Chrono Trigger review

  • Redefines RPG gameplay... again
  • Packs in a crapload of extras
  • Flawless recreation of the original
  • Losing time at Millennial Fair
  • "Unga Bunga" cave people speech
  • Stylus control is a tad floaty

Years before powerful Japanese RPG-smiths Square and Enix merged, the minds behind Enix’s Dragon Quest and Square’s Final Fantasy came together to create a dream project that would allow them to experiment in ways their established franchises wouldn’t. The resulting game took the Super NES as far as it could go, technically speaking, and it has had only one other release since, an admittedly half-baked port to the PSOne. But now this not-so-forgotten masterpiece, Chrono Trigger, gets a deserving revival on the DS.

From the outside, CT appears to be a pretty standard JRPG that follows turn-based conventions, but so many of its then-revolutionary gameplay decisions still come off fresh 13 years later. The battle system keeps everything fast-paced, with encounters moving seamlessly from exploration to fighting without going to a different screen. That causes it all to flow together perfectly. Plus, it eliminates the annoyance of constant random attacks from unseen enemies, as you see most standard enemies wandering around before you fight them.

CT also improves the typical magic system of 16-bit RPGs, with each character having a unique set of spells, or "techs." As each character’s skills grow, they become very specialized, and if some team members are used enough in the same party they can gain duo attacks or especially devastating techniques involving the whole party. These duo attacks are more effective, but the characters involved use both their turns, adding an extra level of strategy to the fights.

CT’s story is rather diverse and complex, even if a ragtag group of young adults (including the boy next door and a spunky princess) saving the world from the ultimate destroyer doesn't look novel on paper. However, the game makes this tired premise new with masterful storytelling and a great translation. Time travel is a major device in the story, which weaves its way through a winding path of history, going places as diverse as the Stone Age, the Renaissance, and the far-off future. These settings all make sense, but still surprise you. Plus it's filled with extra quests and paths just to make the adventure even fuller.

The main quest itself is long enough at 30-odd hours, but when taking into account the 14(!) possible endings, including a new one created for the DS, Chrono offers great depth for the dedicated to explore. On top of that, it's slathered in extras: a bestiary, soundtrack, item catalogue, animated FMVs from the PSOne release and a new dungeon. And while the graphics are the same as ever, you can switch between a classic button layout or stylus control at any time. Perhaps all these frills are small on their own, but together they make quite a package.

If you've never played Chrono Trigger, you owe it to yourself to finally give this gaming touchstone a whirl. And if you have played it before, you can play it again, for no other reason than to see how new it all still feels. We would normally hesitate to give any rerelease such a high score, but this is the ultimate edition of a true classic.

Nov 24, 2008

More Info

Release date: Aug 22 1995 - SNES
Oct 04 2011 - PS3
Jun 29 2001 - PS1
Nov 25 2008 - DS
May 16 2011 - Wii (US)
Feb 06 2011 - DS
May 16 2011 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: SNES, PS3, PS1, DS, Wii
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Square Enix
ESRB Rating:


  • sannu-saalberg - April 29, 2014 5:50 a.m.

    i have been playing this game already for 20 years no or something. i keep coming back to it over and over again. i don't think they do so good games any more. i also taught it to my kids - and they love it too. i found a good page for them to have some help (when i'm not around) -
  • Sash - November 23, 2008 12:41 p.m.

    It may be because the Uk release is sometime next year. How can they delay ds games? They are region free lol Oh well import it is....
  • bAdHaBiT42095 - November 23, 2008 3:45 a.m.

    sash the realease date is monday 11/24/08 is on crack
  • 4444 - November 23, 2008 1:32 a.m.

    ive never played chrono trigger but ive played chrono cross. i wonder if theyll remake chrono cross too....
  • Tasty_Pasta - November 22, 2008 4:15 p.m.

    Man, Chrono Trigger is my favorite RPG ever. I would totally pick this up if I had a DS.
  • RonnyLive19881 - November 22, 2008 4:12 a.m.

    Great Zombie Jesus! A 10! Buying it ASAP!
  • Henighen - December 10, 2008 5:16 p.m.

    Just bought this on import last week, it's everything Games Radar says it is and then some, this is a must buy for fans of this type of game....
  • GiantJediMaster - December 3, 2008 11:16 p.m.

    Woah, I dont have one of the best ds games of all time! *running off to gamestop now*
  • Yellowhat17 - November 29, 2008 6:18 p.m.

    Good ones. Usually we just steal (free is a better price for some half ass games) But the good ones like Advance wars and apparently this deserve money.
  • Bromine - November 25, 2008 8:33 p.m.

    People still pay for DS games?
  • ssj4raditz - November 24, 2008 4:55 p.m.

    I already have this on my PSone, but is it bad that I want to buy a DS just so I can play this game on the go?
  • anduin1 - November 23, 2008 8:04 a.m.

    this isnt even a remake in the technical sense, its basically just a port of a SNES game thats been ported to every nintendo system they could possibly put it on. The game is fun but most people give it such a high rating more on the nostalgia. Still a good game but I wouldnt shell out more money to nintendo for it
  • Sash - November 22, 2008 9:27 a.m.

    When I check on the website I notice it has a release date of February 2009!! Y tease like dis? Y do dat? T_______T
  • TrIp13G - November 22, 2008 3:54 a.m.

    This is at the top of my list for post-Holiday purchases.
  • dweller - November 22, 2008 2:57 a.m.

    Hopefully this will spawn another sequel and not another remake 10 years later.
  • GRwarrior - March 20, 2009 7:05 p.m.

    you know this is one of the only 3 incredible 10s on DS? I'm buying
  • yoreAtowel - July 22, 2009 6:17 a.m.

    playing for the first time on SNES emulator, and i gotta say this might be the greatest game ive ever played, (maybe top 3)
  • key0blade - February 4, 2009 12:39 p.m.

    THis is the best RPG i have played in a long time, its probably my favorite game

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

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