Chrono Trigger At 25: The Best Game I've Ever Played

Here in the United States, Chrono Trigger turned 25 years old this month. The game first released in the US on August 11th, 1995, five months to the day after its launch in Japan. Chrono Trigger was released smack in the middle of what could be considered a golden age for Square, as the company released Final Fantasy VI and the Capcom-developed Breath of Fire the year before, while Super Mario RPG and Final Fantasy VII were just a year and two years off, respectively. Each of those games can be considered behemoths in the world of RPGs all their own, but somehow, Chrono Trigger still demands attention.

The people who know me best often accuse me of saying every game is one of the best games ever made. It's true – I think the "best games ever made" umbrella is a large one that can fit a lot of games under it. While I won't say that any game is perfect or the absolute best, for my money, it doesn't get better than Chrono Trigger. It is unquestionably the best game I've ever played, and it therefore follows that it is my favorite game of all time.

Chrono Trigger isn't great because of any one thing, but rather because all of its parts are themselves great. There is no part of Chrono Trigger that is disappointing, no part that could be much better than it already is. This combination of factors come together to make Chrono Trigger one of the best of its time; a masterpiece that will likely be remembered in another 25 or 50 years.

Throughout the week, I'll be exploring all of the things that make Chrono Trigger so great in a series of articles that will be published every day. We'll be diving into the story, the characters, the music, and more as we examine why Chrono Trigger has enjoyed this kind of enduring success. Before we can jump into the finer points of Chrono Trigger, I thought it would be good to quickly recap Chrono Trigger's history, examining the releases it's had throughout the years.

Before we go much further, though, it's important to draw attention to the fact that this series of articles is intended for people who have already played the game. We'll be going deep into spoiler territory, so if you haven't played it and you care about spoilers, you should stop reading here and go play the game as soon as you can. It's $15 on Steam and the PC version can run on pretty much any hardware configuration, so there really isn't an excuse not to play it.

The History

Chrono Trigger was created by Square long before its 2003 merger with Enix. Development on the game was headed up by what Square has famously dubbed its Dream Team: Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii, and manga artist Akira Toriyama, who most people probably know as the artist behind Dragon Ball. The Dream Team also included Kazuhiko Aoki, who served as producer on Chrono Trigger, and Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary Final Fantasy composer who helped Yasunori Mitsuda finish Chrono Trigger's soundtrack.

Chrono Trigger originally launched on the Super Nintendo, but that wasn't the only console it would be released on. Throughout the years, Chrono Trigger has made its way to various other consoles, starting with the original PlayStation in 2001.

On PlayStation, Chrono Trigger was paired with Final Fantasy IV in a two-disc set called Final Fantasy Chronicles. The PlayStation version was an enhanced port of the SNES version, and the most notable additions were animated cutscenes created by Toriyama's Bird Studio. I first played Chrono Trigger in Final Fantasy Chronicles, but it definitely isn't the ideal version because of long load times.

Chrono Trigger made its way to the Nintendo DS in 2008, which carried over all of the enhancements from the PlayStation version and added more on top of it. Most importantly, the DS version marked the first time Chrono Trigger was available in Europe – 13 years after it originally launched in the US and Japan. Making our European brothers and sisters wait so long to play Chrono Trigger really seems like a crime, looking back on it now.

Square Enix then brought Chrono Trigger to iOS in 2011 and Android in 2012. The smartphone version is good enough for what it is, but it definitely isn't the ideal way to play Chrono Trigger. Still, until the PC version arrived a couple of years back, the smartphone version of Chrono Trigger was definitely the cheapest way to play the game; if you manage to get your hands on the SNES version of Chrono Trigger these days, actually playing it is probably the last thing you want to do, while the DS version is still fairly expensive in its own right.

Then we have the Windows version of Chrono Trigger, which is probably the only time we've seen real controversy attached to this game. The PC version was not in a very good state at launch, to say the least. On release day in 2018, the PC version seemed to be a hastily-made port of the mobile version, and that's something longtime Chrono Trigger fans didn't like.

Thankfully, Square Enix listened to that largely negative feedback and more or less fixed the game through a series of patches in the months following launch. As preparation for this article, I played through the PC version of Chrono Trigger, and I can attest that it's definitely worth the $15 you'd spend on it. There are still some quirks here and there, but they aren't deal breakers by any means. All of the screenshots you see in this article and the articles that will be published throughout the week were taken from that playthrough with original graphics settings as well.

Why Chrono Trigger?

So, why is Chrono Trigger in particular worthy of such high praise? It's true that Chrono Trigger is just one of the fantastic RPGs companies like Square and Enix published at their peak, but Chrono Trigger is something special even when compared to other famous titles like Final Fantasy VII or Dragon Quest V (keep in mind that I'm not necessarily saying Chrono Trigger is better than those games, just that it stands on its own in terms of quality).

We'll examine this closer in articles to come throughout the week, but one reason Chrono Trigger has always stuck with me is because the game doesn't overstay its welcome. The story isn't exactly short, as a full playthrough of Chrono Trigger will still clock in around 20 hours, but compared to the 40 or 60 hour epics that some other RPGs are, Chrono Trigger seems downright quick and breezy.

And yet, even though you can complete the game comparatively fast, it still manages to feel like one of those 40 or 60 hour games. I think that's because Chrono Trigger doesn't really waste your time – you don't have to grind for experience like you do in some other RPGs, and though there are side quests you can do in the game, they definitely aren't the game's major draw like some of the open-world monsters we see these days. Is there anyone out there who will say that the best part of Skyrim was its main story? If they exist, I certainly haven't met them.

Chrono Trigger is, first and foremost, focused on telling a really good main story, and it succeeds there with flying colors. There's so much that happens over the course of the game, but nearly everything that happens serves to move the story forward. There really isn't any filler with this game, and when we're working with a main story as good as this one, the fact that there's very little to distract from it is a thing of beauty.

We'll talk plenty about the story in the days to come. For now, I'll wrap this up by saying that in an age where many major games expect me to play forever, it was very refreshing returning to Chrono Trigger for its 25th anniversary. Writing this article makes me want to return to it again despite the fact that I just played it a few months ago. Chrono Trigger is a game I'll be returning to time and time again until I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, and by the end of this week, you'll understand why.