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Critical Reception: Square Enix's Chrono Trigger

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Square Enix's Nintendo DS remake of Chrono Trigger, which online reviews describe as "the ultimate edition of a true classic" -- average score, review round-ups within.
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Square Enix's Nintendo DS remake of Chrono Trigger, which reviews describe as "the ultimate edition of a true classic." Originally released for the 16-bit Super NES in 1995, Chrono Trigger stood out as one of the best titles in the console's well-regarded RPG lineup. Boasting an intriguing time-travel mechanic and multiple endings, Chrono Trigger remains a cherished classic among many fans of the genre. Chrono Trigger's only universally acknowledged weakness is one of availability. The Super NES original remains in such high demand that aftermarket prices are prohibitively high, and though the later PlayStation rerelease (as part of the Final Fantasy Chronicles compilation) is more reasonably priced, the port quality fell far below expectations. An enhanced Nintendo DS port of Chrono Trigger debuts in North America this week to a Metacritic-averaged score of 93 out of 100. Games Radar's Henry Gilbert scores Chrono Trigger at 10 out of 10. "[Chrono Trigger] took the Super NES as far as it could go, technically speaking, and it has had only one other release since, an admittedly half-baked port to the PSOne," he begins. "But now this not-so-forgotten masterpiece, Chrono Trigger, gets a deserving revival on the DS." Gilbert claims that Chrono Trigger remains a compelling experience, despite the age of the source material. "The battle system keeps everything fast-paced, with encounters moving seamlessly from exploration to fighting without going to a different screen," he praises. "CT also improves the typical magic system of 16-bit RPGs, with each character having a unique set of spells, or 'techs.' As each character’s skills grow, they become very specialized, and if some team members are used enough in the same party they can gain duo attacks or especially devastating techniques involving the whole party." The storyline also holds up well, according to Gilbert. "CT’s story is rather diverse and complex, even if a ragtag group of young adults (including the boy next door and a spunky princess) saving the world from the ultimate destroyer doesn't look novel on paper," he writes. "However, the game makes this tired premise new with masterful storytelling and a great translation." "If you've never played Chrono Trigger, you owe it to yourself to finally give this gaming touchstone a whirl," Gilbert recommends. "And if you have played it before, you can play it again, for no other reason than to see how new it all still feels. We would normally hesitate to give any rerelease such a high score, but this is the ultimate edition of a true classic." Andrew Pfister at 1UP.com gives Chrono Trigger a grade of A, recalling the game as "one of Square's most beloved RPGs." Pfister notes disappointment with the previously released PlayStation port, but finds that the DS edition lives up to expectations. "The eventual Chrono Trigger PlayStation rerelease (and other...less savory methods of playing) rolled around, but those experiences were decidedly different -- inferior -- to the real thing," he explains. "Chrono Trigger for the DS is different, too -- but in a superior way," Pfister continues. "Most of it's familiar: the character designs, the distinct and colorful backdrops of each era, the epic soundtrack, the teamwork-based Tech system -- all of the original fun and charm of the original Super NES Chrono Trigger is preserved, with certain aspects improved." Pfister finds that many of these improvements boost the experience with added convenience and clarity. "The localization team polished up the script a bit -- with new names for items and techs and more dramatic readings of the more serious moments," he writes. "The touch-screen functions are convenient but ultimately inessential, simply because the game wasn't made with that aspect in mind. What's nice is that the dual-screen setup creates more breathing room in the battlefield for text boxes and spell effects, while it also improves inventory and party management." "This remake also includes two new dungeon areas -- though it's always nice to have more content, these also seem inessential," Pfister warns. "It's cool to see the Reptites form their own village, but their fetch quests aren't very relevant to the main characters' mission." Despite noting disappointment with its new content, Pfister finds the Nintendo DS remake of Chrono Trigger succeeds as a definitive, widely available version of a Super NES classic. "For fans, the reason to pick up Chrono Trigger is simply because it's available, intact, and enhanced," he concludes. "For newcomers, it's because the game has easily withstood the test of time." Over at GameSpot, Lark Anderson rates Chrono Trigger at 8.5 out of 10. "The Nintendo DS rerelease includes new areas to explore, an all-new ending that better ties into its sequel, Chrono Cross, and all of the additions of its PS1 predecessor (minus loading issues), making it the definitive edition of Chrono Trigger," he says. Anderson finds that despite the 13-year gap between the original release and the Nintendo DS remake, Chrono Trigger's storyline remains entertaining throughout. "From beginning to ending (all 14 of them!)," he writes, "Chrono Trigger offers a deeply satisfying combination of storytelling and character development that few games have managed to top, and that even the most stone-hearted will find emotionally stirring." The time-travel elements provide ample narrative depth, according to Anderson. "Any decision you make can have world-changing--and often not immediately noticeable--effects on the future," he explains. "For example, your every deed at the Millennial Fair in the very beginning of the game may potentially come back to haunt you not long afterward. This cause-and-effect gameplay forces you to consider the short- and long-term consequences of your actions, and is also used to great effect in completing side quests." "Chrono Trigger is a fantastic synthesis of excellent storytelling, game design, music, and gameplay that has withstood the test of time and should be considered required playing for any fan of role-playing games," Anderson notes in conclusion. "Though its extra content is hit or miss and it's essentially a direct port of a game released 13 years ago, the DS version is easily the definitive edition of this masterpiece, regardless of whether Chrono Trigger is one of those games you've only ever heard of before or you're a dedicated fan who has played through it dozens of times."

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