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Chrono Trigger
Legendary in its feigned greatness! -Isaac Engelhorn (7/7/2003)
Chrono Trigger Original Sound Version is a video game soundtrack. You will find the track list plus an extensive track-by-track analysis below the standard review. It is my hope that you will gain a better understanding of video game music by reading exactly what it has to offer as it is different from American film music.
Composed by:
Yasunori Mitsuda,
Nobuo Uematsu,
Noriko Matsueda

Arranged by:
Yasunori Mitsuda,
Nobuo Uematsu

Chrono Trigger. *The* overrated Square RPG, with *the* overrated soundtrack. I've owned the game for the Super NES since shortly after it was realeased. I was just ready to be a high school freshman at the time and I spent my long-in-coming allowance money on it, and the game cost me seventy-five dollars. Needless to say, I enjoyed the game enough to play through and thought the music was pleasant enough, but I had just come off of a two-year obsession with Final Fantasy VI (or FFIII as it was known in the U.S.). The problem started a couple of years down the road when I began to realize that there were tons of people who were obessed with CT much the same way I was with FFVI. The inherent discomfort I've always felt towards people's love for the game stems from my taste for darker, more serious drama, as opposed to cartoonish adventure.

Not that I've ever considered Final Fantasy to be serious drama, but the plots and general moods of the games in the series were far more brooding and therefore more interesting to me than the plots of other RPGs. However, I've always been one to enjoy lighter stuff as well. Games and soundtracks such as Secret of Mana, Chrono Cross, Lunar rank right up there as my favorites. So it seemed odd that I could not put a finger on what is was that wouldn't allow me to view Trigger as a favorite. I played the game to death, and when all was said and done, I still felt that it was no more than a *good* game, with a *good* soundtrack.

But I think I've finally found the reason for my feelings: The game itself is a confused production, and consequently so is the music. First of all, one cannot help but notice the vast influence that FFVI had on the game. Although the visuals are slightly different, thanks to the character designs of Akira Toriyama, the seemingly basic light-heartedness is muddled by dark aspects that relate quite closely to FFVI. The big kicker, of course, is the whole doomsday scenario. It was transported from game to game barely within the space of a year, and since there were so few RPGs being released in the US at the time, the similarities between the games became more painfully evident. I guess that I'm dragging on with this explaination, but what I'm saying is that Square may have begun to make a light-hearted game, but near the end of production, the company added attempts in the formula of the game itself to capitalize on the success of the previous Final Fantasy game, as a sort of afterthought, and it really didn't work very well.

The soundtrack, being part of the final stages of production, almost couldn't help but be affected by the finishing touches in ambience in the actual game. And while I commend Mitsuda for his valiant effort (it has been documented that Mitsuda worked himself to the point of having ulcers, which is not hard to believe since he was working with Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame), this soundtrack cannot escape from the melancholia of the soundtrack in whose steps it is following. When you take a good look at the game and its music with this information in mind, you can see that what you're left with is a mish mash of opposing styles. Well done, maybe, but still a mish mash.

I would tend to think that I should enjoy this as much as other scores anyway, simply because it is well done, but I don't. I am forced to believe that the sequel, Chrono Cross, came off as being superior in my mind just because the darkness and oppression weren't there: it was bright, fun, and became spooky at points, but it never combined its cheerful atmosphere with a Final Fantasy level of bleakness. The soundtrack reflected this, and it worked!

I guess as a few last words, my recommendation would be to play the game and see if you like the music enough to import it for around forty dollars. Personally, I think it was a mistake for me and I can't imagine anybody else wanting to do the same when so much money is involved.


Disc 1

Track TitleDescriptionRating
1. A PresentmentThe first piece of Mitsuda's music that most VG fans ever set ears on. Of course it's only a short introduction, beginning with the sound of a clock pendulum. The actual track is a subtle work with a light arpeggio played on piano. Nice, but it doesn't sound like it required much effort (though I may simply be decieved by the simplicity).7.0/10
2. Chrono TriggerThis is probably still Yas's most famous theme. It isn't creatively arranged like the ones found in Chrono Cross, but that's really unecessary at this point, as it is probably the *best* complete melody from the composer thus far as well, despite the fact that I have a soft spot for the Radical Dreamer's theme. The arrangement, by the way, is stereotypical and "epic," but fun anyway.9.0/10
3. Morning SunlightJust a short track of string music that plays when you meet the main character, Crono, for the first time.6.5/10
4. Peaceful DaysIt's obvious to anyone who hears this track that the composer was simply trying to duplicate the sound of "town" tracks previously composed by Square superstar Nobuo Uematsu. This is probably the first clue while playing the game that the music isn't going to be all it's cracked up to be, meaning this a stagnant and uninteresting track that doesn't stand the test of time.6.0/10
5. Memories of GreenThis is one of a few overworld tracks from the game. This particular one is an arrangement of the main theme that is the polar opposite of the arrangement found in track two, but that doesn't mean it's more interesting. In fact, this is probably the most mundane version of the theme around. Just the typical, endless arpeggios and the melody played by strings and flute (I think that's the intended instrument, the midi makes it hard to tell sometimes).5.0/10
6. Guardia Millenial FairThis is essentially the track that started Mitsuda's, not to mention his fans', most repeated, though most endearing style of track: festival music in 6/8 time. Though this would spawn many, many tracks that are superior, you can't fault this for its fun factor, even if it sounds a little childish.8.0/10
7. Gato's SongThis is another one of those throwaway tracks that shows up early in the game. It doesn't even last long enough on the CD to warrant any more description.4.0/10
8. A Strange OccurenceThis is a track that is likely to stick with you even though it sounds completely cartoonish upon first listen. I could imagine this being used to accompany a group of kids in a film investigating something (though I'm not sure what ^_^).7.0/10
9. Wind SceneAnother overworld track, a good one this time. It's not based on the main theme, but sounds light-hearted and melodic enough to suit any fan of Square RPG music. It also has a distinctively medieval tone that adds to the charm.7.5/10
10. Good NightNo need to describe this one.n/a
11. Secret of the ForestIt would seem at first listen that this is a completely forgettable track that's loosely based on the main theme, which it is, but even forgettable music can sometimes make a comeback in people's minds, as it did with this when the track was outright ripped-off and used as dungeon music in the RPG Breath of Fire III. Sad...6.0/10
12. Battle OneThis has *got* to be one of the most pointless ordinary battle tracks in the history of all Square RPGs. It's *pathetic*! Just a quick, un-thought-out bassline with some goofy sound FX. The only reason anyone remembers this is the fact that they had to hear it every damn time they faced an enemy.3.0/10
13. Guardia Castle ~Courage and Pride~The music here is decent enough, and appropriately regal considering the subject matter, but a stronger melody, if there is going to be one, should be in order. Anyway, this is okay, but plays second fiddle to the similar and vastly superior track "Frog".7.0/10
14. Huh!?Not a "sleep" track, but there's still no need to describe this.n/a
15. Manoria CathedralA fairly weak track that's supposed to sound as if your party is in a church, but doesn't come off well.5.0/10
16. A Prayer to the Road that Leads...*Another* very short track that's made up of three, short, minor chords on organ.n/a
17. Silent LightThis is the first track of the score composed by Nobuo Uematsu, which sounds almost identical in sound to "The Mines of Narshe" from Final Fantasy VI, though a bit less somber to reflect the lighter storyline of Chrono Trigger.7.0/10
18. Boss Battle 1This is the one track of the score neither composed by Mitsuda nor Uematsu, but it probably should have been. Even though it was arranged by Uematsu, the track is just a more pronounced version of the ordinary battle track, making this even more annoying.3.5/10
19. FrogIn what is easily the best track of the first disc, Mitsuda shows us a regal and melodic theme done right. Even though it contains an unecessary introduction not used in the game, this marks a high point of the overall score.9.5/10
20. Fanfare 1A great track is followed by a great track. This is used as Luca's theme as well as an heroic fanfare, which would be used later as a battle fanfare in Chrono Cross to an effect even superior to that of the Final Fantasy series.9.0/10
21. Kingdom TrialThis silly track may seem a bit out of place on disc, but it fits well if you've played the game. It's basically a slow, bouncy piece that sounds like something straight out of one of the goofier parts of DragonballZ.7.5/10
22. The Hidden TruthThe goofiness suddenly becomes unexpectedly dire in tone, but uses the same melody. The track is short, but decent.6.5/10
23. A Shot of CrisisUgh. Now we have your oh-so-typical "hurry, run, hurry" music that so plain and boring that it's likely to have you *hurrying* away from your stereo speakers.4.0/10

Disc 2
Track TitleDescriptionRating
1. Ruined WorldThe second disc opens with the sound effects used in the game when the party is traveling through time. Once the sound effects fade away though, the third overworld track is played. This takes place in a distant, post-apocalypic future and is quite dreary. There's no melody to speak of, so the track isn't particularly engaging, and the "windy" sound effects drone out the music anyway.6.5/10
2. Mystery of the PastAnother one of those extremely short interludes. This one is by Uematsu, but it fits in with the rest.n/a
3. Dome 16's RuinThis is another "futuristic" track, but a faster and bouncier one played in one of the dungeons. It's extremely repetative, though it is much less grating than you'd think.6.5/10
4. People Who Threw Away the Will to LiveThis is a futuristic dungeon track that *is* slow and gloomy. It works well in the game, but I don't see the need to feel uncomfortable like this when listening to the CD. This is another Uematsu track, by the way.6.5/10
5. Lavos's ThemeEven though not extremely catchy, this is the theme for the main antagonist of the game. It's intented to be vast in scope, but doesn't come off that way. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly effecive when used in all sorts of situations, such as battle, action scenes, or just as background music.7.5/10
6. The Day the World RevivedIt seems that every RPG from Square around this time had to have some sort of sad track that would always play when the party was faced with a bad situation. Because of this, this track is used several times in the game. The track iteself is not very good, but it also hints at better tracks that Mitsuda would write down the road. "Tears of the Stars, Hearts of the People" from Xenogears comes to mind.6.5/10
7. Robo Gang JohnnyThis is just sort of a jazzy tune for a very minor character in the game. It's pleasant enough.7.0/10
8. Bike ChaseSince Mitsuda hinted at better things to come, it's now Uematsu's turn. This is obviously the prototype for what would turn into the far superior "Crazy Motorcycle Chase" from Final Fantasy VII. It has a rock beat, and speeds along like a race.7.5/10
9. Robo's ThemeNot as good as Frog's theme, but Mitsuda makes it clear that his best tracks are character themes. This coincides with the release of FFVI just a year earlier, and this is the best track so far on the disc.8.0/10
10. Factory RemainsThis is another hint at future music from the composer. It mostly reminds me of "Invasion" from Xenogears, but also the swamp tracks from Chrono Cross. This is another futuristic dungeon track.7.0/10
11. Battle 2This track wasn't used in the game, but I'm not sure why. It's some of the better music from the soundtrack, even though it's straightforward action.8.0/10
12. Fanfare 2A brassy fanfare that plays when you find an important item in the game. It's actually pretty cool.7.5/10
13. The End of TimeAnother one of the better tracks from the score. It's not as if the melody is going to stick with you, but the arrangement lends itself well to its scenery and is pleasant enough to be enjoyed by just about any game music fan.8.0/10
14. Delightful SpekkioNow this melody will stick with you. This is another carnival track, only this one is in 4/4 as opposed to the usual 6/8. The track is just plain fun.8.0/10
15. Fanfare 3This fanfare serves nearly the same purpose as the last one, though this is heard more often, making it slightly less appealing.7.0/10
16. Underground SewerUematsu's second best track written for the score. A mischievous dungeon track very similar to "Phantom Train" from FFVI, though once again lighter in tone to work with the game.8.0/10
17. Boss Battle 2The first truly good and epic battle track. Too bad you hear so little of it while actually playing. This has a terrific trumpet part and cool use of tympani.8.5/10
18. Primitive MountainUematsu's take on musical, light-hearted, pre-historia really isn't that great. Not only is it full of musical stereotypes, but the composer adds to the triteness by using small apreggios on piano.6.0/10
19. Ayla's ThemeAnother character theme. I'm not entirely certain this fits well to its character, especially when considering that it isn't played much in-game. A bouncy and brassy track anyway.7.5/10
20. Rhythm of Wind, Sky, and EarthThis is just a small volley of simple percussion.n/a
21. Burn! Ba-bong!The last Uematsu track on the disc is just a goofy prehistoric dance, but one that is still enjoyable.7.5/10
22. Magus's CastleThis is just a doom-filled string track that plays when the party comes upon the lair of a major character in the game. It seems much larger that most of the music we've heard so far.8.0/10
23. Confusing MelodyIt's a shame that this track is so short on disc. Despite how immature the tone is of the whole game, this is eeked into one scene that is particularly memorable only for its creepiness. Even I had a fairly nervous tension when I heard this while playing the first time.8.0/10
24. Battle With MagusHere we come to it: the single best piece of music from the entire score. This is a character theme that doubles as a magnificently dark and epic battle track, one that should be remembered for a long time. Not one single track from Xenogears even reached this level of incredible power.10/10

Disc 3
Track TitleDescriptionRating
1. Singing MountainAnother track that wasn't used in the game, but is better than you might think. It's just a soft piece of music with a flowing melody.7.5/10
2. Tyranno LairUematsu decides to plagiarize one of his own tracks for the first of two times (the same track would be used again in FFIX). "Tyranno Lair" is simply a new arrangement of FFV's "Intention of the Earth." That's not to say it's bad though. It has a fun rock beat, complete with a softer section.7.0/10
3. At the Low Part of NightEven though the general feel of this track is pure Mitsuda, I still can never shake the feeling that it's more than less a take-off on the Uematsu track "The Day Will Come," also from FFV. This isn't a copy though, just very similar, and a good track.8.0/10
4. The Hallways of TimeMitsuda's stylistic origins can truly be heard in this track, which is a fan favorite and certainly one of his most popular. I don't think it's quite as good as a lot of people seem to think that it is, but I like it. It's hard to describe actually, it has cool chimes, a sitar, and a great melody.8.5/10
5. ZealThe theme for the villainess Queen Zeal. Well, there's actually not much of a theme, just a motif that doesn't last long. The track is a fun one to listen to, in sort of a quirkily psychotic way. The string introduction sounds quite a bit like "Confusing Melody" that play's in Magus's castle.7.0/10
6. SchalaAnother winner. This soft theme doesn't play very often during the game, but it sticks with you after playing, and the music itself is the kind of stuff that makes most Square fans drool.8.5/10
7. Sealed DoorUematsu's final track is also his best of the score. This plays many times throughout the game, always to great effect. It's just melancholy piano and string music with an ominous touch, but these elements are combined so well that anyone could tell that this was destined to be a fan favorite.9.0/10
8. Undersea PalaceThis isn't nessesarily a great track, but it's pretty cool, and certainly more interesting that most dungeon tracks. It's a lot like "Zeal," but faster and more tenacious.7.5/10
9. Crono and Marle ~Far off Promise~This is just a music box melody, something that Mitsuda has never quit incorporating into his scores. The melody is used as the character Marle's theme in the game.7.0/10
10. Epoch ~Wings that Cross Time~This is pretty generic stuff that plays whenever the party flies around in the Epoch airship. Just elevator music in 2/2.6.5/10
11. Black OmenThe sound for this track would evolve into "Forest of the Black Moon" in Xenogears. This isn't as good as its progeny and its jazzy flavor doesn't leave much of an impact.6.5/10
12. DeterminationThis is just a recap of the main theme from disc 1, track 2, complete with sound effects from the game. It doesn't last very long and stops suddenly.n/a
13. World RevolutionAnother massive battle theme. I really wish this could have been used for the last battle since it's superior to that track in every way. Anyhow, this is just epic battle music that's fast and engrossing. I love it.9.5/10
14. Last BattleThis electronic mess isn't fit for a battle track, much less the final battle of the game! Twangy, echoy sound effects with a drum beat might do it for some people, but not me. My advice is to skip.5.0/10
15. First Festival of StarsBack to the "Millenial Fair" theme, but more pronounced in its goofiness. Unfortuantely that makes the track a little cringe-inducing when heard on CD. It's alright in the game, though.7.0/10
16. Epilogue - To Good FriendsAn expanded version of "Crono and Marle," this time with a string and piano arrangement.8.5/10
17. To Faraway TimesI know a lot of people really, really like this track, but I don't think that it's very special beyond the fact that it's catchy and soft. It makes good background music as the credits roll and I think it does just fine staying there: in the background. The soft version of the main theme from the first disc shows up again at the very end, with a slightly enhanced arrangement.7.5/10


Chrono Trigger is Copyright 1995 DigiCube. Produced by Yasunori Mitsuda and Mitsunobu Nakamura. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.