Friday, May 6, 2011

As Promised: What Went Wrong - Chrono Trigger DS Part 1

I would like to state two things at the very forefront here before I get started.  The first being that Chrono Trigger is one of my all-time favorite games, with the second being that said fact might leave me a bit biased to the changes in the DS version.  Might.  I would like to think that my opinions here are based on, well, common sense, but I am all for admitting that that might not be the case.  And I would also like to point out that this post will be heavily spoiler-laden for Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross both by nature, since some of the flaws have to do with the lack of connection between the two games, and Squeenix desperately trying to change that.

It's hard to pick where to start, honestly, as stepping into the mire of the Cross and Trigger mixed story is something akin to....something that I can't quite think of.  It's not pleasant, I assure you, and it's confusing and distracting all at the same time.  Or maybe I'm just bad at analogies.  Regardless, I guess the most important mis-step that Chrono Trigger DS takes is the added story that is supposed to bridge CC and CT together more cohesively, especially since it fails almost categorically.  But the first thing one is likely to notice as different and in a bad way would likely be the new script.

While most of the script changes are harmless at worst, some of the changes seem decidedly bad, and others just disjointed and short-sighted.  The most obvious example is Frog who, in the original, spoke with the only Olde English accent to be found in the game.  While out of place, especially in a setting where that accent would be expected, yet nowhere to be found, you could always chalk it up to the fact that he is cursed to be a walking frogman.  Who knew if it was part of that or not, aside from the cutscenes in the game focusing on Glenn's backstory.

Yet, in the new version of the game, rather than flowering up the entire 600 A.D. script portion, they gave Frog the same accent as everyone else.  Which, alright, it's fine, maybe they just didn't want to do era-specific accents, that's okay.  Except they kept the pre-historic accents.  Not only that, but they made them a touch bit worse, I'd say!  I guess it's a bit of a nit-pick, but like I said, it's a bit short-sighted, and gives the impression that they approached the script in parts, rather than a whole.  Definitely not the choice I would have made, at least.

But likely the most annoying part of the new script would be 600 A.D.-centric as well, if just focused in a different area.  For the unfamiliar, there's a war in the 600 A.D. era between the regular humans and the monsters of the time, lead by Magus, a powerful warlock, and his top three generals, Ozzie, Flea, and Slash.  (No, not making that up.)  Admittedly, the war isn't too focused on, besides a few parts, but there is a rather great section of the game where the party confronts Magus to take him down.  Since that's what the rag-tag band of heroes is wont to do.

While Magus is a fairly uncommon word, it's not that hard to check out what it means and get why he's referred to as such.  Mainly because he is a fucking warlock.  But Squeenix, in their infinite wisdom decided that 'Magus' wasn't a cool enough title for a warmongering, all-powerful wizard and decided to change his title in the remake.  The new title?  'The Fiendlord'.  Which....I guess is explanatory enough in itself as well, and it's not like he's not referred to as Magus at all, but we're entering Saturday Morning Cartoon territory with that, here.  I just can't take anything seriously in any sense when I'm plotting and/or training to take down someone who unironically walks around calling himself 'The Fiendlord'.

The next issue, which is easy enough to address quickly, is the fact that every new gameplay addition is completely and totally arbitrary.  The pictured above is the monster arena where you can train a monster to, I guess, fight other people's monsters.  Of course, you can only set a routine thing once a day, and there's absolutely no joy, no reward, or anything in doing so, unless you have someone constantly around you who is also interested in this incredibly poorly-thought-out mechanic.  I lost interest quite quickly, and can't rightly figure out how one wouldn't, but am prepared to invoke the 'Different strokes' clause on that.

Moreover, that would be the least offensive part of the new additions.  The Lost Sanctum, which is often called "Fetch-Quest Mountain", is exactly what the fan-given moniker would suggest.  I believe the total count of times you have to go up and down the entire mountain, which includes at least five mandatory fights with each up and down set, is twenty-two times.  It's something around there, that's for sure.  And that's if you do everything right the first time.  Which you might not, of course.

The last new area, the Dimensional Vortex, proves to be the most frustrating for myself, even though it's fairly alright in concept and includes nice new equipment that severely trumps everything else you can get in the game, including the ultimate weapons.  (I believe.  Again, this is mostly from what's etched in my brain and won't leave)  Honestly, it would likely be 'fine' if it weren't for the story bits they tried to shoe-horn into CT DS to make that bridge I keep referring to.

But, of course, to explain that, I have to explain a few other things first and make this all complicated.  I'll try to make it as easy as possible, though.  Basically, the premise of Chrono Cross, at least the backstory part of it, and why it's totally a sequel to Chrono Trigger despite not being set in the same world, having a completely different world map, carrying over none of the characters in ways that matter, etc., is that at some point, after Crono and Co. smashed Lavos and stopped the world from being destroyed, someone in Porre, the podunk town at the entire opposite end of the continent Guardia (The sovereign nation of....the world, I guess?), flipped their shit and invaded Guardia.  And won.  Why?  Just because.  Or maybe they had guns or something.  Because of course, the ruling kingdom of the fucking world wouldn't have any or anything like that.  That's sort of the catalyst of why Cross's world is so fucked up and desolate, as far as I can figure.

So, really, you just have to kind of assume it was just someone, since it's not really explained in the original (obviously) or Cross.  Well, Chrono Trigger DS sure fixes that!  Pictured above is Dalton, doubled over in pain after Crono and Co. whooped on him rather simply.  Now, remember when I mentioned Saturday Morning Cartoon villainy?  That's what Dalton is.  Even in the original, regrettably, he just wasn't a good character, and was mostly there for comedy relief, since he only showed up when shit just got real.  Anyways, you ruin his shit every time you come across him, and he essentially chokes on his own stupidity.  His last appearance, for example, has him getting pulled into a portal he himself opened up, sent off to who-knows-where.

So, after you finish the Dimensional Vortex in 1000 A.D. (which is the 'main' era, as it's where the main three characters came from), GUESS WHO WALKS UP.  If you guessed anyone not completely stupid and not put there in the most ham-fisted way ever, you would be incorrect.  Dalton walks up, fuming that Crono and Co. has made his life hell, took him from his own time and dumped him here into a world he doesn't know or understand, and swears vengeance.  Very loudly.  Saying , verbatim, "But don't you dare think this is settled!  Just you wait, Crono!  I'll raise the greatest army the world has ever seen in Porre, and use it to wipe your pitiful little kingdom off the map!"

Now, I have said "Offensively stupid" a few times in this post, and you may have been thinking, "Oh, he's exaggerating for humor, no way it could be that bad".  But let me break this down for you.  Dalton is from 12,000 B.C., which is the time between 600 A.D. and the Prehistoric era, where the effects of Lavos falling to the earth are still quite apparent, and the world had entered an age where the people were split between two places, depending on their magical ability.  Those without suffered in the cold, whereas all those who could use magic got to live in the wonderful, decadent kingdom of Zeal.  Dalton was there, of course, and then he wasn't because he got himself sucked into a black hole.

A black hole that apparently sent him 13,000 years into the future, dumping him in a time where he knew nothing, couldn't know anything, stranding him from everything he knew.  And yet, he managed to not only find out that it was Crono's time, find out the ruling kingdom (which, admittedly isn't that hard), find out Crono's involvement with the ruling kingdom, which wasn't exactly broadcast, travel to Porre, decide he could raise an army there, get back to the site of the Dimensional Vortex area, and wait for Crono and Co. to stumble across it.  And then, when he is defeated, again, we're supposed to believe that he does actually go back to Porre, raise this army, spur them into rebellion, and then win.

If that is not offensively stupid, I don't know what is.

I'll cover more in the next part.  Because yes.  There is more.  The only reason I'm cutting it off here is because next post will likely have to include me airing my complaints about Chrono Cross's ending, especially considering the new ending in Chrono Trigger DS.  Which will take a lot of time to write out and more to re-research and such.

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