MrCHUP0N / Member

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Buying 99 Hi-Ethers without batting an eyelash (or completing Chrono Trigger DS)

CHRONO SPOILARS. You've been forewarned.

Back in 1995 when I was a wee one (ok, back when I was 14) and I owned the SNES copy of Chrono Trigger, I did the laziest end-game and beat it (I think) never having beaten the Son of Sun or pouring Toma's Pop (or, Toma's Spirits in the DS version) over Toma's grave. (I found the Giant's Claw anyway, but still.) I used the Epoch to crash through the outer Lavos shell.

I didn't go through the Black Omen.

I didn't kill Zeal.

I didn't fight the outer shell.

In fact I don't remember whether or not I even completed Robo's sidequest (Mother Brain et al).

It was a lazy, "meh!" end-game, and I don't even remember whether or not I actually killed Lavos.

Over half a lifetime later (cripes, I can't believe I'm dirty 30), I've put around 30 or so hours into the DS version of Chrono Trigger, beaten every sidequest, done the extra content, and accumulated enough gold to stockpile 99 Hi-Ethers without even flinching. (If you've never played a Square RPG before, just know that Ethers--which replenish Magic Points as opposed to health--are somewhat notoriously expensive for their return on investment and so retrieving them from chests or being able to buy them casually is quite a treat).

It feels really good to finally revisit and fully complete one of the more memorable classic games of my youth. Not discovering everything (or at least almost everything) left a gap in my gaming experience, though this isn't necessarily because I obsessively love Chrono Trigger as much as most people seem to (I don't) or because I'm a completionist (I'm not). Actually, it's mostly because it represents a certain mindset from a bygone era of my gaming life--a mindset I rarely adopt these days. I'm talking about the drive to accomplish every meaningful task in an adventure. (Key word: meaningful. I don't mean collect every agility orb or feather or unlock every Achievement, for instance.)

Between the ages of 12 and 14, I tried to explore as much of the few Square RPGs I got my hands on, including Final Fantasy Legend (SaGa), Final Fantasy Legend II (SaGa 2), Final Fantasy II (IV) and Final Fantasy III (VI). Chrono Trigger never got on this list of "I got everything!"

But now it has. And that brings me to the DS version of Chrono Trigger's extra content:It's not very good.

In a nutshell, it's an alternate dimension or hidden village or whatever you want to call it that is accessible in both Prehistory and The Middle Ages. It's a little cave where some straggling Reptites are hiding in fear. Their village branches out to several different areas, and once you defeat the monsters in the outskirts, the Reptites come out of hiding, pretty much worship you, and ask you to do a bunch of things for them. Some of them involve jumping back and forth between eras.

The rewards you reap from the sidequests you go on in this extra content are certainly worthy of owning. Heaps of gold, special armor and accessories that boost multiple stats, the satisfaction of befriending the Reptites (especially after Chrono Cross affirms that human kind truly is the scourge of the Earth)? Great, of course. No question.

However, the design of the areas smacks of laziness. There's certainly a lot to do from a quantitative standpoint... but it almost entirely involves going back and forth between the different areas (woods, glade, cave, mountains) and the village between the two time periods and... fetching stuff. "Get me a golden hammer." "Get me this special tribal crest." "Get me food." "Find me bridge-building materials." "Go get a sturdy vine." And the actual design of the areas you traverse can almost be summarized as layer after layer of S-curves strung together: Whether up or down, or side to side, the majority of the level design has you winding back and forth from one side of the map to the other constantly. The final sidequest to complete this extra content involves you climbing up a tower that recalls Cloud's journey up the Shinra building if you decided to take the stairs (i.e. just up, some stairs, around, up more stairs, around...).

I'm not actually complaining, really; it's great Square tried to throw in some extra meat onto those soon-to-be 20 year-old bones, and frankly, the game would still be a classic experience without it. But from a critical standpoint, one can't help what wonder if players should be satisfied with slapdash extra content. Not that I'm advocating that we should feel this immense sense of entitlement--heavens no. But would it have been better if Square decided to just let the game be? Does throwing together something that seems completely lazy tarnish the experience, even if it is optional?

The silver lining to having spent 5 extra hours of my life on what was otherwise an exercise in boredom: Almost everyone's maxed out at 999/99, and like a PIMP (...pronounced "PI-yump"for those who don't know... word up), I was able to buy those stupid Hi-Ethers.

So there's that.

Wait--what is it that I used to say here again? Oh, right: Chrono Trigger DS beateded.