When I originally conceived this topic, I thought that it would be a simple matter, one of saying how great a series Chrono Trigger is and how it deserves another sequel full of love and care. And it does. If there is any RPG series that I would sell a kidney in order to play the next game in it, that series is Chrono Trigger. Why? Seriously, have you never played the original?
Chrono Trigger is the definitive JRPG experience. It encapsulates everything good about the genre—brilliant story, relatable characters, beautiful art, fantastic battle system—and it does so without falling into some of the common traps of the genre (difficulty spikes, level grinding, hackneyed characters). It’s not the perfect video game, but it is as close as I think I will ever experience. Yes, it is that good.
And, no, this is not an opinion formed because Chrono Trigger was my first RPG. My first RPG was probably Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. It’s not even my first Square RPG (ignoring the fact that Mario RPG was worked on by Square and Nintendo jointly); that honor would have to go to Final Fantasy II… er… IV. I discovered the game while in college, thanks to a friend who saw me sojourning through the aforementioned game (which was my favorite RPG at the time) and told me there was an even better one. I thought there was no way that that could be, but Chrono Trigger won me over within the first hour of playing it.
So such an awesome game deserves a sequel, right? It got one in 2000… one that I have never played thanks to my lack of Sony-made consoles. But the overwhelming response was that while an enjoyable RPG, Chrono Cross was different, for better or worse, from its 16-bit predecessor. So why has Square Enix left the series alone for so long?
Well, there are any number of reasons. Maybe it’s because it would be too difficult to get the “Dream Team” back together to work on a new game, though the merger of Square and Enix kind of debunks that theory. Maybe it’s because the original staff is not interested in making a continuation of the series. Even that hypothesis has problems, though, as there have been rumors and trademarks for “Chrono Break” and “Chrono Brake” since just after Chrono Cross released, and key members openly expressed their interest in continuing the series. No, my personal theory is that Square Enix is just not a brave enough company to pull it off anymore.
Before you cry foul here, I’m not saying that Square Enix never takes risks. The World Ends With You was a stellar example of the company trying something new that paid off, but in general, the company seems to feel better re-releasing its back-catalogue of games for full price on the most current consoles. How many times have the Final Fantasy games been re-released on GBA and DS alone, not to mention talk of a 3DS remake of Final Fantasy VI? But there has been something missing from the company since the 16-bit days: a willingness to put it all on the line.
It’s time to wake up, Square Enix! You’ve always done best when you treated every game like it would be your last. Instead of giving us increasingly linear gaming with pretty polygons, give us something that feels like the games of old. If you don’t wake up, we’ll never experience your greatness, but just like Crono, you have to choose to do so.