Though my love for the Super Nintendo as well as my obsession with Chrono Trigger are well-documented, there were other 90s RPG titles that caught my interest and filled my socially reclusive days with hours of multi-colored, pixelated entertainment.
When people think about the classic RPGs from the Super Nintendo, the ones that always come to mind are Chrono Trigger, the Final Fantasy series, and Zelda: A Link to the Past. The game I’m reviewing today most closely resembles the latter.
Although I could never hate on the turn-based systems of combat presented in Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series, I’ve always had a thing for a more action-oriented approach. Much like the future action RPGs Kingdom Hearts or Dark Souls, this game was all about fighting in real time and casting magic on the fly. This game was Squaresoft’s answer to Zelda and a blast to play. The game I speak of is Secret of Mana.
As I’ve said before a million times over, Chrono Trigger is my favorite video game of all time. I take time out at least once a year to replay the game from start to finish. I’ve gotten every ending innumerable times. I’ve maxed out characters, collected multiple copies of every item in the game and have generally OBSESSED over the gorgeous world of pixels that Squaresoft (now Square Enix) created since the first time I laid eyes on it. I absolutely love this game.
With that being said and for those of you not in the know, Chrono Trigger was a turn-based RPG for the Super Nintendo Entertainment system. Released during the later years of the console, it’s a critically-acclaimed and forever beloved example of a perfect roleplaying game. With a brilliant and memorable music score, an intriguing storyline, unforgettable characters, and a well-executed concept of time travel and its effects, Chrono Trigger is as close to perfection as a video game can get.
I’ve already written about the game extensively, but I thought I would reiterate for anyone who missed it the first time around.
This game pushed the limits of the console as well as innovated the RPG genre by making it possible to travel to different time periods of the same world and complete tasks and make decisions that can affect that same world in the future. Hopping across time, you could see just what effect your actions and heroism had on future generations.
As a child of the early 90s, every Friday night in suburbia was a mixed bag of excitement and choice anxiety. My parents would haul me and a friend to Blockbuster Video in our spacious, maroon Toyota Camry to pick out some mindless entertainment for the evening. I was allowed to rent one film and one video game and there were no exceptions.
The film was an obvious choice, as I was quickly becoming a horror connoisseur and I could always find a forgettable, disgustingly bloody cinematic masterpiece to fulfill that quota. Whether it was something from the Children of the Corn, Halloween, Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, it always proved a great accessory to a bag of Doritos and a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew.
However, I faced many a bout of choice anxiety having to pick out the video game. There were too many options and game types available to choose from. SNES was home to quite a few pieces of vaporware as well, so you didn’t want to make your decision too rashly. The consequences could be dire.
I believe it was the giant sword on the cover and the simplicity of the design that made me first delve into the realm of RPG goodness. While some may consider lands full of dungeons, dragons, ninjas, monsters, and magical crystals a geeky endeavor, they’ve obviously never had the masochistic pleasure of playing through Final Fantasy II for the SNES.