Square - 1995
Machine: Super Nintendo
Before they became obsessed with accurately rendering the movement of facial muscles and individual hairs (like we care), Square made the best RPGs in the business. 1993-1996 was the golden age of the RPG and the SNES was the machine of choice. During this time Square produced Final Fantasy III, The Secret of Mana, and Bahamut Lagoon; all of which are spectacular and groundbreaking RPGs yet all pale into insignificance at the very thought of Chrono Trigger. Beyond epic in scope yet with incredible attention to detail and special little touches that make you squeal with delight, Chrono Trigger is very special indeed.
The story of Chrono Trigger has been expertly planned out. For perhaps the first time in a video game you really feel the consequences of your actions, for example: there is a section near the start of the game where you stand trial for kidnapping a princess (you're innocent of course). Here a selection of witnesses come and give testimony to your character all of whom you had the chance to help earlier in the game. If you didn't help them then, they get their revenge from witness box by providing excellent character assassination. I sat with my mouth open in disbelief as the little girl who lost her cat (which, for the record your honour, I spent half an hour trying to coax back to the girl.) told the jury what an heartless, uncaring wretch I was. I was found guilty. Oh! the injustice! But wait, there's more; the irony is that the Chancellor who arrested and is prosecuting you is the descendant of the chancellor you met earlier (when you had traveled back in time) who said "What this country needs is a proper criminal justice system."
This is a work of genius, pure and simple. It just amazes me that everything that was innovated for this game, everything that made it great, Square abandoned when it came to continuing the Final Fantasy saga. Here's something that will make you cheer if your RPG experiences amount to Final Fantasy on the Playstation - Chrono Trigger has no 'random battles'. That's right you can see your enemies and avoid them if you want to. This just adds to the feeling of freedom, in Chrono Trigger you are in control. There are even different paths through the game and different endings. All of this adds up to make this game totally absorbing. If you think you don't like so called old school RPGs or 2D games in general, please, think again, you really live this game.
Jakey 07 Sep '02
Chrono Compendium - A great fansite full of resources and links to other great fan sites. Chrono Trigger has a large online fan community.
Wikipedia's Chrono Trigger page - Lots of great information.