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Dracula's Dungeon of Classic JRPGs and Other Nonsense

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Black Bird Singing in the Dead of Night

One important surviving remnant of the Kingdom of Zeal is Dalton, which mimics reality because the worst people in government always survive the toughest times.

Right as we go to visit the survivors of the Earth tribe, Dalton finds us and captures us, stashing us aboard his huge battleship (the Black Bird) and stealing our time machine.



The Black Bird is a fun dungeon and a good spin on the "prison dungeon" which we've already seen once in this game. Unlike the fools at Guardia Castle, Dalton actually confiscates all of our equipment and items. Unequipped characters can't actually do anything in combat (with one notable exception), meaning we have to sneak around and find our stuff before we can fight the enemies on the ship. However, if we have Ayla on our team, she can act in combat even without her items. Fortunately, I had Ayla in the party, even though I'd forgotten about this tidbit. It seems like Ayla is always the most important one to have around...

From our cell, we can sneak into the ventilation ducts and explore the whole ship by kneeling on the grates and looking down into the rooms below. In the loading bay we can see Dalton is already doing something to our time machine.

The way to end this dungeon is by finding your way out to the port-side wing. But I ended up having to look at an online map, because I'd been out on the wing twice and couldn't figure out where I was supposed to go. It turns out if you stand in a very specific spot on the lower left side of the wing, it triggers the boss fight, and I just hadn't stood there.

The boss is Dalton's Master Golem, who begins the battle by starting an ominous countdown. But once the countdown reaches zero, the golem just acts confused. Then it gets scared, muttering about hating heights. Honestly I felt kind of bad for the poor thing. It never actually attacks you! It does feel like a nice reprieve after all the fighting we did in the sea temple, though.

Once you defeat the golem, Dalton finishes his modifications of the Epoch. He's built wings on it. When he gets into the cockpit, the game's main theme starts playing, and Dalton screams out "STOP THE MUSIC!" in English. Then theme changes to the "in trouble" track, which he likes more. (I love this moment.)

Dalton attacks us with the Epoch's new laser guns, and because we're badasses, we jump directly onto the Epoch itself to fight Dalton. He angrily summons the Master Golem, not realizing it's already been defeated, and the gate he opened accidentally sucks him inside instead. And we get our ship back! The first thing we do is accidentally fire the lasers and shoot down the Black Bird. Whoops.

Next time, we learn the truth about Magus.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
When we catch up with Queen Zeal, we arrive just in time to hurl the knife into the Majinki. Unfortunately it doesn't do what we want it to, and instead of destroying it, it just releases Lavos instead, resulting in our first (canonical) face-off with the game's final boss.

This is a scripted encounter. Presumably there's no way to survive it. Lavos immediately rains fire from the heavens and kills your whole party.
It's possible, thanks to the magic of NG+, but that version of Lavos is the most powerful enemy in the game; you won't beat it until you've done multiple loops. I think that's one of two ways to get the "developer room" ending.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
It's possible, thanks to the magic of NG+, but that version of Lavos is the most powerful enemy in the game; you won't beat it until you've done multiple loops. I think that's one of two ways to get the "developer room" ending.

I thought this might be the case! Since the NG+ stuff is one of the few elements of Chrono Trigger I've never experienced, I'm thinking more and more that I'm gonna give 'em a whirl when I finish the game up.

Oh, and I forgot to mention a crucial plot element of the Sea Temple segment: the characters of Gran and Rion reappear several times throughout the dungeon to deliver dialogue, and reappear once more just as you fling the knife into the Majinki, revealing that the knife (created by Bosch) is in fact the Grandorion itself, giving a roundabout explanation for how it came to be known by Bosch in the modern era, but not quite sealing the loop - we still don't know how Bosch ended up in the modern era in the first place.

But, more on that next time.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I also love how the entire Zeal era is just incredibly Miyazaki-esque. I mean, tons of 16-bit JRPGs borrow heavily from Ghibli, because why wouldn't you, but the Blackbird could really be straight out of Future Boy Conan or Nausicaa, not to mention the whole obvious Castle in the Sky angle.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Back on land, we now have access to the winged Epoch, and we can take it anywhere we want in time and space. Or, well, any one of the pre-destined eras available within the game system, as well as a new one: 1999, the Day of Lavos. Additionally, an ominous black spaceship appears within every era. This is the Black Omen (known as the Black Dream in the Japanese version) and functions as one of several possible routes to Chrono Trigger's endgame. In fact, we can end the game right now if we want to, but we're probably still too weak to take on Lavos.

That's why it's time for SIDEQUESTS!

But first, Magus.

If we walk to the north edge of the remnant continent in antiquity, we'll find a little peninsula where Magus stands waiting for us. At this time he tells us that his true motive through every era was to destroy Lavos, and the reason he knew about the slumbering beast is that he originates from antiquity. Yes, in fact, the precocious Jaki and the brooding Magus are one and the same, meaning Sara is the sister of this deposed Dark Lord.

Magus explains how in his timeline, a malfunctioning Majinki opened up a rogue time rift that sent him to the middle ages, where he was discovered by Vinegar. The same rift also swallowed up Gash, Hash, and Bosch, sending them to the future, to the end of time, and to the modern era, respectively. Gash became the elder who oversees the little meeting square at the end of time; Hash spent his years designing the Epoch; and Bosch became an eccentric weapons collector west of Medina Village.

Jaki, of course, quickly rose to prominence in the middle ages, where he roused an army of monsters, claiming he would unite them to build a new world of monsters. This was apparently all part of his plan to get him closer to Lavos, however, a plan which would have gone off without a hitch if it weren't for us meddling kids!

At this, Magus' boss theme starts to play, and the game gives us a chance to fight him or not.



If we fight Magus here, he's killed off for good and his story ends there. If we spare him, he gives us the option to let him join us in the battle against Lavos.

This must have been a pretty surprising moment for many game players of the era. I'm guessing a not-insignificant number of players battled Magus here and finished the game without ever learning that he could become a playable character. I'm pretty sure I read a guide during my initial CT playthrough, so it was no surprise to me.

Once you recruit Magus, the game gives you the option to name him (since he simply goes by a title in the Japanese version). I decide to name him Despisaro.

As a playable character, Magus represents a departure from the others. He starts off knowing three second-level magic spells (Firaga, Icaga, and Thundaga). Following these he learns several powerful dark-element spells as well as a barrier spell and an instant death spell. He's very fast, has a very high accuracy stat, and has decent strength.

What he doesn't do is play well with others. He never learns any double or triple skills. I like this as an expression of character through game mechanics. Double and triple skills represent the friendship and camaraderie built among the time-traveling allies. One imagines a certain degree of trust is needed to let Ayla throw you at a giant robot, after all. But Magus doesn't have that trust - he's an ally, but he's not a friend. Whenever there are scenes showing the whole group together, Magus is always standing off to the side, trying to look brooding. When you talk to him at the End of Time, his banter is "You have need of my power?"

The first time I played CT, I think I barely used Magus at all. This time, though, I found plenty of usage for him in the areas where enemies were particularly weak to a certain elemental magic.

Now, let's talk about some side quests.

Continued...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
The next intended thing for you to do in the game is figure out how to revive Crono. At the End of Time, Gash gives us a "Time Egg" and tells us (in a cryptic way) to take it to Hash.

But you don't have to do this first. So I didn't! Partly because I forgot how to do it. But also, hey, this is a great time to try out all sorts of different team builds, so that's how I approached this area. The game functions fine without Crono.

Now, Chrono Trigger has a variety of side quests in the endgame that all roughly correspond to one of the characters. I did all of them in this playthrough, so I'll talk about each in turn, though not necessarily in the order I did them.

Sidequest #1: The Rainbow Shell



Focal Character: Ayla, more or less
Notable NPC(s): Thoma
Notable Bosses: Rust Tyranno

Description: Conversing with Thoma, a treasure hunter from the middle ages, you learn of a lost treasure known as the Rainbow Shell which Thoma has hunted for for many years. By pouring his favorite ale over his gravestone in the modern era, his ghost appears and tells you where to go to find the Shell, a place called the Giant's Claw north of his grave. When you visit this island, you quickly discover that buried under the island's mountain is the ruins of the Reptite Lair from prehistory. At the end of the cave, you face off against the Rust Tyranno, a more powerful variant of the Black Tyranno with no Reptite to hold its leash. Once conquered, the Rainbow Shell is evidently transported back to Guardia Castle.

Assessment: The Reptite ruins is a cool return to the Reptite plotline, featuring powered up dino enemies and a memorably tough boss. The Rust Tyranno is essentially a damage race - it counts down to a powerful flame attack, like the Black Tyranno did, but after each one it siphons HP from a couple of party members to power up the flame attack. After two or three power-ups, the attack becomes nearly impossible to survive. You need to kill the Tyranno before that happens. As a character beat, this sidequest rings pretty hollow. I think it's meant to be Ayla's, but she has no real voice in it and I don't think she needs to be in the party to trigger it. There's no Reptite remnant in their lair other than the mindless dinos, so there's no antagonist for Ayla to speak with here either. This one is more satisfying mechanically than it is thematically.


Sidequest #2: The Return of Yakura



Focal Character: Marle
Notable NPC(s): Yakura/Chancellor, King Guardia XXXIII
Notable Bosses: Yakura XIII

Description: Upon returning to Guardia Castle in the modern era, you discover that King Guardia XXXIII has been placed on trial. The charges? Selling off a precious royal heirloom, the Rainbow Shell! The castle shuts down for the trial and all of the areas are shut off. With Marle in the party, you can beg entrance into the courtroom. A reprise of Crono's trial from early in the game begin to play out again, with Marle again attempting to wrest control of the obvious sham from the self-assured Minister. From here we race to the castle basement to prove the shell is actually down there, impeded along the way by several monsters. Just as the king is found guilty, we return to the courtroom with a fragment of the shell to prove his innocence. Furious, the chancellor throws off his guise, revealing himself to be a descendent of the same Yakura we fought in the middle ages, and we take him down for good.

Assessment: There's a lot I love about this one. It gives Marle a chance to show off her plucky determination. It's less of a challenge than the Giant's Claw - though Yakura himself is stronger than his ancestor, his servants are the same low-level enemies we faced in the middle ages and are little more than a speed bump on our way to the treasure vault. But between each room, the game whisks us back to the courtroom to show us the next phase in Yakura's sham trial. Once we do locate the shell, it has a note affixed to it from Queen Leene of the middle ages, addressed to Marle, which is itself very sweet and implies that the queen realized her relationship to Marle. And when the trial ends, there's a very sweet moment between Marle and her father.

Also, this quest has a minor effect on the game's ending - after Yakura's defeat, we can rescue the real chancellor from a chest in one of the towers. If we don't do this, a different character (Pierre, the castle defense attorney) appears at the festival.

Continued...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Sidequest #3: Genocidome



Focal Character: Robo
Notable NPC(s): Atropos XR, Mother Brain
Notable Bosses: Atropos XR, Mother Brain

Description: In the future era, there is one dome that can only be reached with the Epoch. If Robo is in our party, a mysterious voice invites us within. This voice turns out to be a computer system known as Mother Brain, which has taken control of the world's robots. Though the computer seems benevolent at first, it quickly becomes apparent that it is most assuredly not. Mother Brain has been sending robots into the world in order to kidnap humans to recycle into raw materials for her machines. Her intention is to transform the ruined world into a world of machines, erasing the weak humans from Earth entirely.

Along the way we meet Atropos XR, an old friend of Robos and one of the last surviving of the R-series. Atropos has sadly come under the control of Mother Brain. Though Robo tries to convince her that she is more than what Mother Brain is using her to be, Atropos only recognizes this after a fatal destruction of her own circuitry. We then go on to teach Mother Brain a lesson about how humans might be soft, but if we grind enough tech points we eventually learn double and triple skills.

Assessment: This is one of my favorites. The Genocidome is bursting with puzzles and interesting enemy encounters and is punctuated by creepy messages from Mother Brain. The payoff, where Robo must fight Atropos in a one-on-one battle, is both exciting and heartbreaking. Mother Brain herself is a unique boss and has a special gimmick: she has three monitors that heal her every turn. The monitors die in a single strike, but if you destroy all of them, Mother Brain begins doing a devastating counter-attack every turn. The trick is to leave one monitor alive and outpace the 1,000 HP it heals every turn, meaning you have to be careful with your area-of-effect moves such that you don't accidentally destroy the third monitor. When you defeat the computer, you win two special arms for Robo: the very strong Terra Arm and the deceptively weak Crisis Arm. The latter's damage output changes depending on the last digit of Robo's HP count. As long as that digit is a 4 or higher, it's Robo's best weapon. If it's lower than 4, it's the weakest weapon in the game.

In conclusion; great dungeon, great battles, great character beats, and great loot.


Sidequest #4: Cyrus' Ghost



Focal Character: Frog
Notable NPC(s): Cyrus, architects
Notable Bosses: N/A

Description: When flying around the world map in either the middle ages or the modern era, there is one continent that's otherwise inaccessible. Upon this continent is the village of Choras and a ruined fortress. In the middle ages, the fortress is inhabited by a variety of undead foes, but past the first couple of rooms it's impossible to proceed due to holes in the floor. In the modern era, a large ghostly knight patrols the entrance hallway. If Frog is in your party, he is able to identify the ghost as that of Cyrus, the knight slain by Magus. But the ghost is mindless and full of rage.

The key to this quest is talking to the architects in the village of Choras. Given the right sequence of events, they will repair the holes in the castle floor, allowing you to proceed through the various rooms and eventually discover the grave of Cyrus in the castle basement. Once found, Cyrus' ghost will appear and hold conversation with Frog, allowing the friends to reach some closure in their relationship and have a tearful farewell. After this, the grave's title will change from "Fool's Grave" to "Hero's Grave" and the Grandorion will gain another power-up.

Assessment: This is a satisfying conclusion to Frog's story arc, but the quest mechanics themselves are a little murky. Part of it is just me struggling with Japanese, but I totally missed how you're supposed to get the architects to work on the castle. This was the only sidequest that I looked at a guide for. The castle itself is pretty straightforward, with several simplistic battles against skeletons and the like. Once it's fully cleared out, there are a few more of those fancy sealed chests that you can upgrade if you don't loot them in the middle ages. Two of them give you some of the best weapons for Crono and Marle, so it's certainly worth the effort.

Continued...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Sidequest #5: Vinegar's Fort



Focal Character: Magus
Notable NPC(s): Vinegar, Soy, Mayo
Notable Bosses: Vinegar, Soy, Mayo

Description: Following the defeat of Magus, his former minions retreat to a small forest tower on the central continent. Here we can have our final face-off with Vinegar and the other two generals. Vinegar leads us through another gauntlet of traps and battles before we fight all three of them at once.

Assessment: Vinegar's fort plays out like a fun easter egg. If you have Magus in your party, he has some dialogue with Vinegar that feels like a nice conclusion of the "monster army" story arc, but otherwise this quest is basically an excuse for these generals to reappear. And I'm glad they do, because they're some of the most entertaining of all of Chrono Trigger's minor antagonists, particularly Vinegar. All of his traps in this dungeon are totally ineffectual: he drops his own ogres down pits and an imp gets caught in his "brilliant" bait trap. Both Mayo and Soy are easily defeated in their initial solo battles. The trio battle is pretty tough, though, with all three generals capable of delivering a devastating triple tech. But if Ayla is around, she can steal unique equipment from each general, including Vinegar's underpants.



Yep.

It's only possible to wear them as headgear. If you do wear them, you get confused and your HP drains. But they provide some of the strongest defense in the game, presumably because nobody wants to get close enough to you to attack you.

Sidequest #6: The Sun Stone



Focal Character: N/A
Notable NPC(s): Mayor of Palipoli
Notable Bosses: Son of Sun

Description: Throughout the game, you may have heard rumors of a Sun Temple where the legendary Sun Stone is kept. The place is discussed in antiquity, and the stone is mentioned by Thoma as the next legendary treasure he'll seek after the Rainbow Shell. The only place to visit the temple is in the future era. Once inside, we're immediately confronted by Son of Sun, a fiery floating eyeball. Once defeated, we can recover the Sun Stone, but its ages buried in this temple have left it dim and powerless. To recover its power, we place it within the light shrine, a cave that exists in every era. But! Once placed there in prehistory, traveling forward to the future, we discover that it's missing!

A little bit of time sleuthing helps us discover that someone in the modern era absconded with the stone. It turns out to be the greedy mayor of Palipoli, who denies that he has the thing. In order to recover it from him, we must tamper again with the timeline, giving his ancestor some free jerky so that her descendants don't end up so greedy. Once the sunstone properly soaks up the sunlight for a few millennia, Lucca can use it to bestow the Wondershot, her best gun, as well as a pair of Sun Glasses that she can wear.

Assessment: This is mostly a mechanical puzzle. Son of Sun is itself a puzzle boss - the only way to damage it is to strike the correct flame; everything else will result in low damage and a retaliation attack. Every so often it spins its flames around, forcing you to find the target again. Finding the sun stone in the modern era is another type of puzzle. I did look up a guide for this, because I didn't want to go talking to every NPC in the world again, but that's actually not necessary - the Palipoli mayor's house will actually sparkle when he has the stone.

But I don't super love the resolution to the mayor bit. I had completely forgotten about the jerky thing and it feels like a superficial bit of item-trading to see this one through, and it doesn't really connect to any of the characters. The loot you get out of it is great, though, especially if you like to have Lucca in your party, which you should, because she's the best character.

Continued...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Sidequest #7: Fiona's Forest



Focal Characters: Lucca, Robo
Notable NPC(s): Fiona
Notable Bosses: Malefic

Description: This sidequest is the one I accidentally discovered a while back, and I think it's the only of these you can access prior to the fall of Zeal. Fiona is a simple farmer in the middle ages who lives in a desert north of Palipoli. After her husband is rescued following the end of the monster war, they hope to start revitalizing the desert-ified region, but the desert is too full of monsters. We bravely dive into the monster lair and clear them out, but there's still a problem: Fiona and her husband would never be able to finish the job themselves. It would take too long. If only there was someone who could live for hundreds of years...

Oh wait, there is! If you visit Fiona with Robo in your party, he offers to do the job, since his systems will self-sustain for a very long time. If you agree, Robo leaves your party and begins to till the land. From this point forward, an adorable little farmer-mode Robo will be trundling around this desert. When you travel to the modern era, you discover a forest in place of the desert, and a shrine where the memory of Fiona and her metal companion are honored. Robo himself is here, rusty and covered in grime, but still functioning. Lucca helps fix him, and he rejoins the party.

Surprisingly, this isn't the end of the quest. Following Robo's revival, there's a dialogue scene where the friends all chat around a campfire.



I think this is one of the most famous moments in the game, which is surprising since it's buried within an optional sidequest. (Mine did not include Crono, since he was dead at the time.) During the campfire, Robo and the others discuss the nature of memories and surmise that, perhaps, the appearance of the Time Gates goes deeper than Lavos. Perhaps, they muse, there is some greater entity who wishes for us to grow by witnessing painful or notable events from our pasts.

In the depths of the night, Lucca wakes up to find a new time gate has opened near the campsite. When she travels through it, she finds herself witness to one of her own memories: a time in her childhood when her mother was gravely injured in one of her father's machines. There are notes strewn around the house that suggest how painful this event must have been (particularly one where Lucca recounts how much she enjoyed a day of hiking with her mother). The memory plays out like a cutscene, but it is possible for the player to affect its outcome - but more on that in a moment.

When she awakens, Robo is waiting for her and gives her a special stone which unlocks a triple skill.

Assessment: This is probably the best sidequest in the game. The initial dungeon can be quite challenging, especially at lower levels, but wasn't terribly tough once I brought along Frog with Waterga and Magus. The Fiona forest revival segment makes beautiful usage of the game's time travel mechanics. I love Robo's selfless act (and I think he does have a concept of self), and I love how after you do this there's a permanent alternate Robo wandering around the overworld. The discovery of the aged Robo inside Fiona's shrine is a shockingly beautiful and sad moment, even though you know the guy's gonna be fine once Lucca tinkers with him.

It's Lucca's flashback that takes this all to the next level, though. It's the only moment like this in the whole game. Sure, Frog gets to clear his conscience of any wrongdoing in connection to Cyrus' death; sure, Marle gets to improve her relationship with her dad. But nobody else uses time travel to revisit their childhood trauma. And it's not just witnessing this event, it's how you can potentially affect it. If you're thorough in exploring Lucca's house, you find a note saying that the key to the machine's emergency shut-off is "That which Taban loves the most." Lucca's mother, of course.

Now here's the even crazier part about this: In the US version, Lucca's mother's name is "Lara." So you press L, A, R, A to shut off the machine. But in Japanese, her name is "ララ," which could be translated as Lala, Lara, Rala, etc. In other words, it's more difficult to guess the correct answer to this riddle. And in my opinion, you're not really meant to. I think the canonical conclusion to this memory is Lucca accepting a certain degree of loss, a certain degree of weakness. Regardless of whether you save Lara, the moment ends with Lucca kneeling against her bed with her face in her arms.

If you don't save her, Lucca doesn't mention this event to Robo. Robo comments that she seems troubled, but she doesn't dish. She's internalized it. It's powerful, the way this is written, and how so many parts of it are left up to the player's imagination.

This is not just the best side quest, it might be the best moment in the entire dang video game.

Alright. We have two more major things to talk about, but we'll get to them next time. In the meanwhile, I'd like to hear your thoughts on these various sidequests.
 

Mr. Sensible

Pitch and Putt Duffer
Also, this quest has a minor effect on the game's ending - after Yakura's defeat, we can rescue the real chancellor from a chest in one of the towers. If we don't do this, a different character (Pierre, the castle defense attorney) appears at the festival.
Oh, fun! I did not know about Pierre since I'm a horrible treasure fiend.
 
Last edited:

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
There is a way, I believe, to get a triple tech on Magus. Hidden throughout the game are a number of accessories which enable a unique triple tech if equipped by one of the participants, and I'm pretty sure one of them uses one of his techs.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
There is a way, I believe, to get a triple tech on Magus. Hidden throughout the game are a number of accessories which enable a unique triple tech if equipped by one of the participants, and I'm pretty sure one of them uses one of his techs.

Oh, you're probably correct. I ended the game with a couple of these accessories which went mostly unused. I find that I'm not likely to use the triple techs at all except just to test them out from time to time.
 

gogglebob

The Goggles Do Nothing
(he/him)
It is a fun little gameplay/plot synergy thing that Crono is the center of all "natural" triple techs, so you cannot have any triple techs if you never reclaim Crono, plus the implication is that Crono is the only hero that is capable of bringing robots, frogs, and cavewomen together in cooperation.

That said, there are five "extra" rocks that create non-Crono based triple techs. Magus is involved in two of them. The golden stone tech seems the most plot relevant... and you might want to look up how to nab that one, as it is... not something you would do in normal game progression. Actually, I think there are only one or two stones that I would expect a player would "normally" obtain, and another that is easy... if you revisit an old area you would never think to otherwise.

Errr... anyway... Triple techs: won't you?
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
Yeah, there's something interesting to be said in that most Triple Techs require Crono to be a part of them. He may just be the mute sword guy whom the player's perspective did not leave until he got blowed up, but it also serves as another way of showing just how important he was to his friends, that they can not function as a trio in an attack without the help of some magic rocks. It adds to the feeling of loss.

As for Magus, his lack of double techs and nigh complete lack of triple techs function as a way to show that he always feels alone, even when going along with the party. And I think it's not coincidental that the two triple techs that he can use with stone assistance are different ways of burning it all down requiring the resident immolator (Lucca) and someone who can use magic (Marle) or simulate magical effects (Robo).
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
t's only possible to wear them as headgear. If you do wear them, you get confused and your HP drains. But they provide some of the strongest defense in the game, presumably because nobody wants to get close enough to you to attack you.

I had forgotten about those even though I'm sure I had Ayla steal all of Ozzie, Flea, and Slash's stuff in at least some of my play-throughs. I suppose they immediately got binned due to the auto-confuse.

especially if you like to have Lucca in your party, which you should, because she's the best character.

🔫🔨🔫

So you press L, A, R, A to shut off the machine.

I remember this being a super harrowing moment the first times I played, both emotionally and mechanically. I had some trouble inputting the code, possibly because you use A to interact with everything and I wasn't clear on whether you had to start with it at the control panel, and I think I failed it the first time despite having the clues. Which, as Drac points out, perhaps only makes the scene more impactful. Anyway, yeah, that whole sequence from growing the forest and the campfire up through Lucca's past is just plain amazing.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
So I was just diving through a Chrono Trigger wiki looking for something else, and saw the tidbit that Lucca's Hypno Wave (attempt to put all enemies to Sleep), even though it usually doesn't work on mechanical enemies since they don't sleep, actually has a high rate of disabling Mother Brain's healing Displays. Neat! I never knew that worked.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
So I was just diving through a Chrono Trigger wiki looking for something else, and saw the tidbit that Lucca's Hypno Wave (attempt to put all enemies to Sleep), even though it usually doesn't work on mechanical enemies since they don't sleep, actually has a high rate of disabling Mother Brain's healing Displays. Neat! I never knew that worked.
Whoa, that's super cool!
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Sidequest #8: The Time Egg




Focal Characters: Crono
Notable NPC(s): Gash, Hash, Bekkler
Notable Bosses: Lavos Spawn

Description: Upon revisiting the End of Time, Hash gives us an egg-shaped item called the Chrono Trigger. He says this item can be used to revive someone who has died, but must be activated in a very specific way, and the one who knows its usage is Gash, the creator of the Epoch. When we revisit Gash (whose mind now resides in the body of a Nu) in the future, he gives us the instructions for using the Trigger. We must climb the Mountain of Death, north of the lab. And we must bring with us a perfect copy of the dead person. He says there was a magician who could create such copies, a man named Bekkler who supposedly loves festivals.

We can find Bekkler at the Millennial Fair in the present. He is the mysterious operator of the Tent of Horrors, and for 40 silver points he creates a Crono doppelganger. In order to obtain it, we must first mimic the copy's actions. After obtaining the copy, we can climb the Mountain of Death. Previously, any attempt to traverse it resulted in us being blown off the side of the mountain by strong winds; now there are some little doll creatures who appear to guide us through the windstorm.

Along the way we fight several of these baddies:



In one notable case we use the discarded shell of one to help us climb a narrow ledge. At the top of the cliff we raise the egg above our heads, and...nothing happens. Marle falls to her knees, overcome with grief. But just then, the moon eclipses the sun, and we're suddenly transported to the moment of Crono's death.



Here, we quickly realize that we are the only ones who can take action. So before the gate can close, we swap the doppelganger for the real Crono and return to the future moments before Lavos' beam pulverizes him. Crono awakens, apparently unaware of what has transpired.

Assessment: This is another example of Chrono Trigger's masterful unification of mechanics with storytelling, and it even has a bit of the game's trademark weirdness thrown in. I admittedly had forgotten all about Bekkler in my playthrough, and even with the obvious hint from Gash I still ended up looking at a guide (Me walking right past the tent of horrors: "lol surely he's not in there right?"). The mimic minigame is a little tedious but otherwise there's nothing that feels like busywork in this quest. The mini-Lavos fights are also fun - if you attack the shell, you get hit with a very strong counterattack, so you have to carefully use moves that are strong but only hit a single target.

The moment where Marle reunites with Crono is also one of the sweetest in the game. I really like how she throws a lampshade on the silent hero trope, pointing out that Crono never likes to talk much. At this point it almost seems as if the game is telling you that Crono is literally meant to be mute, or it might just be a little in-joke. I suppose it's up to you, the player!

Next we'll go over the Black Omen and the endgame.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
I love that you can go back and get a dummy for anyone by running through the minigame again and it shows up at their house, whatever that may mean for the party member. Definitely grinded up my share of those stupid star points.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I think this is one of the most famous moments in the game, which is surprising since it's buried within an optional sidequest. (Mine did not include Crono, since he was dead at the time.) During the campfire, Robo and the others discuss the nature of memories and surmise that, perhaps, the appearance of the Time Gates goes deeper than Lavos. Perhaps, they muse, there is some greater entity who wishes for us to grow by witnessing painful or notable events from our pasts.

The scene stands out to me because nothing else in the game is really written like it. Everything else in Trigger is characters reacting to the machinations of the plotting or doing very objective-driven things--it's part of the forward momentum people usually cherish about the game. In here, there is that moment of quiet contemplation and the characters showcasing a degree of personal interiority; even Magus pipes up briefly, unprompted. It's one of the clearer throughlines going into Cross and the writing voice and emphasis it would go on to have.
 

gogglebob

The Goggles Do Nothing
(he/him)
RANDOM TIDBIT THAT I AM PRETTY SURE IS TRUE: Magus is the only character that reacts to Schala/Sara during the death-moment-freeze. Any idea what he says in Japanese? I seem to recall the Woolsey translation is a pretty basic (though presumably loaded) statement like "A pity we couldn't change anything."
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
RANDOM TIDBIT THAT I AM PRETTY SURE IS TRUE: Magus is the only character that reacts to Schala/Sara during the death-moment-freeze. Any idea what he says in Japanese? I seem to recall the Woolsey translation is a pretty basic (though presumably loaded) statement like "A pity we couldn't change anything."

Great question! The gif I used up there isn't from my playthrough; I had Marle, Lucca, and Robo in my party at that time. I'll have to check that out sometime!
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
So at this point, Chrono Trigger has had quite a few final dungeons. We've battled through Magus' castle in the middle ages, the Reptite lair in prehistory, and the Sea temple in antiquity. All of these places were crucial to the story, featured unique music tracks, and concluded with memorable boss encounters.

With all that in mind, it's kind of amazing to recognize that Chrono Trigger's actual final dungeon, the spaceship known as the Black Omen, is fully optional.



In order to end the game, the only thing you must do is destroy Lavos. Completing the Omen is one way to do so (and probably the best way for a first playthrough), but there are numerous other ways also. For example, you can examine the bucket at the End of Time, which takes you straight into the battle with the big bug. Or you could pilot the Epoch to the day of Lavos in 1999. If you do the latter, the ship crashes into Lavos himself, which destroys it and propels you directly to the second phase of the battle...but you lose the Epoch, which affects the ending you get.

But missing the Black Omen also means you miss the conclusion of the Zeal story arc.

As discussed before, you can access the Omen from any of the standard timelines. The ship actually adheres to the game's time travel logic, so if you destroy it in one timeline, it ceases to exist in all timelines following that one. The upshot is you can actually clear the dungeon multiple times if you're some sort of crazy completionist.

The dungeon itself opens with us jumping off onto an exterior landing pad. In a nice visual touch, we can see the Epoch flying into the clouds below us before we enter the Omen. In most eras, Zeal herself will greet us at the entryway, gloating like the cartoon villain she is.

What follows is, fittingly, the game's longest dungeon. It's full of the strongest monsters, including many we'd not seen up to this point. It has no special gimmicks. It's just a very long and grueling dungeon that serves as a thematic bookend for all of the other dungeons up to this point. There is a recurring boss battle in the form of this thing:



The Mega Mutant, Giga Mutant, and Tera Mutant all have slightly different attack patterns, but they all have very high physical defense and two distinct portions to target. Normally, attacking the lower portion results in a counter attack called "Life Shaver" which reduces the target to 1 HP. This is a good way of setting up what to expect for the battle with Zeal at the top of the ship.

Partway through the Omen, we run into two Nus who let us buy items and exit the ship if we want to. It's worth noting that Chrono Trigger, unlike many JRPGs of the era, has no "exit" spells or items. All of the dungeons either end with us back outside or are designed with built-in shortcuts to exit quickly when they're done. The exit Nu here is a nice quality of life feature and shows that the designers represented the outlying nature of the Omen.

So at the top of the ship we come face to face with Zeal herself, who stands over the remains of the Majinki.



Queen Zeal is pretty fond of using an attack called Hallation, which reduces everyone's HP to one. It takes careful monitoring of MP and available techniques to keep everyone healthy, but otherwise this isn't too difficult of a battle.

Of course, it's far from the end. Now at this point I would like to take a moment to clear up one of Talking Time's longstanding controversies.

On the Nature of the Black Omen

You might have noticed I've been referring to the Black Omen as a ship this whole time. I'm aware this is a somewhat controversial opinion, and there are those of us who would prefer to think of the structure as a tower instead. Well, in the Japanese version of Chrono Trigger, there is a line of dialogue which should put this debate to rest once and for all.



"Become part of this ship!
Become part of me!!
Become part of the great Lavos!!!"

There it is, straight from the mouth of Queen Zeal. I checked the English (SNES) version, and they localized it to "Become part of the Omen!"

I'm sorry for your loss, Tower Stans.

Now, on with the show.

The second phase of this battle is fighting the Majinki itself, a battle which isn't terribly hard. The machine spends some of the battle standing around doing nothing, so I don't think it's meant to be a huge challenge.

The third phase, though, is a bit of a nailbiter.



Atop the Omen, Zeal transforms into a floating heat with two hands. It's possible to attack the hands, but any damage or action taken against them provokes a Life Shaver counterattack. Meanwhile all three components attack with a variety of reality-bending techniques. You have to carefully choose your strategy here so you don't accidentally attack more than one target.

And even after this three-phase boss, you're not done! The Omen crashes into the ground, releasing Lavos, who immediately attacks.

Continued...
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
The Day of Lavos


Lavos is a multi-phased multi-phase boss. It's a long battle. Fortunately the game is kind enough to give you some brief respites between portions. When you appear before the big pillbug, you can move around on the screen before challenging him, meaning you can easily use items to recover HP/MP or swap out party members.

The world-ending alien's first phase is actually a fun little boss rush of sorts, where Lavos mimics all of the game's significant boss battles starting with the Dragon Tank and ending with Giga Gaia. Lavos calls in little extra bits and pods to serve as the additional targets if needed. The returning bosses seem to all have the same stats as their original appearances, meaning a party that's done everything in the game up to this point should have a pretty easy time dealing with each one. Still, you get to swap out party members between each phase, so you can optimize for bosses that have particular weaknesses or strengths. It's a nice little memory game, too, since you have to recall how you beat each of these bosses.

Once that's done, Lavos straight up attacks you. His stats are lower than the time where you're supposed to lose against him, but his "rain fire from the heavens" attack is still pretty strong. Once he's down, his little graboid mouth disappears and you enter the inside of his carapace.

In here is a time gate and a save point, meaning you can exit the battle now and keep doing other side quests or dance at the Millennial Fair or whatever strikes your fancy. It struck my fancy to keep fighting Lavos, so that's what I did.



Once inside Lavos' core, you have to fight Cell this crazy torso thing.

It's easy to believe that this is the true final boss, because it gets its own rousing battle theme:


This is one of my favorite battle themes in any video game.

Lavos can blast you with lasers from his hands and do other scary stuff. You can destroy his arms before you destroy his central unit. I used a party of Lucca, Marle, and Robo, relying mainly on Lucca/Marle's Antipode 3 and Robo's Machine Gun punch (with Crisis Arm used correctly, he can hit for thousands of damage every turn).

But this isn't even Lavos' final form.



The core breaks down, revealing a strange humanoid figure within. This is the Lavos Core, a being that Lucca describes as having observed humanity for centuries in order to absorb our strongest strengths, becoming the ultimate life form. And the core comes with yet another new boss theme:


Gosh it's hard for me to pick a favorite among these. I love this music so much. Gets my blood pumping!

As is appropriate to Chrono Trigger, the Lavos Core serves as the game's ultimate puzzle battle. Like many prior battles, the Lavos Core is made up of three targets: a central humanoid figure and two floating "bits." The left bit will sometimes attack, but often it will drain MP or restore HP to the other targets. The right bit usually does nothing at all. The humanoid will attack the party with devastating moves that vary depending on the current background location: every so often, the humanoid will trigger a "time warp" that changes the background graphic to one of the game's major locations.

The puzzle here is that only one of these three targets is the true Lavos core, and it's not the one that seems obvious. To win this battle, you have to destroy the right-side bit. But it's only really vulnerable when the other bits are destroyed, as it will relax its defense then to revitalize the two destroyed parts.

It's easy to assume one strategy or other in this battle and waste a lot of HP and MP on it, so I think it's a clever way to ramp up tension, especially since most players will have Level 45+ characters here with a huge amount of damage and recovery options available to them.

Once Lavos is successfully destroyed, the game proceeds to an ending scene. The game's endings vary depending on a number of factors: whether you destroyed the Epoch; whether you recruited Magus; whether you revived Crono; and where and when you destroyed Lavos itself. In the new game+ mode, you gain a variety of new situations in which you can fight Lavos, and each of these will result in a different ending.

The "standard" ending involves a humorous reprise of Crono waking up in his bed, only to be summoned to the castle, where he learns his stay of execution has been revoked. We then go to a night-time festival at Leene Square, revisit a few important NPCs, and see off all of the game's characters one final time. It's hard not to tear up a little bit for a few of these farewells, particularly that of Lucca and Robo's, since she knows that the destruction of Lavos means that Robo's future might not exist at all anymore.

And just as the gate is about to close, Crono's mom chases a kitten into it, triggering a whole new time adventure.


What more can I say about Chrono Trigger? This is one of my generation's most beloved games, and many words have already been spilled about it. After watching the credits roll I did start up a new game+, but I don't feel especially driven to pursue the alternate endings, so I think I will put this playthrough to rest right here.

I love rediscovering games like this after many years, as I tend to find new things to love about them each time. In this playthrough I think I gained a new appreciation for Marle and Lucca, who in past plays I had often benched in favor of characters I connected to more strongly like Frog. But as I grow older I find elements in characters that I connect to now that I didn't before.

So who are your favorite CT characters? How did it feel when you first beat the game? Have you gotten all the endings? Let's hear about it.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Ayla's my favourite character as far as party members go. She has the best individual lines to every scenario presented by the game; it's uncommon for a woman to be the physically strongest character in a game; rarer still for that character to also be the functional thief; I appreciate her and Kino's established relationship as it casts her as romantically autonomous outside of the player insert's context which ends up defining Marle. She's also the lone adult woman in the playable cast so that relationship can be played as having a suggested sexual element which doesn't feel inappropriate or playing to the game's compulsions above characterization.

I've never seen a single alternate ending to the game and likely never will because replaying an RPG with its projected first-time balance excised and replaced at most with high-end optional boss variations here or there sounds like complete anathema to me. It works for people who are enamored with Trigger and want to see all it has to offer, but it's never managed to connect with me that deeply to motivate extended play. Replaying it after finishing with the initial ending is too much, and by the time years later I feel like replaying again, I just want to play the game regularly again, so it never happens.
 
My favorites:
Ayla>Robo (after you fix his speed)>Lucca>Magus>Frog>Robo (before you fix his speed)>Marle

As discussed before, you can access the Omen from any of the standard timelines. The ship actually adheres to the game's time travel logic, so if you destroy it in one timeline, it ceases to exist in all timelines following that one. The upshot is you can actually clear the dungeon multiple times if you're some sort of crazy completionist.

I definitely did this multiple times as a child during a slow summer vacation. I think I was farming for Tabs to increase everyone's stats to ** in every possible category, even characters who didn't benefit from it? (Strength for Lucca, or whatever? I forget.) I imagine it wasn't the optimal way to farm them, but I had nothing else to do that at the time.

Also, I had inherited the cartridge from a close friend who died extremely young, so there was a high level of sentimental value for me in maxing it out.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
As discussed before, you can access the Omen from any of the standard timelines. The ship actually adheres to the game's time travel logic, so if you destroy it in one timeline, it ceases to exist in all timelines following that one. The upshot is you can actually clear the dungeon multiple times if you're some sort of crazy completionist.
I also definitely did this in at least one of my play-throughs because like estragon I am a crazy person and **'d everyone's stats on at least one of my saves.

I have definitely re-played Trigger way way more times than any other RPG, and probably even any non-RPG that's more than a few hours long. Even though the last time was quite a while ago now (on the DS release), it's so burned into my brain that I remember almost every detail. I've seen all the ending variations multiple times; some of the more obscure or difficult to obtain ones are downright hilarious. There one that leaps to mind is when Marle and Lucca have a girls' night out and put on a slideshow to check out the game's male NPCs.

When I was younger I always used Lucca, because I was a stereotypical male nerd hot for the nerdy girl mechanic, and then also gravitated to the "cool" characters like Frog and Magus, but on later plays I came to appreciate the entire cast deeply. It's just such a great set of characters.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
"Become part of this ship!
Become part of me!!
Become part of the great Lavos!!!"
There it is, straight from the mouth of Queen Zeal. I checked the English (SNES) version, and they localized it to "Become part of the Omen!"

I'm sorry for your loss, Tower Stans.

She's clearly referring to it metaphorically, as in "Become part of this tower, which is like a ship through time and into immortality." Obviously.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Hey @Dracula - I have a question for you. Chrono and Frog have a double tech where Frog stabs his sword into an enemy and Chrono hits it with lightning. What's that named in Japanese?
I love that you can go back and get a dummy for anyone by running through the minigame again and it shows up at their house, whatever that may mean for the party member. Definitely grinded up my share of those stupid star points.
I have also done this. I remember Magus being difficult because some of his poses were subtle and hard to parse quickly.
appreciate the entire cast deeply. It's just such a great set of characters.
And should I repeat how much I love the critical hit animations and Marle and Lucca's melee attacks or is everyone tired of hearing me mention that?
 
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