| The video game I choose for my video game analysis is Chrono Trigger made by Square Soft and released in March 11, 1995 for the Super Nintendo. It was also later released on the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo DS. Chrono Trigger is a traditional turn based role playing game in which each party member takes a turn after their “Turn bar” has reached full. Once the bar is full, each character can ether perform a standard attack, special attack (which consumes magic points), or use an item to heal, buff up defense, etc. During these wait times, enemies can attack any character, probably once their turn bar fills (in which we can never see). Over time, characters within the game can increase their statistics such as maximum health and magic limits, perform more special abilities, and gain a significant increase on attack and defense. Also in such a traditional role playing game, as the adventure goes throughout time, characters can equip more powerful weapons and armor in which somewhat boost the statistics of each character. But what if we change the way we play the game? What if we do not follow the standard path that the developers intended for us to follow?
During the first standard session of the game, I tried to play the game without upgrading any equipment (Keep in mind, to test such a variable, more than 10 minutes is required to see any change in gameplay. This is an RPG after all). Now, playing Chrono Trigger without upgrading a single weapon or armor is definitely achievable but, this is probably a “hard mode” version of the game that many “hardcore” video game enthusiasts enjoy doing. Throughout the session, I undoubtedly had trouble defeating the beginning enemies in the game (which are the easiest) and probably will have an even tougher time throughout the game. Although I do not recommend this play style to first time players, Chrono Trigger enthusiast will have some form of enjoyment and challenge by using this play style (and probably Dark Souls players, I guess).
The second session consisted of just using magical abilities. This is nearly impossible feat to achieve at the beginning of the game but, easier to perform later once the characters are upgraded with enough magical abilities and MP (Magic points). This play style makes the game somewhat easier in the sense of that the magical abilities are significantly more powerful than the regular attacks. Although you can “spam” magical attacks, it does take a special strategy to constantly conserve MP and use ethers (MP restoring potions) in order to use these attacks in succession. I only recommend this play style if the player has already completed the game. Again, this play style somewhat changes how you would normally strategize in the game.
As much as I enjoy Chrono Trigger, some of the gameplay aspects were irritating at the time and recent playthroughs have reminded me that this is a not so perfect game (although no game is). First starting off with the turn based system, I know that “back in the day” turn based systems in role playing games were “the thing” (after all, this is the same developer of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series) but, it is a pretty boring gameplay mechanic. I’m not faulting the game for not being different at the time but, something new and fresh could have been tried. Second, Chrono Trigger’s turn based system is somewhat broken. I’ve seen enemies take two turns while my characters were still waiting on the one turn and also spam magical abilities all the time. This kind of made the game cheap in a way. Finally, some of the bosses were downright cheap at sometimes. I will always remember the two golem fight where both of them had a special attack that pretty much killed a character in one turn. The strategy for this fight is to simply stun them with lighting attacks but, you only have one character (Crono) that can do lighting attacks and combined with enemies taking more turns than you, you pretty much had to have the “right timing” and a little bit of luck. Basically, take one golem down as fast as you can. Also, there was the Giga gaia fight with an ancient mystical bat robot thing that was pretty much annoying. There’s Giga gaia, his right hand, and his left hand. The strategy is to take out one, or both, of the hands before he can perform one of his special attacks which can almost kill all of your party members in one turn. The problem with this is, he does a special attack EVERY time the fight starts before even one party member can get their turn bar filled. Going back to where enemies can take more turns than you, he does it as well.
Chrono Trigger is indeed my favorite video game of all time when it comes to the overall story and gameplay mechanics. I do enjoy how each character has his/her own story and how you are able to change their timeline, and many others, by using the time shifting gameplay mechanic. I do not too much care for time travel stories because they usually proceed into paradox territory and indeed make the story much more confusing. Chrono Trigger made it so that it was an easy story to follow in which the player could easily understand what specific event was going on and how it was affected by time. The gameplay mechanic is also pretty neat. At a certain point in the game, your party members gain elemental abilities, which opens up a entire new way to strategize against enemies. It basically turns into a Pokemon game in which you try to figure out which enemy is weak to which element. Coincidentally, a game named I Am Setsuna has just released in Japan at the time of writing this paper and it takes inspiration from Chrono Trigger gameplay wise. I am defiantly excited to play this game once it has released in the United States. As for Chrono Trigger, it was one of the defining gems of that era and will continue to go down in history as a classic RPG.
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