By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

America - Front

America - Back

Review Scores

VGChartz Score



Alternative Names



Square Enix



Other Versions


Release Dates

11/25/08 Square Enix
11/20/08 Square Enix
02/06/09 Square Enix

Community Stats

Owners: 418
Favorite: 54
Tracked: 6
Wishlist: 20
Now Playing: 17

Avg Community Rating:


Review: Chrono Trigger

By DKII 19th Mar 2009 | 5,078 views 

The SNES classic makes an appearance on the DS. Does it stand the test of "time"?

Chrono Trigger DS is the latest effort in Square Enix's seeming ambition to port or recreate every RPG it made on the Super NES to the Nintendo DS. Released originally in 1995 on the SNES, and later again in 1999 on the Playstation, Chrono Trigger is now over 13 years old, and while it's showing its age a bit in this DS version, it's still a quality RPG, particularly for those who have yet to experience it.

The story here is largely unchanged, though the translation has been updated to more closely match the original Japanese text. In a nutshell, the plot starts off with spiky-haired protagonist Crono bumping into runaway princess Marle at a fair, where they both try out the teleporter created by Crono's friend Lucca. Simply put, something goes wrong that sends Marle 400 years into the past, setting off a chain of events in which Crono and company must save the future from destruction at the hands of a giant lava porcupine named Lavos. While there are a fair number of cliches employed - and to be fair, some of them were actually original back in 1995 - the story is really one of the highlights of the game, as it will continuously draw you into the game world and make you care about the many characters. Plus, it's all about time travel, which is always cool. The main gripe with the story is that, especially for a game about time travel, the plot is extremely linear. There's a neat point early on in the game where it will show you the little actions you've taken so far and effectively judge you based on what you've done, but the outcomes are nearly identical either way, and this system is pretty much ignored again for the rest of the game - a wasted opportunity.

The battle system is a bit of a departure from the typical turn-based-RPG fare. Instead of random encounters that appear out of nowhere, you'll get drawn into "surprise" encounters triggered by passing over certain points on the map, or coming into contact with enemies that are already visible. It can still get a little annoying to always be interrupted at the same point when you're trying to get somewhere quickly, but this system is still far and away superior to the hassle of endless random battles with enemies that pose no challenge. Traveling on the overworld map is also a breeze, as no battles at all will occur there. The difficulty of the boss battles is balanced well enough that you will rarely need to do any "grinding" to build up experience, but should you choose to do so you still have that ability as most normal encounters in an area will reset after you leave it.

Once you're drawn into combat your party and the enemies will scatter across the screen in a semi-random fashion, but you stay on the same screen - there's no drawn-out special battle screen here. The enemies will move around a bit during the battle, and since some of your abilities -- called Techs in the game - have a limited range and area of effect, these movements can actually matter. As in most RPGs, your normal everyday encounters can be cleared by simply spamming the attack button. Some areas of the game will have enemies that can only be defeated by using magic, but these are the exception rather than the rule. Boss battles will usually require a bit more thought and strategy, as they'll typically dish out a lot of damage, and you'll want to use your Techs to keep your own health up while putting up big damage numbers of your own. Your party members can also combine their Techs into Double and Triple Techs with varying effects, and the result is typically more powerful than either individual Tech combined. The different combinations also force the player to put some additional thought into which three of the eventual six or seven characters get put into the party. Since your characters gain experience even when not in the active party, you're not pressured to constantly rotate them in and out of your group - though you'll still need to use them occasionally to unlock their Techs, and certain points in the story will require certain characters.

Overall the battle system in Chrono Trigger has a fresh feel, and while the combo-Techs add more depth than was usually seen in the 90's, the combat system is a bit simple by today's standards. The only other drawback to note is that while the Tech animations are pretty to look at, they can take a long time to execute on the screen, interrupting the flow of the game and hurting the immersion factor - particularly when you're facing a half-dozen enemies, each spamming the same ability.

The visual and audio aspects of the presentation are almost direct conversions of the Playstation port. You have mostly SNES-style graphics in the game, and while the art style is still attractive today, the technical aspect is pretty rough, even for the DS. The animated cut scenes included in the Playstation port are in the DS port as well, and whilst these look very nice, they come off as a little out of place, since after watching each cut scene unfold you'll be taken right back to watching the same events unfold again in-game. The soundtrack was one of the best back on the SNES and is still excellent today, and one of the enhancements included in the Playstation port that is still intact on the DS is the ability to listen to any soundtrack in the game within the Extras menu (though, sadly, not while playing).

The interface is mostly menu-driven, as was the case for most SNES-era RPGs. New for the DS is a stylus-driven menu system, where the bottom screen is used for menus while the action plays out on the top screen. This layout is particularly helpful during combat, as the menus would normally be displayed on the top screen, blocking part of the view of the action. Using the stylus itself to navigate is a little bit slower and clumsier than just using the d-pad and buttons, but fortunately you can choose to have the menus on the bottom screen while still using the d-pad to navigate them. Another bonus of the control scheme is you can simply hold the A button during combat to continuously attack (and breeze through some of the easier throwaway surprise battles), rather than having to press the button 20 times per battle.

Regardless of which menu layout you use, you can move around with either the d-pad or the stylus - but again, you'll typically get a better response and more precision from just sticking to the d-pad. There's also a map on the bottom screen when you're not on the world map or in combat, which comes in handy during a couple of the labyrinth-esque areas of the game.

The three main DS-specific features don't really have the same quality level as the rest of the game. First off, the Arena is an overly simple monster battling mini-game, where you send monsters off to train and battle with no direct control over the results. You can win some in-game items to use in story mode, and there's a multiplayer aspect to this mini-game, but it's pretty much a waste of time.

The Lost Sanctum is the first of two DS-unique dungeons, and is unlocked most of the way through the main story once you gain the ability to freely travel about the world map. The story presented here is pretty interesting, and makes use of a number of time travel tricks, but the environments and enemies are mostly re-skinned old assets and the gameplay is a lot weaker than the rest of the game, as you'll spend most of the time running through the same areas over and over again completing fetch quests. The main draws here are the cool bosses and the powerful items that you can find.

The second dungeon unique to the DS game is the Dimensional Vortex, which actually has three parts that are all unlocked after beating the game for the first time. As with the Lost Sanctum, you'll need to have the ability to freely roam the world map to get into the three mini-dungeons, but you don't have to actually get all the way through the game a second time - you can just reload the cleared save file after beating the game once and jump right into it. Each of the three mini-dungeons starts off with a random sequence of previously visited areas followed by a new, larger dungeon area. Completing each mini-dungeon will give one of your party members a stat boost, and there are several (arguably overpowered) items hidden throughout as well. While the story elements for the Dimensional Vortex aren't nearly as strong as for the Lost Sanctum, you will get a few hints that tie in the Chrono Trigger story to Chrono Cross on the Playstation. Once you clear all three of the mini-dungeons, you'll gain access to a new final boss and the DS-unique 13th ending.

No, that's not a typo. Chrono Trigger has 13 different endings that you can see, and while some are throwaways, there are several interesting cut scenes that you can see. The 12 original endings exist because of one of Chrono Trigger's most unique features - you can challenge the final boss at nearly any point in the storyline. Obviously on your first play through the game, your party probably won't be powerful enough to defeat the final boss before you reach the end of the story anyway, but on subsequent plays you can start a new game using your cleared save file and start from the very beginning of the plot, all while keeping your obtained levels and equipment. Depending on when in the storyline you beat the final boss (and which events in the timeline you have messed up or fixed), you'll see one of 12 different endings. Since you can reload the cleared save file and continue playing where you left off, you can actually get the other 11 endings in a single subsequent playthrough, so getting all 13 endings is not as tedious a process as you might think - though beating the final boss is a bit of a drawn-out process that can get pretty boring after a few times.

Completing the game the first time will take you just over 25 hours if you complete all of the side quests, which I highly recommend doing. While there's only a handful of side quests besides the DS-unique content already mentioned, each one adds a lot of story and background to the mythos and arguably make better use of the time travel concept than the main story, all while typically giving your party a lot of experience and high-level equipment as well. A subsequent playthrough to see all of the endings will take another five to ten hours. The total playtime doesn't really hold up to some other RPGs on the DS, but Chrono Trigger is blissfully devoid of filler, grinding, and other typical time wasters, so the value is still pretty high.

While the new content probably isn't enough to entice people who have already played and own the game on another system, Chrono Trigger DS is by itself an excellent game that is held back only by a few dated aspects. With the DS-unique teasers to Chrono Cross, we can only hope that Square Enix plans to continue to explore the Chrono universe in the future... or the past.

VGChartz Verdict


Read more about our Review Methodology here

Shipping Total

1,100,000 Units
As of: December 31st, 2017

Opinion (126)

SlayerRondo posted 03/03/2015, 03:36
Considering how little effort they put into porting the game these are great sales.
Message | Report
gustavohenrique posted 02/01/2012, 08:03
i'm playing this game for the first time, LOL
Message | Report
MrT-Tar posted 30/06/2011, 02:06
love this game, this was the first time it was available here in the U.K
Message | Report
Vertigo-X posted 26/03/2011, 01:42
@hoodlum86: Not to be the spoil-sport here, but somehow those sprites won't make very good 3D.
Message | Report
theARTIST0017 posted 09/03/2011, 06:17
holy crap thats good. 1+ mill and the series is still being mistreated. how many tests must SE take?
Message | Report
Reconnection posted 20/12/2010, 11:43
Wow that's insane. 1 mil. for a remake of an old SNES game on a system rampant with piracy. Congatulations, SE.
Message | Report
View all