July 31st, 2008

Some times I worry about fanboys. Not in the “Go outside. See the sunlight. Make real-life friends” kind of way. More like the way that says, “Aw, you’re going to get your poor, squishy little dork hearts broken, aren’t you?”

That’s at least how I feel about the port of Chrono Trigger that’s coming to the DS. I was never a Chrono Trigger fan myself. While I’m aware it’s supposedly the best of its kind, RPGs in general make me squirmy and impatience. Isn’t there anything I can just press a button and smash? The point being, I’m not personally getting my hopes up for the release, not like some people.

My own fiancĂ© is psyched to play the game on the DS. He gets giddy about it the same way I did went I found out everyone on the planet loved David Duchovny as much as me when I was 12. It’s a particular giddiness that spills over from childhood happiness and nostalgic memories. The problem is, the things you remember as a child are never as good when you see/play/do them as adults. All Dogs Go to Heaven, I should have never, never re-watched you.

It’s not like the world will come crashing down, but I do fear for all those huggable fanboys who’re setting themselves up to revisit Chrono Trigger… and face disappointment. Sure it’s a great game, but can anything ever be as great as it was when you were little? I had a favorite game at the age of nine that turned out years later to be called, of all things, Montezooma’s Revenge. Talk about shattering childhoods.

Tags: fandom, new games, retro

15 Responses to “Thoughts on ‘Chrono Trigger’ Nostalgia”

  1. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    You’re totally wrong there. I’ve played Chrono Trigger over and over again since its release in the mid-nineties, and it definitely survives the test of time. This isn’t Voltron we’re talking about. Chrono Trigger was an amazing game when I was 10, and it’s an amazing game now.

    In general, I’m not an RPG fan, so it’s very telling that I love Chrono Trigger as much as I do.

    Also, OMG ADORABLE CRONO!! Where did you find him?!?

  2. Matthew Gallant Says:

    I had the same thought when I saw the screenshots. They seemed so sharp and vibrant in my memory. It still looks better than the early 3D stuff that came after it (FFVII, Chrono Cross), but I can definitely count the pixels.

  3. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Oh, Scott, Scott, how you sound like the voice of denial. Also, when was the last time you replayed the game? Certainly not within my memory…

    Glad someone agrees with me, Matthew :).

  4. Chris Furniss Says:

    I’m with scott on this one. I replay Chrono Trigger probably once a year and it still never gets old. Classics like that, which are so beautifully presented, stand the test of time.

  5. Bobby Bokista Says:

    Let me preface this by saying I don’t really like RPGs, so I come from a different perspective. My favorite RPGs include CT, Chrono Cross, Suikoden II, EarthBound, and Final Fantasy XII. Of those, EarthBound is the most based in nostalgia, Suikoden II is not something I want to dedicate time to again, and Chrono Cross and FFXII are the only Japanese RPGs I’ve really enjoyed since the turn of the millennium.

    I, like Chris, play Chrono Trigger about once a year. That’s why I can say that it definitely holds up. So what is it about that game that keeps it playable after all these years? I have a few thoughts. The first is that the game isn’t very long (an average playthrough for me lasts about 20 hours). The game is also fairly easy. There are no parts of the game that require level grinding, as it is balanced such that enemies and bosses are defeatable at a level of regular progression. That means that most of the time spent playing the game is spent doing things related to the story.

    The story is still good, too. It’s a fairly simple tale with most of the plot focused on the central narrative. As a result there are few places where the game gets drawn out and stale.

    Yes, it is a simple battle system, but by not having random battles moving from one place to the next does not get tiresome (a complaint I have with many RPGs in which enemies do not appear on the screen–Final Fantasy’s I through X I’m looking in your direction). Players don’t have to waste their time on party management, choosing upgrade paths, and forging weapons. Again, this means the result of gameplay (which is not as taxing as most RPGs) is the progression of narrative.

    The characters, environments, and music all still hold up. It’s not a game that forces you to play as the characters you don’t care for and it quickly moves you from one setting to the next. Nostalgia does drive some of these: I love Zeal because it really captured my imagination as a child; I get goosebumps at the Day of Lavos video because I remember the first time that was revealed.

    But I cannot rely on pure nostalgia anymore because I have so many other games I want to play. I’m a more discerning gameplayer now, and while I remember with fondness many a game, I recognize that there are things about them that just don’t hold up. That’s why I’m excited about the Chrono Trigger DS release and not the FFIV remake. I’m also excited that new generation gets to experience a great Japanese-style roleplaying game that is still playable for all the reasons I mentioned above.

    I understand your skepticism and I realize there aren’t many people who have replayed the game since their youth, but I do believe with strong conviction that it is a paragon of the genre which doesn’t suffer from the pitfalls of its progenitors or successors.

  6. The Guy Says:

    I’ve played Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Secret of Mana 4, Zelda: A Link to the Past and FFVI in the past 6 months. Some games ARE as fun as they were in the 90s.

  7. Courtney Taylor Says:

    I want to steal David Duchovny and keep him tied up in my closet.

    ^_^

  8. John H. Says:

    I tend to enjoy Final Fantasy games much less now than when I was young and first played them. I have fond memories of Chrono Trigger, but they’re not -extremely- good memories. I think Earthbound is superior, in particular.

    What I did appreciate about the game, however, and still do, is how it doesn’t succumb to Final Fantasy-itis. The story is comprehensible, the characters are likable, there are no Sephiroths, the bad guy is a specific alien entity, one who actually succeeds in seeming alien, yet also has a specific look not overtly copied off of anything.

    And the combat doesn’t make me want to smash circuitboards, either from load times or general annoyingness.

  9. Monele Says:

    I agree with others : it doesn’t get old. I don’t play it as often, but at least once every three years and even though I know a lot of it by now, I still find new things and enjoy what I know again anyway.
    Graphically, it’s just artful enough that you easily forget the pixels and get into the story (ok, ok, I love pixels, so that might help :p).

    On the other hand, though, I’m not so hyped about the DS release as I really hoped for a remake with update graphics and added goodness. They went for the easy way, and that’s a bit disappointing.

  10. Ylf Nograd Says:

    It’s not like those “fanboys” haven’t ever used the emulator magic to refresh those hazy childhood memories… or played the Playstation port.

  11. Darkpen Says:

    If there’s one thing that’s lovely about 2D games, its that they don’t age as badly as 3D. 3D will always progressively evolve, but 2D is all about art direction, color range, and resolution.

    But oh Bonnie, why create such flame bait? Its a great game because it is. I’m not particularly looking forward to it, as I’d rather have a sequel or a full-on remake, but I’m certainly glad that a new generation gets to experience it, not that they aren’t already via emulators.

  12. Darkpen Says:

    also, the music is AWWWWWWWEEESOMMMMMEE (Or at least, the Zeal song is)

  13. free roms Says:

    Chrono Trigger is my favorite game of all time !
    Cool blog btw ! :)

  14. Doodley Doo Says:

    I hardly even understand the point that you’re trying to make. Is it that CT is dated? Is it that it’s for kiddies only?

    In any case, I’m playing Chrono Trigger for the first time and enjoying it greatly. Also, if anyone is a CT fanboy, then I’m pretty sure the last time they’ve played the game is more recent than 1995.

  15. mike Says:

    can u please send me a copy of the crono in his early years that u have ive been lookin for 1 for a tatoo for myself to represent my son and when i showed him that pic he wanted me to get a copy so i could get the tat. thank u very much.

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