Why Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross need a remaster and a new game

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I’m going to get straight to the point. Square Enix is long overdue for giving us a remaster/remake of an influential video game series. No, not any other Final Fantasy – not yet. I’m talking about Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, two parts of the Chrono Series tale. 

Both are roleplaying games created by Square, and while I love them, my need for a remake is not only so I can relive the experience. It’s time for a retelling, ala Final Fantasy VII Remake style. However, I have to explain both games in a certain amount of detail to answer why I feel this way. Trust me, it makes perfect sense!

**There are spoilers beyond! “These games are OLD.” I would hate to ruin the games for people interested in a fresh experience. I don’t dive incredibly deep into the events, but I do name all playable characters. Just assume you’re not safe as we advance!

The “Dream Team” – The Creators of Chrono Trigger 

Chrono Trigger Cover Art
Chrono Trigger Cover Art

Square developed and published Chrono Trigger in 1995 for the Super Nintendo. Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy creator), Yuuji Horii (Dragon Quest creator), and character designer Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball and Dragon Quest) came together as a “Dream Team” to bring the game to life. Other notable members include Yoshinori Kitase, Takashi Tokita, Tetsuya Takahashi, Yasuyuki Honne, Tetsuya Nomura, and Yusuke Naora.

Developer TOSE released an enhanced port of Chrono Trigger for the Sony Playstation in 1999. They added animated cut scenes and bonus features to the game. In 2008, Square Enix re-released the game on the Nintendo DS with more features and extra side quests, one of which I will spoil later in its entirety. There’s a frustrating mobile port released November 30, 2011, but that shows that the Dream Team struck gold!

Chrono Trigger’s Story

As for the story, Chrono Trigger involves a healthy helping of time travel in a fictional, alternate Earth. Gamers meet seven playable characters (*one optional) from different time periods.

–        CronoLucca, and Marle are from 1000 A.D. (Present)

–        Robo from 2300 A.D.

–        Ayla from 65,000,000 B.C.

–        Frog from 600 A.D. 

–        *Magus from 12000 B.C. (Dark Ages/Antiquity) 

Chrono Trigger Cast
From Left-to-Right: Frog, Ayla, Lucca, Robo, Marle, Crono – Credit: Square

The main character, Crono, and his allies scattered through time must come together to stop a coming calamity. A teleportation device and a pesky pendant set the first two protagonists, Crono, Lucca, and Marle, on their first accidental time travel adventure. It is through this same device that, later, we discover our main mission.

Our protagonists later (accidentally… again) travel to 2300 A.D. to discover that a creature named Lavos appeared in 1999 A.D. The time in which they stand, 2300 A.D., is a period of wholly ruined Earth, and the first three heroes from the Present vow to stop the creature. It’s a classic end-of-the-world scenario that cleverly links up events from 65,000,000 BC to the End of Time (Year ∞).

There are brilliant locations throughout the game; the Present Day (and the past) has an established Kingdom of Guardia. The party is later able to use a ship called the Epoch to traverse the different timelines. With early RPGs, it’s fascinating that the world-building was so powerful, especially across time. My favorite location, the ever-important Kingdom of Zeal, features significant players such as mystical Gurus, A Princess named Schala, and a plot that fills in the history of the ‘villain’ Magus. 

Chrono Trigger Opening

It all began in a Kingdom called Zeal

Chrono Trigger - Zeal
The Kingdom of Zeal

Zeal is where the brunt of history occurred, setting into motion the events that Crono and friends must stop. It was a sky-bound nation that was home to the Enlightened Ones, the part of humanity that could utilize magic. After the last Ice Age, the Kingdom of Zeal used their superior technology and magic to lift the Kingdom into the air. The Enlightened Ones left the Earthbound Ones to the eternal blizzard.

The Original Timeline

The ruler of Zeal, known as Queen Zeal, is ruthless in her quest for power and immortality. With her three Gurus (*Belthasar, Gaspar, and Melchior), she utilizes a bio-mechanical creation called the Mammon Machine to absorb the energy of Lavos. Relocating it to an Ocean Palace, they activate the machine to draw a higher amount of energy from the being. However, this wakes Lavos and causes temporal distortions to scatter the Gurus and Prince Janus through time. Princess Schala and Queen Zeal’s whereabouts are unknown.

While all three Gurus are critical to the Chrono Series, I will focus on *Belthasar later. In Chrono Trigger, he is thereafter responsible for giving the team a time-travel ship called the Epoch.

Truths and changing history

In 12000 BC, Lavos’ awakening scatters many of its denizens throughout time. As it turns out, Magus is the former Prince of Zeal named Janus, who became stranded in 600 A.D. He became Magus, wielding his magical power and commanding an army of monsters. While he first appears one-dimensional, his actions concern summoning Lavos to kill it for Schala’s presumed death.

Chrono Trigger - Magus
That’s Magus, not Supreme Kai from Dragon Ball. – Credit: Square

Magus would attempt to change Schala’s fate, returning to Zeal in the past disguised as “The Prophet.” After a string of time-displaced events, the main party returns to Zeal as the Kingdom inadvertently revives Lavos again. In the ensuing fight, Lavos beats Magus, and – GASP – Crono, the lead character, is killed. The Kingdom of Zeal falls, and Schala disappears. We don’t learn what happened to hear in the original versions of Chrono Trigger. We’ll get to that.

Chrono Trigger - Crono's Death
Crono’s Death

Players have a choice to make later on: Kill Magus in a one-on-one duel as Frog or spare him and allow him to join the party. Likewise, through the acquisition and use of the “Chrono Trigger,” players may decide whether to revive Crono. The game’s ending will change according to choices like these. As for the ending itself and how everything unfolds, I must spoil that. So, beware of going further.

The end of Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger does have a happy ending. Multiple, even. Which you get depends on the choices you make. I will talk about the most relevant endings, considering I’m moving on to Trigger’s sequel next.

Chrono Trigger

Should you revive Crono, King Guardia XXXIII revokes a criminal charge from an early storyline. Crono’s Mom then accidentally enters the time gate at the Millennial Fair, causing Crono, Marle, and Lucca to set out in the Epoch to find her. Magus, if he joined the party, leaves to search for his sister, Schala. 

I said Chrono Trigger has a happy ending, but the events that transpire after aren’t the most cheerful. Wait until after I explain a bit of Chrono Cross, and I’ll explain it.

Chrono Cross trades Time Travel for Alternate Realities

Chrono Cross
Left-to-Right: Lynx, Serge, Kid – Credit: Square

Chrono Cross does not reveal its connections to Chrono Trigger until late in the game. So, I will talk about them as if they are heavily interconnected from the get-go. Hopefully, that will make my point make sense. 

Everything that happens in Chrono Cross is a direct consequence of the actions of Crono and his team in Chrono Trigger. However, the heroes of the past game aren’t running the show. The world is vastly different, give or take 20 years after the events of Trigger, and we don’t get glimpses of some of the old crew until much later. Instead of time travel, the new protagonists deal with two alternate versions of the world. 

Due to the involvement of 45 possible party members, the story can be hard to follow. It’s not that the writing is subpar – Most characters have their reasons to chase down an artifact called the Frozen Flame. The story mainly follows a blue-haired 17-year-old named Serge and a tomboyish thief named Kid. Yet, the events started in 3,000,000 B.C. with a familiar creature.

Lavos, would you knock it off?

In 3,000,000 BC, early humans discovered the being named Lavos. A piece of the creature called the Frozen Flame separated from it a long time ago but retained a level of sentience. Through it, Lavos initiated an evolutionary protocol that caused humans to evolve with the biological prowess to wield magic. Later on, the Frozen Flame falls into Zeal’s hands, but once Zeal falls in Chrono Trigger, the Flame disappears.

Belthasar’s influence on Chrono Chross

Chrono Trigger - Belthasar
Guru of Reason (Trigger) and Time (Chrono) – Belthesar

The events of Chrono Trigger led to the destruction of Lavos. Belthasar, one of Zeal’s Gurus, then enters a peaceful version of 2300 A.D. Humanity is developing to a state that rivals Zeal. He takes the opportunity to create Chronopolis, a time research facility powered by the Frozen Flame. It also comes with a sentient supercomputer called FATE… powered by circuitry from a Chrono Trigger villain named Mother Brain. 

Chrono Cross - FATE
The Supercomputer, FATE

Unfortunately, it’s here that he somehow learns that Lavos has merged with Schala to create the Time Devourer. Should it mature, it would have the power to consume all of space-time. Belthasar comes up with an elaborate plan to free Schala from the being that I don’t have time to unravel. It has to do with a device called the Chrono Cross. 

Here are the parts of his plan that play into the continuity between the two games:

– He reaches out to Lucca, who installs former party member Robo as FATE’s Prometheus Circuit; this device blocks anyone from accessing the Frozen Flame should anyone touch it.

– He creates the Neo Epoch to watch his plan unfold.

– He apparently realizes that Schala, fearing the loss of her mind when fusing with Lavos, creates a Clone of herself named Kid to the orphanage some time Lucca creates after Chrono Trigger.

There is a lot more to his plan but figuring out how deep and convoluted it becomes is a reason to play the game. As another plot point, the city of Chronopolis encounters Lavos and is sent back in time in an event called the Time Crash. Oddly, Earth itself throws a location from Chrono Trigger (Dinopolis) into 12000 B.C. to ‘balance things out.’ Plot points of this nature are why I focused on the most relevant ones.

Chrono Cross Opening

Chrono Cross – The Year 1010 A.D.

At the age of three, the protagonist Serge is attacked by a panther demon. His Father, Wazuki, took Serge to Chronopolis, and the boy made contact with the Frozen Flame. The Flame marked Serge as the only one who could control it, and FATE answered by corrupting Wazuki. Over the years, FATE would slowly take over until 1010 A.D., when Wazuki attempted to drown Serge. 

Belthasar’s planning does not change time – it splits realities. In 1010 A.D., Wazuki successfully drowns Serge, meaning FATE should control the Frozen Flame. Five or so years later, Belthasar instructs Kid to travel to the past and rescue Serge, thus splintering reality. 

Chrono Cross - Serge's Grave
Kid and Serge at Alternate Reality Serge’s Grave

Wazuki became Lynx in both realities, the FATE-controlled entity with a panther-like appearance. Lynx, in the timeline where he successfully killed Serge, seeks out a young Kid. He finds her at Lucca’s orphanage and burns the place to the ground. The game implies that he kills Lucca or she perishes in the fire. Yet, Kid escapes taking part in Belthasar’s plan to save Schala.

The end of Chrono Cross

The game essentially leans into Serge’s search for the truth of those fateful events, which eventually reveals the deep Chrono Trigger connections. In the true ending of Chrono Cross, Serge and crew manage to use the Chrono Cross. Lavos (the Time Devourer) dies, we free Schala, and the realities combine to form the “Ideal Reality.” FATE and all other subplots were incredibly important, but they led into Chrono Trigger territory.

We don’t see what happens to the characters after. Instead, we’re shown Schala (merged with Kid) looking over the sea, talking about how she will find Serge. There’s also a photo that I’ve always believed to mean that Serge and Schala got married. She does sign her writing “Forever yours, Schala “Kid” Zeal,” after all, and makes it sound like she has lived well beyond the events in the story. Regardless of what I think, there’s a possibility that the creation of the “ideal reality” means many of the game’s events did not occur.

I structured this so it remained connected to Chrono Trigger. If you play the game, it will come as no surprise why fans consider Cross a great game but a bad sequel. There are more minor connections like the rising of Porre as a superpower, no longer the small village in Chrono Trigger. It doesn’t capitalize on everything established in Trigger as early as possible, which harms the ‘sequel’ notion.

Down to why Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross must be remade

Now, to my point. Square must re-release these games for several reasons, one of which involves a Chrono Trigger DS port.

When Chrono Trigger came to the Nintendo DS, it included another location and a special boss. Crono and crew end up traveling to the Darkness at the End of Time, where timeline changes erased by time travel fall. Lavos fell here after his defeat, but this is also where Schala fell after the Ocean Palace incident. This all takes place after the main events.

Magus and The Dream Devourer

An alternate timeline Magus appears and reveals a being feeding on memories, dreams, and thoughts. This enemy is the Dream Devourer (Lavos, as usual), the infantile form of the Time Devourer. The different Magus sees Schala merged with the Dream Devourer and attempts to free her. Unfortunately, her will is nearly overtaken completely, and she kills the other Magus.

DS Dream devourer
The Dream Devourer

The main party attempts to defeat it, but the Dream Devourer puts them down. Magus appears once more – presumably, our timeline’s Magus – and confronts the monster. Schala summons the last of her sanity to speak to Magus, telling him that he does not have the power to save her. She states that no strength can and that too many lean on the crutch of power. 

Schala teleports the party back to their timeline while Magus pleads with Schala not to leave. She sends Magus away, telling him, “Live, and be strong,” calling him Janus one final time. Having failed again, Magus concludes that all of his methods to save her have been for nothing. His existence as Magus no longer serves any purpose, so he erases his memory of all that he is. He awakens in a forest and only remembers that he’s searching for something.

Why was this content added to Chrono Trigger DS?

This extra story wasn’t placed in Chrono Trigger only to explain what happened to Schala. In Chrono Cross, there is a character named Guile, a masked magician who wields a Rod. He is one of many companions we can recruit. Though he isn’t given much story in Chrono Cross, he remains with the party until the very end and then ‘fades’ into history.

Chrono Cross - Guile
Guile, Chrono Cross

 In the planning stages of Chrono Cross, Guile was Magus in disguise. He joined the team to learn the true fate of Schala, but the developers weren’t confident they would be able to represent his story. The backstory was then removed. Later, Square released the DS version of Chrono Trigger. Now, it’s accepted that sometime after Magus awakens with no memories, he becomes Guile.

The cast of Chrono Trigger does appear

There’s a section of the game where Kid is in a coma, and we enter her dreams. The dream just so happens to be the events at Lucca’s orphanage. As Serge, players come across a hallway with drawings of Crono, Lucca, Marle, and others that Kid did. Later, in a location known as the Dead Sea, ‘Ghosts’ of the main cast taunt Serge for ‘undoing’ their hard work. In my earlier years, I thought this meant they were dead. Now, I believe it’s FATE toying with Serge.

What the Chrono Series needs to do for connectivity

The Chrono Series is about Schala, point-blank. Chrono Cross may have changed the narrative and gave us many characters to follow, but it’s all about saving Schala. The games did not represent that, and while I love them for what they are, a remake can properly reconnect the dots and restore the Magus plotline. 

I propose re-releasing/remastering both games but add the DS content to Chrono Trigger. Of course, a re-release of both means that nothing plotwise would change. Therefore, restoring the Magus plotline doesn’t apply here. I’d leave that for a remake. 

What I genuinely want is for Square Enix to go the remaster route to gauge interest. Then, instead of changing Chrono Cross, finally, give us the third Chrono game we have all been waiting for. It’s already established that, at some point, Schala and Serge must meet again. Right? Most or all of the Chrono Trigger characters should exist.

What would a third Chrono game look like? 

I don’t have a blow your mind idea tucked away in my head. When I think about a third game, I picture either Schala or Guile being the lead. Despite knowing that Guile is Magus, I’d enjoy playing a portion of the game while he still believes he’s Guile. Then, of course, he can discover his past self, his ties to Zeal, and then find his Sister once-and-for-all. He already chose to abandon his Magus persona once, so make his tale about accepting himself as Janus again.

Janus
Janus as a child

A new protagonist may work, but the third game would need to connect everything and then resolve it. After all, Belthasar’s plan was for the greater good, but it certainly caused much pain. Perhaps after Schala and Janus find one another, the two remaining Enlightened Ones become centered in a big ‘stop messing with time/dimensions’ uprising? Even as I propose the idea, I shut it down internally. Why? Chrono Cross was an unexpected way of continuing the series, so I’d expect nothing short of a grand, new idea.

Whatever happens, the events of Chrono Trigger can stand to affect another game. There are beloved characters we need to catch up with, and there’s unfinished business that we need to attend to. So, Square Enix, please revive the Chrono series!