Dedicated to exposing and denouncing Square's most dismal failure.
Chrono Trigger: A true "Dream" project?
Where Chrono Trigger went wrong
Could Chrono Trigger have been saved?
Chrono Trigger is a roleplaying video game developed by Square and released in the year 1995. Advertised as the ultimate collaborative work of all the most famous Japanese developers of RPGs of the time, Chrono Trigger sold well.
However, all was not well in the gaming community.
Before long, many fans began to cry foul, citing concerns that Chrono Trigger was a shallow, overrated, and generally shoddy game when compared with its illustrious cousins of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series, which many consider to be the best roleplaying game series ever made. Many long-time RPGs fans began to experience strong disappointment and even anger at the state of Square's ill-concieved and poorly-realized "Dream Project."
And so, this page. A page erected as a monument to Square's most shameful mistake and dedicated to exposing it as the cancerous blight on the good name of RPG that it is.
In short, no. Although it was advertised as such in order to facilitate "name recognition" and sell games, Chrono Trigger is, in fact, not a true, harmonious and collaborative work. It is actually a very loosely tied-up patchwork of random and incompatible ideas from possessive, ageing, so-called "Dream Team" developers.
As Chrono Trigger "story planner" Masato Kato (one of the non-Dream Team developers) said in an interview with Yasunori Mitsuda's Procyon Studio:
MK: "For example, in Chrono Trigger, Mr. Yuji Horii wrote the basic plot line first; following that, it was editted and rewritten by me, and even further on after that, the sub-scenarios were created by Mr. Tokita and Mr. Kitase. So it all gets kinda' mixed up at the end."
Later in the interview, Masato Kato elaborates on this issue:
MK: ""Trigger" wasn't exactly "smooth sailing", and a lot of the parts ended up being changed in the end. I remember back then, I couldn't stand getting up in the mornings and going to work everyday. I had the worst stomacheache from hell. But even still, I wrote all of the 12,000 B.C. events by myself and made sure that no one laid a finger on my section. Oh yeah, I also recall that when it came time to make the staff roll, they thought about placing "the most important people" on the top and just giving the title of the "scenario writer" to the top people of the planning division. I personally didn't (and don't) give a hoot about any titles or that sorta' stuff, so I just told them, "do whatever you like" - but then, Mr. Tokita and Mr. Kitase protested and in the end, I remember I was given the rather unusual title of the "story-planner"."
There is also this quote from Chrono Trigger English translator Ted Woolsey, taken from an interview conducted by Bob Rork:
Q: "What were the easiest/hardest games for you to translate? Why?"
A: "Mystic Quest was probably the easiest, due to the memory configuration. Chrono Trigger was probably the hardest, owing to time constraints and multiple characters that said slightly different things. Try translating a couple of thousand pages in a month or so (then having to go back and toss out 50% due to memory limitations)...it isn't all its cracked up to be!"
Thus, as the Chrono Trigger designers have repeatedly stated, Chrono Trigger's production suffered from a huge amount of constraints due to personal conflicts. The "Dream Team" celebrities all disputed each other's importance and all wanted to claim the scenario writing duty for themselves. A lot of technical issues were left unsolved regarding to memory usage. Script parts, music tracks, and entire dungeons of the game were thus shortened or abandoned, even though the game lasts only 20 or 24 hours! As a result, the game appears incoherent, too easy, and totally half-baked. Anyone who disagrees obviously contradicts the Chrono Trigger developers themselves and thus can be safely branded a fool.
The individual failings of Chrono Trigger are almost too numerous to list. Here is a short and by no means complete collection of examples:
1. Too few playable characters.
2. Big but empty world maps, with no enemy encounter and very monotonous atmospheres (particularly in Prehistory and Future).
3. Tech system removes almost all character customization possibilities and contributes to a Dragon Ball Z-like classification of special attacks.
4. Character design is far inferior to Yoshitaka Amano's works in the Final Fantasy series.
5. Huge portions of the game consist entirely of empty filler in the form of dull fetch quests and "history watching" exercises.
6. Characters have too many useless tech skills.
7. Redundant double and triple techs.
8. Development for the majority of characters is severely lacking or completely nonexistant.
9. Most characters, whether they are playable or not, are silly and pointless.
10. Some plot "revelations" (like Magus being Schala's brother) make little sense and seem like pointless afterthoughts designed to cover for poor scenario writing.
11. Monotonous, uninteresting, and unmemorable musical score.
12. Numerous enemies are killed off in inappropriate, unsatisfying, and difficult to believe fashions (Dalton, Ozzie, etc.).
13. Gaspar's appearance in the End of Time (wrong clothing, etc.) is a blatant continuity error.
14. Supposed creation of the Gates by some random Entity instead of Lavos is another glaring continuity error.
15. No vehicle apart from the Epoch for players to explore the world in differently (like a boat).
16. Frog character completely invalidated and insulted through implication that he wasn't the one to plunge Masa & Mune's Red Knife into the Mammon Machine.
17. No strong villian. Lavos's motives are about as clear as mud and the threat posed by Queen Zeal is far too vague to be tension-building.
18. Final boss posesses only non-Elemental attacks, despite the perfect opportunity to make use of the classic ultimate Elemental attacks like in many other RPGs.
19. "Good" ending is childish nonsense followed by a brief cutesy cutscene that makes no sense whatsoever. Crono and Marle floating thousand feet above the ground? What were they thinking?
20. Too many alternate endings, none of which less childish than the main ending.
21. Characters can abuse usage of triple tech skills and use them at will, which makes little sense and lowers combat difficulty considerably.
22. Level advancement is a joke considering the lack of difficulty and thus unnecessity of levelling-up sessions.
23. Battle music continues to play during the EXP gain phase after combats, instead of changing to an orchestrated, mood-setting victory fanfare.
24. Characters behave illogically. Magus joins your party even though you are enemies, and even though he killed Frog's brother Cyrus.
25. Boring "unique weapon" hunting system eliminates fun of forging and refining custom weapons, armor, etc.
It's a good question. The answer, I believe, is yes. How? I'll outline the ten main ways that Square could have avoided the mistakes that doomed Chrono Trigger to mediocrity.
Only one scenario writer. The Dream Team guys are wonderful when they
work alone on their games, but it's a total failure when they try a
2. Akira Toriyama should definitely not have been the character designer.
3. The actual consequences of time travel should have been more of a focus in the plot.
4. Each character should have had no more than six individual tech skills and less double and triple techs, so that the first ones conserve their usefulness even late in the game.
5. Weapons, items, locations, musical themes, and supporting characters should have been less childish and stereotyped.
6. Something less cliché than magic points should have been used.
7. Enemies shouldn't vanish when you run away from battles, they should remain on the exploration screen to possibly chase you and resume the battle.
8. Game difficulty and level advancement should have been more drastic.
9. A weapon forging system of some sort should have been included, like in Secret of Mana.
10. More interesting and compelling villians should have been used.
For more information on Chrono Trigger, try Chrono Shock.