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It's difficult to argue with Chrono Trigger's legacy. Multiple endings and a lack of random battles were role-playing designs generally unheard of when it launched on the Super Nintendo in 1995, while artwork from Dragon Ball’s Akira Toriyama lent a bright character to its lively world. Coupled with Yasunori Mitsuda’s affecting soundtrack, its aesthetics remain a pinnacle of the 16-bit era.
As one of Square-Enix’s non-Final Fantasy masterpieces, Chrono Trigger’s reputation precedes itself. And while it may be hard to deny the nostalgia of seeing that swinging clock pendulum, you might want to temper your excitement over this inexplicably finicky iOS port.
Essentially, Chrono Trigger on iPhone is the same game fans have played countless times before on other platforms, which follows endearing silent protagonist Crono and his friends as they travel through time to stop the impending armageddon. For this new version, Square Enix added an unanchored d-pad that lets you control movement from wherever you rest your thumb, and interactions are also handled simply by tapping the screen near points of interest.
But while these changes should theoretically make the game easier to play on touch devices, the port rarely feels optimized for the App Store. Crono’s movement sensitivity is far too high, making it tough to, say, walk directly up to an item or non-playable character without overshooting your mark. Similarly, there's no way to actually target enemies in battle by touching them, forcing you to clumsily cycle through on-screen opponents -- which can be problematic when your foes don't wait for you to pick a battle strategy.
And bafflingly, the previously-added anime cutscenes from later revisions of the game are also absent, awkwardly pegging this one in limbo between the Super Nintendo original the Nintendo DS re-release that followed in 2008. Chrono Trigger's design, narrative, and visual charm still hold up remarkably well, but this port is a far cry from past iterations.
The bottom line. If an iPhone or iPod touch is your only option to experience Chrono Trigger, don't hesitate to play it. But caveat emptor -- this iteration needs a patch to hang with the better versions available on other platforms.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 3.0 or later
Wonderful aesthetics, music, and characters. Gameplay really holds up after all these years. Non-anchored virtual d-pad is a nice touch.
Overly finicky movement. Weird lack of touch controls in battle can hinder combat. Lack of animated cut-scenes puts this behind other re-releases of the game.