Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chrono Trigger DS

Because I'm a whore for Chrono Trigger, I now own it on SNES, PlayStation, and DS.  The DS version is quite a bit different from the others, so here are my thoughts so far.  This is by no means a complete analysis, but I've played up to 65 million BC and taken everything in, except for the extra areas, which I haven't gotten to yet.

Photo update: Okay wow, the 3DS takes photos in absolutely horrible quality.  I'll either abandon this entirely or take the stuff over to my parents' place and use my dad's camera, which is much better.

So, first off, the stuff that I like:

They did a fantastic job of adapting the game to take advantage of the DS' features.  There's an option to put it in "classic" mode, which gives you the old action bar from the SNES/PS1 versions, but I haven't bothered to do so yet because after a little tweaking (read: set "Run Mode" to "Walk") you can pretty much play the game exactly as you're used to it with the DS features intact.  Leaving it in DS mode leaves the top screen relatively un-cluttered in battle, with health and ATB bars beneath each character.  Also, if you're so inclined, you can play the game completely with the stylus.  Moving around is a bit weird and imprecise (resulting in accidentally triggering battles and the wrong character dialogue from time to time), but it works.

The menus have been improved greatly.  You can easily see the effects of every piece of equipment you currently have equipped.  No more having to swap it out for something else just to check.  Also, the inventory is divided into pages by item type.  Once you reach The End of Time, the screen for swapping party members in and out is integrated with the menu for changing the order of your party.  I just wanted to highlight these improvements, but there are more to be found.

Also present are the extra cutscenes that were added to the PlayStation version of the game, except here, you have the option to turn them off if you so desire.  Once you save, you gain access to the Extras mode from the PlayStation version as well, which means getting all the endings will be crucial to anyone who wants to actually see all of Extras mode.

There is some new content, as I hinted at above.  I'm not sure how the new stuff ties in, but available for the playing are Lost Sanctum, Dimensional Vortex, and the Arena of the Ages.  Part of this new content is an extra end boss and new ending.  I will definitely have to experience this and post thoughts here when I do.

In the arena, you train up a monster and then fight it against other monsters.  This happens in the background, so you can do it while playing through the game.  There's also a wireless multiplayer option so you can fight your friends' monsters.  The arena has some brand new items specifically designed to be used within it.  According to the internet, there are a lot of rewards, including end-game equipment and tabs (which were renamed to "Capsules" in this translation).

The map on the touchscreen was a nice... touch... but what I would really rather have on that screen when I'm not in battle is the menus.  It would make equipment shuffling so much easier.  However, the map always being on the touchscreen effectively makes pressing Select to bring up the world map obsolete, though you can still do it for shits and giggles.

For all the low level game enthusiasts out there, one of the arena rewards is the Wallet, and you can potentially get it before beginning the story.  If you're into this sort of thing, you know precisely what this means, but for the rest of you: the Wallet is an accessory that converts all experience your party gets into gold, and is the staple accessory of a low level game challenge where the entire point is to avoid getting as much experience as insanely possible.  If you've never done a low level game before, you probably haven't equipped the Wallet before either, unless it was one of those "ooh, this looks interesting..." *equip Wallet* *10 hours later* "How come I'm not levelling up?" things.

The mixed bags (let me tell you what kind of bag?):

As far as graphics go, the font is different and harder to read.  There seems to be a fake scanline effect on the top screen that kind of annoys me, but I'm not sure if that's part of the whole "3DS running a DS game" thing or if it's actually the game itself doing it.  All the colors seem to be a bit darker, as well.  But other than that, they're the Chrono Trigger graphics we all know and love.

For the DS port, the game was completely re-translated.  All the lines we know and love have been changed anywhere between "ever so slightly" and "completely".  Even the tech names, item names, and enemy names are different.  I know this translation is supposed to be more accurate and overall better, but the SNES translation is what everyone's used to, and it just feels weird to not have it there.  Especially once you get Frog, and discover that his dialect is gone.  No more "Lower thine guard and thou'rt allowing the enemy in.", "The equipment hath evanesced!", or "Hand'eth over the Masamune!" for us...  such a shame.  That dialect really completed his character and made him as memorable as he is today.  Even if it did stick out like a sore thumb because nobody else in 600 AD talked that way.

Stuff I don't like:

Sound-wise, this port is lacking.  It just doesn't sound as good as the SNES or PlayStation versions.  Need proof?  Just go through a gate.  Congratulations, your ears are now bleeding.  How does one fuck up SPC emulation this bad?  Some of the music sounds like it's being run through a MIDI card without a proper wavetable.  Way to shit on Yasunori Mitsuda's masterpiece.


Chrono Trigger DS is a pretty decent port of the SNES classic to the DS, both in terms of integrating the DS' features and in preserving the classic gameplay for a new generation to experience.  Unfortunately, it's not without its issues, but for the most part they can be overlooked.  If you want to Chrono Trigger anywhere, pick yourself up a copy.

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