Chrono Trigger: Showdown with a space tick

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

So here’s the thing: At this point, I’ve pretty much beaten most of Chrono Trigger, including the side quests — all except the Black Omen. The Black Omen is the big final dungeon of the game, and because CT does things differently than most JRPGs, it’s completely optional. We can go right to the end boss without doing it, and since the Black Omen doesn’t have much to offer in terms of storytelling, I’m not that interested in it.

And so the Crono Crew assembles at the End of Time for the great showdown with the space tick. I’m going with Ayla, Crono, and Frog for my boss-fighting party, all equipped with the very best gear that I can get them. No status ailments for me!

It’s to the final era of the game that they go: 1999 AD, the Day of Lavos. The giant tick erupts from the ground and a boss fight to end all boss fights begins! With all the gear, it’s not tough, just tedious.

After two forms, the crew chops Lavos’ head off and… hey, we won! Woohoo! We are the champions… of the woooooorld! Or, you know, not so much because the REAL boss is right behind the curtain. Inside the shell.

Inside the shell is, naturally, a giant robot. This *is* a JRPG, after all. Japanese game developers can’t help but put giant robots in everywhere, even if they don’t make sense.

Also — and this is just common sense, really — Lavos-the-robot shoots laser beams from its nipples. C’mon, we learned all of this in elementary science class, do we really need a refresher course on basic space-born parasitic biology and defense mechanisms?

As if I even needed to expend the effort to explain, Lavos’ final form is… a dorky alien in a spacesuit. That was hiding in a giant robot. That was in a giant space tick. This is the thing that destroys the world? I feel I can destroy him with the power of shame alone.

Once Lavos falls for good, the screen fades to black.. and then fades back in on Crono doing what he does best — waking up in his comfy bed. Only this time, instead of his mother, it’s a soldier telling him that his stay of execution is over. It’s time to face the music. DUM DUM DUMMM.

Aha, it turns out to be a clever ruse by Lucca to throw Crono a “congrats for saving the world” party. She’s wrangled in some of the figures from each of the epochs to say thank you for the Crono Crew’s efforts. So it’s off to the fair for the very last night…

…and a moonlight parade! I can’t help it, I’m smiling. It’s so dang cheery and a great way to bookend the game, going right back to the start of it all.

Unfortunately, with the world saved and all, the time gates are growing weaker and everyone has to say goodbye before returning to their own eras. My favorite part is when Marle, the princess, finally kisses Frog. And I’m totally not sniffing back manly tears when Lucca has to part with Robo, her best friend.

It looks like the adventures are over… and then Crono’s cat runs into the time gate, chased by his mom. Guess they need to go on another rescue!

And with that, the end credits to Chrono Trigger scroll as the Epoch flies across the different eras. It’s seriously a beautiful ending.

…and just the first of several endings, thanks to Chrono Trigger’s New Game+ mode. By beating Lavos at different points in the game in this mode, you’ll trigger a variety of endings. I don’t have time to do this, obviously, but YouTube has them all and the combined run times of just the endings is something like an hour-and-a-half.

Anyway, that’s it for this playthrough! Thank you for going on a journey with me through my favorite RPG of all time. I hope you enjoyed it as I did.

Chrono Trigger: The rainbow shell connection

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

At various locations in 600 AD, the Crono Crew kept bumping into this “legendary explorer” named Toma who was trying to find some sort of rainbow shell. If it has all the colors, it must be the best thing ever — or so goes Final Fantasy Logic. But Toma apparently died on his adventures, and in 1000 AD his ghost is hanging around to give clues for the trio to finish his great journey.

Toma’s directions takes the crew to an island, where a weird discovery is made: Apparently this place is the old Tyranno Lair from 65 million BC that (somehow) survived. I thought it blew up. More the fool me.

Then again, more fool the developers, because they obviously didn’t think this through. Not only would no structure be left standing from 65 million years of decay and erosion, but the whole place is still lit and populated by dinos just… waiting for someone to fight them. Waiting for 65 million years. I honestly felt *bad* for them.

Too heavy to lift, the rainbow shell is left in the possession of King Guardia in 600 AD for “future generations” to enjoy.

Apparently, those future generations misplaced the rainbow shell, getting Marle’s dad — the current king — into deep trouble. That no-good chancellor is throwing another trial, this time to frame the king for getting rid of this heirloom. The Crono Crew races to find the shell in the castle and prove that the king is innocent.

Indeed, the shell is found in the basement. Square did a great job with the pacing of this quest, cutting back and forth between the trial upstairs and the frantic (if easy-as-anything) race in the basement.

The way to the trial room blocked, Marle takes an unorthodox approach and smashes her way in through the gorgeous stained glass window.

Turns out that, yup, it was definitely a frame-up. The chancellor was a descendant of the fake chancellor from 600 AD and out for some old fashioned revenge. This goes about as well for him as it did for his ancestor the first time.

After the battle and the king’s exoneration, there’s a really touching reunion between father and daughter. Marle apologizes for going off half-cocked on adventures and the king shares his wife’s final dying words and gives Marle permission to continue traveling with the Crono Crew. All in all, it’s one of the better (and easier!) quests in the late game, and a great way to tie a bow on some of the story threads early on in Chrono Trigger.

Chrono Trigger: Mother Brain will get you, my pretties!

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

Next up on the side quest journey is a trip to 2300 AD — and a visit to Geno Dome. This looks to be touching on the backstory of Robo, whose real name is Prometheus? I guess? At least we know scifi naming conventions are intact if the computer calls humans “fleshlings.”

Geno Dome is another one of those futuristic factories, although with much tougher robots than the Crono Crew encountered in the past. And apparently one of them has a little dolly. That’s adorable. It’s also a much trickier dungeon to navigate, with doors that have to be charged and conveyor belts to be reversed. I’m not sure we’re up to the challenge.

“How will players ever be able to figure out if this is a girl robot?” “Quick, paint her pink and put a bow on her even though that makes no sense in a futuristic factory run by machines!”

Atropos — the girl robot — says that “Prometheus” here was given a special mission to live with humans and study them. And apparently do mass gardening over 400 years, don’t forget that! After Robo beats her up, she comes to her senses (before shutting down) and says that Mother Brain rewrote her programming to DESTROY ALL HUMANS. Isn’t the way that always is?

So Mother Brain’s thing is that she says the planet will heal if humans are eliminated and the robots take over. Which they might as well, since the only humans left are moping around in domes doing nothing. At least these robots are showing initiative and zest.

And look! The ‘bots are putting humans on a conveyor belt and feeding them into a machine that turns them into little energy pellets. Dang, Chrono Trigger, you got DARK. The little screech when the humans are killed will haunt my dreams tonight.

In an epic showdown, the Crono Crew confronts Mother Brain — not Metroid’s floating brain in a jar, but rather a gorgeous hologram of the computer system. It’s seriously neat.

After a wimpy boss battle, Robo shuts down the factory for good — aww, those poor robots — and gets a couple of nice weapon upgrades for the trouble. No mention is made of any surviving humans in the factory, but we’ll assume that they made it and turned the place into a luxurious spa.

For a flavor refresher, we’re heading to 600 AD to tackled the Spirit of Cyrus side quest. In both 600 and 1000 AD, there’s rumors of ghosts and beasts and something haunting the northern ruins of an island.

To his shock, Frog discovers that the ghost in 1000 AD is that of his former mentor, Cyrus. He’s kind of cranky and sword-swingy at the moment, so there’s nothing to be done for him.

By bringing back some tools from 1000 to 600, the Crono Crew helps a carpenter get back on his feet — and he starts repairing the northern ruins, where Cyrus would take up residence. I love that the game actually makes you PAY the carpenter money to do his work, which, hey, more power to him.

Tucked away in the basement is Cyrus’ grave (for some reason). Not sure why his body got hauled to another continent and dumped down here, but we’ll assume that FedEx really messed up its delivery address.

Cyrus’ ghost pops out of the grave and gives Frog some much-needed closure. With the past lifted off his shoulders, the Masamune is able to be charged up to its full and amazingly awesome strength. We’ve gone Full Frog, people!

Chrono Trigger: A sunny day in Oz

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

The Sun Stone is a side quest that takes full advantage of the time travel format of the game. For starters, there’s this super-annoying boss that drops this depleted sun stone that needs 65 million years (give or take) to recharge. The Crono Crew takes it to prehistory, plugs it into the wall (aka a sun shrine) and waits a while.

But it disappears somewhere along the way — 1000 AD, to be precise. This mayor of a town ends up with it, and initially he’s a right grumpy dude. But a trip back to 600 AD to be nice to his great-great-great-grandmother, and he turns from grumpy to gracious and gives the stone back.

Finally charged up, the Sun Stone is putty in Lucca’s hands, who uses it to make her ultimate weapon, the Wondershot. Nice!

Next up on the side quest list is a trip to Ozzie’s fort, to put a cap on the confrontations that the crew had at Magus’ palace. Ozzie is… not pleased to see the team again. There’s a really funny moment as Ozzie hauls up two guardians to fight for him, the battle music spins up… and then the guardians fall into a pit, causing the battle music to fizzle.

It’s really fun to frustrate Ozzie. Such a loser. I love him.

After boss fight after boss fight, the team finally corners Ozzie — and a little cat saunters in, hits a switch to open the trap door underneath him. That’s the end of Ozzie, but not of the legendary loot that the Crono Crew hauled away from this castle!

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!

Chrono Trigger: A new hope

(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 Crono dead and a world mostly destroyed due to Lavos’ hissy fit, the outlook in 15,000 BC is pretty gloomy. Yet there are survivors — both among the population and in the Crono Crew — and so there is also hope.

Forget it; I spoke too soon. Dalton the Jerk somehow survived as well, and he’s declared himself king over the world. Dalton pulls a “LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!” cheap move, knocks everyone out, and then stashes them on his mighty flying Blackbird plane. King Force One? I’m going to call it that.

Not sure why Dalton didn’t just kill everyone, because now the crew can climb through the vents and go on a murder spree all over the ship. Pew pew, Lucca says, while she disintegrates another baddie.

Meanwhile, Dalton spruces up the stolen Epoch with wings. He gets ready to take off and the game starts playing the Chrono Trigger theme, and there’s a funny bit when Dalton breaks the fourth wall by insisting that the music change to his own frantic boss theme instead.

The long and the short of it is that Dalton gets his butt kicked yet again, and the Crono Crew takes over a new-and-improved Epoch. One that can shoot laser cannons, apparently, as evidenced by the fact that Ayla accidentally blows up the Blackwing.

Down on the world below, Magus is found to be both alive and melancholy. There’s a major choice in the game as to fight him or not, but as I’ve never had Magus join my party, I’m going to decline this time around. There’s an illuminating cutscene in which the fates of the various advisors to the Queen of Zeal are shown after the Lavos incident. A series of time gates pop open and send each one of them to a different period — one to 1000 AD, one to the end of time, and one to 2300 AD. Also, Janus is sent to the middle ages, where he is surrounded by fiends.

This all ties back to Magus, because Magus the fiendlord, you see… is Janus. He’s the little boy who grew up in 600 AD, all while being separated from his sister and vowing vengeance on Lavos. That’s a pretty spectacular twist. And now he’s officially part of the Crono Crew, ready to help us put Lavos down.

The little boy who predicted Crono’s death then hints at the possibility of bringing Crono back. Now, according to stories of the game’s development, Crono’s death was originally intended to be permanent. Players would go back to when he was slightly younger and recruit that version for the rest of the game — and then return him to finish out his timeline and die soon thereafter. That would have been pretty neat, but Chrono Trigger is about to take us in a different direction. This IS a time traveling RPG, after all.

AWW JANUS GOT HIS KITTY BACK SO PRECIOUS

Ahem. As the crew takes off in the Epoch, the Ocean Palace — which I guess survived? — rises above the ocean and a series of vortex swirly things open up in various eras. Nobody knows what this means, so it’s off to the End of Time to figure out how we can get Crono back!

After some crotchety hemming and hawing, the old man at the End of Time — Gaspar — gives the party a time egg to hatch. Guess it’s better to call it a “Chrono Trigger,” because “Time Egg” would’ve been a dumb name for this game.

Back in the present — 1000 AD — the crew has a very awkward conversation with Crono’s mother, who for whatever reason isn’t informed that her son was obliterated by a giant space tick about 16,000 years ago. Huh. Wonder why. At least the team can snag that snazzy Crono doll duplicate that they won from the fair so very long ago!

The long and the short of it is that with the egg, they’re able to travel back to the exact moment of Crono’s death… and in that paused moment, swap out his body for the doll duplicate, which is destroyed instead.

With that, Crono is saved and the team prepares for the final battle against Lavos!

Chrono Trigger: Game over

(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.

Chrono Trigger: Full of Zeal

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

Even as the reptites face their doom, they get the last laugh by summoning (maybe? how?) Lavos from outer space to crash down into the world. Lavos buries itself deep inside, and apparently starts pooping out time gates. Doesn’t make sense to me, Marle, but your explanation is as good as any other.

So from 65,000,000 B.C., our heroes jump through a brand-new gate into the unexplored 12,000 B.C. This is the final era that the game has to offer and is apparently undergoing the ice age that Lavos’ descent triggered a very long time ago.

This is where I’m going to share one of my very few criticisms about this game, which is that 12,000 B.C. — the Kingdom of Zeal — does not fit in with the rest of Chrono Trigger the way the other eras do. Apparently different teams within Square were handed the various eras, and Masato Kato made this one his pet project (which he then expanded into Chrono Cross, for good and bad). So it comes across like another game shoved into the first one, with its own rules and cast of characters and whatnot. It’s not a horrible era, as we’ll explore, but it doesn’t fit in with the history arc the way the others do (very ancient history, medieval history, present time, future history). Anyway, consider my protest lodged, and we shall get back to the playthrough.

This era is divided into two areas: the frozen world below and these lush, magical floating islands above the clouds. Sure, floating islands that weren’t referenced in any other era. Let’s go with it. The inhabitants here say that this is the magic kingdom of Zeal, “where dreams can be made reality.” Disney is obviously about two seconds away from suing this place.

We learn that Queen Zeal has something against the sun and has shut down the sun temple in favor of some other power source. She also has two kids: the magically talented Lady Schala and the broody little Lord Janus.

As an aside, I really love the music for Zeal. It’s a great theme that keeps it bubbly and light.

Everyone here is chatty (if they’re not sleeping) with plenty of backstory about how Queen Zeal made this incredible place of dream-magic. And then a boy comes along to prophecy the death of one of our party members. Thanks for being a buzzkill, dude!

Inside the Zeal palace, the music gets somewhat more ominous. Doesn’t sound as though the queen is a nice lady, so I do what I can to foment rebellion by instructing ladies to grow trees. I’m a rebel!

In the bedchambers, Schala gives Janus what I think is Marle’s pendant — at least, she tells him it’ll keep him safe. It’s apparently made from the same red stone (dreamstone?) as the Mammon Machine. Janus also mentions how the queen isn’t really the queen: “She looks like her, but she’s not the same inside.” He’s a perceptive lad, that one.

Speaking of the Mammon Machine, the Crono Crew uses it to finally power up Marle’s pendant so that it can be used to open all of these mysterious black doors and chests that are tucked around space and time. That’ll come in handy!

The Queen is an utter delight to meet, naturally. Apparently a hooded “prophet” has been advising against us, even though I thought we’d been keeping a pretty low profile in this time period. Alas, this confrontation ends with a golem smackdown and serious jail time.

Fortunately, Schala and Janus decide to break the Crono Crew out against the Queen’s orders, in the hopes that they’ll be able to save Malchior (what, is he in trouble in this time period?).

The bad news is that they’re caught by the prophet. In exchange for Schala’s cooperation with whatever the queen is doing, the prophet spares their lives but forces them back into the time gate and demands that Schala seal it up behind them. For now, at least, the way into this time period is closed.

For now.

Chrono Trigger: Dino rock

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

Magus’ defeat isn’t quite the victory everyone was hoping for. It turns out that Lavos wasn’t, as previously thought, created here by Magus — just that the magician was trying to awaken him. The beast had been dwelling deep inside the planet for aeons, absorbing energy and growing. Like, as we’ll find out, a parasite. Basically, Chrono Trigger is one long game about fighting an intergalactic tick.

At that point, a massive time gate erupts and swallows them all. Crono has this bizarre flashback to the start of the game, only this time it’s Marle who wakes him up. But in actuality, all of them — except for Magus, apparently — have gone back in time to 65,000,000 B.C.

Ayla apparently rescued everyone from Mystic Mountain when they came through. She also wants to eat Frog, and darned it if I am not tempted to let her. I laughed so hard at her line here.

The next morning, the Reptites go on the offensive and burn down a neighboring village. Ayla heads off in hot pursuit to bring the fight to them, and Crono and company are hot on her trail.

Just when you thought this game couldn’t get any more awesome, the Crono Crew mounts up on dactyls to head into the Tyranno Lair for an epic showdown with sentient dinosaurs.

Tyranno Lair is a bit dull, to be honest, although it’s far more advanced — technology-wise — than what we’ve seen from the humans. About the most interesting thing that I did was to grind Ayla up to the point where she could “charm” gifts off of enemies, which comes in useful for boss fights like this one. Gimme them loots!

I think I speak for all of us when I say that it would be amazing if you could change the course of history in this game so that when you came back to the present, everyone would be a dino-version of themselves. Such a wasted opportunity.

Even though the Crono Crew thrash the Reptites well and good, it’s too late — a red star descends from the heavens. It’s revealed that this is what Lavos is: A spiny space tick that’s looking for a good host planet in which to gestate. Pity he had to choose this one.

Chrono Trigger: A boy named Glenn

(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 broken blade, the shattered hilt, and the dreamstone, the pieces are in place to reforge Aragorn’s sword and put him on the throne of Gondor. Er, I mean, to forge the Master Sword for Link to use to defeat Ganon. I’m sorry, no, it’s the Masamune to cheer up a depressed frog. I’m pretty sure it’s all the same story.

Frog is a little startled that the Crono Crew crossed space and time to reforge the Masamune, but even so, he goes, “Ah, yeah, I should probably think about this for a bit. GOOD NIGHT.” And cue cutscene…

Set in the past, the cutscene tells the tale of Cyrus, the head knight of the realm, who goes on a quest to reclaim the Hero’s Badge and see the legendary sword. He takes along his loyal squire, Glenn, and fights all manner of enemies. Naturally, he beats a giant frog creature and gains the badge.

Alas, upon clashing with Magus the Fiendlord, Cyrus’ Masamune breaks and he sacrifices himself to allow Glenn to escape. Glenn, however, tries to face down Magus by himself. In reponse, Magus transforms him into a giant frog… meaning that Frog is not the knight Cyrus, but his squire. At least all of this convinced Frog 10 years later to take up his boss’ sword and attempt to finish the job.

In another cutscene, we see how Cyrus defended Glenn even as young kids and that Glenn, while a great swordsman, struggled with fear during battles. It’s an interesting storytelling technique, to start at the end (a grown-up Frog as knight) and work backwards through time to the beginning of the tale. Appropriate for a time travel game, eh?

Something that’s new to me for this playthrough are the animated sequences, which I think were added for the DS version. They’re well-done, but after seeing a couple of these, I have to say that they feel unnecessary since they just copy when you’re also seeing in-game. I guess I just like my pixels more!

After all of that sword-forging and frog-convincing, the team finally arrives at the front door of Dracula’s the Fiendlord’s castle. Time for an epic showdown of epic epinosity!

The halls of this gothic castle are spookier for the fact that (a) there is no music and (b) no enemies at first. That… quickly changes as ghosts transform into monsters and magicians pop out of the woodwork to challenge our plucky heroes.

About this time, I’m starting to get characters into the level range where their second tier of magic opens up. This is wonderful, as it transforms single-target attacks into room-clearing blasts. That, plus Frog’s ability to heal the whole party in one go, makes combat much more simple (not that it was too hard to begin with).

Finally, finally, the Crono Crew faces off against the Fiendlord himself — Magus. It’s a tough, nail-biting fight, but ultimately the good guys prevail and Magus is cast down (but not killed). A new time gate is opened, and everyone falls through…