If you were a gamer in the 90s, there was a good chance you either owned or had played a Super Nintendo. While the debate still rages on about whether that machine or the Sega Genesis was superior, it can be safely stated that the SNES had some amazing role-playing titles.
Chief among these was Chrono Trigger, a game by a group of developers so storied that they were labeled a "Dream Team." The game was one of many titles (Final Fantasy VI, Earthbound, Super Mario RPG) that helped further the genre and leave a lasting impression on gaming as a whole. Cartridges became as valuable as gold until the era of digital distribution made it easier to get a copy - and now, on the Google Play store, you can pick up Chrono Trigger for your tablet or phone.
My first experience with Chrono Trigger was an emulator on a terrible, terrible computer. While that PC couldn't do much in the way of modern titles, these emulated, older ones ran well enough that I could play some of the games I had only read about in Nintendo Power magazine.
Chrono Trigger was one of those games, and it was simply magical. So much can be said about the quality of story, sound, controls, and depth that it's almost not worth stating in this review: if the game wasn't good, there wouldn't be multiple ports of it. This port is a copy of the 2010 version that was released for the Nintendo DS, which came with an extra dungeon, items, and cutscenes.
It remains a faithful adaptation, even if the controls have been modified for a touch environment. This sets it apart from, say, running Chrono Trigger less-than-legally on an Android SNES Emulator. The menus are optimized for touch controls, and the presence of an on-screen joystick keeps the things manageable - with an emulator you'll often find the on-screen d-pad does not handle diagonal movements (or simultaneous presses) well. You'll find none of those problems here.
Instead, you'll have to spend some time getting used to some other quibbles. Specifically, the joystick appears wherever you press on-screen; while this is great for left-handed gamers, it poses a problem when that joystick is created too close to the edge of the screen. Trying to trigger a "run" command and not being able to move the joystick far enough away from its center point is frustrating.
There's also an issue when it comes to targeting individual monsters. Since time is of the essence (curse you, Active Battle System!) it's a bit annoying to have enemies wail on you while you try to hit the tiny "switch targets" button. Throw in a boss that heals everything the moment you attack the wrong body part, and you'll be frustrated more than once.
So Why Play It On Android?
To be frank, for those of you wondering why you should shell out ten bucks for this game, there are a couple things you need to wrap your head around:
- The game's optimization for touch screens eliminates a lot of the hassle that you would face trying to fake it with an emulator.
- Because of the that, you're inclined to play it for a longer period of time. When an average playthrough can easily eclipse 30 hours, this is important.
- The game's adaptation is flawless, and the only major loading issues come at major story intersections - you'll need to download a portion of the game every time, but it saves you from a huge extra file at the beginning.
- On a Nexus 7, the game doesn't fill up the whole screen (see my screenshots), but it remains visually appealing and doesn't abuse the sprites. The game looks just as beautiful.
- Ten dollars for a game that used to be $60 (or more, if you were hunting down a cartridge) is chump change. If you are an RPG fan, Chrono Trigger is one of the best experiences you can treat yourself to.
Quite frankly, this is the first port of a prior hit that I've actually wanted to play for an extended period of time. Besides the odd targeting issue, I'm not thinking "well, why don't I connect my Xbox 360 controller to an emulator and play this with real buttons?"; instead, I'm actually enjoying myself, whipping my tablet out to beat a boss over lunch at work, or enjoying the game's awesome soundtrack while I wait for dinner to cook.
It's one of the best games of all time in a convenient form with all the things that made it great intact. I'm not sure you can get better than that.