When I write about gaming, it’s also my way of talking about some of the thematic concerns I have in my daily life, personal meditations, philosophical quandaries and more. So in that sense, while I’m talking about gaming, I’m also talking about some of my own personal struggles. In the concluding act of the Chrono Trigger retrospective, I explore death, mortality, and the realization that becomes more and more acute with age- we are running out of time. Unlike Chrono Trigger, there is no time machine to revert matters or even flip mortality on its head. It’s an adage, even a cliche, that we fear death as we get older, while the young never even contemplate it. Even when they do, it’s a different kind of fear. I write about those feelings and player choice in the third piece. Big big thanks to everyone who’s read the whole series and of course, to Tor.com. It’s been popular enough to warrant a new series which is going to come from one of the Final Fantasy games (and which I’ve started playing with Angela). I’ll keep everyone posted. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt with the actual piece on the link below:
It’s a trope that the older we get, the more we fear death. All these years later, Crono’s death during that first confrontation with Lavos still shocks me. Usually, the repercussions of any gaming death are easily fixable with a continue or extra life. He’s the main character. He’s not supposed to die, right? But no, Crono was really dead. For a silent hero, Crono’s actions sang volumes just by his willingness to sacrifice himself without a moment’s hesitation. Even Magus, the arch villain until that point, appears shocked. And if you’re strong enough, you can go fight Lavos again without Crono and beat the game.
Originally, Chrono Trigger writer, Masato Kato, wanted to keep Crono dead. To continue the mission, the party would actually have to recruit a younger version of Crono. But Square deemed it too depressing and requested that the rest of the story be written in a way that he can still be saved. Depending on your perspective, the next sequence was either the most intriguing rescue mission devised, or the cheesiest part of the game. The characters use a time egg to initiate the eponymous “chrono trigger” and save Crono’s life. I really liked it and even if it was a bit deus ex machina, I thought it was a clever use of time travel, though it did make me wonder, if they could freeze time like that, why not also kill Lavos in the process?
It’s after this point that Chrono Trigger essentially becomes open world and open time. You can go anywhere, anywhen, and undertake multiple sidequests. It’s one of my favorite parts of the game because many of the adventures are character-driven segments that reveal more about your party members. I also appreciated how every decision you make impacts the ending and the way the quests play out. If anything, it’s an allegorical representation of time with all its branching pathways.