[GameCareerGuide here presents the third in a series of narrative reviews written for a contest supported by GDC Austin in association with the IGDA Writers' SIG. The goal is twofold: to encourage students to look at game narrative and writing with the intensity and depth that they do other aspects of game development, and to reward the students who excel at game narrative analysis. To read the first entry, and an in-depth explanation of the contest, click here.]
Game Title: Chrono Trigger
Platform: Super NES (re-released on PlayStation [Final Fantasy Chronicles] and Nintendo DS)
Release Date: 1995
Publisher: Square Soft
Game Writer/Creative Director/Narrative Designer: Masato Kato (writer)
After an accident at the Millennial Fair sends a young girl he just met into the past, Crono must travel across time to repair the timeline and eventually stop the destruction of Earth by an ancient planetary parasite known as Lavos.
Along the way, Crono teams up with people from across time including a noble knight who was turned into a frog, a sentient robot from the future, and a powerful warrior woman from the Mesozoic era. Crono and company unravel the mystery behind Lavos and its origins, discover the secrets of magic, and change the world in every time period they visit before finally confronting Lavos and preventing its global destruction.
Crono - A young man from the village of Truce in 1000 AD. Crono carries a katana, sports an outrageous spiky hairdo, and despite never saying a word, displays an intense loyalty to his friends and a seemingly endless amount of courage.
Lavos - An ancient planetary parasite that struck the Earth some 65 million years ago. Lavos slowly absorbs the planet's energy and manipulates people and events throughout time. Without Crono's intervention, Lavos surfaces and destroys nearly all life on the planet in the year 1999 in order to prepare its "children" for their eventual departure to continue the cycle on other planets.
Magus (aka Janus) - Magus is first seen in the year 600AD leading an army of Mystics (Fiends in the DS version) against the Guardia Kingdom. The Crono team believes he created Lavos during this time and go back to stop him. However, there is more to this villain than meets the eye. Magus is actually the young prince from the Kingdom of Zeal in 12,000 BC. Then known as Janus, he was a silent, stand-offish child until his mother's attempt to summon and control Lavos went horribly awry, sending Janus along with several others to different times and destroying Zeal.
Janus wound up in the Guardia Kingdom in about the year 580. He was discovered by Ozzie of the Mystics, took the alias Magus, and eventually became king of the Mystics. Magus used his position to establish a seat of power and eventually tried to exact his revenge on Lavos by summoning the parasite and defeating it within the heart of his castle. However, he only succeeds in reawakening Lavos and expediting its eventual attack on the planet. Magus turns out to be less of a villain and more of a misguided and misunderstood tragic figure. Ultimately wants the same thing Crono and co. want -- the destruction of Lavos -- and eventually offers to join the Crono team.
Marle - A tomboyish young woman whose real name is Princess Nadia, Marle is the heir to the throne of Guardia and hates being constantly looked after and doted upon. She throws out her royal dress, adopts clothing more akin to a gypsy, and sneaks out to visit the Millenial Faire where she literally bumps into Crono and joins him in his quest. Marle, despite her coddled upbringing, approaches challenges head-on.
Lucca - The genius inventor friend of Crono, Lucca created the Telepod device that launched Marle back in time and sparked the beginning of Crono and co.'s quest across time. Lucca's genius comes in handy often throughout the game, including creating the "Gate Key" which makes repeated use of the time gates possible, and repairing Robo when they first meet him (as well as several times after that). Lucca wields a gun (the first of which is self-made) as well as fire-magic in combat. Lucca's technical mastery stems largely from an event several years before to the game's beginning in which her mother's legs were crippled by one of the machines Lucca and Taban (her father) were working on. Lucca devoted her life to science in the hopes that she could find a way to undo the damage she feels she caused to her mother's legs.
Frog - A Knight of Guardia in the year 600, Frog is strong, noble, and intensely loyal to the royal family. He is also a four-foot-tall talking frog. However, this was not always the case. His real name is Glenn, and used to be a squire under a legendary knight named Cyrus. During their search for the Masamune, a sword said to hold the power to defeat the evil wizard Magus (Magus had been stirring up trouble for a while now). However, Magus beat Cyrus and Glenn to the Masamune's resting place, killed Cyrus, and turned Glenn into a frog as a sort of cruel joke. Glenn joins Crono's team on their quest when Crono produces the newly reforged Masamune and offers to help defeat Magus.
Robo - Robo, serial number R66-Y and originally known as Prometheus, was created in the year 1999, shortly before the Day of Lavos. Crono, Marle, and Lucca discover him in the year 2300 as a rusted hulk inside one of the decimated domes that scatter that future's bleak landscape. Lucca repairs Robo, who joins the team both in thanks for the repairs as well as to help them in their quest to prevent the cataclysm that destroyed his world. Robo is almost painfully polite, and quickly connects with Lucca for obvious reasons. He eventually becomes fascinated by nature and seeks to protect and cultivate it, largely due to living in a time where life had been nearly obliterated.
Ayla - The brash, headstrong chief of the Ioka tribe in 65,000,000 BC, Ayla fights with reckless abandon. A typical Cavewoman, Ayla refers to herself and others in third person, and speaks in short bursts, omitting any word that isn't a noun, verb, or direct adjective. However, Ayla is far from stupid and is definitely pure of heart. Ayla joins the Crono team first when they come looking for the Dreamstone, then permanently when the Crono team fights Azala.