I am glad you ask. Let me put you in a specific situation: You just finished the game and want more of it. Or, you finished it years ago and want more of it now! This article tries to satisfy your hunger.
I think we can all agree that this game is just unforgettable. Chrono Trigger is a masterpiece without the need of any introduction. Every old school 90s JRPG fan will fell in love with this beautiful time travel. Assuming you already play through it, otherwise I highly recommend to do so. The best way to experience it is off course on the original SNES console. In case it is not possible to you, emulation is your friend. Playstation 1, Nintendo DS and hell, even a mobile port and a version on Steam are available too nowadays.
Unfortunately an official and real successor never came out, no Chrono Trigger 2. That is the reason why I write the article in the first place. Below are some official games residing in the “universe” of Chrono Trigger, but might not be what you hoping for. Later in the article I’ll talk about romhacks and mods based on the original game engine.
New Game+ and different endings
Play it again. Yes, like any good game, you can just play the same game again. There are multiple endings to discover, depending on when you beat the final boss. After finishing the game, a new mode called New Game+ will be unlocked. If you start a new adventure from this, the stats of your last game will be used instead. That enables you to go and face the final boss whenever you like, at any time and point in the story, which will show the corresponding ending sequence. This replayability was one of the finest excuses to spend more time and experiment around, just to see an alternative outcome. If that is not enough for you, then read on.
Not many people know this official game ever existed. No wonder, it was a Japan exclusive, text heavy and only accessible through the Satellaview hardware extension for the Super Famicom. So you can guess merely a handful of people saw the game running on a real machine. But hey, that is one of the reason why emulation rocks. Fans actually translated the script into English and made the game playable for the rest of the world.
Some refer to it as Chrono Trigger 2, but don’t expect that. The whole concept is different, no longer a role playing game as we know. Interactions are very limited and mostly a text based adventure, like a story telling visual novel with still images and a lot of writings. The main experience of the game persist of the fantastic atmosphere and narrative, comparable to reading an interactive book. Story and characters ended up being a short side chapter in the Chrono universe and served as an inspiration to Chrono Cross, the next adventure.
The next episode in the series debuted first on the Playstation and is seen as a sort of sequel to Chrono Trigger. In the same Chrono universe and studded with references to the previous games, plus influence from Radical Dreamers can’t be denied. The gameplay is back to the traditional JRPG mechanics, but things got shaked up a little bit. There is even no time travel anymore, but two dimensions instead. The characters and story are also completely new.
While Chrono Cross is phenomenal in every game aspect, it is still a very different type of beast. As a fan of the original Trigger, this isn’t the final answer in my opinion, because lack of continuation from what I loved so much. Go ahead and try, it aged quite well. After all, Cross is one of the best JRPGs of all time and an unique experience. 45 Characters are to be explored, two different worlds packed in diverse dimensions, a New Game+ mode and more.
Romhacks and modifications
Finally let us enter into the world of romhack, mods and fan made alterations of the original games. These aren’t officially praised by Squaresoft/SquareEnix, but are okay as long as they don’t include any copyrighted material. In general any romhack comes as a patch file and you should know how to patch a rom yourself. Lunar IPS makes it really easy to apply those files.
There are ton of such fan made romhacks. I’ve picked up a few for recommendation purposes. But be aware, some of these can be tricky, because they could stop working in the middle of the play with older emulators. Read the notes for the patches to understand any potential problem. In example Prophets Guile should be played at least with version 1.5.3 on emulator Snes9x. Now go and have fun. 🙂
Flames of Eternity / Crimson Echoes
Right away bad news first: The patch is not available, because of a cease-and-desist letter to the modder. I want to talk about it anyway, because Crimson Echoes (or Flames of Eternity) is probably the most anticipated and greatest modification for Chrono Trigger ever.
Everything begun long ago with Crimson Echoes. Just before the game was about to get finished and released, Square Enix asked the developers to stop the process. The game was around 98% complete at that time, which consists of 23 chapters, 35h playtime and 10 endings. The developers paid attention to every detail, making it believable as possible. Unhappy with this situation, years later another group took an earlier state of the project and worked on it to complete the game. That branched out to Flames of Eternity. This “new” version was controversial and still is, as they did not have any permission for doing change, but they did a lot anyway. At least the developers finished and released a usable final patch. It is up to you which version you want to play.
So, what is it about? You can essentially think of “unofficial, but real” Chrono Trigger 2, at least as close as it can get. The story acts between Trigger and Cross and manages to link those games. The gameplay mechanics are not changed, as it is the same game engine on SNES.
Here we have another great work from the same team of Crimson Echoes. This time around they managed to finish and release a final version. The content is very short, but sweet, only like 2 chapters from original CT and takes around 1–2 hours to play through. The story serves as a side event of the main game, while Magus coming back to Zeal after the act in the castle. The player controls only him, to re-alive his perspective becoming the Prophet of Zeal.
Gameplay design is challenging and a bit more on the difficult side, but not too much to worry about. Given its nature of short playtime and the linear structure, this is a welcome aspect. Dialogues are believable and close to the spirit of their original games, telling a lost part in the story as authentic as possible.
Important note: Make sure you play this with Snes9x 1.53 or higher, as older versions of the emulator makes it impossible to finish.
Level Zero / Frozen in Time
This one is different from the previously introduced mods. The whole game, its story, events, characters and graphics are intact. Mostly stats of enemies, items, shops and heroes are adjusted, removing the concept of a leveling system. No longer is it possible to grind and beat strong bosses easily. Frozen in Time is the previous name for this mod and was renamed to Level Zero in the latest edition.
To make the game enjoyable, the creator balanced out and made massive tweaks at everything influenced by this change. The result of these adjustments is a much harder version of the same game. Suddenly every shop and resource turns into something meaningful and beating the bosses are challenging tasks. Finding their weak spots and developing tactics to battle them is necessary.
What else is there?
You are still hungry? It must be your lucky day, because there is more than I have covered in this article. Schala Edition and Coliseum are both worth mentioning. More mods, tools and documents can be found at the CT page of ROMhacking.net. The Satellaview for SNES got some Specials surrounding the main game, which was unfortunately not available outside of Japan. Some talented people converted these into regular playable roms, Jet Bike Special, Character Library and Music Library (which I don’t want to link). The Chrono Compendium website aims to collect every knowledge about the Chrono series. And to my biggest surprise, there is an officially broadcasted 16 minute Chrono Trigger related anime for promotional reason, called “Dimensional Adventure Numa Monjar” from 1996. Make sure to check it out.
25 years later, people still talk about Chrono Trigger as one of the best JRPGs of all time, some even claim it to be the best videogame produced ever. What baffles me most is, that the game didn’t make it into the Super NES Classic Edition. A shame! Thanks to the romhackers and emulation scene, we have so much more to explore surrounding this classic. I hope you enjoyed reading it and I wish you a nice,… a really, really nice day.