Chrono Trigger: Hug a tree, why don’t you?

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1995’s Chrono Trigger. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

Here’s the weird thing — with Crono resurrected, we’re actually at the point where we’ll hit endgame. Yup, we can actually go ahead and fight the final boss and end things. But what makes Chrono Trigger special is that there’s always a choice, even at the end: a choice when to do it and a choice of three different ways to even get to Lavos. So I’m electing to postpone the final fight and instead do something I’ve never done when playing this game: do the side quests.

Now the “side quests” aren’t what we think of in MMO terms, which would be trivial tasks with little to no narrative. Chrono Trigger’s side quests are optional story missions that wrap up the tales of various characters and flesh out the world, and they can only be done (for the most part) when you hit this point toward the end of the game. The quests not only give experience and story but also some good rewards to make the final battle easier.

The first quest, Sunken Desert, actually was triggered back in 12,000 BC when Crono urged a caretaker to keep a sapling alive instead of kill it on the queen’s orders. Flash-forward to 600 AD and Fiona has that weird tree in her house and wants to use to it to replant a forest that was scorched by the war with Magus. The only problem? The planting spot is overrun by monsters and one big guy chomping on the trees.

Despite a shifting floor and tougher-than-normal monsters, it wasn’t too difficult of a dungeon as the part is level 40 and pretty well-equipped.

Girl, please! I have a TIME MACHINE, I saved the doc by traveling back a mere ten minutes before he was shot to tell him to, I dunno, duck or something. I can plant your forest anywhen I wish!

Oh, I guess we’re going a different path, then! Robo agrees to toil the fields for the next 400 years to make Fiona’s dream of a forest a reality. The Crono Crew then jump to 1000 AD to see how it fared…

Houston, we have a forest! This definitely looks a lot better than the desert, and as a plus, now Fiona has a shrine in memory to her. You know, the person who did not fight the big scary monster or work the field for 400 years for free. That deserves a shrine, don’t you think?

Poor Robo’s been waiting in a deactivated state for a long while now. He’s glad to see everyone and suggests a wild, off-the-hook party to end all parties!

It turns out that Robo’s idea of a party is pretty lame, to be honest, but at least it gave us this iconic scene from Chrono Trigger. I actually have this hanging, framed, by my office desk. It’s such a gorgeous piece of pixel art. During the evening, Robo suggests that it wasn’t Lavos that created the time gates, but rather some other entity that wanted the Crono Crew to observe and intervene in the events over time.

In the middle of the night, Lucca awakes and discovers that there’s another time gate nearby. Without a word, she steps through it and into a very familiar place indeed.

Through the portal is Lucca’s house, back when she was a little girl. It’s the day when her mother got her skirt caught in a machine and ended up losing the use of her legs. Only this time, adult Lucca is able to turn off the machine in time and save her mother, thus changing the present for the better!

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