Tag Archives: Chrono Trigger

Ten Breeds of Memorable and Immortal 2D Sprites (part 2)

6. Beastly Screen-filling Sprites

Long before Shadow of the Colossus and Monster Hunter, 2D game developers understood the power of monsters too big to be contained in a TV. After the player grows used to smaller enemies, a large one leaves an impression.

EarthBound proves that enormous enemies don’t even need to look especially threatening:

Developers typically save this technique for late-game bosses, so I won’t ruin the surprise by directly showing some of my favorites, but other examples of capital-sized enemies include Secret of Mana, EarthBound, Chrono Trigger, and Mother 3. The Etrian Odyssey series has also taken this idea to another level, but I’ll reserve that for another day—and a post to itself!

One major series that doesn’t take full advantage is Pokémon. The third and fourth generations of games, Ruby and Sapphire and Diamond and Pearl, had a cool Pokédex feature comparing the height scale of a human with any Pokémon the player had caught to demonstrate how small a Diglett or how large a Wailord is, but during battles, size differences only show in the home console games. In the main portable games, almost every fully-evolved monster looks about the same size as any other, whether it’s the fourteen-foot-tall creator of the oceans or a dancing 4’11” Mexican pineapple duck.

We know that Kyogre doesn't like Groudon too much, forcing Rayquaza to step in and stop the two of them from destroying the world, but what happens when Kyogre swims around the ocean it created and runs into Lugia, the guardian of the seas? If Kyogre assigned that role to Lugia, maybe they hang out together. If Lugia took on that role without being commissioned, does Kyogre have a problem with it? Ever thought about that? Ludicolo is a ridiculous design if there ever was one, though that's part of why I love it. More of why I love it is for being the underdog who's destroyed most Kyogre movesets since 2002.

The appearance of a legendary Pokémon could inspire awe if drawn to scale, so this could be considered a missed opportunity. Still, the sale of 215 million games makes it obvious that players already love Pokémon and its artwork to death (and I’m one of them), so maybe leaving well enough alone is for the best. If nothing else, the absence of visible size differences helps convey that most Pokémon can contribute to a victory under the right circumstances.

The final four await!

Ten Breeds of Memorable and Immortal 2D Sprites (part 1)

1. Sprites that Reward Amazing Accomplishments

Metroid is a go-to example, but Chrono Trigger also really ran with this idea.

The Moonlight Parade dancer only performs spinners for winners! According to Lucca, Frog as a human is a 'dish.' I can't speak for the culture of Guardia Kingdom, but in most culinary schools here on Earth, Frog as a frog is more of a dish. The famed Akira Toriyama as a Chrono Trigger sprite. The famed Yuji Horii as a Chrono Trigger sprite. If you just said 'Who-ji Horii?', you're probably not a Dragon Quest fan.

The challenge involved in seeing these sprites makes them rare—and their rarity makes them memorable. The Moonlight Parade dancer only shows her face (and her footloose skills!) after beating the game. Frog in his human form is “only” one battle tougher to get on screen, but some people will never see him outside of online sprite rips because their principles won’t let them meet the requirements. On the right are game versions of Akira Toriyama and Yuji Horii, who can’t be found unless players beat Lavos with only Crono and Marle or beat the souped-up, higher-stats, not-supposed-to-be-defeated Lavos at the Undersea Palace.

For a more modern and less 2D example, check out the ending of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The character involved would have been striking even if the game had as little story as the original Legend of Zelda, but the tease of this appearance from the beginning helps further. Delayed gratification works.

Four more breeds, all discussed at greater length than the first one!

When Robots Hit the Bricks, Something’s Gotta Give

This is Robo from Chrono Trigger. Even if you’ve given that classic RPG half a baker’s dozen playthroughs, take a good look as if you were seeing him for the first time.

Chrono Trigger's Robo, one of Akira Toriyama's only well-known characters who isn't a Dragon Quest monster and also doesn't have the face of Goku, Trunks, Bulma, or Videl. Not a knock on him! I like the bold and sharp lines in his style and if I was an artist who made something as popular as Dragonball, I'd want all my other works to scream 'Hey, I'm the creator of Dragonball' too.

From a glance at him, anyone would think this character will feel significantly different from other party members. His arms are longer than humans’, he wears some kind of steam pack, his eyes are probably equipped with superior sensors and he doesn’t need to blink, and most importantly, he’s made of metal.

None of this translates to noticeable gameplay differences, though. He can take a hit better than Crono, but not immensely better. He’s the slowest party member, but still comparable to Marle’s speed. He’s strong, but Ayla’s stronger. You can even feed him potions like he has a digestive system. In short, Robo is a robot purely for story flavor. There’s nothing wrong with that and he’s a memorable and beloved character for good reason, but let’s compare him with other games’ takes on mechanical heroes.

Click here and you, too, can learn how to do the Robot!

Martial Arts Are For Girls

Ryu and Ken may rule their street in the fighting game genre, but monks and martial artists have become a feminine archetype in RPGs. Since the 8-bit era, at least one heroine from a high-profile, genre-important, worldwide million-seller RPG in every generation of game systems doesn’t settle for standing on her own two feet. She kicks with her own two feet, punches with her own two hands, and furthers the idea that in the RPG universe, every lady with working arms and legs should do the same. Forget Beauty and the Beast. From medieval tomboy princesses to prehistoric hut dwellers to modern girls living in dystopias, Beauty is the Beast and her killer instincts are a tale as old as time.

Even a girl who dresses like a bright and colorful witch can be a fighter. By the way, she'll always be Princess Alena or even Princess Arena to me. That Tsarevna stuff... I think not! Ayla carries a club for show, style, and flavor, but the real threats are her fists, especially after they evolve into Iron Fist and Bronze Fist when she reaches level 70 and 90. Tifa looks much tougher in her Final Fantasy VII form, but I thought the style clashed with Akira Toriyama's art for Alena and Ayla. I also prefer this outfit, so raspberries to anyone who wanted FFVII Tifa here!

Above: fighter girls across the ages. Chronological by game release date, not her own in-universe era!
Alt/title text available to those who hover.

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