Aside from where and when you fight, Chrono Trigger's combat is fairly similar to other Square role-playing games. For starters, all three characters have a timer bar that tells you when they can take a turn. What's more, you can choose between a regular attack, using an item or unleashing a more powerful magic technique. For the most part the combat is standard fare, which will help ease long time Final Fantasy fans into the action. As you progress through the game you will discover that there's a bit more to the combat, especially when you factor in the two and three person attacks. But for the most part the game feels like a simplified version of Final Fantasy VI.
When you're not leveling up your characters and traveling throughout time, you'll be staring at the gorgeous hand-drawn graphics. Unlike Final Fantasy III and IV, Square Enix has wisely kept the original graphics and not turned Chrono Trigger into some weird 3D adventure game. Keeping it traditional was definitely the right move, as the graphics have aged surprisingly well. Even though the game is a dozen years old, the highly detailed pixel graphics still hold up in this 3D polygon world we live in. The characters are a wee bit small on the Nintendo DS screen, but the game's backgrounds and locations are nothing short of stunning. Even with their limited animations, Crono and the rest of the gang are really expressive. I'm sure there are people that would have liked to have seen this game completely remade, but as far as I'm concerned there's nothing they could do to make this game any better looking that it is right now.
Also intact is the game's amazing soundtrack. "Amazing" is not a word I often use for 16-bit soundtracks, but there's no better way to describe the music from famed composers Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda. Going in I was worried that the crummy Nintendo DS speakers would give the game a tinny sound, but I was pleasantly surprised by the audio quality. The music is even better when you plus in a pair of headphones. In this day and age of disc-based games, people forget how good the Super NES music was back in the 1990s. If you ever had any doubt, Chrono Trigger will make you a believer in the Super NES sound card.
While Square Enix may have kept the graphics and sound, they have made a few changes to the game that should be pointed out. For one thing, they've updated the game's translation. It's not that the Super NES game was poorly translated; however there were definitely aspects that felt a little out of place. This DS card also features the various animated cut-scenes that were added to the 1999 PlayStation port. And that's not all; Square Enix also went in and created a series of new dungeons for the game, plus a brand new ending. There's also a multiplayer mode now, but the less said about that the better.
Not all of the additions involve adding content to the game, though. As you might expect, this Nintendo DS version takes full advantage of the portable's unique attributes. For example, the game's interface is changed slightly so that you can see important information (maps, character info, etc.) on the bottom screen while playing through the game. What's more, you can use the system's touch screen to control just about everything, from walking around to navigating the menus to planning your moves in the middle of combat. Unfortunately I found most of the touch screen stuff to be pointless, I had an easier time doing all of this by simply using the traditional D-pad and face buttons. But that's just me; it's nice that Square Enix at least gave people the option of playing it however they want.
As interesting as all of the added stuff is, the game's brilliance is still in the story, characters and time traveling gimmick. There's a certain charm in going from time to time changing things, only to realize that you've made things worse in your own time. It's fun to have a brand new batch of enemies in each time period, especially when you're fighting dinosaurs back in the era of cave people. All this is the real hook of Chrono Trigger. The new stuff is nice, but the game was already spectacular without it.
Chrono Trigger is one of those games that every RPG fan should play through at least once in their life. If you somehow missed it the first time around, this Nintendo DS cart is your second chance. And with all of the added content and animated cut-scenes, Chrono Trigger DS is the ultimate version of this classic adventure game. If you love the idea of time travel and always wished that Final Fantasy would move a little faster, then this is the game for you. Don't ignore this portable version, the last thing you would want to do is make the same mistake twice. Chrono Trigger is a real treat, a must-own game for anybody even remotely interested in adventure games.
With a lengthy story, memorable characters, detailed graphics and a fast moving story, Chrono Trigger stands out as one of the best role-playing games of all time. And for the time being, this slightly updated port proves to be the best role-playing game on the Nintendo DS. Regardless of whether you missed it the first time or not, Chrono Trigger is a must-own game!
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