The GWJ JRPG Club - Q4 2020 - Chrono Trigger!

Nice, GB! If you haven't already tried this, making sure the battle mode is set on "Wait" may help make sure you don't get bum-rushed while you're trying to enter commands (inside the tech and item menus, anyway).

Made a little bit more progress this morning, I've now beaten Slash and Flea, and am about to press deeper into Magus' castle.

When I first started, I was struck by how basic the combat system was, and how much I could accomplish simply by attacking. Plus, some of the early double-techs weren't much stronger than the characters' individual single-techs. I'm glad to see that the complexity and difficulty ramps up a little bit, with monsters that are resistant to certain attacks, will retaliate, etc. It seems like a nice progression without being too challenging to grasp. Also glad to see that the next tier of double and triple techs pack a good punch.

I always wished I could spend a little more time in Zeal before... stuff happens. But I guess that's the point: it was all too good to last.

Anyway, I love these guys. I made this bead version about ten years ago and he's been following me around ever since.

IMAGE(https://i.ibb.co/7NptDJP/all-life-begins-with-nu-and-ends-with-nu.jpg)

All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu! This is the truth! This is my belief! At least for now.

(All the re-releases have a slightly different translation, but that's the one I learned at an impressionable age.)

Made it past the Ocean Palace. What a great dungeon. somebody was pointing out earlier how many of the dungeons are very short. It makes the occasional longer dungeon like Magus' Keep or the Ocean Palace seem that much more epic by comparison.

Now I'm in the Blackbird, which is probably my least favorite part of the game. Confusing layout, characters gimped by having their toys taken away, it's just not fun.

Wound up resorting to a guide in order to critical path it despite otherwise trying to go guideless this playthrough.

If there’s a next time, put Ayla at the front of the party before that part to avoid some frustration. She doesn’t need weapons

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I'm struggling a bit in combat because I'm having trouble controlling my ... controller. The controls are extremely sensitive, so it's hard to select the action/combo/attack/target I want quickly. I looked for a way to adjust the sensitivity in game but didn't see anything offhand. I'll explore the Internets and see if there is something out there.

You're playing in the Steam version I think, like I am, right? I have the same problem. I've long since given up on trying to use the stick for movement, and even the D-pad is finicky, and frequently drops or doubles inputs.

One tip: I find that the frame rate and inputs are wonky a) after the first time loading a save, and b) after every FMV plays. A quick alt-tab out and back in fixes this. It doesn't solve all of the controller issues, but it helps a bit. I'm at 10 hours in and am right at the end of the Water Temple Ocean Palace. I've been playing with active battles so far, but I'm seriously considering setting it to Wait; I've had a couple of miskeyed combat entries (and many times when I probably could have made my selections quicker and avoided some damage, were it not for D-pad input issues), but I'm just chalking that up to part of "the fun".

Blind_Evil wrote:

If there’s a next time, put Ayla at the front of the party before that part to avoid some frustration. She doesn’t need weapons :)

Yeah, that helps a lot. The first few combats are a slog, but at least they're doable.

The confusing maze-like layout is a personal bugbear. I'm the guy who needs Google maps to drive to the corner store and back. I have a real problem with getting lost in video games that aren't specifically designed to give you a shiny pointing arrow to where you need to go.

Post-Ocean-Palace spoilers:

Spoiler:

Rolling around the Middle Ages with Magus at the head of your party gets a little goofy. The last time I talked to Toma, he was being hired by a town actively under threat from Magus' forces to find the Rainbow Shell so they can use it to fight him.

Now: "Well met, Magus! I found the Rainbow Shell!"

merphle wrote:
Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I'm struggling a bit in combat because I'm having trouble controlling my ... controller. The controls are extremely sensitive, so it's hard to select the action/combo/attack/target I want quickly. I looked for a way to adjust the sensitivity in game but didn't see anything offhand. I'll explore the Internets and see if there is something out there.

You're playing in the Steam version I think, like I am, right? I have the same problem. I've long since given up on trying to use the stick for movement, and even the D-pad is finicky, and frequently drops or doubles inputs.

One tip: I find that the frame rate and inputs are wonky a) after the first time loading a save, and b) after every FMV plays. A quick alt-tab out and back in fixes this. It doesn't solve all of the controller issues, but it helps a bit. I'm at 10 hours in and am right at the end of the Water Temple Ocean Palace. I've been playing with active battles so far, but I'm seriously considering setting it to Wait; I've had a couple of miskeyed combat entries (and many times when I probably could have made my selections quicker and avoided some damage, were it not for D-pad input issues), but I'm just chalking that up to part of "the fun". :)

Thanks! it sounds like we're experiencing the same thing. I found this thread online that suggests making sure you don't have other USB input devices attached, and to check out Steam's controller configuration tool.

I had a wheel attached to my input, so I'm going to try removing that, then try the configuration tool to adjust the dead spot if removing the wheel doesn't help.

I'll also try the d-pad instead of the sticks. I've only used the sticks and it's a nightmare in combat.

I haven't seen framerate issues yet, but I'll remember your trick if they come up.

LastSurprise wrote:

Nice, GB! If you haven't already tried this, making sure the battle mode is set on "Wait" may help make sure you don't get bum-rushed while you're trying to enter commands (inside the tech and item menus, anyway.

Thanks! Yes, I have that setting in place to wait. A lot of the wonkiness happens before I can even get inside the menus to pick an attack, etc. The cursor jumps to different characters, to different attacks, to different enemies. I might try slowing combat down too.

Sorry for the spam, but these instructions worked perfectly to fix the controller stick sensitivity issue. Just tested it with some combat and some menu navigation and the problem is completely gone.

I've pushed on, and I'm now in the endgame, running around and knocking out sidequests and getting ready to take on the final boss. One of my favorite things at this point of the game (and I could do this as early as the Ocean Palace) is having Chrono spam Lumiere with the Gold Stud equipped for a super cheap mass death spell. It's wonderful for wasting trash mobs. That said, an accessory that cuts MP cost by 3/4 seems clearly broken, more so than increasing health, so I'm also not surprised I don't see it in many games.

It seems like the general goofiness has gone down as the game goes on, but there are some individual moments that seem to make up for it. There was a straight up 4th wall breaking moment where a character demanded that the music stop before changing the theme. It's hilarious, but how does something like that get the go ahead in any halfway serious game?

I’m of the opinion that the game is only 33% serious.

But really if you think about the creation of the game, it’s kind of an informal mash-up, and those tend to be a little more tongue-in-cheek than the originating properties. The Final Fantasy people probably wouldn’t put that in Final Fantasy and the Dragon Quest people maybe wouldn’t put that in Dragon Quest, but in the mashup experiment? Why not, go nuts everyone!

hbi2k wrote:
LastSurprise wrote:

I think I've picked the Swallow every time I've started a new save file in this game, and I imagine I'll do so again. It's just so good.

It really is. Only problem is that you only get to enjoy it for like two dungeons before

Spoiler:

Crono dies.

By the time you get access to it again, other weapons have started to catch up.

I've been enjoying the Safe Helm, I put it on Lucca to balance out the defense loss from keeping Taban's Vest equipped, which in turn keeps her Speed decent.

When I was a kid I would usually roll with my three favorite characters (Chrono / Frog / Robo) whenever possible and switch to others only when required by the story. This time I'm making a point to swap around more and fool around with different combinations. Haven't decided who I'll take into the final fight yet. What's everyone else doing?

I'm intending to play this one, but have fallen behind.

In prior plays, I tended to stay with the basic Crono/Marle/Lucca a lot, sometimes swapping to Crono/Ayla/Frog. The first trio is a good balance of physical damage, tech damage, and healing, and they have an extremely strong triple tech, forget what it's called. The latter does tons of physical damage and has a ton of healing; Ayla and Frog are both strong healers on their own, and then have a dual tech heal that's a little crazy. (I think it's "Slurp Kiss", maybe??) And then if you don't need the healing, both can issue a serious beatdown.

I've never used Robo that much... I'm not sure if I just didn't develop him adequately, but he always seemed like a weak sister compared to everyone else. He does everything, but he's not very good at any of it.

Strong disagree, Robo is top tier as long as you give him some speed enhancement. Heal Beam is the strongest multi-heal single tech, he has fire AND shadow AND light techs at his disposal, and he combos well with just about every party member.

If we’re talking about characters, I’ve always felt that Marle was ruined by the developers. How can the most focused healer not have her own multi-target heal?

Usually I use Crono, Robo, Ayla or swap in Frog for Robo. Slurp Kiss is quite good as you say, and Ayla I keep around for Charm. You get some good stuff stealing from enemies.

Edit: to be clear, this isn’t a hard game, any team can get through any situation. Just saying that some make it even easier and some do not.

I've found Robo super useful so far. To this point in the game, he's the best physical damage dealer aside from Ayla. Right away, he had a really strong attack that combo'd with Lucca (Fire Arm, or something like that), which hit harder than Crono & Lucca's fire spin. And, Crono / Frog / Robo have access to the earliest triple tech, Triple Raid, which in Magus' castle hit Slash and Flea for about 800-900 damage each time. With the combination of Triple Raid and the Rage Band on Crono, I was able to take down Flea in about 3-4 turns, and the same was true for each of Slash's forms.

Yeah, Marle really needed a multi-target heal. Still, between Haste and Arise, she's got a LOT of utility to make up for it.

I love Frog as a character, and I love all his battle animations, but he's the one I always found a little weaksauce when it comes to actual usefulness in battle.

He doesn't have the Magic stat for his water spells or healing to really shine. His physical damage is pretty good right after you first get the Masamune and right after you get its updated form, but even then you need the Hero's Badge to really get the most out of it, which is a hell of an opportunity cost to pay when there are so many powerful accessories in the game. And his ultimate Tech, Frog Squash, is situational at best, but honestly just kind of weak compared to most others.

Blind_Evil is right though: it's a pretty easy game, and any party can win pretty much any time, excepting occasional situations where you need access to a certain element to hit a boss's weak spot. It's less a matter of "can I win" and more a matter of "does it feel good to use this character, does it feel like they're pulling their weight."

So far the musical swell after you pick up the pendant into the portal is one of the best. So good.

Just finished the Fiona side quest, and it tickled something in the back of my brain. Some years back I had some scripts and notes for a Chrono Trigger parody video series that never wound up getting produced. I found them in the Google Drive equivalent of a forgotten desk drawer. Most of it is pretty typical early-YouTube stuff not too different from anything I wrote in my mid-twenties, but the scene based on the Fiona side quest is still pretty good I think.

("Arsix" is Robo, short for R-66Y.)

Spoiler:

After Crono is resurrected, as he’s flying the Epoch for the first time.

Crono
This is great, you guys! Any other upgrades I should know about? Tell me we’ve got weapons!

Arsix
Dual front-firing laser cannons.

Nadia
Wait, what? Why didn’t you say anything before?

Arsix
First Law of Robotics.

Nadia
Then why did you say something now?

Arsix
Second Law of Robotics.

Crono
So this floating fortress is where that Zeal bitch lives now, right?

Arsix
Master, I strongly advise caut--

Crono fires the Epoch’s lasers. They bounce off the hull of the Black Omen and strike Fiona’s Woods, which burst into flames. The Epoch lands.

Fiona
My woods! My beautiful, beautiful woods!

Crono
Ah-- awww, hell, I’m sorry, lady. That was my bad. Tell you what, we’ll stick around to help clean up the mess.

On the world map, the fire suddenly burns out, leaving behind a desert.

Crono
Tell you what, the robot will stick around to help clean up the mess.

Arsix
Master, by my calculations it would take roughly 350,000 man-hours to--

Nadia
See ya!

The Epoch flies off.

***

After the party picks up Arsix from spending 400 years restoring Fiona’s Woods, during the campfire scene.

Arsix
During my four centuries of hard labor-- thanks for that, by the way-- I have had much time to think. Do you never wonder at how convenient the appearance of the portals is?

Glenn
What do you mean?

Arsix
Think of the eras to which they send us. Just before Lavos fell to Earth. Just before it emerged again and caused the fall of Zeal. Just before Magus summoned it in the Middle Ages. And just long enough after the apocalypse that there was still a surviving record to show us the planet’s final fate.

Crono
Maybe Lavos makes the portals somehow?

Arsix
Perhaps. But the portals are the only reason we know of Lavos. Why would Lavos give us the tools to confront it?

Magus
Because it doesn’t think we have a chance?

Arsix
Or because something else placed the portals there. Something that wants us to destroy Lavos and save the planet.

Glenn
What kind of thing you reckon could do that?

Arsix
I believe humans would call it… God.

Crono
I dunno, the only other church we’ve been to didn’t exactly fill me with faith in the Almighty, y’know?

Lucca looks troubled and walks away.

Lucca
Are you there, God? It’s me, Lucca. Are you real? Have you been guiding us? ...Then where were you when my mother lost her legs, you sick son of a bitch? Where were your f*cking footprints in the sand then, huh?

A portal opens.

Lucca
What the f*ck is this? A test? A leap of faith? Jump through the hoop and maybe you’ll give me a treat? f*ck you! Say something! I’m right here! If you’re so almighty, f*cking say something!

Silence.

Lucca
Fine!

Lucca goes through the portal and emerges in her house.

Lucca
Is… is this that day? Are you giving me a chance to change things?

Lucca walks through the door to see Lara, Young Lucca, and a large machine.

Lara
Taban’s things are always so dusty. I think I’ll just….

Lara goes to dust the machine. The machine turns on. Lara’s dress is caught in the works. A conveyer belt pulls her toward the machine.

Lara
Lucca! Lucca, go get your father!

Young Lucca runs out the door.

Lucca
Off switch, off switch, where’s the off switch? Password? What the hell? You can turn it on by breathing on it but you need a password to turn it off? Let’s see, what does Dad use on his luggage… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… that’s not it… ooh! I know! L U C C A… no… dammit, who designed this UI, I can’t even tell if it’s accepting my keystrokes!

GOD
It’s Lara, L A R A, do I have to do everything Myself?

Lucca
L A R A… it’s not working!

GOD
You typed it a little too fast, try it slower.

Lucca
L, A, R, A… still not working!

GOD
The L key got stuck, tap it a couple times….

Lucca
Got it!

GOD
Okay, now hit backspace a bunch… a little more… okay, try again!

Lucca
L, A, R--

Lara reaches the machine. The screen goes black, and there’s a scream. The scene fades in to Lucca in the forest clearing, crying.

Lucca
Send me back! Send me back, you asshole!

Silence.

Lucca
That’s it? Seriously? My mother’s a cripple for life because I was half a second too slow on the keyboard?

GOD
...I work in mysterious ways.

Lucca
f*ck YOU!

...Yeah, I goofed that sequence on my first playthrough, ha ha.

Which reminds me, there was a short, official Chrono Trigger OVA, staring some of the minor characters and monsters.

Awesome

Frog’s line seems off though.

I've made it to the Tyrano Lair! The fight with Magus was not too bad. I remember it being harder than it was for me this time, and I'm sure part of that is my comfort, now, with taking a hit and knowing I have the capacity to heal up. Lucca and Crono were beasts together, at one point hitting for more than 1,000 with the Fire Sword combo (after Frog reduced Magus's magic defense, of course).

I had totally forgotten that this second trip to the past came before going to Zeal at all. How funny!

By the way, I've been mulling over this across the past few days: does Crono & co.'s present-day presuppose their intervention in the past? I always find this sort of time paradox stuff interesting. There seems to be evidence that cuts both ways:

Spoiler:
  • Lucca claims Leene would have been rescued if Marle hadn't shown up, leading Guardia to call off the search. And, that seems right, as Frog was looking for her. But it just as easily could have been that Frog would have failed, if not for the party's help.
  • The battle with Magus, I think, is another point of ambiguity. Crono's present clearly presupposes that Guardia prevailed over Magus. And Crono's help seems necessary to get Frog to the confrontation with Magus. But, even if Frog has not battled Magus, interrupting his ritual, it's entirely possible that Magus would have summoned Lavos, lost, and disappeared -- leading to a win by Guardia in either case.
  • But, if Frog's presence at the battle was necessary ... he probably wouldn't have gotten the Masamune without the party's help. He was just wallowing in self-pity until we presented him with the sword.
  • And even if he did, he wouldn't have been able to fix it without going back to 65M BC, or forward to find Melchior. This is probably the strongest evidence in favor of Crono's present pre-supposing his intervention -- if you consider Frog's presence at the battle necessary.

Addressing the spoilered points:

Spoiler:

1. Frog probably could have rescued Leene on his own, but if not, you can probably assume that he would have gotten help from the castle garrison. They may have even been with him in the first place if Marle hadn’t shown up.

2. I would need to go over what the 1000 AD villagers say pre-Magus, but I have taken the stance that pre-Crono, Magus summoned Lavos, was defeated by Lavos, and Lavos went back to sleep, unnoticed by the world at large.

3 and 4 are made moot by 2.

I may also have found a scrap of script dealing with the time travel mechanics:

Spoiler:

After discovering the bucket at the End of Time that leads to Lavos

Crono
This is great, we can take care of that planet-raping f*ckmonster right now. Go Team Crono!

Crono charges through the bucket portal. He appears in front of Lavos and gets one-shotted. There’s a Game Over screen, a title screen, and the player loads a saved game. Crono appears at the End of Time save point.

Nadia
Crono? How did you get over there?

Crono
Beats me. Let’s try that again.

Lucca
Wait, Crono, we don’t know anything about--

Crono charges through the bucket.

Gaspar
Just let him go.

Nadia
He’s going to get himself killed.

Gaspar
It’ll be fine. Wait for it….

Crono reappears at the save point.

Lucca
What just happened?

Crono
Ah, he suckerpunched me. I’ve got him this time. Go Team Crono!

Crono charges through the bucket portal and reappears at the save point.

Gaspar
Young man, I strongly suggest that you--

Crono
So, you wanna play rough, eh?

Crono charges through the bucket portal and reappears at the save point several times. The others sit around looking bored. The words “24 (Subjective) Hours Later….” appear on the screen.

Lucca
Crono, don’t you see what this means?

Crono
(panting)
Yeah… I’m wearing him down….

Gaspar
Your efforts are quite futile, young man. You’re stuck in a time loop.

Crono
A what?

Lucca
It must be a failsafe to prevent a paradox. Remember when we changed Guardia’s history and Nadia became her own ancestor?

Crono
I try not to.

Lucca
What do you think would’ve happened if the Queen had died, and Nadia hadn’t decided to stay and take her place?

Nadia
I… never would’ve been born? I would’ve been erased from the timestream?

Lucca
But if you were never born, then you never went back in time and prevented yourself from being born.

Crono
Which means you were born, but then that means you did go back in time, which means you weren’t born, which means….

Lucca
That’s my point! It’s a paradox, it’s nonsense, it can’t happen! So Crono, sometime in your own subjective future, you must be going to have gone back in time and made your parents get together or saved humanity from the dinosaurs or something. You can’t die before you do that, or else you’d never have been born.

Gaspar
Exactly. You can never change the timeline in such a way as to destroy your own ability to change the timeline.

Lucca
Every time you do-- like by fighting Lavos too soon and getting killed-- you get shunted back to the last temporal junction point, and the tangent timeline in which you died collapses. It doesn’t exist except in your memory.

Crono
Nadia, are you following any of this?

Gaspar
Think of it like a groundhog digging a tunnel. If the groundhog hits the foundation of a building, it doesn’t scratch against it forever until it dies. It goes back a ways and digs in a new direction. Without the groundhog to maintain it, eventually the dead-end tunnel collapses.

Nadia
So the 24 hours Crono just spent looping….

Gaspar
Were nothing but a groundhog’s day.

Crono
My God. Do you know what this means?

Lucca
Yes. There must be something of the utmost importance that we have to accomplish in the past. It’s our duty to the integrity of the timeline to--

Crono
I’m immortal! Party!

Montage of Crono, Nadia, Lucca, Arsix, Gaspar, and Spekkio partying at the End of Time. There are colored lights and loud music, they dance, Crono and Nadia and Lucca and Arsix make out, and everybody drinks. A lot.

Crono
Oh God, my head.

Gaspar
Lucca, was I far, FAR too drunk, or did you f*ck the robot?

Lucca
Ugh, I wish I hadn’t drank so much.

Crono
Me too. Nadia?

Nadia shoots Crono in the head. Everybody disappears and reappears at the save point.

Crono
Thanks, Nadia. Let’s go!

I'm surprised at how fast the game moves forward. I knew it would not linger on and on (unlike, says, the Trails games), but still, there's never really a dull moment. I thought Magus castle was happening fairly late in the game and yet, here I am, barely above 7 hours in.

I like how quick the battles are, too. The game has been fairly easy so far (although I did get careless with a boss and got a game over once).

The most amazing part of Chrono Trigger is that there's been zero inflation in the world, over thousands of years.

Indeed, as I just discovered, some of the most expensive (and best) items are located in 12,000 BC -- which would make sense if they were sold in Zeal. But they aren't: they're sold in a cave, by a guy with no magic, who lives among a group of people that appear to be used by Zeal for slave labor.

This makes me want to go forward in time and shout at the blacksmiths in 1,000 AD:

I've been makes slow but steady progress.

The jury was: two guilty, five not guilty.

Crono's mom now has three cats.

I like how the Heckran Cave forces us to get comfy with our techs early in the game.

I forgot how challenging Sir Crawlie can be; he does not mess around!

Hmm, maybe I should have picked Lucca instead of Marle for the first adventure with Robo, but on the other hand...

I think I'm doing a much better job using consumable items than in previous runs.

Time to get Cretaceous.

Nice!

By the way, hbi2k, been loving those script pieces.

This morning, I made it up the Mountain of Woe. I'm about to enter the Ocean Palace, and I can't believe that I'm just under 10 hours.

Also, side note: just like I used to hoard consumables, I've never been great about stealing from foes. But this time, when I got Ayla's Charm (on Mt. Woe), I paired her with Marle for the combo, put on that charm top, and started stealing from all the random encounters. Almost every single one was carrying a weapon that was better than the one I just bought from the overpriced cave dealer. And, Giga Gaia had a speed tab! Stealing is no joke, here.

Just completed my run through 2300 AD, went to the End of Time and got my magic skills. As others have echoed here, I am struck but just how fast this game moves its story along. After playing more recent games like Trails of... and Persona, it is insane how fast this game goes. And after watching play through a fairly complete FFVII run in under 50 hours, I am wondering how much of "JRPGs are super long games" is just down to a time in my life when I had tons of time and only a handful of games to play rather than them actually being 80+ hour games.

There have been a couple moments where I thought they could have used a little more flash or story exposition, something to really sell the moment, but have not felt the game has left anything unclear.

Malkroth wrote:

As others have echoed here, I am struck but just how fast this game moves its story along.

I have to wonder whether its fast pace & reasonably short length contributed to it being considered a top-tier JRPG - it had potential appeal to a much wider audience.

I wonder. I'll bet that I originally finished in in around 20-25 hours, as this replay, knowing what I'm supposed to do, probably will clock in at around 15. That's pretty consistent with how long it originally took me to play FF IV, and then how long it took me when I replayed it as an adult.