Lost in time for decades, Chrono Trigger finally hits PC

Chrono Trigger

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.

34 Comments

  1. LilSassy says:

    It’s still an awful mobile port.

  2. Squishydew says:

    Just get an emulator instead of this bad mobile port, it’ll be a far better experience :/

    • dontnormally says:

      This is absolutely the best way to play these games. I prefer having infinite freeze/save states, whenever I want, instead of relying on the in-game saves.

    • Halk says:

      Sorry i’m new to emulators. What should i do as a n00b to play Chrono Trigger?

      • Crafter says:

        Google for + SNES emulator : there are nice options for all platforms

        Obtain the Chrono Trigger rom (a rom is the content of the original cartridge)

        Profit

        Ideally I would push people to pay for great games .. but Square makes it hard to support them.

        If you do a re-release of an old gem, please make sure to make the re-release better than what the abandonware scene already provides. And also leave the option to display the original graphics (or something close enough on our modern machines). Low budgets high scaling of old pixel art is generally pretty awful.

        • Halk says:

          Thank you crafter. I managed to find SNES9x and Chrono Trigger (USA) ROM from emuparadise.

        • Halk says:

          Oh wow! Thank you too phuzz!

          • Armillary says:

            You owe it to yourself to try it on Higan with a phosphor-simulating shader. Both Higan and SNES9X will have more or less identical accuracy (that only matters for a minute subset of games), but Higan comes packaged with some great video shaders. Developers often designed for CRT blurring (see the article “The Case for Composite in SNES”). Emulators on LCD screens make the same content overly harsh and can hide special effects like those in Kirby’s Dream Land 3. In particular, the CRT_Hyllian phosphor shader with a low setting of scanlines does a great job simulating the slight blur and bloom that you’d get playing it on an old TV and makes for a good starting point.

          • Halk says:

            Thank you Armillary. Sorry i can’t reply to your post. What kind of commenting system is this?!

  3. grimdanfango says:

    Sounds like a lot of money for something ZSNES did better over 10 years ago…

    • Halk says:

      Never speak of this old relic that hasn’t seen an update in 10 years despite doing a poor job. Let it die. There’s higan, which is an actual emulator, not a guesstimator like the other one.

      • April March says:

        And yet, I’m sure it’s doing a better job that this $15 official port.

      • Axyl says:

        ZSNES still works fine.

        • Premium User Badge

          The Borderer says:

          Except when it doesn’t.

          I remember following the development of it 15 years ago and even the ZSNES guys admitted it was a load of hacks to get it running on low powered PCs (We are talking about the original Pentiums and AMD K6s). It was great at the time but now there are far better alternatives.

          If you are already running ZSNES and it works for you then there’s no need to change, but for newcomers I would advise they use Higan or SNES9X

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Works fine for me too.

  4. SaintAn says:

    One more step closer to FFT WOTL on PC! Wonder how many steps are left until we get that masterpiece.

  5. abstrarie says:

    To anyone who was thinking about buying this: DO NOT SUPPORT THIS HORRIBLE MOBILE PORT. Just emulate it. Seriously, Square has had 20 years to bring this to PC, and instead of doing it the right way, they push out a horrible mobile port with ugly menus, fonts, and compromised sprites. This is as half-assed as it gets and at a ridiculous price. They had more then enough time to give you the option to purchase this legally and have dropped the ball AGAIN. ZSNES is your friend for this one.

  6. Freud says:

    It’s a shame FF IV and this are mobile ports. I suggest if you want to play it, buy this and then download and play it on emulator.

    • GeoX says:

      Buy it and reward them for this half-assed money grab? No thanks.

      • BooleanBob says:

        The reason Square keep releasing these terrible ports is because people are buying them. Sadly this is a case where trying to do the right thing and supporting the company financially sends the signal that it’s okay to treat their most beloved games like crap by giving them terrible ports.

  7. Det. Bullock says:

    I got the DS version last year (american edition because the EUR edition is stupidly expensive for some reason) and it seems to be largely the same with less mobile port issues, it even has the animated FMV cutscenes from the Playstation version judging by the quick try I gave it.

    • GeoX says:

      The DS version predates the iOS version; it’s basically a straight port of the original, and a rock-solid one at that. My only advice would be to skip the “bonus” content; it’s unbelievably boring and repetitive, and it leaves your characters severely overpowered.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Sounds a lot like the bonus content for the GBA FF6 re-release. Oh my God was that Dragon’s Lair a chore.

    • geldonyetich says:

      I enjoyed the DS version. Granted, beating it on DS more or less extinguished the need to buy it and beat it again. Good thing, too, as word has it that whoever did this port completely botched it.

      If I were Square-Enix, I’d refund everybody who bought this bad port, release it for free, and use it as a marketing point for a re-mastered Chrono Trigger that also includes Chrono Cross.

      • Shadow says:

        The DS version was fantastic and had all the improvements and extras there are.

        This one is just a shameless cashgrab.

  8. wwarnick says:

    Chrono Trigger was an awesome game. I’m crossing my fingers that they fix it up. This was one of my all-time favorite games back in the day.

  9. coleislazy says:

    How can you talk about how great Chrono Trigger is without mentioning the fantastic music? The original SNES soundtrack was a masterpiece, and it still holds up if you listen to a modern cover, like the ones from Malcolm Robinson.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Oh, that is just bizarre… Thanks for the tip on Malcolm!

      And if you, other dear comment readers, somehow don’t like that particular Robinson’s work, give Blake Robinson’s a try. He’s one of three composers who worked on The Stanley Parable, and his “synthetic orchestra” works are just unreasonably nice.

      But also check out the original SNES form of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack; it’s still exquisite in its own right.

      • GeoX says:

        As long as we’re recommending Chrono Trigger music, let’s not forget about the original remix album, Brink of Time. It’s this great acid-jazz thing; an experiment that really pays off. Of course, some people hate it, so prepare for that possibility, but I love it.

        • Premium User Badge

          particlese says:

          Oh, hey, that’s quite good! Thanks for pointing it out.

  10. peterako1989 says:

    I want ressurection back!!!!

  11. Mandrake42 says:

    Hmmmm. Great game but I’m not holding out a great deal of hope for the quality of the port if it’s the Android/iOS version. They did that with Final Fantasy VI and the port was awful.

  12. JarinArenos says:

    Chrono Trigger Resurrection didn’t die so we could give SquareEnix money for this travesty.