Review by michiyoko
"Chrono Trigger remake not quite everything I had hoped for."
I have to admit that I mostly bought this collection for Chrono Trigger, and as such I'll have to remain silent about Final Fantasy IV. As far as the latter is concerned, I've only played through about five minutes, and while I liked what I saw, I don't feel confident that I can review it well at this time. My score for this product is limited to CT.
The game itself is almost legendary among gamers, and so I will have to assume that you are already familiar with its good points (found in many, many other reviews on this site) and delve straight into the reasons why I was disappointed with this release. Bear in mind that the game itself is NOT one of my main criticisms, and the two-star rating is not indicative of my dissatisfaction with the storyline, graphics, characterizations, and so forth. Rather, my griping deals with its delivery on the PSX.
The loading times are terrible. I've heard a lot of explanations for WHY these loading times exist, such as cartridges (e.g. the original SNES cartridge for CT) don't take as long to load as CDs, and that this PSX version actually runs an emulator that converts the original SNES data into something the PSX can load, hence creating delays that weren't present in the original. I don't entirely understand these explanations since I'm not familiar with the technical or hardware end of things: what I do know is that this game runs ridiculously, embarrassingly slow.
Every time you engage in a battle, everything freezes and you're stuck there waiting for the battle to begin. Since I bought a PS2 these load times have gone down substantially and so now they're maybe only ten seconds or so, but I remember on my original PSX the load time before a battle would oftentimes be as long as two or three minutes. And I'm not just talking about boss battles, I'm talking about run-of-the-mill ordinary battles that you run into ALL THE TIME. Even on a PS2, those ten-second delays would add up very quickly. I also dreaded every time I had to open the menu because then I'd have to wait a long time for it to pop up.
This is especially annoying when you're doing battle on a "moving" area, like an elevator or conveyor belt, because the otherwise beautiful flowing backgrounds become halting and jerky. The most embarrassing example of this is the final battle against Lavos. During the battle, he'll frequently shift the time period of the battle, and this involves changing the floating background image. On the original SNES this was a really cool, if not totally useless design feature. On the PSX, this makes an already long battle even longer because the game hangs up for a little while before each scene change. And at the end, when you finally kill him for good, his death sequence involves rapidly flashing through different time periods. On the SNES this was awesome; on the PSX this is totally lame, because each scene change is preceded by a delay. Unlike the SNES game, it didn't leave you feeling satisfied that you had just beaten the hardest boss in the game, it leaves you feeling frustrated that the designers for the PSX port couldn't fix this.
I'm a big fan of Akira Toriyama's work, and thus I was very pleased with the inclusion of anime cut scenes. However, I have a VERY large gripe: the US release does not translate the Japanese subtitles. Normally it's not a problem because most of the cut scenes don't have any dialogue at all, but I can think of two off the top of my head that do. (SPOILER WARNING FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH) When Chrono is killed, there is a brief flashback to Janus (as a kid) telling the party that one of them will die soon. That one's not too bad, since you can kind of figure out for yourself what's going on in this scene (especially since it's a flashback of something that happened in-game). However, the second scene, which you can see when you beat any of the game's endings, involves the downfall of Guardia and the rise of Porre. This is a pretty crucial bit of information that should've been translated since 1) you can't figure that stuff out just by playing the game itself, 2) it sets up the story for Chrono Cross, and 3) the scene itself is just impossible to understand unless you can read the Japanese subtitles. I can't imagine why they didn't bother to translate this stuff, especially since they translated the PSX team credits (which appear to also be in FMV format).
Speaking of translation, I'm a little disappointed that this game did not receive a retranslation, as FF4 did. Don't get me wrong, I think Ted Woolsey did a decent job with CT. However, it's undeniable that a lot of changes had to be made when they brought it over to the West, whether it was in shortening text to fit into the SNES's format, localizing dialogue to be more "accessible" to young American children, or in censoring references to religion, alcohol, sexuality, and so forth. Furthermore, Woolsey's translation sometimes hiccuped, leaving behind either plot holes that didn't previously exist or ambiguous lines that were actually intended to be much stronger in the original Japanese. I realize that it would've been a lot of trouble for Square to give a retranslation for something that they thought already had a solid translation, so this aspect was not factored too heavily into my scoring of the game; it just would've been really nice, especially since, as I said, FF4 received a retranslation.
I hesitate to recommend this version of the game to first-time players. I think CT is a game that all RPG fans should at least be familiar with, but I'm not sure this PSX version is the one they should cut their teeth on. If you're like me and you've already played this game dozens of times on the SNES, skip this one. (Unless of course you're buying it for FF4.) Stick with the original SNES cartridge, and hope for a GBA/DS/Wii VC conversion at some point in the future. The load times are simply unbearable, especially if you're used to the quick pace of the original.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/17/07
Game Release: Final Fantasy Chronicles (Greatest Hits) (US, 06/30/03)
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