Twenty-three years, eh? Some of you reading this are probably younger than that. Well, you whippersnappers had better sit up and pay attention, because a genuine, no-qualifiers-necessary JRPG classic just popped up on Steam, over two decades past its original Super Nintendo debut.
While others such as Square’s own I Am Setsuna have attempted to recapture its spark, there really is nothing quite like the original time-travelling classic Chrono Trigger. For the first time, us PC folk can experience it without having to go emulate old consoles, though perhaps not without some issues.
The good news is that this looks to be the largest, most feature-filled version of the game to date, taking the handful of anime cutscenes from the PlayStation edition, as well as a pair of optional new dungeons from the Nintendo DS version, one set during the prehistoric period and the other offering a random dungeon crawl that spans every time-period in the game.
The less good news is that this appears to be a port of the Android/iOS version of the game, with some worrying touchscreen-esque UI elements visible in the trailer. More scars seem to remain from the porting process, including slightly overly filtered textures and – if the trailer above is to be believed – some rough edges visible between sprite layers. Nothing that would undermine the game greatly, but it does make me wish that every retro update offered a pixels n’ all nearest neighbor filtering option.
Square have released a few wonky mobile ports of RPGs to PC before, including Final Fantasy 6 and Romancing Saga 2. Both of those had their own issues at launch, and while the former was partially fixed by modders, the latter was officially patched into a better state. If Chrono Trigger on PC is plagued by strange hybrid controls, I’d expect to see that patched up before too long, although the slightly off-kilter sprite filtering seems liable to stay as-is.
Port issues aside, for those who have never played Chrono Trigger before, it’s a perfect example of a JRPG for people who don’t normally enjoy JRPGs. There are no random encounters, the combat is fast but tactically satisfying, the cast are a likeable bunch of dorks designed by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, and there are a multitude of possible endings based on just how thoroughly you choose to complete the main story arc. It’s a tightly designed little thing that has aged far better than most of its contemporaries.
It’s not a sprawling, incomprehensibly huge adventure either, as nobody has the time for a 70+ hour epic anymore (he says, while planning on putting a few more hours into Final Fantasy XIV tonight). While the main story wraps up in 20-25 hours of consistently paced adventuring, if you want to see the best possible ending for your band of time-travelling weirdoes, you’ll have a few more hours of optional quests ahead of you, featuring some of the most memorable moments in the game.
Chrono Trigger is available now on Steam for £12/$15 right now.