Last year I dove head first into something that was brand new for me: a “follow me as I play” project of sorts in which I tackled my very first Pokemon game, Pokemon LeafGreen. The whole process was extremely rewarding as it provided me with not only a great gaming experience, but also opportunities to reach out to a slightly different and expanded audience. (As well, the project really opened my eyes to the universe that is Pokemon, and I’m currently having a blast plodding along in Pokemon Emerald.) Once I was done with LeafGreen, I almost immediately started formulating thoughts for another game play series. As there’s nothing less than a semi-infinite plethora of games old and new that have slipped my gaze over the years, a mountain of games came to mind. Even so, I kept placing one game at its apex: Chrono Trigger.
Chrono Trigger was released when I was right in the middle of college. During this time, my roommates and I didn’t have any game consoles, so the only time I gamed was at home, my resting place during various breaks. My younger brother was pretty much the only gamer in the house then, and he had taken over the likes of our Super Nintendo. While we had a cache of permanent games — mostly Mario, Mega Man, and Metroid, and Street Fighter, of course — he often rented new titles and traded games with friends. So every time I came home, there’d be a different selection of random games in the house. During one such stay (spring time 1996), Chrono Trigger turned up in one of the random piles. I didn’t know a thing about it. The phrase “Japanese Role Playing Game” was nowhere on my radar. I had not played any pre-Ocarina of Time Zelda games, or anything similar. So when I started up the game out of pure curiosity, I was simultaneously confused and amazed. During its opening credits, I remember thinking that the game looked pretty, really pretty. I remember the bewilderment I felt watching a battle briefly play out. I remember thinking how much the game sounded like Mega Man. When the credits ended the game started up in earnest, but I remained unconvinced about playing. And then…the phone rang.
Long story short, the phone call was about a summer job that I desperately wanted. From the discussion came a date for an interview that was just a couple days away. Once I got off the phone, other phone calls happened — to my friends relaying the news and to my parents to make arrangements with the car. And in my excitement, you know what I complete forgot about? Yep. Chrono Trigger. In fact, I left the damn SNES on all day only to have my brother find the game in situ, probably. Ah well.
So that’s the extent of my experience with Chrono Trigger. I always wanted to go back to it, but just never had the opportunity…until now, just before its 20th anniversary, perhaps?
See, I did consider simply setting forth Chrono Trigger as this year’s mission (hence my title, rather than just called it a “project,” also with a to-be-determined tagline), but when I started looking into the game, the journey sent me down the path of examining other possible JRPGs for the SNES that I could play. And as some of you well know, there were sooooo many! Chrono Trigger, as seminal as it may be, was really just the tip of the iceberg. So that’s when I decided, once again, that I would turn to the community for advice. After all, so many of you were wonderfully helpful in advising me about which Pokemon game to play, it followed in my mind that perhaps I could get similar help for this project…I mean, mission.
So my mission for this summer (and fall, and probably next winter), as I have chosen to accept it, will be to play through a JRPG that was released in the 1990s for the SNES. I already have a list of possibilities, including Chrono Trigger, but I welcome your thoughts on suitable games. What games are necessities and what are some to avoid? Is Chrono Trigger really the be all and end of 1990s JRPGs?
With this project, I’d like to stay away from the familiar, so that includes any game with “Final Fantasy” or “Zelda” in its title. For other reasons, I’d also like to steer clear of Super Mario RPG. I’m not opposed to the obscure, but the more accessible the better. And having a game that’s playable in short bursts (20-30 minutes per session), if such an animal exists, would be a welcome bonus.
Taking into consideration my list and your comments, next Monday I’ll provide a poll of choices, because everyone loves voting. (Don’t you?) The top pick will become my willing subject for “Mission [JRPG]!”