I’ve been playing Chrono Trigger the past couple days, since I am technically on holidays in the small town of Sooke on Vancouver Island. My play sessions have been so long that my iPad has been hot enough to fry eggs. During the road trip to Sooke I created a new file in Chronotrigger on my iPad. The app had been on my iPad for a couple months. It’s an old game, 1990′s old, and one that many gamer friends have raved as being the best JRPG they have played. I can see why.
It’s one of those old games that makes me say to myself, “why ain’t developers these days making games like these any more?” For its generation, I think Chronotrigger was sophisticated. The developers were only limited by technology. The game reminds me of the Mass Effect series. Story is what came first in Chronotrigger. A Science Fiction epic, about a boy trying to save the world from a powerful force that made the planet its home in the far away past. Plot twists, characters with developed histories, and dynamic events based on choices you make in game. I love it.
One of my favorite features in Chronotrigger is the option to chose who’s in your party, just like in Mass Effect. Characters say different things during major events, and have their own personalities. I have become attached to Frog and Marle. Mostly for their story lines, but also because I like what they bring to combat.
Marle heals, but also dishes out devastating magic damage. Frog can heal too, but deals more damage with his sword. Playing with the same characters unlocks new skills as well as unlocking dual and triple combos, which is part of the fun.
Another great attribute about Chrnotrigger is it’s (mostly) grind free. I haven’t had to go out of my way to gain as many levels as possible to be able to move through the game. Grinding is something I loathed about the Final Fantasy games. In a cave, running back and forth for ten minutes is not fun, but that may be because I’m a spoiled gamer. Only once did I have to grind a couple levels in Chronotrigger, when I had to fight some Giga Bad Ass Boss (his name eludes me). During my first encounter, the bad ass murdered Crono, Frog and Marle in three hits. I ended up grinding six levels while watching Firefly on Netflix.
At least the battles in Chronotrigger are engaging. Characters move around with complete animations, and the world doesn’t fade into a battle screen like the Final Fantasy games. Battles aren’t random encounters. Enemies are usually going about their business until Crono and his party crash into them. Combat in Chronotrigger is turn based, however, well, it kinda is. Each character has a speed trait that determines how long until they can use a move again. Other traits include stamina, attack, defense, magic, and mp. I’m sure you know what they do.
I am almost finished Chronotrigger, at least I think I am. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge your progression in older games. I was once playing Half Life, and was pretty sure I reached the half way point of the game. Out of curiosity, I looked online for the chapter names to discover that I was only a third way through the game. I had put in almost twenty hours at that point, and this sentence is bringing me back to a point I made a couple paragraphs up: developers don’t make games the way they used too. The evidence is Chronotrigger.
But then again, this conclusion is not entirely true, a reason why I enjoy mobile gaming. As much as mobile gaming is pushing the limits of hand held technology (by the way I don’t include Nintendo’s DS or Sony’s Vita in mobile gaming), I think mobile developers are getting it right. Simple games. Arcady games. In a way, mobile developers are taking what could be considered old concepts and making them new again. Look at Pizza Boy for example. A simple platformer, which obviously takes inspiration from Mario Bros. Another example is Swordigo, an RPG platformer combo. If you want to talk about pure RPGs, Zemantia is a great example. What makes these games different then console games, and even PC games, is the focus is on gameplay. Of course there are exceptions. Infinity Blade, or Batman Arkham Asylum both have exceptional visuals and solid gameplay.
Now I’m rambling. I originally reserved this post to discuss Chronotrigger. Too much box moving, plus caffeine. Caffeine is needed when you’re lugging ten to thirty pounds boxes around all day. Yeah, so I will end this here. I left the tablet, resulting in my train of thought sinking to the bottom of the harbor.