August 11, 1995 will be twenty-five years since the North American release of Chrono Trigger for the Super NES. (It was released in Japan on March 11 of that same year.) I got the game for Christmas that year, and it deserves its status as one of the greatest JRPG’s ever made.
Chrono Trigger had two innovations that I greatly appreciated: The “New Game Plus” feature and on-screen enemies that replaced random encounters. Both made the game more fun to play, and the “New Game Plus” encouraged replaying the game to see all of the content.
The enemies on screen was a welcome change. It was often frustrating in other games that you would be hit with random encounters when trying to explore a dungeon. There are certainly unavoidable encounters in Chrono Trigger, but not to the extent of the Final Fantasy series. It was nice to be able to predict when you would enter a fight, especially if you needed to heal ahead of time.
The best thing about the game, of course, was the “new game plus” feature. As I said before, there are many endings that you cannot see unless you defeat Lavos much earlier in the game, and that is impossible with a low-level party. Going through the game a second (or third, etc.) time made that battle winnable. It was also very satisfying to reach a boss that was very difficult on the first play-through and totally annihilate it with an end-of-game party.
I am surprised this series did not continue, other than one follow-up on the PlayStation. (I did not like Chrono Cross, especially the magic system.) Chrono Trigger has been re-released on multiple home consoles, portable consoles, Windows, iOS and Android, but there was never another sequel. Even Chrono Cross was never re-released. Perhaps the 25th anniversary of its release will spur further interest in this classic game, and that interest will finally convince Square-Enix to revive the franchise.