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Finishing Chrono Trigger: The Re-up

December 16, 2010

This post contains a pretty massive Chrono Trigger spoiler, if of course one can possibly spoil a 15-year-old game on the internet anymore. In any case, you’ve been warned.

Time: 16 hours and 33 minutes
Setting: Antiquity; The emergence of the Black Omen

God bless the internet.

Way back when, I used to play the occasional RPG on the old consoles…a little Final Fantasy here, a little Phantasy Star there, a little Lunar to change things up a bit, and it was good. Things would happen, though, and I’d get distracted for a while. Like, say, a month or more. And eventually, I’d go back to whichever game I was playing, forget what the hell was going on, and start over. Or quit. No, usually, I quit. Who wants to spend 15 hours doing something you’ve already done?

I hadn’t played Chrono Trigger in probably a month and a half before this week, and the thought of picking it up again was bringing back all of the “why bother?” sorts of memories. The story, to be frank, simply wasn’t memorable enough for me to have any clue what was going on at that point, and I had no real desire to wander around five different time periods and eight distinct fast-travel landing spots just to figure out where Point B was.

And then, a bright idea: Wikipedia. Go to Wikipedia, read the plot summary until it stops sounding familiar, and then get back to it. One plot summary and an assist from the old man at the end of time later, and I was back in business, tracking down the ill-intentioned queen in the age of antiquity.

If you watch very closely, you can sometimes see the soul escaping.

I’m sure this seems painfully obvious to most of those who would be reading this, but consider: for a player who did his most “hardcore” RPG gaming as a high school student more than 12 or 13 years ago, the use of Wikipedia isn’t so obvious. Certain feelings are associated with certain responses to those feelings, and there was always a feeling of futility that accompanied the return to an RPG that had been abandoned for an extended period. If I didn’t own the strategy guide or something (or if it didn’t come with the game, à la Phantasy Star II), there was really no other option to add to “wander around until you get the hang of it again”. Giving up was just what I did in that situation.

Now, I don’t have to give up. I can get back to it with just a little bit of effort. And I can watch Crono, my main character, die the horrible death that he was destined to die from the time I picked up the game.

So yes, thank goodness for the internet. If it weren’t for Wikipedia, I may have waited another 15 years before I got to experience one of the biggest reasons Chrono Trigger is held up as a paragon of 16-bit storytelling. Now if only I could figure out why the queen’s pet beastie keeps killing me so, so easily…

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