Saturday, January 19, 2013

Crono Trigger: Five Minutes After

It is argued between fans of media used for story telling whether or not fridge logic is inherently bad. I personally don't think it to be bad in all cases, but I do believe that certain circumstances can cause it to be so. That is why I've taken to recording my thoughts about a game just after I finish it, coming back later when it has stewed in my mind for awhile. Maybe I'll follow up on things I missed and complain about any story braking fridge logic at that time. For now, I'll just talk about a few things that stuck out to me.

Today's game is Crono Trigger, the first JRPG I have played through from beginning to end. I usually don't like JPRG's, but I liked this one a lot. I set a high bar for if a game was worth my time in retrospective or not, and this game effortlessly sailed over it with plenty of room to spare.

What do the following three games have in common: Deus Ex:Human Revolution, Mass Effect 3, and Crysis 2? All are games I played in the last few years, the last combat and or story bits of which disappointed me. It seems to be all too common a practice for game endings to be rushed, unsatisfying, and inconsistent with the style, story, difficulty curve, and quality of the rest of the game these days. Crono Trigger however, was the first game I played in awhile that had a fully satisfying ending that was every bit as epic and engaging as the rest of the game.

Crono Trigger also pulled off an amazing feat that only a game can: making the ending, happy or sad, melancholy because you have to leave the universe and characters you have become attached to. The excellent characterization and narrative throughout the game helps the player to "get to know" the characters in a way. This is accomplished in a way no other medium can, because you actually get to interact with these characters and spend time watching them respond to your actions.

So the story, characters, universes(yes, plural,) in this game were well prepared and executed. The choice in this game was not as impressive. While It was still ahead of what can pass for choice to day, it was still quite flawed. There is so little clarity as to when what you do will matter or how that even a serious roleplayer will not be able to maintain a full set of plot effecting choices that reflects them without consulting a walkthrough.

The combat is obviously not kinaesthetically appealing. Don't forgive me, but I don't know why an RPG with engaging combat mechanics must be considered a separate genre like "Action RPG." That aside, Crono Trigger uses an Active Time Battle System. It adds an element of dexterity and requires analysis of how long cycling through what menus will take. It also requires the player to plan and adapt strategies quickly. I like this, but obviously not as much as real action mechanics. Still, it works, and I really didn't come to this game for the combat. I came for the story, universe, atmosphere, and characters.

That's about all that comes to the top of my head except for one little note. The music in this game is awesome. It goes with the parts it is played in, but is still gorgeous by itself. As an aspiring music producer, I had it on my list of OST's to listen to. I'm glad I held off until I could hear it in the game, because it's even better when it's working with the game.

In conclusion, this game has pretty much earned it's place on my list of best games of all time. It is a triumph of art and entertainment.


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