Chrono Trigger will need no introduction to most of the old-school gamers in our readership. The classic RPG about saving the world through time-travel is a true timeless classic that is regarded to this day as one of the greatest videogames of all time. This port brings iOS gamers same great game we’ve loved for years, but some port-related drawbacks make it feel rusty like Robo.
The short rundown on Chrono Trigger’s story is that Crono, his nerdy friend Lucca, and a mysterious yet joyous girl he runs into at the local fair, Marle, set off on an adventure across multiple eras in time to defeat Lavos, an evil entity that threatens to destroy the world as they know it. We don’t want to spoil anything for newcomers, but some of the twists, characters and environments will leave a lasting impression. This is not your typical RPG trope-filled quest. Also, this port includes the updated translation from the DS version.
Oh, Marle. If only you know the irony in that request.
Unlike Final Fantasy and its ilk, Chrono Trigger opts for visible enemies in zones instead of random battles. It also offers two modes of battle: wait (enemies only attack after you take your turn) and active (the battle continues while you make choices). Picking a party of three characters out of the seven available to you by the end of the game is extremely important, as certain characters can initiate powerful abilities with others. The overall pacing of the game is fast enough that you feel a constant sense of progression, and grinding is never necessary.
Some of the greatest innovations of Chrono Trigger were the inclusion of New Game+ and multiple endings. After completing the game you can restart the quest, retaining all of your gear, weapons and skills. Defeating Lavos at different periods of time unlocks various endings, some of which are comic relief, while others show the effect of what would happen if you didn’t meet a certain character or initiate a certain event that occurred at a later point in the game. Additionally, the two bonus dungeons from the DS version that offer ultimate weapons for all seven characters and story tie-ins with the PSX sequel, Chrono Cross, give the game even further replay value. One unfortunate omission from the game is the animated cutscenes found in the PSX port of Chrono Trigger.
Petrified bat expression: priceless.
Not everything is peachy with this port, though. The floaty and imprecise ‘touch anywhere’ joystick makes a burden out of simple movements and avoiding enemies, something that worked perfectly in every other version of the game we can remember. Also, the graphics are muddy, half due to the lack of retina support and half due to shoddy porting. Gone are the crisp 16-bit graphics from the SNES days. Simply looking at the screenshots on the App Store in comparison to those of any other platform says it all.
Not everything is bad on the systems side, however. The menus are responsive and the text is clean so you don’t have to wrestle with them every time you want to attack an enemy or sell off old gear. The classic soundtrack, regarded as a 16-bit era masterpiece, is encoded in the high-quality Apple Lossless format, the reason the game’s file size is so large.
Back to the future, RPG style.
It’s unfortunate that Chrono Trigger has port issues holding it back from the perfection we know it can achieve. Those who have already played Chrono Trigger in the past and want to have it with them all the time should pick this up, but newcomers would be better off picking it up in its ultimate version, on the Nintendo DS. We hope Square Enix will update the game with some improvements to make this a port worthy of bearing the Chrono Trigger name. In any case, it feels good to have Chrono Trigger in our pockets.