As always, a friendly reminder that this post may contain spoilers.
Long-ish post ahead…
Aside from the Super Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger is the only JRPG that I own on the SNES. I bought it off of Amazon for $30, and its price has only risen since then. However, I would never sell it because it’s too good to ever let go of. Chrono Trigger sports great gameplay and story, but you and I both know why we’re here. Composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and partly by Noriko Matsueda and Nobuo Uematsu (he’ll have the spotlight soon), Chrono Trigger’s soundtrack is quite large in comparison to other games.
Ever since the idea for these posts popped into my head, I was looking forward to the day I would do Chrono Trigger. Now that the day has come, I find myself with a bit of an issue. There are so many songs from Chrono Trigger that deserve a place on this list, but I know putting them all here would be a bit too much. So I’ve decided that I will put down more songs than I have before, but some will have limited commentary. They all matter to me in different ways, so I’m going to do my best to convey how I feel about them.
Frog’s theme presents a gallant knight whose honor shines brighter than any other part of his personality. It took me a while to appreciate exactly how communicative this song was about Frog and the life he leads. He’s eternally faithful to his kingdom (as heard in the regal style of the theme) and his unshakably pure core (the flute portion of his theme).
Frog’s Theme is regarded by most as one of the standout tracks of Chrono Trigger, and may in fact take the cake in terms of character themes. Am I talking about Chrono Trigger or all games ever? The world may never know.
600 A.D. – Wind Scene
Possibly one of the most remixed songs of Chrono Trigger (according to YouTube), Wind Scene is the song that plays when you walk around in the year (surprise) 600 A.D. The song isn’t overly complicated, nor is it very fast. The way I see it, this track represents an earlier and more simple time in the history of Chrono Trigger’s world. Combined with the mystical melody, Wind Scene sets the tone of an undeveloped world that has its own comfort and qualities that make it valuable.
Also, a neat part of the song is found at between the 1:10 – 1:30 mark. To me that portion sounds like a minor hardship, as if there was something going on that is causing a disturbance through the world. But it also seems like the song is attempting to shrug it off. Call me crazy, but that’s always been something that stood out to me.
Boss Battle 1 Theme
I could sit here and tell you about how Boss Battle 1 sets a frantic pace to keep you on your toes. Instead, I’m going to tell you about how this song got me to buy Chrono Trigger.
I discovered Flash Flash Revolution in middle school. I wasn’t very good at it, but hey, I wasn’t that bad. Of course, I was drawn to the arcade section of songs that featured video game music, either remixed or just played straight. While I can no longer seem to find it, this song was on there. It was hard as hell and I couldn’t beat it no matter how hard I tried. I always wanted to listen to more of the song, so I tried to get as far as possible. I found out that it was the theme of a game called Chrono Trigger for the SNES and I tried to get my hands on it. With help from my mom, we went onto Amazon and found a copy in good condition and bought it.
I can say with no shame that I was garbage at the game. However, it didn’t stop me from playing over and over again. I never tackled the game to completion until I was older, but I remember that I got to the first boss of the game and heard this song. Guys… my heart was racing and I’ve never been more excited for a song to show up in a video game than I was at that moment. It was the first time that I had experience with a song before I had played the game that contained it. The boss battle theme isn’t very complicated, but it’s a key part of my childhood and lead me to buying one of the best JRPGs of all time.
Robo’s theme is a song of optimism and hope for the future. One of the few robots in the game that actually likes humans, Robo is one of my favorite characters in Chrono Trigger. It denotes the naiveté of Robo, who is learning to care about other things. Also, as you probably figured out while listening to this song, it sounds a lot like “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.
When the game reveals what caused the world to be destroyed in the future (Ugh, tenses! – EDITOR FRANK), this is the song that plays as Lavos emerges from the fiery crater. He rains down huge exploding needles on the world, wrecking it. The strong opening chords impresses on you just how big of a deal Lavos is. It’s one of the few times a final boss is presented so thoroughly and clearly very early on into the game. He seems almost unconquerable; a force beyond the control of the heroes that wish to defeat him.
This song scared me and made me feel like I couldn’t ever defeat Lavos, so clearly there had to be a way around fighting him head on. All hope was not lost, however. 1:20 – 2:25 denote what I feel is the representation of our heroes and their world. They will not fall so easily to Lavos and they will muster the courage to defeat it. Eventually, his song returns, but instead of a simple looping mechanism I like to think of it as a reminder to not take Lavos lightly despite your new-found confidence.
Battle With Magus
The song sets the stage very well; the wind howls and then you engage Magus in a battle to save the world. Magus is who I would consider to be the end boss of the first half to Chrono Trigger. You went on a grand quest in 600 A.D (and 65,000,000 BC) to stop Magus from summoning Lavos and to help Frog get revenge for the death of his friend Cyrus using the newly reforged sword, Masamune.
This track represents the cold and determined nature of Magus. While the game has determined that your final battle will be with Lavos, it becomes quite obvious that Magus is not some stepping stone you merely need to pass over. He represents a very real threat and has hurt many people before this moment, so it’s only fitting that his theme be as intimidating (and awesome) as it is. At the end of the song, probably representing the end of the fight, everyone is sucked into a time portal and things go dark. The battle was hard fought, but the story isn’t nearly over yet.
Corridors of Time – The Theme of Zeal
This song is probably one of the best composed themes in the whole shebang. I would invite you to listen to this song for as long as you want because you can bet that I did when I got the chance. The music represents the ideals that Zeal seems to live up to. It’s a peaceful and wise community full of those who wish to learn. They are a civilization that has quite literally risen above the ruined wasteland of 12,000 BC (after Lavos crashed and buried himself into the planet in 65,000,000 BC.)
There is certainly darkness in this era, though. Unlike my crazy thought process on Wind Scene, this song truly tells a story that is totally opposite to what’s actually happening. The people of Zeal are enlightened, but arrogant. They believe that because they are in possession of great knowledge and magical power, they are superior to all others. It turns out that despite all this peace, there is a dark secret that lurks behind this kingdom. The magic that they have access to was given to them at great cost when their race once dealt with Lavos. Some people couldn’t learn magic, so they were forced to live below in the cold and icy wastes. You couldn’t tell that from the music, but it tricks you into thinking that this place is wonderful, advanced, and a place you could really get used to living in.
The kingdom of Zeal is about to get a mean wake-up call. Queen Zeal doesn’t just wish for a prosperous nation, she wants immortality and more power than can be comprehended. How does she plan on doing that, you ask? She wants to use a device aptly named the Mammon Machine to use the energy of Lavos to gain that ultimate power. The final part of her plan is to summon Lavos and tap his power directly. It doesn’t take a lot to see that this could only be the idea of a crazy, power hungry monarch.
After being banished from Zeal, you find one of the gurus that used to serve the Queen. He explains her plan and that the only way to stop her is to get to the Undersea Palace and deliver a well deserved ass kicking to everybody. So the race is on to stop Queen Zeal from summoning an ancient evil parasite, which seems to be a trend a lot around here.
The music employs a tactic that doesn’t really show up elsewhere in the game, at least not to my memory. Time is of the essence and the theme to the Undersea Palace does not stop no matter how many battles you partake in. The reasoning behind this is that you need to keep focused on your objective, and by playing a battle theme, you may take your mind off of it for a second. The soundtrack will not tolerate that behavior because it needs you to keep moving. Trust me: when this song started playing and didn’t stop, I felt the rush and desire to take these guys down before it was too late.
Lavos has three forms, and this is the theme of form number two. However, to me, this is the final boss theme of the game. While the real final boss theme is great, I would pick this song in a heartbeat if I was asked which one song declares that the fate of the world rests in your hands one last time. Let me walk you through my thought process on this song. Lavos has torn through the universe, feeding off of and destroying many planets, but not today, you son of a bitch. (INSERT YOUR PARTY HERE) says their personalized messages towards this vile monster and the battle begins.
You’ve come a long way since the introduction of Lavos. You’ve gained power and learned why so much of the world deserves saving. You are the only line of defense that this world has left, and you’ll be damned if you ever let Lavos win. This song pumps me up more than any other boss song that I can think of. His theme lurks in the song (albeit faster), but it doesn’t match with the determination that you have. The planet will see a new and better tomorrow. Count on it. I can’t imagine a better song to do a final battle justice than this one.
Whew… well that was a lot, huh? I mentioned in my introduction post that RPGs have the ability to put songs in your head because you hear them for quite a while. Chrono Trigger has a big soundtrack full of great songs and I’ve only described a few of them. Chrono Trigger is also on the Nintendo DS if you don’t want to shell out for an SNES cartridge (it even has a bunch of extra stuff!) It’s known as one of the greatest JRPGs of all time for good reason, so you should really find a way to play it if you can.
Either way, looks like I’ve run out of time here. Just wish that we had more… wait maybe we do.
TO THE EPOCH
There was a spiritual sequel to Chrono Trigger released on the PS1 called Chrono Cross. I had thought about doing a post for the game on its own, but since I haven’t beaten it, I know I wouldn’t do it justice. HOWEVER, I did want to do something for Chrono Cross because the composing that was done for it was amazing. So I present to you the famous intro theme (with intro!) to Chrono Cross…
(You can buy Chrono Cross on PSN. It’s awesome. Seriously. Do it.)