Friday, April 10, 2015

Chrono Trigger: Level 99 Character Analysis

This is probably only relevant to a small portion of the player base for Chrono Trigger, but I don't really care.  It applies to people who have max-level characters and have used tabs to improve or max out Power, Magic, and Speed.

Chrono Trigger has seven characters to choose from, as you probably already know by now.  While any party can be used to some degree of success, surely some characters stand out above others, and some might even be less desirable than others, right?

Well, right.  I'll go into each character a bit, in order by permanent acquisition, then discuss dual techs and triple techs, then give my objective opinion on what the best party is.  Spoiler: if you've read my Twitter or talked to me in real life, you probably already know what that party will be.  All of this will take place after the break, since it's kind of a wall of text.

Across the board, I will generally recommend only two accessories, and the choice is a tradeoff.  A Gold Stud will reduce a character's MP costs by 75%.  This means techs cost 5 MP at maximum.  The PrismSpecs give a 50% boost to all damage the character deals, and shouldn't be overlooked.  The tradeoff is that if you take the PrismSpecs, you have to deal with higher MP costs.  Overall, I think it's fair given the extra damage output.  All this having been said, there are other accessories that you may find useful in certain situations, or for alternate strategies.  Generally speaking, I stick with Gold Studs, but I grab enough of the other stuff that I can use them if I feel like it.

Individual Characters

Let's start with our silent protagonist, Crono.  His regular attacks are solid, and his end-game weaponry vastly boosts his critical hit rate, giving him quite good damage output.  As far as techs go, a lot of the early ones are useful in the early game when you're not fully maxed out, but once you are, you'll pretty much only want to use Confuse and Luminaire.  Of particular note, Confuse, when boosted by the PrismSpecs, kills the left bit of Lavos' final form with one use.  Luminaire, once his magic is maxed, deals around 4000 damage to most targets, and 6000 if combined with the PrismSpecs.

Overall, he's worth keeping around.

Next up is Lucca, who joins permanently during the prison escape.  Her regular attacks are crap in the SNES and PS1 versions of the game.  Even with the WonderShot, because you only have a small chance of getting a damage boost from it.  Most of the time, it's content to hit a critical hit for single-digit damage.  On the DS version, however, her Spellslinger makes her regular attacks worthwhile.  It bases her damage off of the last digit of her MP, so if you keep that at 9, she deals pretty good damage.  Of course, the main reason why you'd want Lucca around is, without a doubt, Flare.  It's her version of the game's standard magic attack that deals around a thousand damage.  Her other techs might be useful in certain situations, especially HypnoWave for a relatively easy kill on the Golem Twins on the first time through, but by the end-game all you'll be using is Flare.

Overall, she's useful if you don't have anyone else to fill the party slot.

Now, we get to Marle, who joins permanently at the very end of the prison escape.  Her regular attacks are crap in the SNES and PS1 versions of the game.  However, in the DS version, she's got two things that improve the situation.  The first being her Venus Bow, which ignores enemy defenses and always deals 777 damage, so long as the target isn't immune to physical and she doesn't miss.  It's not the best damage in the world, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of her normal damage.  The second thing that helps is that via the 12,000 BC Dimensional Vortex, you can raise her Hit stat, which is what controls her normal damage.  Even with her Hit stat maxed, the Valkerye does half the damage of the Venus Bow.  Looking at her techs, she's worthless.  Her best damage is Ice 2, which is crap in most situations.  She does have healing techs, but they pale in comparison to what Robo can do with max Magic.  She also has Haste, but that takes three turns to set up on your party, whereas equipping Haste Helms when you want Haste gets it done without having to do anything else.

Overall, leave her out of the party whenever you have the opportunity.  Thankfully, she's only absolutely required to be in the party for the duration of your very first visit to 2300 AD.  What's that, the trial portion of Rainbow Shell, you say?  Well, try it.  She only needs to be in the party for dialogue scenes.  You can swap her out for someone else for the combat, though you probably don't need to bother since everything in the castle basement is weaksauce.

Robo has a pretty good regular attack, and on the DS version, the Apocalypse Arm offers an interesting tradeoff.  In exchange for making his non-critical hit damage a fair amount lower, his critical hits deal 9999 damage.  You can couple this with the Dragon's Tear from Lost Sanctum to boost his critical hit rate, and you'll be seeing that 9999 damage fairly often.  Add in a Master's Crown to recoup some of the lost damage from non-critical hits.  He has three techs of importance.  First and foremost: Heal Beam, which directly benefits from increasing his Magic and once it's high enough, the tech can be your only healing tech in the party.  The others are Uzzi Punch, which is his best physical damage tech, and Shock, which is his version of the standard magic attack that deals around a thousand damage.  He also carries four damage types, which is more than any other character but Magus.  Laser Spin deals Shadow, Area Bomb deals fire, Shock deals lightning, and of course, physical.  Most of the time, though, none of that matters.

Overall, keep around for that low-cost and ridiculously powerful Heal Beam.

We finally get to Ayla.  Her fists, as you probably know by now, improve outside of her regular stat boosts every 24 levels.  At level 72, they can confuse enemies, which honestly would have been more useful at a lower level since her damage output at level 72 is good enough to kill most things in short order.  But you know the thing I'm going to discuss.  Yeah, you do.  At level 96, her fists deal 9999 damage on a critical hit.  This is what led to my mantra of "when Ayla crits, things die", since not a lot of enemies have more than 9999 health.  On the DS version, she gets the Valor Crest accessory from Lost Sanctum, which boosts her critical hit rate and gives her a 50% counterattack rate.  Tech-wise, you'll want to use Charm every now and then to get items from enemies.  In that regard, you should equip the Charm Top before you do your charming, to boost the success rate so you don't waste time and MP.  Dino Tail is useful on Queen Zeal, who loves to use Hallation to reduce everyone's HP to 1.  Tail Spin is situationally useful, whenever she's surrounded.  And of course, there's TripleKick.  It deals 3000 damage, minimum, to most targets, and is a good candidate for having the PrismSpecs equipped to further boost it.

Overall, she's a physical damage powerhouse, and well worth having in your party.

Frog is next, and honestly, there's not much to say.  He has semi-decent physical damage.  His techs are a kind of weird combination of healing, water damage, and physical damage, that isn't really exemplary on any front.  His best tech is a desperation attack that needs his health to be really low to deal good damage.  He's useful when he's required to be in the party, and again on the Retinite in Fiona's side quest since he has water damage, but that's about it.  On the DS version, he's got an accessory called the Champion's Badge, which is a straight upgrade for the Hero Badge.  Not only does it up his critical hit rate with the Masamune, but it also reduces his MP costs by 50%.

Overall, leave at home unless he's needed for something.

Finally, we get to Magus.  He's hyped up to be a really powerful mage, and at the lower levels you'll be at when you fight him the first time, maybe so.  Later on, though, he's quite easy to defeat.  Once you get him in your party, you find that his regular attacks are decent.  He's got slightly better versions of the second-level elemental techs, plus a bunch of Shadow damage stuff, and then there's Barrier and Black Hole, neither of which are particularly useful.  Dark Matter is his version of the game's standard magic attack that deals about a thousand damage.

Overall, he's decent, and can fill a slot if you don't have anyone else to go there, but generally he's overhyped.

Dual Techs

It's time for this, isn't it.  Yes, the much-lamented dual techs.  Across the board, they're generally worthless for a party of this stature.  Most of them are outclassed by single techs, or even their component single techs used separately.  There are two of them worth using in various situations, though, so I'll cover them.

Falcon Hit (Crono + Ayla) is pretty useful.  It deals damage to everything in a horizontal line centered on the enemy you select, and it has a fairly wide area of effect.  A lot of battles will have the enemies lined up perfectly for it, and it's generally a one-hit kill.  The Laser Guards at the beginning of Black Omen, and the Panels later on are susceptible to it.  Also, it kills Giga Gaia's hands in one use.  It's also useful on most sections of Lavos' mini-boss mimic, again for ending fights in one hit.

Boogie (Ayla + Robo) has precisely one use in the game: the Mother Brain fight at the end of Geno Dome.  Use it to put Stop on the panels so they won't heal her, and you avoid the extra nonsense that happens if the panels die.  All that matters in that fight is Mother Brain's health, the panels die when she dies.

Triple Techs

This is where your money is, at least some of the time.  While dual techs are mostly useless, your party's triple tech is generally pretty useful.  I'll cover some of the more useful ones here, but generally, try them all out and see what's there.  I will also freely admit I haven't really played around with the triple techs gained from the various colored rock accessories.

Remember that when two or more elements are combined, the resulting damage type is always Shadow.

Triple Raid (Crono + Robo + Frog) and 3D Attack (Crono + Frog + Ayla) both deal comparable damage that's pretty decent.  When going through Magus' lair, my party is usually Crono, Robo, and Frog, so I have Triple Raid available to use on Slash, whom it dispatches pretty quickly.  I've used 3D Attack on Azala in the past and it's worked quite well.

Twister (Crono + Ayla + Robo) is also pretty good, especially because it's shadow damage that hits all enemies.  One use of this takes out Azala, and then after BlackTyrano drops its defenses, it will die in two more uses.

GatlingKick (Crono + Lucca + Ayla) is capable of taking out level 99 Spekkio in three hits.  Just saying.

Lifeline (Crono + Marle + Robo) isn't at all useful for a level 99 party, but I'm mentioning it anyway just to say you shouldn't be using it.  If you have the party necessary to cast this, you also have Robo, and therefore Heal Beam.  For level 99 gameplay, if you're dying, you're doing it wrong.

The Best Party (In My Very Educated Opinion)

Crono, Ayla, and Robo.  You have not one, but two sources of lightning damage, including the most potent source of single-tech elemental damage in the game.  Very few enemies are resistant or immune to lightning, and some enemies have special circumstances triggered by them taking lightning damage.  You have a physical damage powerhouse in Ayla, whose critical hits, when they happen, shorten battles significantly and make everything simpler.  Robo, with max magic, is also the best healer in the game, capable of restoring the whole party back to full health with Heal Beam, a 3 MP single tech, which can of course be reduced to 1 MP with a Gold Stud.  If you've played the game long enough to get to the point where this post is relevant to you, then you already have status-protecting equipment for everyone, so even though Ayla has Kiss for restoring status, you won't really be needing it.  You have possibly the most useful dual tech in the game, Falcon Hit, as well as a really good triple tech, Twister.  If you need a good party, look no further than these three.

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