You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain; well, in this case, we have lived long enough to see two of our heroes become the villains. Square, our first hero, was founded in 1986 and developed the famed Final Fantasy series along with other JRPG legends such as Secret of Mana and, of course, Chrono Trigger. Enix, our other hero, was founded in 1975 and created the Dragon Quest series, which left its mark on gaming history along with Final Fantasy as two of the greatest JRPG series. And together in 2003, they formed Square Enix — the union of two legendary gaming companies; what could go wrong?
The grand merge devolved the two giants into a monster of capitalism that does quick cash grabs for breakfast. Square Enix would reboot and port its older, more famous games and sell the same content. Perhaps with enhanced graphics or new features to match the current generation of gaming platforms. However, aside from a few hits, most of the revivals have been a painful miss that only shamed their former glory. Because of these previous crimes of Square Enix, when a PC port of Chrono Trigger was announced, many gaming communities were worried and, unfortunately, rightly so.
Chrono Trigger, when first released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1995, was not only revolutionary compared to previous JRPGs but also a new standard for future JRPGs. Personally, I am not a big fan of the JRPG genre because of its stationary, repetitive nature, but Chrono Trigger was different. The complex yet immersive story, memorable and catchy soundtrack, and archaic but loveable graphics compelled me to continue the game, and I soon finished the game just to be surprised that there were in fact more than 10 different endings achievable. With its incredible features and amazing replay value that most JRPGs don’t have, Chrono Trigger is definitely one of the best games and, in my opinion, one game that a person should play before they die.
So when I bought the PC port and started up the game, I swore loudly twice. Once due to the chill from the animation of the title screen that I saw a million times, but now on my computer screen. Then the next one immediately when I saw the interface. Many large video game companies like to make quick cash grabs through the name value of their older games, and I understand those occur because those maneuvers do make money. However, I have never seen a company put so little effort so shamelessly for a cash grab. Square Enix didn’t even attempt to make a new user interface and copied off the interface from the mobile port it released a few years ago. If it created a new interface and it was bad, I wouldn’t have been this disappointed. But reusing the same interface for a completely different gaming platform and selling the game for 15 USD is blatantly being disrespectful to the game, the customers, and the memory so many people had playing the old masterpiece.
To make matters worse, the interface was not the only glaring problem. The controls of the game were awkward on both the controller and the keyboard. For the controller, I do not understand why Square Enix did not keep the old control configurations. If Square Enix was attempting to sell nostalgia, why would it complicate the controls further when it could just keep the same controls as the SNES, which had far less buttons than today’s controllers, to let old memories flow as players revisit the old classic? Even if Square Enix wanted to make the game more user-friendly to those who never played Chrono Trigger before — which would not make sense considering how lazy the interface is — it would not hurt to give players the option to change the button configurations. The same problem arose for the keyboard. There was no setting in which players could check the configuration, let alone change it.
The lazy, rage-inducing interface with the frustrating controls. These problems usually occur in games that a beginner makes, not from a multibillion dollar company. Just days before the Chrono Trigger PC port, Square Enix released a reboot of Secret of Mana, which received mixed reviews due to its new 3D graphics. I do not understand why the same PC port attempt was made for Chrono Trigger. But even if a game receives mixed reviews, it is the new innovations and attempts like the rebooted Secret of Mana that advance the art of video games. At least from an attempt with some effort, we can make changes and give feedback that can improve future attempts. From a lazy attempt like Chrono Trigger’s PC port, there are no changes except for our greater disappointment. So for now, all we can do is wait for Square Enix to fix its problems and hope that it finally learns from these mountains of mistakes, to revert back into the hero we all knew and loved.