When I talked with my editors at Tor.com about doing a retrospective of Chrono Trigger, I knew the game had been reviewed and talked about so many times, it would be hard to actually bring something new to the table. They challenged me with three ideas/themes on how to take a fresh approach to the game and I’m so glad they did as it changed the experience for me. The first was how tropes are handled in the game. Obviously, a trope is different from a cliche, and they way the designers tackled tropes was brilliant, something I hadn’t even noticed in my previous playthroughs. From the article itself:
Chrono Trigger is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, JRPG of all time, and for good reason. It’s a unique mix of Dragon Quest’s quirky but epic narrative, Final Fantasy’s character driven journeys, Dragon Ball’s visual aesthetics, Ninja Gaiden’s cinematic flair, and some of the best retro music ever composed.
So it’s surprising that when you break down the plot structure and examine the individual story elements, it’s actually rife with fantasy tropes. The princess disguising herself as a commoner to mingle with the people; the heroic quest undertaken without any consideration of the larger context; and an apocalyptic end of the world scenario these young heroes have to overturn. I realize a trope is different from being trite or cliche. At the same time, the combination of these seemingly overused elements is, strangely enough, part of Chrono Trigger’s brilliance, its almost intangible cohesion that has never been emulated, not even in its underappreciated sequel, Chrono Cross.
Big thanks to my editors, Chris and Bridget. They’re so awesome! And to Angela as well who played through the entire game with me =)