chrono trigger title screen

I was a snot-nosed little rapscallion when I was introduced to, quite possibly, the most influential and inspiring piece of software ever to grace a home console system. In all my years of being entranced by bright pixels and engrossing game worlds, I have never been captivated by a game so completely as by Chrono Trigger on the SNES.

Chrono Trigger is a game about a ragtag group of adventurers spanning many time periods who must work together to prevent global destruction at the hands of a parasitic being known only as Lavos. Throughout the epic journey, players are engaged with fully-developed characters and an intriguing and well-crafted story line that still reigns supreme as the greatest game of all time.

The music alone is worth the price of admission with Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu crafting an intricate soundscape that fully encapsulates the feel of the game and fits the dramatic twists with poignant punches. A few of my favorite tunes from the epic soundtrack still grace my playlists:

As is usually the case with phenomenal music, it stands the test of time. Even with the constraints of a 16-bit midi format for creating music, the composers wove a fantastic blend of tunes to accentuate memorable moments from the game. With such beautiful soundscapes using such a minimalist approach, It’s no wonder that chip tunes are still a popular medium for music.

As a kid, my parents and I had the weekly Friday night ritual of going out to Blockbuster (what an anachronism) and picking some entertainment to rent for the weekend. I was allowed to rent one video game and one movie as per our agreement, and, while it seemed a tough decision for a child, I always knew what video game I wanted to rent: Chrono Trigger. I must have rented the game nearly 40 times, but I had never had the time during the 3-day rental period to fully complete the game. One Christmas, however, that would all change.

I had put the game on my list knowing full well that it was a difficult item to find. People who owned the game were hanging onto it and I knew I would too if I had the chance. This was not the type of treasure that a child would let go of willingly. It was magical and special and everything that a good video game should be.

I awoke that Christmas morning to piles of boxes, but every one I opened refused to yield the prize that I so desperately yearned for. At the bottom of the pile was a box that looked like it was from a clothing store. I sighed with disgust and could barely find the motivation to open this last mystery package.

When you’re a child, clothes are the worst gift you can receive. If it’s not something you can play with, it’s not worth your time.

However, upon closer inspection, I realized that there was something sliding from side to side from within the box. As I tore it open to reveal its contents, I realized what I had in my hands: A COPY OF CHRONO TRIGGER!!! I could hardly contain my excitement and raced hurriedly upstairs to my room to jam it into the input slot of my Super Nintendo. From then on, it was love.

I would race home from school to sit and play it for hours. I’d feign illness to stay home from school and play it more. Finally, I achieved every one of the multiple endings within the game and felt good about having at least one of every item in the game. After maxing out the levels and stats of all of my characters, I decided it was time to put the game away for awhile. I went on with my life.

One day, though, I had an itch to fire up the old cartridge again and decided to go about hooking up my Super Nintendo to bring it out of its impromptu hibernation. Much to my absolute shock and dismay, ALL of my saves had been erased. I was absolutely heartbroken. This was not like losing a college term paper that you spent hours writing to a computer crash, but rather a loss of YEARS of my life spent playing and mastering this game. I almost wanted to cry. It was like the loss of a child.

I could have turned away from my once beloved friend and shriveled into cynicism, alienation, and obscurity, but I chose to persevere. I started a new game and, from then on, I vowed never to let obstacles block my path to personal happiness.

I still start a new game in Chrono Trigger at least once a year and beat it all the way through. I’ve since loaded it onto my cell phone as well, since an iOS version does exist.

No matter what is taken from you, there is a reason to go on.

I leave you with this bad ass metal cover of the main theme song. Enjoy!

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