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Chrono Trigger Days#10, 11, and 12: Journeys through Space and Time

The next three days of Chrono Trigger get me into the heart of the story, and there’s a major jump in interactivity. I am now able to choose what level I access at what point, and it seems to me even at this early stage that there are plot points that I can activate or fail to find. The potential narrative implications of that are fascinating. Fighting gets significantly harder as I now have to pay much more attention to the strengths and weaknesses of my enemies. Also, my party reaches its limit. Spoilers within.

So here we are in strange gate world. There’s a guy in the center of the main room, and conversation with him reveals that we’re at the End of Time. When four or more people from different times travel through time, they are sent here as the path of least resistance. But that means to travel through time, you can’t have more than 3 people with you at once. You have to hand it to the game for narrativizing (and not badly) party size limits.  He further tells us that we can travel to other times using the portals here. I make an initial choice to leave Robo behind for no particular reason. I heal the party up and then try to go through a portal, but nothing happens. I assume I forgot the command, but when I talk to the old man again, he tells me to check out a door behind him before I leave.

Behind the door in an open room with a strange white creature inside. The creature reveals itself as the Master of War. He asks me how he looks, and from a choice of weak and strong, I say strong, trying to flatter. He says that he appears as strong as we are.  He then explains that there is magic and offers to teach it to me, but he demands that I run around the wall surrounding the room, clockwise, three times. This takes me forever to do. The first few times, it is all me; I was running counter-clockwise. But then I’m not sure what it means to “follow the wall” and it takes me about ten or fifteen more tries before I get it. When I do, I learn that Chrono is Light, Marle is Water, and Lucca is Fire, and I get one powerful tech for each of them that does a lot of damage in battle. (I take Robo in later, but as a robot, he doesn’t get any magic.) The Master of War then challenges us to fight. I accept the challenge, but we lose. Nothing happens with our loss, and I leave the room.

That tangent complete, I can now travel through the portals. There are portals to the three times I’ve been in (Chrono’s base time, the past, and the far future), and I choose to go back to the base time. A spiral transition takes me to a house, but there are imps in it as though they live there. I am clearly not in Kansas, and I worry for a moment that I screwed up the time stream.  When I talk to the imps, they reveal that I’m in Medina, a different nation and an old enemy of Guardia filled with fiends.  At this point in time, the fiends are no longer at war with humans, but the imps warn us that some fiends are still anti-human.  They tell us that there is a a human in a cave to the west, so we leave the house to head there.

Along the way, I stop in a market to buy some supplies first. The merchant doesn’t want to sell to me as a human, and calls a goon to scare us off when I make the dialogue-ish choice to plead with him rather than leaving as soon as he asks me to. We fight the store fiends and make quick work of them. The merchant then agrees to sell to me, but the prices are so high I choose not to buy anything and head back to the map.  Once on the map, I walk to the west until I find the cave and go in.

The very first thing that happens to me when I enter the cave is a fight with some fiends spewing anti-human sentiment. Not a good sign for the human who is supposed to be here. I wander through a slightly maze-like set of caves, and get into a few somewhat difficult, draining fights.  I finally encounter a sub-boss who charges me, claiming to be fighting for fiendkind. I die during the first fight, but I return after clearing out the rest of the caves to win the second time. Magic plays a major part in all of these battles; non-tech attacks do almost no damage to anything in here. Anyway, when the sub-boss dies, he says that humankind should never had existed if the Magus had finished the deed when he summoned Lavos in the Middle Ages.  Once the creature is dead, a lake appears in the back of the cave, and jumping brought me back to Guardia in this same time period.

I swim to shore on the map screen, and I see that there’s now a ferry that will take me to the other continents.  I decide to wander a little bit now that I’m back, and so I head south over the bridge to the mayor’s house. Turns out the mayor is a greedy, shallow jerk, at least according to his family. The mayor doesn’t do much to contradict this depiction when he offers me 10g to run around in a circle like a chicken (I refuse, by the way).  I head back north to the festival from the beginning of the game, and I run back to where Lucca’s machine was. There’s still a portal there, and we use it to go back to the End of Time.

Back at the End of Time, I notice there’s a portal that’s in a different room than all of the others, so I decide to try it. It offers to take me to the Arena of the Ages, and I decide to check it out. The Arena of the Ages turns out to be the multiplayer portion of this game; you can train up a creature to fight other creatures here. I talk to a bunch of NPCs who give me a base creature and some stuff to train it with. You then have to pick a item and a time period to train the creature — that’s a kind of neat way to create variety in the creature training. I send the creature off for training, and head back to the game. Not sure I’m ever coming back here though; creature to creature combat is not what I came to Chrono Trigger for.

Now that I know Magus summoned Lavos in the Middle Ages, that seems the best place to go next. I notice that there’s a really ancient new location to go to as well, but I’ll do that later. When I get back to the Middle Ages, the bridge is now repaired so I try to go south over it. I can’t go past the top part of the bridge even though the bridge is intact, so I click there to see what’s going on. There are a bunch of soldiers on the bridge that block the path. They tell me two things: that they are waiting on food supplies from the castle, and that a hero has arrived and gone south to fight the demons.  I decide to go to the castle to see about the food. Once there, I find out that the King is bed recuperating from a battle. I go up to see him and he talks about how he’s too old to fight and he hopes the hero is doing well as he goes to fight the three demon generals on the south continent.

Looking for the kitchen, I end up in the infirmary when there are a lot of wounded soldiers and no beds for me (nice touch). I finally get to the kitchen where I meet the Master of Kitchens. When I talk to him, he goes on an interesting rant about why people think that wielding a sword is the only heroic thing one can do and shoos me away. It doesn’t seem like there’s any food here, so I start to leave the castle. But as I’m about to leave, the Master of Kitchens runs up and gives me beef jerky for the soldiers, asking me to tell his brother to come home safe. I head back to the bridge, and choose to give the jerky to the commander (the Master of Kitchens’s brother).   A soldier appears and announces that the fiends are attacking, and a group of soldiers head off to the battle. I follow them across, and about halfway across, I see the soldiers dead. A demon general is there and, in a cool creepy touch, summons the skeletons out of the dead soldiers to fight me.  The skeletons are tough, but I beat them with magic. There’s another skeleton fight further down the bridge in which I figure out that attacking the general destroys the skeletons too. At the end of the bridge, the general summons a giant demon to fight, and that demon hands me my ass. I do a lot of damage, but not enough to save me from dying.

My last save point was the last time I was in the End of Time.  I go back through all of the motions I did before up to taking the food to the troops. There was one interesting twist this time through. When I was in the castle the first time, I opened up every treasure chest I found and took a bunch of treasure with me. But then when I came back to the castle, I remember that moment when I was caught taking that lunch and the game called me out for it.  I’m not sure if the game’s tracking it anymore, but I don’t want to be seen as a thief, so I left the chests closed. I mention this relatively minor event to make a point — that’s how compelling the narrative is in this game. I’m defying years of traditional looting behavior because the game’s narrative could very well be that deep. If that’s not an achievement for a JRPG, I don’t know what is.

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  1. MMoi says

    First time I hear about Arena of the Ages… not sure it was in the original game, looks more like an addition to DS version.

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