(This is part of my journey going playing through 1995’s Chrono Trigger. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
With the time gate to the Kingdom of Zeal sealed, the Crono Crew has to figure out how to get back to 12,000 BC to save the day and stop Lavos. At least now Crono has a powered-up pendant to open up all those secretive black doors and get tons of bonus loot!
In what I call the Exposition Room(tm), the trio receive entries from Belthasar, a guru from 12,000 BC who got cast into the future here and has been studying Lavos ever since. He also created (and left behind) the amazing Wings of Time:
AWW YEAH CRONO NOW HAS A TIME SHIP WOOOOO
Ahem. So, this is the Epoch, a nifty vehicle that will make the rest of the game a whole lot easier. Not only will it allow for time hopping between eras without a need to go to the End of Time, but it lets the Crew fly all over each planet (although that latter feature isn’t enabled yet). It’s amazing.
With the Epoch, the Crono Crew is able to get back to Antiquity, but unfortunately they’re stuck on the surface of the ice-bound planet with all of its non-magical critters and residents. It’s a lot of leafy caves (geothermal warming?) and rather bland people. Not my favorite area of the game, just no personality to it.
The next stop is to climb up this “Mountain of Woe” which seems to be a bunch of floating isles connected by chains in the middle of weird mist. Honestly, I have no idea what the game is even doing right now, but at least there’s a clear progression forward. As an aside, I love the crazy bug-eyes on this boss. He looks surprised to even be attacking.
The gang rescues the imprisoned Guru of Life (whom the Queen cast down), who turns out to be Melchior himself. You know, the sword-dude who reforged the Masamune in the future. Melchior has no idea who any of the Crono Crew are, as this is (chronologically speaking) the first time they’ve met. He says that the Mammon Machine — which draws its power from the slumbering Lavos — is corrupting the queen’s mind.
So a lot of stuff happens here that I didn’t screenshot. In short, the Mountain of Woe floats away in the sky, Schala and Janus meet the group on the ground to say that the Mammon Machine can’t be activated again now that the Ocean Palace is complete, and Dalton shows up to kidnap Schala to force her to do just that. Guess it’s another rescue party!
Down in the Ocean Palace, the queen and the mysterious prophet force Schala to power up the Mammon Machine. Kind of wonder why she doesn’t refuse. Show some backbone, girl! Everyone here is trying to get immortal, which isn’t that smart when the path to it is messing with the old god space tick that holds your planet together.
The Ocean Palace dungeon wasn’t really that screenshot-worthy to document. It’s more of the “ancient future tech” vibe that runs through this era, and things only get interesting when the crew gets to the Mammon Machine. Crono uses the red knife that Melchior gave him, which then transforms into the Masamune (of the past, not the restored one in the future). Guess we see how it got broke!
The good guys are too late, however, and the bad guys lose control of their own machine. Lavos wakes up early and proceeds to attack. Nothing like trying to tackled the final boss battle in the middle of the game! The long and the short of it is… Crono dies. No, really. Lavos completely kills him. The main character.
If that’s not stunning enough, the prophet is revealed to be… Magus, who has a long-standing beef with Lavos. He can’t do any damage to the creature, however, and the best that the survivors can do at this point is to flee the now-destructing Ocean Palace.
Lavos’ (partial?) awakening results in another worldwide apocalypse. The floating Kingdom of Zeal is blasted to bits and falls, while the surface endures mighty tidal waves. Melchior drags Janus through a gate, and the Epoch, the pendant, and the survivors wash up on the only remaining untouched island in the world.
And that’s it. Game over.