6 Games Like Chrono Trigger [Recommendations]

If any game has stood against the time (pun intended?), it would most certainly have to be Chrono Trigger. Originally debuting for the Super Nintendo in 1995, it would be heralded as one of the best games of all time. While Dragon Ball Z wouldn’t take off in the US until the early part of the 2000s, people got the first taste of Akira Toriyama’s art style through this game. In Chrono Trigger, you play the role of Crono, a silent protagonist who finds himself on a journey to save the fate of the world from the destruction of Lavos. Along the way, he will meet friends throughout time to aid him on his quest.

In addition to its amazing story, diverse settings, and captivating characters Chrono Trigger gained a majority of its fame for its multiple endings. Take, for example, if you choose to face Lavos either through a time portal or through the Epoch time machine, it will influence the outcome of the ending. Thanks to its success, it has found itself re-ported to the PS1 and the Nintendo DS. And in good news, the newer updates to Chrono Trigger included animated endings, opening, and cut scenes. So what other games match up to the legacy of Chrono Trigger? Read our 6 Games Like Chrono Trigger to find out!

Similar Games to Chrono Trigger

1. Lunar: The Silver Star Story

  • Platform: Sega CD, Saturn, PlayStation, PSP, iOS
  • Publisher: Working Designs (US), Game Arts (Japan)
  • Developer: Studio Alex
  • Release Date: Jun 26, 1992 (Japan), Dec 1993 (US)

While the game made its debut for the Sega CD in 1992, it didn’t gain any popularity until it was released on the PlayStation towards the end of the 1990s (despite being one of the best selling games for the Sega CD), thanks to the popularity of Final Fantasy VII. Just like Chrono Trigger, it gave audiences of the early 1990s an exposure to anime before people knew what anime was through Toonami. The characters designs are provided by Toshiyuki Kubota, who has also done work for Idolmaster, Giant Robot, and the third Berserk movie. While the PlayStation re-release of Chrono Trigger has animated cut scenes, Lunar’s Sega CD debut actually became one of the first RPGs to feature them along with voice acting (though they were rather stiff). Thankfully, the re-releases for the Saturn and PlayStation upgrade the graphics and the quality of the animated scenes.

In this game, players assume the role of Alex and like Crono serves as the silent protagonist to give players the chance to express themselves through him. While a strong portion of RPGs have random battles, this game is like Chrono Trigger where you can see the enemies and you have the option of confronting them and/or avoiding them. Last, if there is anything that can capture you to this game, it would have to be its very serene soundtrack. If there are any songs from the game that would be the best in gaming history, it would certainly have to be Wind’s Nocturne, which works perfectly in both English and Japanese.


2. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time

  • Platform: Nintendo 64, 3DS, GameCube, Virtual Console
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Nov 21, 1998 (Japan), Nov 23, 1998 (US)

Ocarina of Time is the Zelda franchise’s breakthrough into 3D and it does not disappoint. Like all Zelda games, this game tells its own unique story that loosely ties with other games (which can be another topic for another article) so it’s easy for any player to pick up. As Zelda games traditionally go, you play as Link as he goes on his own journey to save the land of Hyrule, defeat Ganon, and get the girl. If you have played the recent Zelda games, then this game, if like the first 3D game, is no different.

Just like Chrono Trigger, the game does revolve around the use of time travel although not exactly in the same manner. In Ocarina of Time, you take Link to the Temple of Time and through the Master Sword, you can switch between being 10-year-old Link and/or 17-year-old Link. There will be instances where you will have to go back in time and help someone in order to influence that person in 17-year-old Link’s world in order to progress, which adds a unique challenge. These side quests happen in Chrono Trigger as well, such as helping the ancestor of a certain man teach his descendants how to share.

10-year-old Link and 17-year-old Link have their differences and advantages. While 10-year-old Link cannot hold a shield with one hand due to his small size, he carries it on his back and his only defense is to shell up. With 17-year-old Link, players can use the Z-trigger aiming for more effective countering. While Ocarina of Time doesn’t have flying airships or time machines to take you around the wide world of Hyrule, you can travel by horse with 17-year-old Link or play a tune with the Ocarina to teleport you to a temple at a certain region. While it may not be party-based like your traditional turn-based RPG, it doesn’t mean that you will encounter new friends and defeat foes alike. If you want something with an unpredictable story, intense action, and a serene soundtrack, Ocarina of Time is the game for you.

The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D trailer


3. Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

  • Platform: Super Nintendo, Virtua Console
  • Publisher: SquareSoft
  • Developer: SquareSoft
  • Release Date: Aug 6, 1993 (Japan), Oct 1993 (US)

Another Square classic has to be the Secret of Mana. In fact, it was actually a sequel to a game called Seiken Adventure: Final Fantasy Gaiden (or Final Fantasy Adventure in North America) for the original Gameboy. The original game takes influence from the first Zelda’s gameplay with an overhead view and active battles, and this feature carries over into Secret of Mana. What also makes this game enjoyable is that it allows multi-player (up to 3 players!). Speaking of using three characters that can be featured at once while walking, Chrono Trigger shares this feature as well.

The 3 main characters are Randy, Primm, and Popoi. The player can choose at any time who they wish to lead the party (while Crono tends to lead the party until his death and after that, you can change who leads the party), and each character has their own abilities. Though Randy is unable to use magic, he is a master at weapons. Primm is for healing and defense, while Popoi is used for offensive magic. While with Chrono Trigger, individual talents are focused on the magic. For example, Crono uses lightning, Lucca uses fire, and Merle uses ice (while the cartridge cover accidentally portrays her using fire). Its combination of its distinct multi-player combat system, its excellent story, and overall world design made it a critically acclaimed RPG hit that is still celebrated by enthusiasts to the present day.

Secret of Mana trailer


Any Games Like Chrono Trigger ?

4. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

  • Platform: Super Nintendo, Virtual Console
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: SquareSoft
  • Release Date: Mar 30, 1996 (Japan), May 13, 1996 (US)

Towards the end of the Super Nintendo’s prime, Mario was treated with its own old school Japanese RPG with the assistance of Square. If you are familiar with older JRPGs and Mario, it’s pretty much what you expect. In this game, you must save the Mushroom Kingdom from Smithy and to make things even stranger, you must now team up with Mario’s eternal nemesis, Bowser!

In addition to Bowser, you also team up with Mallow (a mysterious cloud shaped boy who is raised by frogs and things he is a frog), Geno (a puppet brought to life by a star), and Peach. And just like in Chrono Trigger, you do team up with a frog (who is originally a human), and you have the option to team up with Magus (who is a very powerful ally), or kill him (and if you do kill him, Frog becomes human upon the ending)..

While Super Nintendo RPGs were 2D in nature due to their anime influence, Mario was one of the very first 3D RPGs, and its graphics are in tune with Donkey Kong Country. Even for people unfamiliar with RPGs, this is a great game to warm up to since it features Mario, an iconic game character, and other familiar environments. Much of the traditional Mario soundtrack is featured, but it overall addicting and adds to the joy and humor this game is known for.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars trailer


5. Xenogears

  • Platform: PlayStation
  • Publisher: SquareSoft
  • Developer: SquareSoft
  • Release Date: Feb 11, 1998 (Japan), Oct 11, 1998 (US)

If there is any game that we can give props to, it has to be Xenogears. In fact, the game was actually conceived as a possible sequel to Chrono Trigger (and as a possible Final Fantasy installment) and has a cameo of Lucca. But due to the dark and touchy subjects such as religion, it became its own separate game. Heck, it wasn’t even considered for an international release due to those reasons.

The game’s story is a mix of influences from the Old and New Testaments, Wuxia, Hayao Miyazaki’s fantasy, Jules Verne’s Steampunk Sci-Fi, and Modern Sci-Fi. Due to its distinct nature, the game creates so much depth that still holds up to this very day. And Chrono Trigger similarly uses some implied religious influences with Crono’s death and resurrection by connecting him to Christ. And the English names of the three gurus (Jasper, Balthasar, and Melchior) share the same names of the three wise men. Both games share themes of the creation, evolution, and meaning of life but express it in their own ways.

As CG FMVs (Full Motion Video) were becoming the rage thanks to Final Fantasy VII and Parasite Eve, like the Chrono Trigger re-release for the PlayStation, Xenogears expresses its storytelling through animated cut scenes, which is more consistent with the game’s graphics and character designs. It feels as if you are watching an anime. Though the dub has its issues, the animation quality still excellently holds up. The game still functions like your typical RPG with a time battle system but with two different styles, fighting with mechs called Gears, and fighting without piloting the mechs. These two combat features give a distinct sense of the diversity of gameplay. The typical combat system outside of the suit allows players to use a combo system based on action points and can also use magic.

Xenogears trailer


6. Final Fantasy VI

  • Platform: Super Nintendo, PlayStation, GameBoy Advance
  • Publisher: SquareSoft
  • Developer: SquareSoft
  • Release Date: April 2, 1994 (Japan), Oct 20, 1994 (US)

If any game rivals Chrono Trigger as the best Super Nintendo RPG of all time, it would most certainly have to be Final Fantasy VI or initially released as Final Fantasy III in America. In this game, you initially start as a half-human/half-esper named Terra, who has escaped the clutches of the evil empire and is slowly recovering from their brainwashing. Upon her freedom, she befriends members of a group of rebels known as the Returners, who wish to overthrow the empire. As their journey expands, they will gain new friends and face new foes. But can they save the world before it’s too late? And the very question to that is where the game shines.

If you haven’t played this game, then play it now! In addition to rivaling Chrono Trigger as the best RPG for the Super Nintendo, many hardcore Final Fantasy fans call this game the best Final Fantasy game of all time. This game has a huge cast of characters that have their own unique personal abilities that contribute in their own ways. Locke is an expert thief who can take items from enemies (like Layla in Chrono Trigger), Sabin has killer moves that you have to input into a fighting game, Edgar has an arsenal of tools that can do instant damage, and the magic and summons perfectly work hand in hand. Cyan is a unique swordsman who uses a number fill up bar system to determine his attacks, and his Shakespeare speech patterns match that with Frog from Chrono Trigger.

The game also has an amazing soundtrack and even without voice acting, you can still feel the emotion of Celes’ performance at the opera. Last, we cannot deny that FF6 had one of the most terrifying villains in gaming history, Kefka. He is as powerful as he is unstable with a maniacal laugh. If you want to see how villains get the job done! Lavos from Chrono Trigger is kind of like a Galactus from Marvel comics who does it for his own survival and not for the sake of evil, but Kefka is just totally out of control. And just like Chrono Trigger, it has received re-releases on the PlayStation adding in some cutscenes to make the game feel fresh.

Final Fantasy VI trailer


Final Thoughts

Now, we would like to make some honorable mentions to Earthbound, Dragon Quest V, Phantasy Star IV, Grandia, and Final Fantasy VII. While RPGs have progressively been changing the past twenty years since Chrono Trigger’s debut, it is undeniable that the game and some others we shared are untimely classics. Many individuals have their own personal criteria on what makes a great RPG and holding high on that list is, of course, a quality story with amazing characters, and that is where Chrono Trigger shines.

While the debate of video games being art will probably rage on for the next generation, but if there are any games that can put that debate to rest, it would be Chrono Trigger and all of our mentions on this list. Overall, we cannot deny that putting together this list was rather difficult and some of you readers have your own ideas. If you disagree, that’s great. If you have your own ideas, share in the comments.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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