A Timeless Classic of the SNES Era Revisited : Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is a role playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1995. Soon after its release it quickly became one of the most unique RPGs released on the SNES, and till today is widely considered one of the best games ever to be made.


The story follows the silent protagonist Crono as he is thrust into a quest to save the world when a mysterious time portal opens up and swallows up his friend Marle.

He jumps into the portal, which sets into motion a story that follows him and his friends as they adventure back in time in the past, forward in time in the distant future, and several points in between, as what begins as a rescue mission for a friend quickly evolves into a battle for the entire planet.

Sure the story is nothing special by today’s standards, but in the SNES era, when other games had begun to implement the ideas of time travel and parallel universes, a game where you could see the entire existence of a planet play out from the dawn of mankind all the way to beyond the apocalypse, and play a major part in it, was pretty revolutionary.

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Chrono Trigger, for the most part, plays out a 16-bit bit Final Fantasy game, but the finished game showed a level of polish that few fans of the genre had seen at that time.

Time travel plays a major part in the gameplay as what you do in the past reflects in the future. For example, once you defeat a certain boss during the main story, you can also fight one of his descendants during a side quest in the future who holds a grudge against you. Such features keep the game fresh and enjoyable. Even the side quests play out uniquely and are never a chore to play. The concept of a random encounter, which was very popular in RPGs of that time, was not implemented in this game. The enemies you could fight, you could see them moving around, and with some maneuverability, you could bypass them too. This was a boon for the RPG genre and many developers implemented this in their games thereafter.

The main draw of an RPG is its combat, and Chrono Trigger doesn’t disappoint on this part. It takes the tried and true Active-Time Battle (ATB) system from the Final Fantasy games and improves upon it. Along with simply attacking enemies, you could perform ‘Techs’, which are basically specialized moves that can dish out powerful damage to enemies. But it doesn’t stop here. You and your team can also learn ‘Dual-Techs’ and ‘Triple-Techs’, where two or three party members combine their ‘Techs’ to attack the enemies to devastating results. The inclusion of ‘Techs’ and the ability to see your enemies really add a whole new level of impressiveness to the already impressive Final Fantasy style gameplay.

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Graphically, Chrono Trigger is one of the best looking games made for the SNES.

Not only does it exhibit some of the best looking effects seen on the system, the level of color and detail it shows are astounding for the SNES. Every single area and timeline has its own unique look and feels to it, and the impressive details give the game a much larger feel. The characters show remarkable animations, which make them much more expressive than other titles on the system. Chrono Trigger can easily be deemed as one of the best looking games for the system and a prime example of how graphically impressive the SNES can be.

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Square always had a name for producing beautiful soundtracks for their games, and Chrono Trigger is no exception.

From the soft and serene music that accompanies you while you explore the world, the upbeat music that plays when you are in a dungeon, and to the intense battle music, Chrono Trigger never disappoints. Every piece composed for each area and timeline gives a distinct feel to it and fits the scene perfectly. It is easily one of the greatest soundtracks produced for a video game till this day.

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Replayability is a major part in Chrono Trigger.

As there are more than 3 playable characters to choose from to add to your party, and the fact that you can only use 3 at a time, you can create different combinations of characters to suit your play style and to experiment. Discovering new ‘Dual-Techs’ and ‘Triple-Techs’ are a joy. Each of the characters have individual side quests which you can play through to discover more of their background story and also get new gear for them.

Chrono Trigger innovated the concept of ‘New Game+’ in which, after completing the game and seeing the credits roll, you can choose to restart the game with your powered up characters intact. This meant speedier subsequent playthroughs. This plays a major role in the game as the game features 13 unique endings you could earn, depending on the choices you make while playing. This fueled the high replayability of the game.

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Chrono Trigger, till this day, remains one of the most masterfully created games ever made and a true classic. The wonderful story, the innovative gameplay, the beautiful graphics and sound, and the high replayability together to create a game considered arguably the best game ever made.