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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday Night At The Arcade: Chrono Trigger

Have you ever had the desire to go back in time?

Maybe you'd want to fix a crucial mistake that you've made in the past.  Maybe you want to relive the glory days of your youth by reliving your idea of the teenage dream at the age of 40.  Or, maybe you want to go back and see your departed loved ones one final time.

Or, perhaps you'd take your time machine and go years into the future.  Maybe you want to see how your life ended up.  Maybe you want to see what the world looks like one hundred years in the future.  Maybe you secretly want to find out the winning lottery numbers for next week's draw so you can be prepare yourself in the present day.

Whatever the case is, I'm sure that there are many reasons why one would want to go back in time, or delve their way into the future.

Would you, if you knew you had the power?

Personally speaking, I'm not sure I would take the chance to do so.  I'm a firm believer in the concept that everything happens for a reason, and that if it is meant to happen, it will.  Of course, presently speaking, I'm still waiting for that A-ha moment (and by A-ha moment, I don't mean requesting 'Take On Me' on my local radio station).  Whatever the case, I'm sure that if the cards align themselves properly, it'll lead to great things.

Certainly, the temptation of wanting to go back in time to fix things has been there.  Don't get me wrong, the idea of changing events in my high school life in order to have a better experience overall would have been too difficult to resist a few short years ago.  The more I think about it now, the more I realize that I probably wouldn't take the chance to go back if I could.  Everything that happened to me, happened to me for a reason, and somehow, I'm supposed to make sense of it all.  So far, I'm beginning to find a way to do exactly that.  Do I wish that things could have been better back then?  Absolutely.  Am I stressing out over it now?  Not as often as I once did.  It's going to take some time to come to grips with it one hundred per cent, but the journey's been a fun ride so far.

That's essentially why I started up this blog in the first place.  Certainly, it celebrates the wonders of pop culture gone by, yes.  I'll even grant you that there is a bit of irony involved in the idea that I would not want to go back in time, yet I have no problem writing about it in blog form.  Irony aside though, I feel that writing about past experiences and what I can take from them is entirely different from wanting to build a time travel machine to warp back to 1997 to prevent people from bullying your sixteen year old self.

If I hadn't have gone through what I did, I most certainly wouldn't be the person that I am now.  Because of what I had to deal with, I find that I can read other people a bit better than most others, and that I can tell the difference between what is genuine and what is sarcastic.  I still can have emotional reactions to what people can say, but I've gotten a lot better at hiding it.  Most importantly, if I can get through that, I know that I can get through anything that may come my way, and that's a good feeling to have.

Besides, the more I think of it, if I did have the chance to revisit my life as a teenager and have the ability to change even one thing, then who knows how badly my future could have been affected.  And the idea of changing one minute thing in the past life completely changing the future in unpredictable's a scary thought if you really analyze it.

In closing, my ultimate answer would be that I would not use a time machine if I was given the choice (and if one actually existed).  The only way I would even consider warping through decades and centuries would be if I knew I could do something to stop catastrophic global destruction.

The video game that I'm featuring in this blog entry deals with that very plotline.  If you knew when and how the world was going to end, and you have the chance to change history so that the world is saved, would you take the challenge knowing that the future of mankind would solely lie in your own hands? 

Quite the loaded question for a Thursday, no?

Yet that's the exact situation that the main characters in the 1995 video game 'Chrono Trigger' faced.  Could they go back in time to save the world from being destroyed by an evil force?  Could they save the planet from becoming one gigantic dustball?  Would they be back home in time to watch the latest episode of Big Brother?

The story of Chrono Trigger starts off like this...and if you are interested, I'll provide you with some background music to listen to as I tell it.

The story of Chrono Trigger begins in the year 1000 AD.

Yep, we're going WAY back in time here.

Anyways, the main character of the game is a red-haired (seemingly mute) kid named Crono.  Although the cat that lives with him seemingly has gotten his tongue and won't ever give it back to him, he is our main protagonist.  There is a Millennial fair going on at the moment, and Crono is determined to spend his (hard-earned?) allowance on the attractions there.  Besides, his mad scientist friend Lucca is working on a secret project there and Crono got curious.


Along the way, Crono quite literally smacks right into a young woman named Marle.  Marle is sweet, kind, and a chatterbox of a woman.  Quite literally, she speaks more than I think any other character in the game.  Maybe she's the reason why Crono can't get a word in edgewise.  After a brief conversation, Marle decides to join Crono.

(GAME TIP:  You might want to mind your P's and Q's in this scene, because your actions will determine a future event depending on what you say and do.  Just giving you advice.  All girls love being reunited with their pets, and I hear the chicken is tainted there, so DO NOT EAT IT.  You have been warned.)

We then come across Lucca and her 'Teleportation Machine'.  If you're interested, the scene is just below.  It also may explain how the adventure begins.  Just scroll the time bar to the 2:44 mark, and away we go!

So, if you watched the video, you know exactly what's going on.  If not, well...let's just say that Marle's pendant clashed with the diodes and anodes and other -odes that may have been present, and it kicked her back in time about four hundred years.

Crono, being the fearless type, decides that he's going to be in big trouble if he just leaves the fair without helping our damsel in distress, and decides to take off after her.

Fortunately, Crono ends up in exactly the same spot that he stood.  Bad news?  It's in 600 AD.

Even worse news, upon arriving in 600 AD, Crono is immediately attacked by historical creatures.

You know that fear people would have about how killing one little thing would change the future forever.  Just ignore this.  Kill the blue imps.  You only have 29 HP's in this screenshot, you know!

Crono immediately heads to nearby Guardia Castle, where he discovers that Marle looks exactly like Queen Leene, who happened to go missing, but was found (when Marle took over the role).  Just as Crono arrives to take Marle home, Marle suddenly disappears into thin air, and it is later discovered that Marle is actually a descendant of the royal family of Guardia.  The reason she disappeared is because the real Queen of the 600 AD era was kidnapped by an evil being.  If anything happened to the Queen, Marle would never be born!

So, now you see what I'm getting at here.  If someone's existence depended on going back in time to stop a tragedy from occuring in the past, wouldn't you move heaven and earth to get back there?

With help from Lucca (who used her own teleportation device to warp back to 600 AD), and a green human-like frog creature whom they meet at the cathedral where Queen Leene is being held captive by Yakra, the trio defeat Yakra and rescue the queen (and Marle who reappears when history is corrected).

But,'ve seen how by going back in time, we can save a couple of lives.  Yet when introducing the game, I talked about how if you were faced with knowing that an apocalypse was coming, would you go back in time, or go ahead in the future to try and prevent it from happening?

Once Crono et al arrive back in 1000 AD, they're arrested for kidnapping Princess Marle, and during the escape attempt, they notice an electric blue gate in the middle of Guardia Forest, similar to the one that sucked Marle and the gang back to 600 AD.  There is some misgivings about going through a gate that they don't know, but considering that a barrage of guards wanted to kill them, I would say they made the right choice.

When they arrived at the other side, this is the landscape that they walked into.

What you see is the year 2300 AD.  An apocalyptic wasteland where nuclear winters blanket the cold ground, and the water is as black as the midnight sky.  The animal life are all mutated and sickly as a result of the catastrophe, and the few humans that are still alive are destitute and frail.  There is no food, and no means of getting any food, as any efforts to grow crops are futile in a world with acidic soil.  Someone had the foresight to invent little pods that restore health, but they do nothing to cure the endless hunger pangs the people of 2300 AD had to endure. 

But how did the world get to be such a horrible place?  Was it a nuclear disaster?  Was it a comet?  Was Harold Camping actually CORRECT in his predictions?

I believe this little clip will reveal all.

Back in 1999 AD (which was significant since at the time, some theories determined that the apocalypse was supposed to begin in 1999), a monster named Lavos woke up from beneath the Earth's core, and immediately threw a temper tantrum.  He burned down whole cities, made volcanoes erupt, poisoned the rivers, and caused massive earthquakes which killed millions.

In the 401 years since, the world has continued to rot and decay, and the remaining survivors grow weaker and weaker.

Marle said it best when she said that she absolutely refused to believe that the world she loved so much in 1000 AD would end up in such an irreversible state. 

So, that becomes the new goal of the game.  To stop Lavos, and save the world.  To prevent Alaska from being baked, so to speak.

It is here that I will stop talking about the plot, because for anyone who hasn't played this game, I don't want to spoil it for you.  In fact, I want you guys to at least try this game out if you're into the RPG genre.  It's a masterpiece, in my honest opinion.  Originally, it was released for the Super Nintendo system on March 11, 1995, but since then it has been ported to the PlayStation console as well as the Nintendo DS.  There's lots of opportunities to play this game.

There's also a lot of different endings for this game.  There's well over a dozen, if I'm counting correctly.  Remember how any actions you perform in the past can change the future?  This has an effect on what ending you will receive.  See if you can find them all.  In my playing experience, I've managed to see four so far (and unfortunately that includes the GAME OVER screen), but I know some of you reading this probably HAVE seen all of them.

Oh, yeah, one final bit...I included a clip of the trio fighting some guy named Magus.  You'll encounter him quite a bit.  But, is he against you?  Or, is he an ally?

Only you can decide that.

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