First of all, this isn’t a review. I didn’t buy this game (or receive a free code) and neither should you. I absolutely love Chrono Trigger, and the PC port that was released yesterday is possibly the worst way to play it. This article is the result of thorough research on just what makes the PC port tick, and my findings are: it’s a hot mess.
I love Square Enix, I really do. Its games have captivated me since I was a little kid, but once again it has just wholly destroyed a chance to do something incredibly easy that fans would love and that would make them a ton of money.
First the good. It is Chrono Trigger, one of the best games of all time, so even an inferior, terrible port is base-level okay. The PC version includes the PS1 anime-style cutscenes by Akira Toriyama which are fantastic, and it has all the extra content from the DS and mobile versions.
Now that we have all the decent aspects of the PC port out of the way, we’ll go into why it’s garbage.
Why the Chrono Trigger PC Port Sucks: It Has Bugs
Chrono Trigger is 23 years old as of next month, so by now all the bugs should be ironed out. Porting the game shouldn’t suddenly become an excuse for new and exciting glitches to pop out their head. But, alas, there is a brand-new bug that breaks a key moment in the game.
The trial of Crono lets you introduce witnesses in Crono’s favor. Well, that little kitty cat in the market can’t be led back to his owner in the PC version, so you’ll never be able to get that witness. As it stands now when you interact with the cat it just jets off to the bottom of the screen.
Why the Chrono Trigger PC Port Sucks: The UI is Terrible and Embarrassing
The PC version of Chrono Trigger is a port of the mobile version, right down to the UI. Whoever ported this game for Square Enix (it has to be a contractor) decided that the huge, touch-friendly interface elements from the mobile version were just perfect for mouse and controller users. As a result, everything just looks off. These substantial gray blocks popping up everywhere lack the beauty of the original interface and make the game feel like a cheap port straight from the mobile version. (I mean it is a cheap port straight from the mobile version, but it feels like one too. No attempt to even make it seem like it isn’t.)
This version of the game also carries over that awful generic-looking text from the mobile version. The SNES edition of Chrono Trigger has beautiful, unique, hand-crafted font, while the PC version has like Arial Narrow or something. Another hideous blemish is when you reach the character name screen. On mobile, this would be the part your keyboard would pop-up, but PCs don’t have on-screen keyboards by default, so their fix for that was just to add what looks to be a default system window for name entry. The UI is already horrendous, and the fact they couldn’t even style the name entry blank to fit the game is just lazy.
Why the Chrono Trigger PC Port Sucks: Everything Else
For the last few reasons the Chrono Trigger PC port sucks, I’ll just hammer them out since no one should have to waste any more time than they have to with this edition of the game. There are “PC enhancements” which consists of a widescreen that just zooms in instead of adding more picture and resolution settings that don’t really help anything. The world map sprites have been reworked to look much worse. The sprites that don’t look bad have a permanent crappy filter on that makes everything look like you’re playing with swim goggles over your eyes, and it ruins one of the aspects of this game that make it so critically acclaimed: the artwork.
I don’t understand how you could screw up porting a 16-bit game to PC. I mean, in 1998 I was running Chrono Trigger on ZSNES on PC, and it looked and played better than the Steam version. The PS1 edition of the game in Final Fantasy Anthology that had god awful load times was more playable and faithful to the original than this. I mean, Square Enix (or whoever it farmed it out to) did a great job on the Nintendo DS version of Chrono Trigger, and you’d think to bring it to PC would be even easier.
I sincerely hope that Square Enix hears the criticism about this port and does something about it. I would be happy if the only thing it did was pull it from Steam because at least then there wouldn’t be people experiencing the game for the first time by playing the PC port and writing it off forever because of how crappy it is.