History and Features of the Chrono Trigger Nintendo Dual System Re-Release

The History

"I wanted it to be based on the original
Super Nintendo release rather than the Playstation version.
I thought we should look at the additional elements from the
Playstation version, re-examine and re-work them to make it a complete edition.
That’s how it struck me and I told the staff so later on.”
- Mitsuda Yasunori Chrono Trigger Ultramania interview (2009)

On July 1, 2008, Square Enix co. launched a new website, confirming news about a new iteration of Chrono Trigger, this time making its debut on the Nintendo Dual System (NDS) on November 25, 2008 in North America and for the first time since its birth garnered both an Australian and European release in February 2009 (officially spreading Chrono Trigger outside Japanese and North American markets). By March 31, 2009, Square Enix co. sale figures recorded a total of 790,000 copies of Chrono Trigger were sold (with the majority of sales coming from Japan and North America).1 Three years following its release in Japan, the video game was re-branded as an "Ultimate Hits" title (the equivalent of a "Greatest Hits" distinction in North America) on August 4, 2011. 


With the resulting migration to a cartridge-based dual-screen handheld device, various alterations took place outside of the “Classic” mode option — which simulated the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) release of Chrono Trigger — available for players anytime throughout the playing experience within the “Settings” menu. Not only did the change in storage media (back to the cartridge) remove load times that were present in the PS re-release, but the change in hardware also presented developers with the issue of screen size. This ultimately drove many players to choose the “DS” mode (a tailored experience for playing on the NDS) for the purpose of relieving top screen clutter.2 To the delight of many players, improved user-experience and interface design were emphasized in this re-release and resulted in the complete customization of game features, including the ability to tailor on-screen information, the option to remove “touch” functionality, as well as the choice to modify the control-scheme. In fact, the capabilities of changing a character's name mid-game and removing the PS release's animated cutscenes were also introduced features.

Among the changes already discussed, the following were also included in the NDS re-release: the ability to use a second screen for the reallocation of menu items and battle options, as well as the introduction of an ever-present map of the surrounding area; the addition of “Health” and “Active Time Battle” (ATB) bars over party members during battle; the establishment of 56 new additional items and 40 types of new enemies; the inclusion of a multiplayer mini-game area called “Arena of the Ages,” in which players raise and battle monsters; and the introduction of an entirely updated design for contextual menus, as well as navigational differences between the menus.
Masato Kato, (Story Planner of Chrono Trigger) upon hearing the news of Chrono Trigger's eventual re-release, was especially passionate about preserving the integrity of the original SNES version, but still wanted to re-examine and re-work the additional elements from the PS in order to create a complete edition.3 Mitsuda Yasunori, (Composer and Music Supervisor of Chrono Trigger) also felt it was integral to recreate the soundtrack as “a perfect replica of the SNES version.”That said, because the SNES version was made using older equipment that could only process eight sounds, it was not feasible to preserve the original sound.

"We search for sounds in the latest synthesizers that are as close as
possible to the original sounds and use them to create the music.
From the perspective of a composer, this is an unusually arduous task.
But if you think about the fan’s feelings, wouldn’t they be happier
if the music was just like they remember it from the SNES original?”
- Mitsuda Yasunori Chrono Trigger Ultramania interview (2009)

A partial script re-translation was accomplished by Tom Slattery, who chose to remove Frog's earlier Elizabethan English dialect since it was impossible (due to time constraints) to apply this flair to the rest of the time period.5 The new script also restored elements like mentions of breastfeeding and bisexuality that were censored upon the SNES game's arrival in North America (see SNES Censorship and NDS Decline of Censorship), not to mention that numerous items' and locations' names were altered, among other discrepancies.
However, what came with the most controversy was the inclusion of new quests and a new ending that ultimately raised questions of canonicity. These new sections unlocked after beating and then reloading the game are called “Dimensional Vortex,” “Lost Sanctum,” and “Beyond Time's Eclipse” respectively. Numerous complaints describe the “Lost Sanctum” as “forgettable” and “purposeless fetch-quests” that ultimately “detract from the experience.”6 Whereas the “Dimensional Vortex” and the new ending at least “offer additional challenges, new items, and story closure on several ambiguous issues directly relevant to Chrono Cross.”7
Regardless of the NDS-specific changes, the fact that this system is now in its tenth generation (with the New Nintendo 3DS XL) means that the playing experience is fundamentally different depending on which device you own with the weight of the system varying from 7.5 to 12 ounces, screen display size ranging in diagonal length from 3 inches to 4.88 inches, and battery life lasting anywhere from 3 hours to 19 hours.8 The position of the hands also varies, and is extremely different from the experience of utilizing a SNES or PS controller  due to the latter's light weight and larger space for tactile maneuvering. Most notable however, is the lower resolution size when playing NDS and Nintendo DSi game cards on Nintendo 2DS and Nintendo 3DS systems which can be overridden by holding down either START or SELECT when loading the game (ultimately reverting the game visuals to their original resolution). This is why it is highly recommended to play Chrono Trigger and any other NDS game  on earlier versions of the system (in the case of Chronicles, the NDS Lite was utilized for conducting traversals).

Works Cited:

[1] Results Briefing Session: Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 2009. N.p.: Square Enix Holdings Company, 19 May 2009. PDF.

[2] Wilson, Glenn. "Chrono Trigger DS - Staff Review: Time Was Kind to This Port." RPGamer. RPGamer, n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2015.

[3] Kato, Masato. "Masato Kato Interview." Interview. Chrono Trigger Ultimania Jan. 2009: 582-83. Print.

[4] Mitsuda, Yasunori. "Yasunori Mitsuda Interview." Interview. Chrono Trigger Ultimania Jan. 2009: 586-87. Print.

[5] "Inside Gaming - Interview with Former Square Enix Translator Tom Slattery." Interview by Michael A. Cunningham. RPGamer. RPGamer, n.d. Web. 28 July 2015.

[6] Bitmob. "Even Time Can't Unravel This Classic." VentureBeat. VentureBeat, 31 Aug. 2009. Web. 06 Aug. 2015.

[7] Anderson, Lark. "Chrono Trigger Review: This Perennial Time-travel Adventure Is worth Falling in Love with All over Again." GameSpot. GameSpot, 21 Nov. 2008. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.

[8] "What Are the Differences Between the Different Generations of Nintendo DS Systems?" eBay. eBay, 20 Aug. 2013. Web. 06 Aug. 2015.

This page has paths:

This page references: