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36 comments

  • BladedFalcon - January 2, 2013 4:34 p.m.

    Ooooh boy, here's one entry I greatly disagree with. SPOILERS, obviously. Let's get it right off the bat. I played Chrono Trigger for the very first time in my life, 4 months ago. I'm 24 years old, without any nostalgia for the game as a kid, but also old enough to properly judge and discern if I like a game for it's own merits. And also, I LIKED it, I liked it a lot, but it's far, far from being the masterpiece or the best RPG ever as many tout the game to be. Why? Story and characters mainly, they really aren't nearly as deep or engaging as even as the article states they are. Yes, the time travel is a cool narrative hook, but it is not nearly as complex as you guys make it sound. You do travel between 5 time periods, and here are then they play cleverly with the flow of time, but it's really far from the focus of the main narrative, which mainly boils down to "Monster is fated to emerge at X Point of time in earth, you have to destroy it". That's it, that's your "complex" plot. And the side-plots that are present in each time line individually are hardly that interesting or different themselves. Pre-Historic humans have a eud with dinosaurs, you go kill their leader, that's it. Magic era? Kinda interestinc... except they try to make a big plot twist and intrigue that yet is very visible to catch from the very start. (Hint, the shady guy with the robe is OBVIOUSLY Magus, and the empress is evil/mind controlled. And the little kid is magus as a kid, called it all the moment I saw them on screen, and no, i wasn't previously aware of said "Plot twists") And the characters? Okay, so maybe the sidequests that appear AT THE VERY END of the game do add some genuine depth to them, but you can only do them after spending over 40 hours with the main plot. And in that time, all 7 characters are as simplistic RPG archetypes as you can get. Chrono is the typical boring mute hero with zero personality taht yet everyone loves and he gets shit done, because he's the player. Marle is a plucky, tomboyish princess that always has an annoyingly cheerful disposition, and being a princess, of course she gets kidnapped *rolls eyes*. Luca likes technology, and is good at it. That's it, those are her defining traits. Robo is a robot, who despite being a robot, acts more like a boring, agreeable human that speaks politely, and that manages to be less interesting than a personality-less robot. Frog is a straight up Cyan rip-off, only with a far less tragic and interesting back-story. And Ayla is strong, and talks like a prehistoric human. That's it, that's the depth of your main party and what you get from them for most of the bulk of the game. And yes, again, I know both the characters sidequests, and the variety of endings add up a lot to the endgame experience, but both aren't part of the game until it's pretty much over, so they feel more like well done extras rather than integral elements of the game or plot. Not to mention, that getting different endings simply boils down to defeating the same boss at different periods in the game, and you get wildly different endings for no real reason, despite doing pretty much the same action every time. So yeah... To be fair, yes, the actual graphics, animation, and combat, are all really well done, and even years after, i can appreciate that they all hold up really well. But then again, the combat is kinda easy, and while it has cool ideas, is still not a combat interesting enough that manges to justify the greatness of the game all on it's own. That, and personally, in the RPG genre, it's story and characters that ultimately dictates how great or bad the game is. And in this game, both elements are good enough, but in my mind, far, far from being nearly the deepest, more original, or more interesting in the whole plethora of RPGs out there. For a direct comparisson, you have FFVI, which is a game that came BEFORE this game, and while not as polished gameplay or graphic's wise, it still holds up pretty well in both areas, and that game actually has a bigger ensemble cast that yet has much more depth and nuance to them and that you discover such nuances ORGANICALLY across the plot, not just at the end and presented only as merely optional side-quests. And the plot manages much more dramatic, effective plot twists that make the story involving, and it's not until after later in the game, that becomes the standard straightforward "let's kill the bad guy and save the world" plot. (Also, before anyoen tries to go that route, I'd like to point that I played FFVI also well after it originally came out, only 3 years ago, so nostalgia isn't playing tricks in my judgment there either.) So yes... I doubt many will read this wall of text, and I doubt even less people will agree with me. I don't expect them to of course, since my opinion is my own. But up until now, never have I disagreed more with a "greatest games ever made" entry than this one.
  • Cyberninja - January 2, 2013 5:23 p.m.

    I read that wall and I have to say you stated you liked it and it still holds up well, so those are things that would make it one of the greatest games of all time especially since you say it does somethings better then the game you liked more. If you didn't like it would make sense that you disagree about it being here but you did so it more seems like you think its story and characters are over hyped but I guess this is one of the cases where nostalgia or not being overly critical works wonders. Personally CT is my favorite RPG but I consider everything important when judging something not necessarily one thing or the other also I did like the story since I play games without comparing them to others. but hey that's my opinion and I played the game on DS since it came out the year I was born so I don't have nostalgia for it either.
  • BladedFalcon - January 2, 2013 5:51 p.m.

    It's not like I was comparing it or being overly critical from the bat. But it was impossible for me not to notice that the driving plot and the character development just wasn't very complex or compelling, at least to me. And yes, I do make a huge rant of it, because if people just stated "hey, CT is a good game, and I enjoyed it a lot!" I'd agree with them. But in this case, you're showcasing it as one of the best games of the industry, and often as the best in a genre that's full of great games that IMO are much more deserving of the spot. And yes, judging everything in a game is important, but depending on the genre, not all things can be compared equally. Considering the nature of the RPG, specially back then, the game is asking you to sink more hours into the experience than other genres, and has a much lower paced exploration and combat than usual. So story and characters play a much more important role in such a genre because it's those things that usually help drive the experience forward.
  • Cyberninja - January 2, 2013 7:06 p.m.

    Well I have a question for you did you do all the small side quests through the game? If your answer is no they do add to the enjoyment of the story because you see small changes throughout the entire game if you do them. It won't drastically change the game but it will add to the overall enjoyment of story and it may be why you might have missed some character development and complexity. Granted you have to explore(I liked this the most in CT so I may be biased) so if you plowed through the main plot or only did one playthrough it is entirely missable, since this is the kind of stuff you find if you go through a few times or literally do everything. But in any case you have your opinion and I have mine but I am glad you put thought into why you don't agree with why this is here and I respect and understand your reasons even if I don't agree with them.
  • BladedFalcon - January 2, 2013 7:26 p.m.

    Thank you for the understanding, and I appreciate that you at least heard me out, even if you still disagree with me (: And well, no, I didn't plow into the main mission, and I did try to make every sidequest that was available to me, and I did try to explore every new map and era I got into, but even that I found limited, at the very least, for my first time. I DO understand that in order to get the most out of it, you have to play it a few more times, which, to be honest, i haven't done because, again, while I enjoyed the game, i didn't love it, and with all the games I still have left to play, I didn't feel sucked in enough to make me want to play it again. I of course, understand AND even appreciate games that do that, that encourage exploration and re-playability by adding details you might have missed the first time. That being said, if those details are key enough that could play a big part on ether it makes the characters and story more interesting or not, then it could become problematic. But no, I think my problem with say, the characters and their involvement (or lack thereof) in most of the story, is that, once you're done playing the small sections of the story that involve them specifically, you can then switch them in and out of your party at will. And that in itself is totally fine, most RPGs do it, the problem here is that, unlike other RPGs in which the inactive members of your party are STILL implied to be tagging along. The inactive members in Chrono trigger are sent back to where time stops, and they no longer can play a part in the story. Thus, this means that, because all the characters must be a viable option to be used in any portion of what comes after, it also means they are no longer specifically needed. Thus robbing them of a lot of personality or personal stakes on the story. You DO understand what I'm trying to get at here, right? because of things like that, for most of the game after, it doesn't really matter whether you have marle and frog with you, or Ayla and Lucca, the story proceeds the exact same way, and as such, they barely play an effect on what's going on, save adding a few different lines of flavor depending on what characters you are using.
  • mvivion - January 2, 2013 6:06 p.m.

    I just started Chrono Trigger on my smart phone so I'm not in a position to provide intelligent criticism, but I wanted to thank you for sharing a detailed, respectful dissenting opinion. The signal-to-noise ratio on gaming message boards sucks sometimes, and this was all signal. Keep doing your thing.
  • BladedFalcon - January 2, 2013 9:16 p.m.

    Thanks! And even though I might have my issues with the game, I still hope you do get to enjoy it when you delve deeper into it. And hopefully it will also encourage you to try other, if perhaps more daunting or less approachable RPGs such as The World Ends With You.
  • nintendo365 - January 2, 2013 6:18 p.m.

    I gave up on the part about the side plots, you obviously didnt pay attention or you were playing some retarded hacked version of the game. I only recently discovered Chrono Trigger in about 2010 when they remade it for the DS, but even I can testify for it being among the greatest games and greatest stories ever told. You get Frogs ENTIRE side story less than 3 hours into the game, if you know what theyre saying and actually pay attention. You get Lucca's side story at multiple points in the game, but majority of its at the start when you revisit her family's workshop. Marle's sidestory is basically the first 2 hours of the game, Robo's is near the middle- about 6 or so hours in, and Ayla doesnt really have a side story. The only person who gets their story focused at the end is Magus. And even before that during the Zeal era they basically explain it all with those cutscenes they FORCE you to watch for the main quest's story. Did you even read the dialogue of 70% of the game dude?
  • BladedFalcon - January 2, 2013 6:48 p.m.

    ...I was talking about the optional side-quests that open up at the end of the game. What you mention there aren't sidequests, and I would hardly consider them enough to call them greatly fleshed characters. Frog's story is simple, he's the squire of a famed knight of the guardia kingdom, he and his master then try to fight magus, but he kills his master and turns him into a frog, just for fun. And that's it, that's all the background and depth you get for him. he's a frog swordsman that is stoic and serious, and speaks in fake thespian for no real reason. Marle's is simply that she is descendant from the queen of the past Guardia kingdom, which is no surprise since it has been stated she was a princess from the very begining. She dissapears because her ancestor was kidnapped, and if history goes that way, she is never born. Her ancestor is rescued, she joins your party. And that's it. She barely adds any more character or depth to ehr after that. I read ALL the dialogue and paid attention to all that game offered me at the moment, "dude". But I happen to find all of it kinda lacking considering they put you with those people for the rest of the game in which their presence or personality barely matter to what's going on. Not my fault you failed to understand what I was talking about. I do thank you though, for boiling down the absurd simplicity of the characters, and how little they matter to the central story (:
  • Sinosaur - January 2, 2013 7:58 p.m.

    Normally I wouldn't bother reading a wall of text like that, but the fact that it started off reasonable and kept being reasonable was enough for me to want to read your argument. While I lean toward it being a decent choice for an entry on the list, your points made me think about that and I came to a conclusion: I'd keep it on the list because it's one of the most recommendable RPGs there is. A lot of good RPGs can be a bit intimidating for people who've never tried them out, but I can see Chrono Trigger being enjoyable to people who don't usually like the genre. I don't know anybody who actually hates Chrono Trigger.
  • BladedFalcon - January 2, 2013 8:14 p.m.

    That IS true, and a totally fair argument. I do agree that it's a very accessible game, and while the simple plot and characters annoy me personally, I can see that as a plus for more casual people or newcomers to the genre. Still, I guess there then we delve into a debate of what deserves to be called "greatest" or not. Because, i mean, that CT is so accessible and recommendable, doesn't really make it the best of anything in it's genre necessarily. And see, that's another thing for me, CT is GOOD, but in every single category, I can think of several RPGs that can do better. And I guess, to me, I'd rather see THOSE games here, instead of one that is a jack of all trades, but master of none.
  • BladedFalcon - January 2, 2013 8:16 p.m.

    Oh! and also, an honest thank you for bothering to give my comment a fair chance, and judge it for what it is. I knew from the get go that I was going borderline rambling with it. but I'm glad to see that (most) people are giving it a chance. Which is all I strived for, really.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - January 2, 2013 10:30 p.m.

    Hey BladedFalcon! Thanks for reading and providing an intelligent counter argument -- such opinions are always appreciated! I've got friends who feel the same as you: that Chrono Trigger, while good, isn't exactly as incredible as we've claimed it to be, especially compared to the likes of FFVI and other RPGs. That being said, I truly believe it to be one of the greatest games ever made; and, while I disagree with many of your points, I appreciate them nonetheless ^_^
  • BladedFalcon - January 3, 2013 5:46 a.m.

    Thanks for the feedback! and yeah, I certainly don't expect to chance the mind of the person that wrote this article, but I'm glad I was at least able to start a conversation from it ^^ And well, I'd just like to ask you, why exactly do you consider CT to have a deep and complex story and characters? Again, discounting the big side-quests you get at almost the very end of the game,(And which, at that point, should be considered more as optional, or bonus content rather than an integral part of the story or experience.) where exactly do the companions you have get to display memorable or complex personalities? I mean, how do you explain around the fact that the game actually severely cripples the character's chance to grow, matter and interact with the story by making them pretty much optional as soon as they permanently join your party? As I mentioned before, other RPGs allow characters not in your main party to still interact and be part of the ongoing story, but in CT, they are sent somewhere else, and thus, have nothing unique to add, and the characters that ARE part of your main party have to act universally enough to adapt to every situation or plot point the game touches upon. Thus, losing a big part of what would make them well defined, unique individuals.
  • Relayer71 - January 6, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    BladedFalcon, I agree with all the points you make and yet still believe CT deserves to be called one of the greatest RPGs of all time. I also played it for the first time 2 years ago, though I've been gaming and playing RPGs since before you were born, heh. As for your points about simplicity in the characters, this is to be expected from games of that era but you also have to keep in mind that CT in some ways plays like a "silent era" film where the personalities of the characters are conveyed extensively through what you see visually, in this case, the character animations and graphics. You don't need backstories, long speeches or conversations, each character has a unique look and set of animations that go far in defining their personalities. As far as story, it's still a good story, simple though it is, and more importantly, it's well told which is where 99% of JRPGs fail (good stories but very poor execution due to bad writing/translation, too many cut-scenes or overly long conversations). The mechanics are also still ahead of most JRPGs since, though I agree the lack of challenge makes this sort of a wash. I would put Persona 4, Final Fantasy IV, VI and IX, and Phantasy Star IV above Chrono Trigger. Maybe even Skies Of Arcadia if not for the ridiculous amount of random battles in that one. But CT still deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with those greats. And in terms of playability, accessibility and overall polish, it probably beats some of those titles. So while I may not put all those titles in a GREATEST OVERALL VIDEO GAMES of all time (but I would a GREATEST JRPG list), Chrono Trigger would definitely get a spot for being so well designed.
  • BladedFalcon - January 6, 2013 4:40 p.m.

    Oooh! pretty well made argument, I like that (: Though don't expect me to not put back a fight because of it! "You don't need backstories, long speeches or conversations, each character has a unique look and set of animations that go far in defining their personalities." I agree with the general idea you make here, you certainly don't need all that fluff or dialog to convey depth or character development. Yet I really don't think it can apply to the CT cast of characters. Mainly because... Honestly, i never felt any of them to break free from their "gimmick" or defining trait from the beginning, be it with their animations or movements. Lucca from start to finish always remains the person that is the "tech" expert and the nerd. Ayla always remains as the aggressive and stroong savage. Furthermore, I don't really recall any specific scene in which they manage to convey that much with animations or expressions. Certainly not like FFVI did in that phantom train scene with Cyan, Sabin and Shadow. Now THAT is a scene that told a lot with little to no dialog, and from a game that again, came before CT. So again, bringing the "this is to be expected from games of that era" card doesn't really apply when a game that came before, and from the same company, did this much, much better. "As far as story, it's still a good story, simple though it is, and more importantly, it's well told which is where 99% of JRPGs fail" Well... it's kinda hard to screw up an extremely elemental, simple story, and to me, for the same reasons, the payoff isn't very great as a result. Also... I contest that it's very well told, like i mentioned before, the whole part of the kingdom of zeal? how is that supposed to well told? From the moment you step in you know things are too good to be true, and from the second you see him, you KNOW the hooded magician is Magus. And that removes any tension, and in my case, it made me go "just get it fucking over with!" in all that part. Not to mention... Chrono's Death? how is that well written? it was impactfull at the moment, yes, but that impact is erased completely when almost immediately, you get told that you can bring him back, and then you bring him back, consequence-free. If you ask me, all of those plot points are eye-rolling, cliché ridden material that detracts to the story, even if it's a simple one. "But CT still deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence with those greats. And in terms of playability, accessibility and overall polish, it probably beats some of those titles." Like with another of the people that replied to me. I won't contest the accessibility and polish from the game. And yes, i suppose that is a very big merit. it's just that- In my eyes, that mainly helps in the presentation, but to me CT is still a game that lacks any real depth, and doesn't truly exceed or raises the bar in any of the truly important areas of a game. Of course, everyone has their own opinions, and everyone also have their own standards, but to me, it's the games that raise the bar in certain areas that deserved to be commemorated. ...Actually, if you're gonna go with the accessibility and playability, how about going for Super Mario RPG instead? Also a game from around the time, and that doesn't have a super complex story or characters, but instead, oozes a ton of charm and personality. The combat and gameplay are easy to get into, but also offer an innovative hook for the era, that made the battle more interactive and much more fun. And I honestly think it still holds up extraordinarily well.
  • Narkomanden - August 31, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    WELL It may be a tad bit late to reply your comment but I just couldn't agree with you. I am not an RPG gamer, I am 27yo and been playing vgs since I have memory. Some 2 weeks ago was my first time playing CT, mostly cause I wanted to see what was the fuzz about, and trying my best at this genre. For me, this is the best game I ever played. Now I do not intend to argue against the games you already mentioned to be superior (I played around a third of ME2 just to abadon it) 'cause I can't judge something I don't know of. But I strongly disagree in your over simplification of the cast. Crono is pretty much the player, here one would fill in as the chars voice and it isn't more than Link in LoZ. Marle is not a tomboy as it is the rebellious daughter of a powerful man and the love interest, this may seem pretty cliché 'till she confronts her father for the death of the queen, is pretty harsh to hear someone recriminating so hard for something that was irrelevant. Lucca has a lot of baggage, she feels responsible for her mother's disability, the feeling of guilt makes you see why she can be melancholic in some scenes. Frog is a troubled man as well has a serious problem of low self esteem and once you can avenge Cyrus, he just transforms it all into loyalty. Robo is almost like a human, early in the game the scene where it sacrifices itself for its friends and later on where he's revealed to be programmed to study humans, has to choose betrayed his purpose in life for his friends. Ayla is the less deep one, nevertheless, she is more than just strong as she is the leader of her tribe, a lot of responsibility, but decides to leave that for a greater purpose that is fighting Lavos. The game is more complex than just a bunch of people fighting the big evil. The game starts off in an idyllic setting, everything seems fine, by accident you go around time from time, revealing the antagonist bit by bit. This implies getting scarce or wrongful information in the start. One of my favourite parts was revealing that the obvious evil antagonist is nothing but a missunderstood frivolent character that would adhere to your cause against the real antagonist. After meeting Ayla, is where things really start getting interesting, who would expect an Atlantis just after the comet crash? Now mind you this has nothing to do with humans riding dinosaurs in earth stuff. This world has no relation with our own. So suddenly seeing an advanced civilization that harvested power from Lavos was unexpected. I think it was obvious to anyone that the guy in the robe was Magus, that is not where the pot twist comes, but that he was the infant prince of Zeal, now that one I didn't see it coming, and is ultimately less obvious. The way that a game like this could have been made in a SNES is impressive, which also adds to the games fame. And im not talking about the skilfull programming feats that as you mention it would not agree agaisnt as they're remarkable. But the use of a smooth transition from battles to cut scenes for the purpose of fluidity, the many secrets and the attention to detail that is truly remarkable, small things that make the game feel more like a real world and gets you to be more involved with the game. Well everybody is tied to its own opinion, and you have very valid points for yourself but I think that trying to oversimplify and discredit the game that CT is, would totally seem like the understatement of the year.
  • BladedFalcon - August 31, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    No worries about the lateness, if a reply is well made and offers some ground for good discussion, they are always welcome (: And well, hearing that you aren't really much of an RPG gamer, and you just played this game. I have to ask something first, have you played Final Fantasy VI? If you haven't, I sincerely appeal to you to try it out whenever you can, and then come back to me and see if you have the same opinion of Chrono Trigger as you do now. Now, for your specific objections: -Regarding Chrono, I have always found the silent characters, and their excuse of "filling in" for the player to be kind of cheap, and mainly done because it's easier for the game creators to make a cipher rather than a real character with depth. And yes, he isn't more than Link or Mario and that's why I also think they are crap characters when it comes to personality, specially link. The reason why these characters don't really work as "the voice" of the player, or a projection of the player, is because you don't have an actual voice in the game, and specially in a structured, linear RPG with a set story and plot like Chrono Trigger, you as the player don't really have much of a voice or choice to meaningfully interact with the characters and the world. You're siphoned along the story and the events, and the story and characters around you always play out in a certain way... So no, Chrono isn't really filling the role of you, because YOU have no real input on what's going on, aside from keep going. The only way I think Silent protagonist work well is either when it's fully acknowledged that they are either mute or a tool or cypher, (I.E: Portal and Bioshock.) or when the entire world around them is primarily silent, (Most indie games, journey and limbo, for example.) otherwise, if you're inhabiting a fully talking world in which everyone talks but you, yet people acts as if you DID talk, it only feels cheap and as if you were left out. Which is what happens in Chrono Trigger. -Regarding Marle, Lucca, and pretty much everyone else, those scenes you're talking about? they happen only IF you complete the side-quests that are available AT THE VERY END of the game. So not only are they optional, it's impossible for you to know key defining traits or backstory of these characters until the very end of the game. Otherwise, the entirety of the main plot, both Marle and Lucca and the rest are relegated to the exact simplified roles I mentioned: Marle is a chirpy rebellious princess and an airhead, and Lucca is a nerd who likes machines. And don't tell me this isn't true, because that's how most of your interactions with them play out from the time you meet them, until after Chrono is revived and THEN you can access the sidequests that can add more depth to them. I mean... I honestly don't see how can you find that okay? just because they add extra depth at the VERY end doesn't excuse the 50-60 hours you spent with them on the main plot in which their personalities are barely fleshed out. Also, with your own descriptions, you're admitting that EVEN with the extra depth, most of them are fairly boring and simple characters. "Robo is almost like a human" Yeah? what kind of human? what is his personality? what are his quirks? what actually separates him from being fully human and what is still robotic in his personality and way of thinking? For the entirety of the main plot, most of his dialog sounds entirely human-like and bland, he's extremely loyal but that's about it, and in a cast where most are defined by "loyalty" just like you said with frog, it counts even less. "Ayla is the less deep one, nevertheless, she is more than just strong as she is the leader of her tribe, a lot of responsibility, but decides to leave that for a greater purpose that is fighting Lavos" Okay, and when do we see this responsibility weigh down on her? Do we ever see her worrying about her tribe while she's away? Does she show any sense of nostalgia or remorse for leaving? YOU are the one claiming that it0s a huge responsibility, but when is this ever reflected on her? The entire game, her reactions to almost everything is always "Ayla strong" "Ayla beat monster!" or acting like a silly or simple-minded cave woman. And yes, most RPGs DO flesh their characters out the most by completing specific character sidequests. But the difference is that in GOOD RPGs, you still get more than enough backstory and sense of their personality even during the main plot and their reactions to what is going on, AND their sidequests are made available if not early on, at least during the middle part of the game, not at the very effing end. So if nothing else, Chrono Trigger sins of VERY bad design in that respect. Aaand, I'm almost out of space, I may continue in another post, but hopefully this alone should serve as a good enough response and explanation to your objections?
  • Narkomanden - September 8, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    Alright, well I will be willing to give it a go the FFVI, last time I tried a FF (because I heard they were great games) was X, and I played almost to the end but I just felt that it was more of a chore than a real desire to play the thing and just abandoned it. But anyway that's another story. Well yeah as you mention the full character stories are side quests, but one can already see some sort of tendencies with the characters. But well, for me I was more interested in their stories than what was going on in Mass Effect, or Bioshock. Now I don't mean that these games are not good, is just that for my case I am uninterested. That's the reason why I really was fascinated with Chrono Trigger. Anyway thanks for replying, and I'll be rebumping this thing once more when I play FFVI. So long!

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