Games I’ll Never Play Again: Chrono Trigger

GINPA is a recurring column in which the author discusses a single-player game he views favorably, but has no desire to ever re-play after finishing it.

Back in 1995 I owned Chrono Trigger for the Super NES and played the bejeezus out of it. Unfortunately, I never could get over the hump of beating the final boss, and after I foolishly sold it off along with the rest of my SNES-related items, I figured that hump would stay never surmounted.

Thank goodness for the Nintendo DS port, then.

Not including New Game+, I played through 100% of that port, which is something I rarely do nowadays. I did every sidequest. I got every special item. Unlocked every tech, double tech and triple tech. I even took down all of the bonus content available for the DS and iOS ports. I took down Lavos with vicious aplomb.

Instead of taking a breather, and then evaluating how I wanted to tackle New Game+, I erased my save, put the DS card back in the box, and went to eBay to post a sale auction. Title? “Chrono Trigger Complete, Like New”.

I liked Chrono Trigger when I first owned it, and I liked it just as much the second time around. Perhaps I don’t hold it in as high regard as most fans of videogaming do, but I truly, honestly really liked it.

I have absolutely zero desire to ever play it again.

Chrono Trigger is a game that I’d typically keep in my library. It’s a role-playing game, and even though I got every single piece of one-playthrough content I could have gotten, there’s still the challenge of beating the game under-leveled, or power-leveling to see how much patience you have. There are multiple party configurations with which you can march through and beat the game. Like exploring Marvel vs. Capcom teams, you can find out which “main” is your favorite. And specific to certain games, like Chrono Trigger, New Game+ exists solely for you to explore the game once again but in a different situation (in this case, marching through the game like a god just to see every one of its myriad endings).

I’ve been trying to figure out why I convulse at the thought of ever playing the game again. The one thing that I keep coming to again and again is the fatigue I developed with the game’s bonus content. Not present in the original, the additional quests you can go through comprise a sloppy patchwork of boring, zig-zag level design and irritating thrown-together tilesets of other existing dungeons. There’s no inventiveness to the dungeon layouts, and there’s only one truly interesting fan service reveal in the perhaps five to ten hours I spent doing extracurriculars. There are bonus weapons galore, and boy, are they worth it. But a weapon as a reward for a slog doesn’t make the┬áslog itself any more interesting. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that, by the time I exhausted the extra content, Chrono Trigger had simply worn out its welcome. I just wanted to take the Epoch to Lavos and end it.

There’s a bit of irony to this, no? Extra content, which is supposed to get you to play the game more, has–in this case–made me not ever want to play the game again. Granted, the context is different; I did, in fact, play the game “more” than I would have if I just played through the main story one time. However, I might actually have the desire to play through the main story and even New Game+ more had the grueling experience going through the extra content not made me sick of the game. For the sake of a few extra hours of new stuff, I’ve given up a lifetime of extra hours replaying and enjoying the classic stuff.

Ultimately, this inaugural installment of GINPA is obviously less an indictment on the core game and moreso on the new content that Square Enix saw fit to slap onto the end of the game. It’s also indirectly an indictment of my decision to tenaciously pursue the completion of this content to the bitter end. Perhaps I should have tried some New Game+ gameplay before deciding to dip into the bonus content, so that I could see what I was missing back when I sold the original SNES cart, and experience it how I would have back in the old days before seeing what newfangled dungeons were lying in wait.

But perhaps Square Enix should have made extra content that, you know, wasn’t boring in the first place.

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