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Chrono Trigger's PC port improves, one step at a time

If only I could turn back time

I don't think it's unfair to say that when Super Nintendo classic JRPG Chrono Trigger first hit PC back in February, the quality of the port could be summed up as 'hot garbage', with blurry sprites, a clumsy interface and even using Windows default system text in places. The iconic opening screen of the game - a clock pendulum swinging - was even undermined by being completely out of sync with the audio.

Fortunately, Square Enix have made genuine efforts to improve things, with the previous patch cleaning up the blurry, overly-filtered sprites and yesterday's update making significant improvements to the combat UI, with more improvements due in June.

The focus of this update has been reworking the combat UI to look a little more authentically SNES-styled, while still retaining some modern niceties like window transparency. For the most part, it's a success, and a significant improvement over the previous, mismatched attempt. There's also a new option to switch between a mouse/touchscreen-centric UI with more visible buttons on-screen and a more console-styled layout for gamepad users.

Cover image for YouTube video

I've yet to see them in motion yet, but the patch notes also mention that they've improved the resolution of the anime cutscenes that were first introduced for the PlayStation re-release of the game. Perhaps they've managed to dig the original raw video files out of storage? Either way, another small step towards making this the definitive release of the game. Character sprites on the world map have been cleaned up, too, somehow missed by the previous patch's sprite improvement pass.

There are still some obvious problems with the port. Most notably that it's all too clear that various sprite layers are running at mismatched resolutions, giving it a slightly disjointed look. Characters appear to slide around on a visibly different level to the background. Attempts to widen the view-port to fit modern widescreen monitors have been hit and miss too, with the aspect ratio of backdrops still being a bit stretched.

You can check out the full patch notes here, and the game can be found on Steam & Humble for £12/15€/$15, although it may still be best to hold off for the next major patch (planned for June) to see if they can't hammer out the worst of the kinks.

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Chrono Trigger

Android, iOS, PS3, Nintendo Wii, PC, Nintendo DS

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Dominic Tarason