought to remake the entire game, were forcibly terminated by Square Enix by way of a cease and desist order.
Square released an enhanced port of Chrono Trigger developed by TOSE in Japan for the Sony PlayStation in 1999. Square timed its release before that of Chrono Cross, the 1999 sequel to Chrono Trigger, to familiarize new players with a story to leading up to it. This version included anime cut scenes created by original character designer Akira Toriyama's Bird Studio and animated by Toei Animation, as well as several bonus features, accessible after achieving various endings in the game. Scenarist Masato Kato attended planning meetings at Bird Studio to discuss how the ending cut scenes would illustrate subtleties to Chrono Cross. The port was later released in North America in 2001—along with a remake of Final Fantasy IV under the package title Final Fantasy Chronicles. Reviewers criticized Chronicles for lengthy load times and an absence of new in-game features.
Nintendo DS releaseEdit
On July 2, 2008, Square Enix announced that they were officially planning to bring Chrono Trigger to the Nintendo DS. Composer Yasunori Mitsuda was pleased with the project, exclaiming "finally!" after receiving the news from Square Enix and maintaining, "it's still a very deep, very high-quality game even when you play it today. I'm very interested in seeing what kids today think about it when they play it." Square Enix touted the game by displaying Akira Toriyama's original art at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show.
On November 30, 2011, Chrono Trigger has been released on the iOS App Store, but got complaints because of slightly dodgy touchscreen controls.
Chrono Trigger was scored by Yasunori Mitsuda and veteran Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, with one track composed by both Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda. A sound programmer at the time, Mitsuda was unhappy with his pay and threatened to leave Square if he could not compose music. Hironobu Sakaguchi suggested he score Chrono Trigger, remarking, "Maybe your salary will go up." Mitsuda reflected, "I wanted to create music that wouldn't fit into any established genre...music of an imaginary world. The game's director, Masato Kato, was my close friend, and so I'd always talk with him about the setting and the scene before going into writing." Mitsuda slept in his studio several nights, and attributed certain songs, such as "Outskirts of Time", to inspiring dreams. He also suffered a hard drive crash that lost around forty in-progress tracks. After Mitsuda contracted stomach ulcers, Uematsu joined the project to compose ten songs and finish the score. Mitsuda returned to watch the ending with the staff before the game's release, crying upon seeing the finished scene.
At the time of the game's release, the number of tracks and sound effects was unprecedented. The soundtrack spanned three discs in its 1995 commercial pressing. Square also released a one-disc acid jazz arrangement called "Chrono Trigger Arranged Version: The Brink of Time" by Guido that year. In 1999, Square produced another one-disc soundtrack to complement the PlayStation release of the game, featuring orchestral tracks used in cut scenes. Yasunori Mitsuda also composed four new pieces for the game's bonus features which weren't included on the soundtrack.
Recently, Mitsuda arranged versions of music from the Chrono series for Play! A Video Game Symphony video game music concerts, presenting the main theme, "Frog's Theme", and "Outskirts of Time". He worked with Square Enix to ensure that the Nintendo DS port's music would sound close to the Super Nintendo version's.
Fans have heavily remixed the soundtrack, producing over 600 tributes and several cover performance albums released over the internet or sold at retail. These include Time & Space - A Tribute to Yasunori Mitsuda and Chrono Symphonic, the latter released by the remix website OverClocked ReMix. Japanese fans often sell their remix work in compilation albums popularly called "Dōjin" by Western fans. The soundtrack continues to appear in the set lists of video game concert groups such as the Eminence Orchestra and Video Games Live.
Chrono Trigger shipped more than 2.36 million copies in Japan and 290,000 abroad. The first two million copies sold in Japan were delivered in only two months. The game was met with substantial success upon release in North America, and its re-release on the PlayStation as part of the Final Fantasy Chronicles package topped the NPD TRSTS PlayStation sales charts for over six weeks. This version was later re-released again in 2003 as part of Sony's Greatest Hits line. Chrono Trigger has recently placed highly on all five of multimedia website IGN's "top 100 games of all time" lists—4th in 2002, 6th in early 2005, 13th in late 2005, 2nd in 2006, 18th in 2007, and 2nd in 2008. GameSpot included Chrono Trigger in "The Greatest Games of All Time" list released in April 2006, and it also appeared as 28th on an "All Time Top 100" list in a poll conducted by Japanese magazine Famitsu the same year. In 2004, Chrono Trigger finished runner up to Final Fantasy VII in the inaugural GameFAQs video game battle. In 2008, readers of Dengeki Online voted it the eighth best game ever made. Nintendo Power's twentieth-anniversary issue named it the fifth best SNES game.
Chrono Trigger garnered much critical praise in addition to its brisk sales. Nintendo Power called it Square's "biggest game ever", citing improved graphics, sound, and gameplay over past RPG titles. Chrono Trigger won multiple awards from Electronic Gaming Monthly's 1995 video game awards, including Best Role-Playing Game, Best Music in a Cartridge-Based Game, and Best Super NES Game. Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine described the game as "original and extremely captivating", singling out its graphics, sound, and story as particularly impressive. IGN commented that "it may be filled with every imaginable console RPG cliché, but Chrono Trigger manages to stand out among the pack" with "a [captivating] story that doesn't take itself too seriously" and "one of the best videogame soundtracks ever produced". Other reviewers have criticized the game's short length and relative ease compared to its peers. Overall, critics lauded Chrono Trigger for its "fantastic yet not overly complex" story, simple but innovative gameplay, and high replay value afforded by multiple endings.
Chrono Trigger inspired several sequels and expansion packs or add-ons; the first were three titles released for the Satellaview in 1995. They included Chrono Trigger: Jet Bike Special, a racing game based on a minigame from the original; Chrono Trigger: Character Library, featuring profiles on characters and monsters from the game; and Chrono Trigger: Music Library, a collection of music from the game's soundtrack. The contents of Character Library and Music Library were later included as extras in the PlayStation rerelease of Chrono Trigger. Production I.G created a 16-minute original video animation entitled "Dimensional Adventure Numa Monjar" broadcasted at the Japanese V-Jump Festival of July 31, 1996.
Square released a fourth Satellaview game in 1996, named Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hōseki. Feeling that Chrono Trigger ended with "unfinished business", scenarist Masato Kato wrote and directed the game. Radical Dreamers functioned as a side story to Chrono Trigger, resolving a loose subplot from its predecessor. A short, text-based game relying on minimal graphics and atmospheric music, the game never received an official release outside of Japan, though it was translated by fans to English in April 2003. Square planned to release Radical Dreamers as an easter egg in the PlayStation edition of Chrono Trigger, but Kato was unhappy with his work and halted its inclusion.
Square released Chrono Cross for the Sony PlayStation in 1999. Chrono Cross is a sequel to Chrono Trigger featuring a new setting and cast of characters. Presenting a theme of parallel worlds, the story followed the protagonist Serge, a teenage boy thrust into an alternate reality in which he died years earlier. With the help of a thief named Kid, Serge endeavors to discover the truth behind his apparent death and obtain the Frozen Flame, a mythical artifact. Regarded by writer and director Masato Kato as an effort to "redo Radical Dreamers properly", Chrono Cross borrowed certain themes, scenarios, characters, and settings from Radical Dreamers. Yasunori Mitsuda also adapted certain songs from Radical Dreamers while scoring Chrono Cross. Radical Dreamers was consequently removed from the series' main continuity, considered an alternate dimension. Chrono Cross shipped 1.5 million copies and was almost universally praised by critics.
There are no plans for a new title, despite a statement from Hironobu Sakaguchi in 2001 that the developers of Chrono Cross wanted to make a new Chrono game. The same year, Square applied for a trademark for the names Chrono Break in the United States and Chrono Brake in Japan. However, the United States trademark was dropped in 2003. Director Takashi Tokita mentioned "Chrono Trigger 2" in a 2003 interview which has not been translated to English. Yūji Horii expressed no interest in returning to the Chrono franchise in 2005, while Hironobu Sakaguchi remarked in April 2007 that his creation Blue Dragon was an "extension of [Chrono Trigger]." During a Cubed³ interview on February 1, 2007, Square Enix’s Senior Vice President Hiromichi Tanaka said that although no sequel is currently planned, some sort of sequel is still possible if the Chrono Cross developers can be reunited. Yasunori Mitsuda has expressed interest in scoring a new game but warned that "there are a lot of politics involved" with the series. He stressed that Masato Kato should participate in development. The February 2008 issue of Game Informer ranked the Chrono series eighth among the "Top Ten Sequels in Demand", asking, "what's the damn holdup?!" In Electronic Gaming Monthly's June 2008 "Retro Issue", writer Jeremy Parish cited Chrono as the franchise video game fans would be most thrilled to see a sequel to.
There have been numerous attempts at ROM hacks of Chrono Trigger, with the goal to either edit Chrono Trigger or create an entirely new game based on the same characters, worlds, etc. These fan games include, but are not limited to:
On the cover of both the SNES and DS release, Marle appears to be casting a Fire spell at a fiend resembling Heckran, although she is limited to Ice and Healing techniques in the game. Only Lucca and Magus are among the recruitable party members able to cast Fire magic. Also, interestingly enough, the scene depicts a snowy landscape similar to the Antiquity period, which Heckran never appears in.
The reason for this is due to the fact that the concept art was drawn in the early stages of development and they later changed the affinities for Marle and Lucca.