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Chrono Trigger Days#27, 28, and 29: Side Quests Across Time

Days 27-29 are basically characterized by my inability to find an objective I’m looking for, and instead completing a bunch of side quests. It’s a longer set of sessions, because I feel I’m closing in on the end. The most interesting thing about this set of session is that they highlight just how terrific the battle design in this game is. The encounters have some much interesting variety and strategic depth that this game should be a model for this kind of design. Spoilers within.

We pick it back up at the End of Time. Before heading back out, I stop and talk the the old man here. He makes a song for Chrono, but realizes that we want to bring Chrono back when we ask about the Guru of Time. He tells us we’re not the first to want something like that.  He gives us the Chrono Trigger — a time egg — and tells us we should seek out Belthazar for help. Into the Epoch and back to the future we go.  Belthazar tell us that Death Mountain can bring back the dead, but only if the need is truly great. To do that, we will need a doll of Chrono which is something we can get at the festival.

We zip back to the present. The Black Omen is here too, along with a weird forest with a blue pyramid in it and some new ruins. I go to the pyramid and the pendant unlocks it the way it did the doors in the future.  There’s one of those strange black boxes here, but the pendant can open it. I get the choice of damage or protection, but I decide to take protection and I get a new helmet.  I then head to the village, where get rumors about an explorer who got lost in the north and a ghost in the ruins. I go into the ruins and encounter a ghost warrior of some kind.  I don’t seem to be able to do any damage to it with any of my attacks , and eventually Lucca says that it’s too resilient and we give up. There’s no where else to go in the ruins — holes block the rest of the exits — and I decide to leave. I then head over to the castle just to see what’s up there. The guards tell us something has happened with the King. The Queen was still sickly when the King left the castle and then she died.  The King appears and gets into an argument with Marle where she accuses him of caring about nothing but the kingdom, and he kicks her out of the castle.  We open a couple of treasure chests and then leave.

All that done, I head to the festival. I remember there was that weird game I played in the tent, and since that didn’t do anything before, I figure it may do something now. Turns out I need a bunch of silver coins to to get in, and the only way to get them in to play carnival games. The most rewarding (in terms of coin generation, not in terms of fun) game is fighting Lucca’s robot, so I do that like 20 times. It’s particularly annoying because I have to leave the screen after each fight to reset the robot. Nothing fun at all about this part of the game. When I get enough coins, I can go to the tent and then I have mimic movements that a facsimile of Chrono does by clicking the buttons that correspond to his movements. I screw this up once because I don’t realize that I’m mirroring him, and then a second time when I think the game didn’t record a move I made. Of course, that triples the time I have to spend getting silver coins. Grrr.  I finally get the game right and can buy the doll. When I do, I’m told it’s been sent to Chrono’s house.

I go back to Chrono’s house and encounter his mom. Lucca lies to the mother when she asks how Chrono is, and they do a good job with Lucca’s animation to show her discomfort. We get the doll and head back to the future to start looking for Death Mountain. When I’m back in the future, I notice there’s a sun shrine. I remember a lot of talk about a sun stone, so I decide to check it out. Once inside, a fiery orb with five fiery satellites around it attacks and kills me. I try to be clever by attacking it with ice, but that apparently heals it. I decide to come back to that one later, and then notice a new complex I hadn’t seen before.  Not having seen the mountain yet, I decide to check that place out.  When I enter, Robo asks to lead the party, and he gets us past an opening computer into the complex. A computer immediately speaks to us about having to test us, and there are a series of fights in the first hallway. We beat them without too much difficulty.  When we get through, the computer says that humanity will soon end due to despair.

The Gen-Dome (what this place is called) is a maze of timing and logic puzzles. It’s a lot of throw the right switch to open this door and kite this robot to paralyze this other robot kind of stuff.  I hit a few dead-ends, but eventually enter a room where people are being conveyed into some kind of machine and the party realizes we have to stop this facility. To do so, Robo realizes we have to shut down the mother brain.  Long story short, we have to get these two statues to unlock the door to the brain, and I solve the puzzles to get them.  On my way to the door, a robot named Atrophos stops us to welcome Robo and tells us he was a double-agent built to spy on humans. Robo refuses to betray the party when Atrophos presses him to, and the two of them have a one-on-one fight. It’s a quite hard fight, but I get through it on the first try. Atrophos recovers her true personality and makes up with Robo, but then dies, asking him to take care of the mother brain.

I enter the final room and see the nicely-drawn hologram of the mother brain. It’s a hard fight that takes me several times to beat, and it is a perfect example of the great battle design of this game. There’s the central hologram that attacks you and several monitors behind the hologram that each heal it about 1000 points each round. You would think that you would destroy all the monitors and then kill the hologram, especially since that is how you have had to beat other monsters. But if you do that in this battle, the hologram goes crazy and does ever increasing damage in each subsequent round until you die. The key is to destroy all but one monitor, and then do more than 1000 points of damage to the hologram each round until it dies. It’s clever and different from every other battle I fought up to  this point. The game is filled with this kind of good design. I would go so far as to say this game is a must-play for any game designer interested in how to make a huge diversity of interesting encounters from a small set of variables. Anyway, we kill the brain and that’s the end of Gen Dome.

At this point, I just go through every era looking for Death Mountain. I have no luck on that, but I end up back in the ancient past and find a lost village I’ve yet to investigate.  I go inside and find it empty.  There are woods around the village, and Ayla thinks that the monsters in the woods drove the villagers out, so we go to kill all of the monsters and I do have to kill all of them before I can go back to the village. None of these fights are too hard. I also find a seedling, but there’s nothing I can do with it. I go back inside the village, and find that it’s a reptite village. They’ve never seen humans before, but are thankful to me for clearing out the monsters. They give us a dragon’s tear as thanks, and offer to give us more work if we want it, which prompts Marle to wonder if we’re sure we want to do this.

The first quest I get in to get a Golden Hammer for a reptite.  I’m told it’s in the swamps to the south.  I head down there and this is the most beautiful set of tiles in the game. There are a number of fights that I win pretty easily. I find some golden sand, and eventually a cave that ends in a dark room that I can’t see in and have to exit.  The other exit from the swamp is blocked by a blue thing, so I head back to the village. Heading north into the woods, I can dump the golden sand on the sapling, and I do it.  I die stupidly in a fight here; it’s nothing more than me being cocky in what should be an easy victory. I retrace my steps and realize that the sapling will become a tree in the future, so I go to the middle ages to check in on it. When I get there, I notice there’s a new location called Ozzie’s fort, and I decide to stop in there before checking on my tree.

When I walk in the castle, I see Ozzie and he calls out Magus for betraying him. I chase him into a room where he summons Flea to fight us. We slaughter her. In the next room, Ozzie summons up two monsters on either side of the party, but they immediately land on conveyor belts and are dropped once again into pits. It’s kind of cute joke as the party draws their weapons and then do a blink-take in my direction when the monsters drop. The next room is a fight against Slash, Ozzie’s other lieutenant, and we crush him as well.  Then there’s a room where Ozzie has a blade on a crank that’s guarding a chest; when I go for the chest, it reduces me to a single hit point and I have to heal up.  Finally, I enter a room with Ozzie and his lieutenants and they are all a level higher. That fight is really hard and I die in it. I think about going back through the fort a second time, but I decide to get the hammer first.

Arriving at the lost village, these reptites still have no contact with humans, but they remember how we helped them in the past. We go to the tree, but it’s been cut down, and a monster took it to make a hammer. The monster is hiding around woods, and I have to track it down. I search around the forest, and eventually find the monster with the hammer and beat it. When I win, we take the hammer back, and head back to the past to trade it in. We get 100,000 gold for it, so that was totally worth the time. I buy up some supplies and save.

With that, I head back through time looking for Death Mountain. Again, I don’t find it, and do some more side stuff. I try the haunted ruins again. This time there’s no ghost blocking me and the monsters I encounter I can fight, but holes block me from going further. I go back to the village and there I meet Toma, an explorer. He asks us to pour spirits on his grave if he should die on his quest. I remember seeing a grave in the present, so I jump forward in time to pour the spirits on it. When I do, his ghost appears and tells me where I can find the rainbow shell he was searching for.  It’s back to the past to get to the cave where the shell is.  It looks like the old Tyranno Lair, and it’s another maze of lots of decently hard encounters. It culminates in a second fight against a big stone dragon (so maybe it IS the tyranno lair), which is about as hard as it was last time. When I win, I get the rainbow shell, but we can’t carry it, so Marle suggests going to the King for help. We cut to the throne room, and the king agrees to hold the shell for us for the future, especially given how we helped defeated Magus for him.

I remember that people have told me that weapons can be made from the shell, so I head back to the future to check on it. When I get to the castle, I can’t get into the throne room because of some kind of trial going on. We get stopped by several guards, but eventually Marle yells and demands to be let in, and we are. The trial is for the king — the chancellor is claiming that the king sold the shell that the kingdom vowed to guard; the evidence is the shell cannot be found in the castle. Marle decides it’s up to us to find the shell to prove her father’s innocence.  I head down to the basement and encounter some creatures, but these are supremely easy fights. As I make my way through the basement, we cut to CS views of the trial where things are going badly for the king.  I eventually find the shell in a back room, and along with it a note to Marle from Leene (the queen from the Middle Ages) telling her to remember that she’s the king’s daughter and that the bond of love is strong.  We take a shard and rush back to the trial. Inside the trial, the jury is called and is finding the king guilty. We aren’t allowed in the trial this time, but Marle knows a back way in and just as the trial is being settled, Marle appears in the back of the room with the shard of rainbow shell.  When we show our evidence, the chancellor converts into the next version of Yakra, the very first boss I fought. Yakra is quite hard, but I win in the first battle.

When we win, the king returns and he and Marle have a pretty touching conversation where they apologize to each other. The king reveals the queen’s last words, and there’s a sweet moment where Marle remembers she used to call her father Daddy. They finish making up and Melchior shows up to offer to make us armor from the shell.  He can either make three helms or one dress — I opt for the helms, and they are pretty sick, so I can’t imagine how good the armor must have been.  Having had enough side quests for one day, I save and shut the system down for the night.

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