A look at all of Chrono Trigger’s endings

chrono

After months of playing Chrono Trigger in little fits, mostly whilst stationary biking, I finally finished up my second full playthrough the other day (the first being done as a teen in 1995). I promised myself that I would wait until I was fully done with the game to both talk about it and examine its multiple endings.

While there are some issues that keep it from being completely polished and perfect in today’s gaming climate, Chrono Trigger is definitely one of the best older console RPGs to revisit and enjoy today. There’s just so much to like about it: The graphics, the personality, the time travel plot, the music, the party combinations (and attacks), the little easter eggs, and the boss battles. I love that this is a game that starts out by easing you into the world by enjoying a festival — and yet uses that festival in numerous ways to advance the plot later on.

I really enjoyed this second playthrough, even though it wasn’t redone for retina graphics and the controls can be fiddly (especially in a few sections). The game was pretty good about keeping my save games over the span of months, and I rarely got lost or confused about where to go next.

My main complaint is that the last third of the game feels a lot less focused and clever as the first two-thirds. The twists and turns and revelations of the front half of the game in particular keep you playing almost nonstop, eager to see what happens next. By the end, I was feeling a lot of “meh,” especially when the game opened up for more sidequests and exploration.

I was kind of surprised to discover that my memories of this being a long RPG couldn’t be further from the truth. I clocked a full playthrough in about 15 hours, which is downright paltry for an RPG. Yet it feels huge, and I suppose one of the greatest things in its favor is the game’s multiple endings.

You see, if you beat the game in a certain way (mainly by going through a long endgame dungeon), you’ll unlock the New Game+ mode. Chrono Trigger was one of the first, if not the first, video game to do something like this. New Game+ allowed you to challenge the final boss Lavos at several junctions, and depending on when you beat him, you’d unlock a different ending. So New Game+ became an awesome way to replay the game, since you could keep interrupting the regular journey for side trips to the end.

I’ve never seen all of the 13 or so endings, and another promise I made to myself is that I’d wait until I beat the game to load the endings video up on YouTube and watch them (I don’t have the time/patience right now to unlock them naturally in the game). It amazes me that all of the endings combined make up an hour of epilogue. That’s pretty cool — and there’s never been a game quite like this (even its sequel, which was good in its own right).

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3 thoughts on “A look at all of Chrono Trigger’s endings

  1. Tesh September 20, 2016 / 1:18 pm

    Chrono Cross improved the visuals and the music, but ‘Trigger is still better overall in my book. Still, with both in my top ten games, that’s a quibble.

    ‘Trigger was the game that really made me itch to be a designer. I had done a bit of homebrew tinkering with Dark Castle on the Mac, but I really dug into ‘Trigger’s design and decisions. It’s a great game that still has relevant lessons to teach modern designers. It’s not perfect, to be sure, but there’s a lot of good there.

  2. Izlain September 20, 2016 / 2:42 pm

    I believe Phantasy Star III was out before Chrono Trigger… either way their the first two games I can recall having multiple endings. In PS3 there were chapters and after each chapter a generation would pass. So you ended up playing different characters during each act, and there was a choice at the end of each, depending on who got with who (and subsequently had children) affected your party makeup, and the different combinations of generational changes would affect the ending. I think I played through it twice, so I still never saw all the endings but it was great for a kid who didn’t have endless income for games.

  3. Nick September 21, 2016 / 9:32 am

    Chrono Trigger is always a curious game for me. I was a HUGE fan of Final Fantasy III/VI, and played through it multiple times. It was a game I adored, and at the same time, was also really big into Secret of Mana… this seems like it was a fusion of the styles of both and should have been a sure hit for me.

    But I never played it. The game came out right as my teenage self started to think about college, had a girlfriend, and was focused more on building my first real gaming PC. I heard about it from friends, who all raved about how good it was.

    Eventually, it moved from the game I was kind of sorry I missed to that one game we all have that we almost proudly claim “I never played it.” I’ll admit that eventually, I did play it, but not until it showed up on iOS a few years ago. Still only put a few hours into the game, which always makes me realize how long ago that game was and how much I’ve changed as a gamer since then.

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