Thursday 21 February, 2008
Upon playing the game for a second time, I found that the storyline was even more unique and interesting than I previously thought it to be. After realizing that I had been exploring the world map and particularly the Millennial Fair for over 30 minutes, I realized that I was in for a treat (knowing that this was undoubtedly the least interesting part of the game, yet it managed to capture my attention and interest for such a long amount of time).
Another factor which added to my desire to wander aimlessly was the music. I didn't appreciate it as much when I first played, but as I explored and enjoyed the unique dialogue of each NPC, I began to pay closer attention to the background music. I found it to be so engaging that I let my character rest as I sat back and enjoyed the music for certain portions of the game. I was particularly surprised by this gameplay aspect of Chrono Trigger, particularly knowing that it was for the SNES, which tends not to focus on background music for its video games.
As the story began to unfold, I found myself already caring for the characters more than I thought I would, and much more than I do for at least 80% of the RPG's I have previously played. When Marle disappeared through a mysterious time warp, I realized I was just as confused as Crono and Lucca and just as unable to explain the mysterious occurance. Knowing this, I found myself greatly impressed by the designers ability to create dialogue and events that captivated me so early in the game. Rarely have I been so interested in the fate of an RPG's main characters within the first several hours of gameplay.
After following the story I found my character warped into a mysterious mountainous world, of an unknown location. I found the battle system to be similar to many other RPG's (as I confronted enemies almost as soon as my character arrived in the new area), but still extremely challenging (as I will further discuss in the design portion of my blog). The designers provided chests along the way which allowed my character to obtain, what I felt to be, the perfect items for the situations I found myself in (for example, as I lost health from the battles, I obtained a tonic that restored my health soon after, preventing a potentially frustrating section of the game).
One design aspect of the game that I found impressive was the unique battle system. Many early RPGs implement this same battle system of fighting the bad guys that the character comes in contact with. However, at the beginning of Chrono Trigger, when I created a new file, I was given the option to select a battle system in which the enemies would wait to attack until I chose my attacks, or if they would attack whenever it was their turn. Initially I assumed that this idea would be secondary to the gameplay and would merely not matter with regards to the overall feel of the game. However, realizing that I had chosen to allow the enemies to attack whenever they were ready, I actually found the game to be more challenging this time around. Even at the first level (after being teleported via Lucca's teleportating machine and Marle's pendant) I found it to be extremely challenging. At first I died rather fast, and I was afraid it would be so difficult that it would detract from the aim of the game. However, dying so quickly allowed me to better plan my attacks and actually understand the game better and on a different level.
When the game could have been unnecessarily difficult, it actually excelled and proved to be superior to many of its predecessors in the RPG genre. I almost instantly gained a level after only a few battles, allowing my character to be able to compete on an equal level with the tougher bad guys presented in the game. I find that many other RPGs are too hard earlier in the game as your characters are too weak. However, this unique design aspect of the game prevented me from becoming frustrated with the battle system, and actually enjoy it and explore the many options within each individual battle (For example, I soon learned new Tech moves that allowed Crono to use what I found to be equivalent to magic in the game).
In addition to the battle system, I found the storyline of this RPG to be the biggest driving factor of the game. As aforementioned, I discovered myself greatly caring about the fate of the main characters even though I had only played for a little over an hour or so. Whereas many RPGs rely on the battles to progress the story and allow the player to continue playing, I actually found myself wanting to uncover the fate of the main characters. The designers created an interesting enough storyline so that I cared enough about it to want to keep playing, thus realizing that the battles were merely a pleasant addition to the very much engaging storyline of the RPG.