And when it comes down to a collection like this, one that cannot rely on blazing new technology to prove its point, it all comes down to gameplay. Do the two titles here have enough to keep gamers entranced? Absolutely. Even with the annoying loading times in Chrono Trigger
, both games are still just as much fun to play today as they were then.
Let me take you back to a time long ago, when I was but a wee lad. I had played Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy before, and while both games were very exciting, they didn't have a certain charm about them. The faceless Light Warriors did nothing for me, and Lancelot and Gwaelin's love felt shallow, a mere device to move the game along.
Then along came the SNES, and with it Final Fantasy II. With its complex characters, real-time battle system and massive world, I was hooked. And I wasn't the only one--a group of us at school would meet each day and tell each other of our exploits. It was a fantastic experience. When Chrono Trigger came out, a similar experience occured, although the group had grown apart some. It never held the charm for me that FF2 did, but it still rocked our world for a number of months.
Well, Final Fantasy IV is everything Final Fantasy II was and more. One of the major flaws in the original game was the horrendous translation. We overlooked it in our youth, but coming back to it now the game reads like some sort of pidgin English. Square's complete retranslation of the game, however, is worth the price of admission alone. It almost (but not quite) made me forget the awful work on Final Fantasy V.
In addition to a better translation of the game, detailing the exploits of Cecil and Rosa and the rest of the gang much better, Final Fantasy IV is a port of the 'hardtype' version. This means that many characters have new abilities--the Dark Knight's wave sword attack, Tellah's 'remember', and so on. The enemies are tougher, items are harder to come by, and so on, making the game considerably more challenging.
For those who never played Final Fantasy II, imagine Final Fantasy VII without the 3D graphics and you'll get an idea of its expanse. It takes place in three separate worlds, has enough major characters to make your head spin, but never loses sight of the story at its centre--redemption.
Chrono Trigger's translation to the PSX is less dramatic, even if the game is every bit as solid as Final Fantasy IV. Its core innovation was the fact that you could see the enemies on the screen before you fight them, and can often avoid them. The translation is nearly identical to the original, as far as I can tell, and other than extended load times the game plays identically as well. However, an Extras mode has been added, which lets you see all sorts of interesting things about the game--characters, music, and so on. It uses a save file to get its data, which is cool; as you progress, more things unlock.
Both games are epic. My very first game of Final Fantasy II clocked in at around sixty hours, and while I can't imagine taking that long nowadays, it's still a lengthy game. Chrono Trigger, while not quite as long, will still take you well over a hard weekend to beat. There's a lot to do and see in both games, and even a few sidequests in each title to keep the completists occupied. Chrono Trigger also has a scad of alternate endings, each obtainable in different ways, and a New Game + mode that has had more than one fan of the game going through two or three times.