When you think about time travel, what comes to mind? Back to the Future, Terminator, Steins;Gate, or a long list of other popular media and videogames.
For me, I gravitate towards a game I’ve played several times from my youth about a spikey-haired silent protagonist fighting to save the future of the world. It’s his bravery, along with a group of heroes from various eras of time, that opened me up to the JRPG genre and enjoying stories as much as I do. The character development, twists and mysteries that Chrono Trigger takes you through are still memorable for me decades later since I first picked it up.
For those unfamiliar, you play as Crono (you can change his name) who is a normal kid in the land of Guardia. His friend Lucca, who is an engineering genius, created a telepod machine which accidentally sent Marle, the princess of Guardia, to the past. Crono decides to follow after her, thus beginning his journey throughout time to stop a creature named Lavos from destroying the world in the year 1999.
There’s a lot more to the story, and that’s what kept me playing. It was the constant struggle of fighting against an evil that seemed unstoppable and a group of friends who would take leaps of faith to try and win. Their plans didn’t always work out, which I appreciate since many stories favor the heroes and everything they do just “works out”.
You would feel part of something much bigger than what the main protagonists wanted to accomplish. For example, there’s a part in the game where you first discover who Lavos is and how it got to the planet. It is so powerful, and the fact that you’ve already been to the future and seen the destruction it causes makes you re-think how you could ever beat such a monster. This scene made me realize that the plan my characters had was not enough if they were to win, and at that point in the story, there wasn’t much they could do anyways.
The determination that each party member has and their reasons for wanting to save the world is encouraging, as each one has their own motive. Frog wants to continue to serve his king as a faithful knight, Ayla wants to protect her village, and Robo desires to change the future from becoming the desolate wasteland it is. You connect with several if not all of the characters in different ways, whether you feel encouraged or feel sad for their circumstances.
The fact that Chrono Trigger has several endings also had me playing several times. Some of the endings were easy to complete since the requirements weren’t very complicated, while others required you to replay the whole game. I did not replay it that many times, maybe twice or three times, but I did watch what I missed on Youtube! The ending with the developers interacting with the characters as themselves was very fun, as were others. Decisions you made in the game would change the story, like when you choose to revive Crono or if you chose to defeat Magus or have him join your party. Resurrecting Crono was not a requirement to beat the game, but just the fact that you can beat a game without its main character is not something you see in RPGs.
My experience with this acclaimed classic of JRPG has been a memorable one since my childhood. I am still waiting for a remastered release or maybe a true sequel (looking at you Chrono Cross). If you have not played this wonderful piece of gaming history, I highly recommend it. It has been released on about every console and PC, even mobile, so jump into your Epoch and get ready to travel across time and space to save the world!
You want more Chrono Trigger? I got you covered.