Chrono Trigger’s first patch is a step in the right direction

Chrono Trigger, today

Even after peeling away the shell of nostalgia, Chrono Trigger is a truly classic JRPG, so it’s understandable that people were a bit miffed when the recent PC release of the game was a messy port of the Android edition of the game with no shortage of technical issues. Today, it received its first major patch, which goes a long way to getting the game back on track.

The improvements begin right at the title screen in this new update, with the classic Chrono Trigger logo and ticking pendulum on the title screen restored to something approaching the SNES original. Previously, they had somehow managed to knock the pendulum’s audio out of sync with the animation, not exactly the greatest of omens for a game about controlling time itself. They’ve also restored the Playstation version’s anime intro to its correct place, which is nice.

Starting the game, players will be presented with a choice – filtered ‘HD’ sprites (which look smudged and create much more visible seams between background tiles) and the new ‘Original’ style (as seen in the screenshots above and below), which retains the nice chunky pixel-art of the original game. It’s still not exactly as you remember on the SNES – there are some new transparency effects, and the game renders in native widescreen – but they seem to be keeping the improvements while shedding the poor decisions.

That's more like it

Another improvement is the fonts used. They’re closer to the original, although still not quite there yet and still a little hard to parse in some menus. They’ve tried to listen to criticism and add some subtle drop-shadowing to the more pixelly text, but it doesn’t completely match the originals at present. They’ve also somewhat improved the look of text entry boxes, which looked impressively bad in the initial release version. You can see the full patch notes here, along with some before/after shots comparing the two visual styles.

The main issue remaining is the interface, which still looks and feels a lot like it belongs on a touchscreen device. Fortunately, Square promise that their second update for the game will be focused on improving the UI, with modes specific for keyboard and controller play, with the current mouse/tablet-centric UI being relegated to a secondary (and presumably seldom-chosen) option.

Chrono Trigger is out on Steam now for £11/$15. If they keep these updates coming, it might just be worth playing on PC over the alternatives instead of just tracking down the SNES or DS version.

32 Comments

  1. vecordae says:

    “Tried to listened to” in the fourth paragraph probably needs a quick do-over.

  2. tafoya77n says:

    Maybe I just don’t have the nostalgic connection to the game but I just don’t see what is so wrong with the graphics before this change. If anything the pictures they posted in the change notes look worse and more blocky and pixelated in the after.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      “More blocky and pixelated” is exactly what people were looking for.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, I think the fuss over the graphics especially has been massively overblown. But hey, now it’s a toggle and everyone can be happy. They won’t be, probably. But they can be!

    • pepperfez says:

      The worst effect of the ‘HD’ filter is making background tiles aggressively, gaudily obvious.

    • malkav11 says:

      I’d add that personally I think the FFIV port committed a far greater visual crime by changing perfectly pleasant (if old) pixel graphics to horrifically low-poly 3D.

      • pepperfez says:

        I respected that one for doing something with the original rather than just repackaging it.

        It’s like Jimi Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower”: people who loved Dylan’s version may have loathed it, but it’s still an important piece of music.
        Compare that to, say, Dave Matthews’s cover, which is basically just him imitating Hendrix. It may be a good or bad tribute to its source material, but it’s artistically insignificant either way.

      • Ejia says:

        I quite liked the 3D remake of IV, but that’s because I played it on the DS and not on PC, where I assume it’d be much uglier blown up.

  3. Ejia says:

    Ooh, now do one for FFVI!

  4. nifft.batuff says:

    If the ideal is to be as much as possible identical to the original release, I don’t understand why one have to buy this pc port instead of using directlly the original rom with an emulator. And with zero cost. I am really baffled.

    • vecordae says:

      There are ethical considerations. Not everyone is willing to pirate a game if they can obtain it legally with a minimum off fuss.|

      There’s also the future to look toward. Emulating Chrono Trigger doesn’t cost anything, but it also doesn’t change anything moving forward. It doesn’t provide Squenix with any impetus to release new products in that style or to release their classic titles on new systems via quality ports.

      • GeoX says:

        Meh. I paid seventy USD for the SNES version back in the day, and forty more USD for the DS version slightly less further back in the day. I think my ethical obligations here are…limited, and in any case, I see zero evidence that supporting the company to show my support for their making their half-assed ports somewhat less half-assed will result in either better ports or new retro-games.

      • pepperfez says:

        Buying a kinda-shitty port doesn’t encourage them to release good ports, either.

      • wisnoskij says:

        Giving a studio money for a port that is significantly worse that one I could do myself in 5 minutes, does not in anyway incentivize them to put effort into the next one or release something new.

        It is sort of the opposite.

        I would say in this situation you either have to choose the legal side, or the side that incentivises artists and developers. Because no artists or developers are going to get paid anything as long as people are willing to hand over buckets of cash for no-effort ports of old games.

        • vecordae says:

          I didn’t say ‘buy bad ports’. I didn’t even say ‘buy this port’. I simply meant that buying ports you like makes it more likely that ports of a similar quality will be released in the future.

          Obviously, I forgot myself and spoke out of turn. I have paid the price for my foolish brevity.

      • Templar says:

        As someone who came up on nes and snes I would just like to add that in addition to buying hardware multiple times (two snes not to mention five nes in my attic that dont work) and paying 70-80 dollars a cartridge (Alot of which ended up failing to save games or even work after only a couple years), I have no qualms about using a free emulator to recapture the experience when the company puts up a shit redone version to buy on steam or whatever and they have to alter and change it. I would happily buy these games to add to my collection and display them proudly not to mention the convenience of having them all within the same store app. But they cant even do that right. Until you can get your shit together your not going to keep getting my money in a endless loop for decades on end. We want our origional classics we love hassle free and we will pay. Just put the fucking effort in and stop watering down what was great. You dont have to reinvent the wheel when we just want to use the one you already made.

    • Stickman says:

      It wouldn’t have needed to be – they could have put the effort into a *good* hd update. Instead, getting closer to the original is a massive improvement over what they slapped together.

    • jrodman says:

      I don’t see the point of pirating software if I can buy it pleasantly and conveniently from the company that created it in the first place.

      However, I’m not much impressed by a blurry mess that gets labelled “HD”. I’m not sure about this one, but earlier squarenix efforts came with online DRM, which I’m also not excited about paying for.

      It’s a mixed bag all around.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Does the widescreen add horizontal real estate, or is it ver-? If it’s the former does that cause any issues? If it’s the latter…are they gonna patch that too?

    • Whelp says:

      Pretty sure it’s vertical -.

      These ports are basically just emulators with some extra fancy shit and new menus added on, I can’t imagine how you’d add extra screen space on an old game like this easily (I also doubt the source code still exists.)

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        That was what I was afraid of, but and RPS writer (Dominic, I think?) insisted the widescreen change was an unambiguous good. I can’t imagine how anyone could make that argument if you’re actually losing a chunk of the image (which has both gameplay implications and ‘artistic intent’ issues, particularly for the carefully-framed cutscenes).

  6. Unportant says:

    “Here’s a great game!”
    “YAY!”
    “Here’s a re-release of that game! But overseen by the kind of person who thinks Helvetica is a shining beacon of aesthetic brilliance!”
    “….Uh, could you just do that again with someone who actually understands how video games should look?”
    “….eeeeeeeehhh … could we meet you halfway?”
    “DO YOU WANT MY MONEY OR NOT!?!?!?”

  7. Axyl says:

    Too little, too late. I already have this on my SNES which is still functional. I was looking for a reason to delete the ZSNES ROM I have for PC play, but I’m just going to hang onto it.

    I legally own the original, so they just lost a sale by making a 15+ year old product actively worse for no good reason.

  8. Eluent says:

    Best game ever. Portal 2 excepted obviously. Best RPG ever then.

  9. Jim Reaper says:

    A return to the original pixels is more than welcome. However, for future reference, if they do want to update the visuals, look at Octopath Traveller on the Switch. A brilliant fusion of old & new, and it’s a Square Enix game too…

  10. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    Does anyone know if these improvements will make their way back down to the Android/iOS ports? I love playing classic RPG’s on a tablet, but so many of them are butchered ports.

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