Part 10: Unnatural Selection?(Answer: Yes. Unnatural selection indeed.)
In case the cruel passage of time has caused the Magus video to fade from memory, overcome by figurative torrents of temporal fleeting rain, or in case you turned it off because 18 minutes of Mid Tonic use was too much adrenaline to handle, the battle ended with the revelation that Lavos was only being summoned by Magus, following which we were sucked into a portal caused by the scenario writers not knowing what to do with the scene anymore.
Needless to say, since a game like this wouldn't randomly emphasize plot details without a payoff, this finally marks the re-appearance of the Conservation of Time Theorem Chekhovian gun! Four people just traveled through a time gate all at once, and we've been explicitly told to be aware of this scenario due to the instability it apparently causes (in stark contrast to sensible and stable actions such as killing everything having the gall to have lived in the past). Soon we'll end up at the End of Time, ready to have some sort of profound conversation or battle, possibly marking Magus taking advantage of the time gates in a stakes-raising next act of the game, and setting up a climax wherein we ride magical fairy unicorns to the moon.
In other words, nothing like that happens at all. Gaspar should probably shy away from lying about timestreams and stick to studying myrrh.
Zzz Conservation of Time Theory . zzz Grandleon zzz this scene will be used as the sole justification for a shoehorned Marle/Crono romance addition despite happening entirely offscreen zzz we should adopt more cats
Get a job? But didn't you just say.... Oh god! Oh god!
Ayla? Thank goodness, I had the most terrible nightmare. I dreamed I was in a Camelot game.
Don't worry Crono, it will all be okay. You're safe.
Ayla had strange dream. Went to Mystic Mountains. Everyone lie there, hurt. I carry back to hut.
Yummy frog! For Ayla eat?
P, perish the thought, lass! By the way, whither the blue-haired one?
Only find you there. Blue-hair one more tasty?
We hath lost him...
Not worry now. You rest. Hurt bad.
After another nap, Kino bursts in to wake us up. It turns out that, in a cosmic attempt at distraction sent down from on-high, we've arrived in the past just in time for a forest to catch fire and a village to be in need of some saving (I suppose we didn't really have anywhere to go after that Magus fight). You have to admire how this game finds a new conflict within five seconds, lest we spend an entire room running the risk of getting bored.
Last time we came here, Ayla spoke of the mysterious Laruba Village, which I believe she didn't know how to find (Ayla's seething hatred of pronouns makes the line "No fight, go to Laruba Village. Don't know where village is" unclear; she could know how to find it and be referring to the Reptites. Kino's statement that Ayla was trying to find the village is what makes me believe she doesn't know). Previously, this was just an impenetrable mass of trees.
Reptites followed you! So village now ruined!
... Ayla feel bad.
Reptites strong! They live long time before us, they smart so we hide. But Ayla say fight together... Ayla still fight?!
Ayla fight while alive! Win and live. Lose and die. Rule of life. No change rule. Old man breathe, but dead on inside.
Ayla, you strong, can make big talk. We no have power...
No! Have power! We fight, gain more power! Ayla help you, but need Dactyl. Give Dactyl.
Need Dactyl? Go to Tyranno lair?! That Reptite's place. Dangerous! Ayla want die?
Want to live, so go there! Ayla be OK. Give Dactyl!
...OK. Go to Dactyl's nest and keeper will help. Careful, Ayla!
It's slightly hard to piece together what exactly happened here, which I have a feeling may have been intentional:
This child saw Kino get kidnapped, as in the same Kino who left the primary village some number of minutes after Ayla left and about twenty-five seconds before we did. In the time that it took Kino to reach the village, which he presumably didn't know the location of either, the fire that its chief knew to attribute to the Reptites was extinguished. Nonetheless at least some Reptites were still around, as Kino ended up being kidnapped before we arrived. Most of the other Laruba citizens were kidnapped as well, so presumably Kino was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and the Reptites decided to round him up because why not? Meanwhile, Ayla was in the exact same place but was unharmed.
The Old Man mentions that Ayla led the Reptites there, so the Reptites must have, in order to do something, bypassed the now-unguarded village in plain sight so as to set fire to a forest they were now in, gather prisoners so as to rescue their enemy from a deathtrap they intentionally caused, allow the fire to extinguish so as to prevent any casualties arriving from their explicit attack, and ignore a solid third of the city (including its leader and the neighboring village chief slaughtering their men) because fighting is hard. Ayla watched all of this, including the Reptites escaping, and did nothing. Unnoticed, we watch Ayla being chewed out about this and then let her leave, doing nothing.
Thinking back on it, Marle's comment might not have been as sound as it seemed .
Ayla runs off to the killing fields and we give chase, aggressively turning away from enemies all the while. At the top, a pterodactyl waits with outstretched claws separate from its wings, mocking our evolutionary understanding and cruelly grinning at our frustrated confusion.
Don't even THINK about leaving us behind!
Thou goest forth alone? I know not thine quest, but a comrade of Crono's is also mine.
No! Tyranno lair dangerous! Maybe all perish!
We can't let you go alone! Ayla, you saved us. Now it's payback time!
You desire to perish? I refuseth to be party to yet another demise!
Ayla have strong friends!
Next stop, the Tyranno Lair!
Pay attention to the glistening red star in the upper right. Red stars remind me of anime, and anime, in turn, reminds me of more anime. I don't remember what I was originally talking about. Anime!
Notice how, since there are four possible party members to include, Toriyama draws around carefully keeping the third dactyl just out of frame. Then at 0:30 he just says fuck it and gives you a bird escort for the wide shot. Directing!
The first of two "vehicles" in the game (I'm not counting the ferry. Or the motorbike. Or Johnny. Or the mechanisms in the factory. Or the telepod), the pterodactyls work exactly like walking save for a few distinctions.
For example, turning around involves all three crashing into each other so as to reverse formation in a death-defying display of defying death. Rather than drawing a custom riding sprite, the chibi characters are just frozen in their walking forward pose, making them less riding the dinosaurs and more surfing on them with as little emotion as they can.
Meanwhile, the shadows look awful; for a game that's still one of the best uses of 2D spritework (full stop), just throwing some static black circles in the middle of the screen looks lazy and incredibly out of place. It honestly would have looked better had they just cut the shadows and pretended we were in perpetual twilight. More exhilarating comments to follow after this break:
Ayla, having been born before magic existed, is somehow ineligible to be granted it by a literal god. She was also born before time machines existed, you know; you're not fooling anyone by being arbitrary.
Seriously guys, can I please-
Oh come on, don't act like you didn't know this was coming.
Magus, you've been one-upped entirely. Here are some words:
The Tyranno Lair is probably my favorite dungeon in the game. It's basically a collection of all the mechanics that didn't really fit anywhere else, yet it moves fast enough and has enough of a focus not to feel like a dumping ground or time waste. Tonally it's all over the place, simultaneously trying to be a breather dungeon after the Magus sequence and an epic mirror to that castle that's just as grandiose. The dungeon doesn't really fit here; it feels less shoehorned and more just set down somewhere in the hopes that people would just run with it. I get the feeling that the whole prehistoric era was the roughest-planned sequence in the game, and that the ideas for it were basically just fit in wherever the team found a decent place for them.
Progression-wise, it's easy to imagine this sequence never existing. The only reason we came to the past in the first place was because of an inexplicably shattered Masamune, when a whole one waiting at the top of the mountain would have been perfectly logical. This visit is the result of a completely inconsistent problem of... some sort that happened solely because the plot demanded it. The first visit here is entirely treading water, and the "dungeon" that caps it off definitely feels like a placeholder, perhaps because the whole Tyranno Lair sequence would have been far too climactic for a pre-Magus setpiece and left the pacing completely bizarre.
I certainly don't think the entire time period is extraneous; there's a key revelation about Lavos that only works from a distant vantage point, and a look at primitive early man goes a long way towards setting up a time period we have yet to see. It just seems like they planned to include those elements but couldn't really think of a way to segue into them, so they just had everybody loudly scream things at you until you forgot.
I'M WRITING AN UPDATE LIKE I DO ALL THE TIME SHUT UP LET'S GO.
I've always felt that what really ties a place together is a severed leg or two decomposing in the foyer. The skeletal wall paneling is an equally nice touch, as are the giant skull passages. Just a reminder that Square wasn't allowed to use the word "Holy" or allude to the existence of beer.
I have to wonder how the Reptites transported their prisoners, and I also have to wonder why they saw fit to give them all clubs. Come to think of it, I additionally have to wonder how letting them free is supposed to help them, seeing as the fortress is crawling with Reptites we know can capture them, surrounded by lava, and on a cliff. In retrospect we might not have thought this daring rescue plan all the way through.
Going downstairs, the prison guards will leave us alone if we scoff at them and turn our heads with disdain. You know, at least Guardia gave its soldiers armor and some swords; when your prisoners are better equipped than your guards are you're probably taking budget cutting a little too far.
Kino get back! Ayla save you!
They really should have arranged the ribs to go the other direction. And not have left a man-sized opening at the top. That too.
Sorry Ayla. All Kino's fault.
No matter. Kino escape with Laruba villagers!
What Ayla do?
Put end to this!
Kino go too!
Kino no come. If Ayla dead, Kino new chief of Ioka!
Ayla strong. No lose!
Kino understand. And show you something!
The fourth thing I have to wonder (I have to; it's a curse) is what the end game of this imprisoning was meant to be. Due process seems to matter a surprising amount to a race that wipes out another species every time they need new utensils.
On a completely unrelated note, it's once again time to murder all of them. The rest of this dungeon is a climb up to Azala's throne room, assuredly guarded by the most deadly and dastardly traps we've ever seen.
Azala, at least Ozzie will have been smart enough to put more than one trapdoor in his trapdoor rooms.
Perhaps she just makes lackeys stand on it so she can dramatically punish them for failure, unless said failure happens to be refusing to stand on the trapdoor.
She has, however, seen through our cunning plan to break into a song-and-dance routine in the lower right corner of this roof. Thinking quickly, we instead forge an alternate plan: "Go through the door leading up". We narrowly manage to make it work.
Now for an extremely bizarre and unexplainable room.
Certain tiles warp you to various spots around the room, making this a trial and error maze where you can't see the walls. I
Sure. You know what, Chrono Trigger, sure. Just do whatever you want. Whatever. Sure.
These outer balconies are almost entirely covered with enemy triggers, but we can avoid them by hugging the back wall and getting tricky with some maneuvering. Every time I feel bad about this challenge, I just remember that somebody played through every room in the game to figure out every tile that was exempt from every encounter. Then I rest content that I will always have significantly more friends.
In case you haven't gathered by this point, Azala doesn't really get this whole trap thing, instead opting to booby trap his fortress with switches that have a 50/50 chance of inconveniencing those who dare pass through. Sure, Zelda occasionally indulged in the "One of these switches actually summons SNAKES" game, but at least that wasn't in a massive public works project. Maybe this is just another example of the switchmakers union getting their way.
Pressing the correct switch lets us walk through the skull door into a room containing... a switch, and this switch opens the door we just passed on the balcony. Reptite schools of architecture have yet to popularly catch on.
Well, I've put it off long enough. Here we are: by far the most pain-inducing challenge Chrono Trigger has for us to play.
Terrifying. It may not look it, but figuring out that puzzle can take days.
Alright, we aren't getting out of this that easily, and this is not going to be a simple fight. Nizbel II, the not-even-palette-swap of a boss from two updates ago, is, on level 1, the hardest boss in the game. Harder than Magus, harder than Lavos, harder than Gato in the mythical run of "Level 1 with your eyelashes and also don't press A". This is the boss fight that, as I hinted last time we fought him, took three hours to defeat. This is where continuing to enjoy this challenge qualifies you for an extended stay at Bedlam.
First things first: Crono needs to be able to use magic consistently. Unfortunately, he has 8 MP, so we'll settle for being able to use magic more than once. By this point we have two free Speed Tabs (the Power and Magic Tabs are earmarked for Robo when we start really using him). We need to give these to Crono, enabling him to have ** speed without the Speed Belt and letting him equip the Silver Stud, cutting MP costs, in its place. Marle, as usual, does nothing of any importance, so Ayla gets all of the highest quality armor and the Silver Erng, increasing her maximum HP. We're also going to set the battle speed to the slowest it will possibly go; the extra reaction and planning time is vital, and if you're worried about efficiency you wouldn't be doing this challenge and instead would be out numbering grains of sand.
Brace yourselves, enjoy a horribly mangled line that ends up being one of the best in the game, put on some light jazz, and let's dive in:
As before, Nizbel has incredibly high defense, meaning that a normal attack will do single digit damage and not do much to breach his 6500 HP. Using Lightning will lower his defense but another physical attack will raise it again, meaning that for best results Crono needs to get in a string of lightning attacks before Ayla begins her assault. Sound simple?
This happens every three Lightnings.
Crono needs to use Lightning twice, allowing Ayla to get in three attacks before he's back to his normally high defense. Crono can use a third Lightning, Ayla can survive the Lightning Storm, Crono can be revived and have his MP restored, and the process can begin anew.
Sure, it's an incredibly tedious method of going about this, but "attrition" is already on my 10-most-used-words list just after "dialectical materialism" and "the". It's slow going, but at least it's consistent and safe, and if you set up a good soundtrack for yourself you can probably make it through just fine.
That is, except for the fact that Nizbel has other attacks.
Even with Crono at ** speed, Nizbel is faster - getting about one and a half attacks in for each of Crono's turns. Nizbel's normal attack does about 70 damage to one character and his Earthquake does 50 to everyone alive.
Crono has to use magic twice before anybody can effectively attack. Crono has 70 HP.
The first round is a freebie; Crono can (barely) survive an Earthquake and Marle can act as an attack dummy, even getting in an ice attack or two to pretend she's helping. After Crono dies the first time, the pattern goes like this:
Ayla revives Crono if and only if she's at near-full health. The guide I mostly relied upon for this challenge suggested 150 HP as the cutoff for whether to revive him, but that's suicide; it's extremely easy to become overwhelmed in a turn or two if his attacks aren't diversified as much as you'd like or you get unlucky in the syncing of attacks. When Ayla has near-full HP, use a revive when Nizbel has queued an attack; this will ensure that Nizbel hits Ayla and Crono will be able to get in a Lightning attack. Ayla should start healing herself now because Crono will die within a turn. Ayla needs to use Mid Tonics as liberally as possible (not her healing tech Kiss; it's not enough and she will die) until there's another opportunity to revive Crono and let him get in Lightning #2.
Now that two Lightnings have been squeezed in (which can take a fair bit of time, especially given our battle speed), Ayla gets to attack three times. As before, she is only doing this when you can be confident she has enough health to survive; otherwise Mid Tonics are a better use of a turn.
Once she's attacked three times, she can revive Crono and have him use a third magic attack to trigger the Lightning Storm. When doing this, Ayla needs to have more than 200 HP and be queued to use a Mid Tonic immediately as Crono's Lightning connects. If she doesn't, then Nizbel's chain of post-revival attack, lightning storm, and post-lighning-storm attack will kill her, and the battle will start from scratch.
Finally, after Ayla survives a Lightning Storm, you can jump three paragraphs up and read this again. Remember that Nizbel can effortlessly kill Ayla if you let him, and that this battle demands playing extremely defensively.
Over the course of this whole process, between her three attacks, Ayla will have dealt just over 500 damage.
The boss has 6500 HP.
Eventually, Ayla finishes him off when his health reaches the point where she can (you have been keeping track of this on the legal pad, right?). If nothing else, at least letting the others die off isn't tricky.
If you pull everything off perfectly, you can probably beat Nizbel II in twenty minutes to a half hour, which is still unbearably long for any boss not named Ruby Weapon in a JRPG. My three hour counter was due to a series of failures and retries, most of them because I tried to get just a tiny bit fancy or got the demanding timing ever so slightly wrong. This didn't even satisfy the masochistic side of me due to its tedium; there's no sense of progress to go along with any of this and you're pretty much forced to distract yourself while never letting yourself get distracted. This fight is a combination of everything terrible about fake difficulty, and I can't even complain about that; this fight isn't even remotely difficult if you're playing the actual game. That's because the entire point of this fight is to be made trivially easy, such that most people have probably forgotten Nizbel II was even a boss. Bypassing the Alternate History banner for this, here's how things would have happened if I were sane:
I hate everything.
We're still not done, though thankfully the rest of this dungeon gets to act as a breather. As before, we have to snake around some predetermined enemy spawn points, but this time we get some scenic vistas as a reward. I really like the views of the surrounding area; it gives this dungeon a good sense of progress if slightly heightening the absurdity. Wasn't there supposed to be a sea of lava or something?
The next meaningless switch repository allows for a moderately interesting glitch. One of these switches gets rid of the floor, and falling down to a lower level isn't done as a cutscene. If you position yourself to fall here, there's a brief window of time in which you can use the save point while falling, which for some reason (I'm not going to poke around the game's coding to find out) allows you to save anywhere until you turn off the game. I didn't bother to make use of this because I already have that functionality (it's called save states), but I suppose if you need it for whatever reason it's a thing that exists and it's there.
Also of note is that treasure chests in this fortress have been represented by eggs (I assume the kicked up dirt is supposed to be a "nest", as built by 65,000,000 BC's soon-to-be parents of the year). Somebody in this fortress apparently has the job of eating valuable materials and then laying them to keep them safe from things that can't successfully break an egg. I'll tell you, those Full Ether-consuming dust squads will think twice before coming into this fortress again, and Reptite #493 will think twice about staying employed.
Unfortunately, this door is guarded by an inescapable encounter, and it's impossible to stop it from triggering. In an attempt to continue making this challenge more and more ridiculous each day (that I update), I present you with this. It's not anime.
Yes, that is a thing that happens. No, that never happens anywhere except for this one specific room. No, I have no idea why the game's code lets it happen. Moving on.
Finally we meet Azala, who gives a quick speech that's impossible to read in a way that is even remotely menacing at all. After squirming and trying to figure out how to lend a sense of finality to this, she anticlimactically runs out the back door, leaving us to pilfer through her room-eggs. I feel bad for the inevitable Reptites who went looking for hats to wear and ended up parties to infanticide.
The main thing to pick up is a CeraTopper, which while painful wordplay is an unusually logical use of a Greek prefix (cera meaning horn) that I can't adequately make fun of.
Red star... Fall!!!!! Stain the earth...RED! Though it may be our fate to perish, we will not simply hand this world over to you! Mwa ha ha! With this Black Tyranno I can finally exterminate those filthy apes!
No, seriously, weren't there lava flows everywhere around here? This was built in a field of volcanoes; you could at least give us an awesome heavy metal album cover background out of that.
This boss, Azala and the Black Tyranno (the game and associated sources are a bit inconsistent over whether Tyranno has one N or two), is significantly easier than the last few bosses we've fought, though sadly it's not winnable by luring him ten feet away and watching him fall off the narrow unguarded walkway five hundred feet from the ground. Azala, like all dinosaurs, is weak to magic, and the bosses' attacks are weak enough that a well-equipped Ayla is under no threat even at level 20. Neither phase of this battle is particularly notable, but just for some reprieve
Azala has magical powers, being able to teleport rocks, telepathize sleepiness, and maybe even do something else, who knows? This is interesting because the Reptites have never been established as using magic, and this rather naturally leads to the conclusion that the fiends in the present eras are in some way her descendents. The liner notes shoot this down, but I'm going to take advantage of LP executive veto because the official explanation makes almost no sense. I'm also going to rewrite the ending so that all of my shipping fanfics become canon and Frog becomes best friends with Picard.
The Black Tyranno has far more HP and Azala covers him under a barrier, making her the necessary first target. The Tyranno himself has an ineffective fire attack that does nothing and an ineffective countdown attack that also does nothing, since healing after it is extremely simple even if Crono and Marle won't survive.
Once Azala's defeated, all that's necessary is to play this battle exactly as you would in a normal game. The Tyranno lowers his defense to slowly teach kids how to count to five, during which you attack him, then raises his defense in a game of attrition role reversal where he hopes you've forgotten how healing works and are missing three limbs. Somehow I get the feeling this wasn't intended to be an amazing defense; Azala probably just summoned a farm animal she's been domesticating for its hindlegs' applications as lamps.
With that, we've killed a boss that has a quickly-dispatched magic using form, a built-in defense lowering mechanic, and a countdown-to-deadly-attack pattern that takes up most of the second half, then an update later fought a Black Tyranno. [Segue]. I really appreciate that CT doesn't use battle transitions, but there are a few examples where there's just as much of a disconnect. Given how well the rest of the game does with this (e.g. physically exploding the dragon tank) this one is especially egregious. And no, after that Nizbel disaster I'm not feeling charitable enough to fall back on my defense that he's been made out of cesium all along.
No... It can't be...! Could the heavens truly have sided with the apes? Listen, primates, and let it be known. We Reptites fought bravely to the bitter end! Soon, stones of fire will rain down. Flames shall scorch the land. The burned out plains will slowly freeze, ushering in a long, cruel ice age. Mwa, ha ha...what a treat! You will wish you went along with us!
Following that anticlimax, we're treated to a Mode 7 sequence of Lavos falling to the earth. I have no idea how Azala knows about the celestial course of an object about thirty feet wide, nor do I know why this large-but-not-monstrous hedgehog was clearly visible from not-space. Bertrand Russell must be spinning in his grave.
Ayla, presumably, means [Something] Fire, signifying that she's tough and hot to the touch. Or that her parents took after Freakonomics' Amcher example and named their daughter after the first thing they saw. Hard to say.
Inspiring Yahtzee's eventual writing techniques, abrupt threat-changes call for deus ex machinas and the revelation that, oh yeah, we probably could have bypassed most of that dungeon given that we could fly.
We need to talk about how to handle these kinds of missions from now on.
Come! Azala! Come!
Absolutely not! The powers that be have spoken.
Azala... ...me not forget...
Future? What about future?
We...have no future
Ayla inexplicably offers to save Azala, but Azala equally inexplicably refuses, because who cares about that fight that happened five minutes ago or the purpose of why we were here at all? With that, Azala is dead, and the reptites are no longer a threat because of our genocide. It's worth noting, of course, that this was decidedly not even the least bit fair. To wit:
-Knowledge of the solar system, including accurate forecasts of events such as collisions
-Capable of building giant fortresses and towers
-Tightly organized and hugely efficient social hierarchy
-Ability to train wild animals to work together to dispatch threats
-Mastery over interior design
-Livers of steel
-Occasionally punch some things
So, Akira Toriyama-man, how did making anime cutscenes for the new Chrono Trigger release go?
Great! I put together all of my favorite scenes, like when Frog cleaves in half that mountain.
Fantastic; that's exactly what we want.
I also did some others, like climbing onto a bird and Magus standing in a room somewhere. I even did the one where Lucca sees a thing.
Did you make one for the plot-critical and thrilling segment where Lavos crashes down from space, destroying a giant castle in the middle of a field of volcanoes from which the heroes narrowly escape by riding dinosaurs away from explosions?
Here's one where Ayla punched four guys.
We probably should have planned this out in advance.
So! Lavos descended in this era!
Lavos huge! Crono fight it? Crono! We go where Lavos fall!
The introductory scene of It's a Wonderful Life is probably not what you want to be emulating here. Where are you and what happened to the volcanoes?
I like volcanoes...
For some reason, escaping the impact took the form of flying a few feet away from the impact and leaving the dinosaurs behind, probably because we need a new conflict again and this plot's not going to progress itself. Going back to the ruins, we can find a gate, which Ayla reacts to by doing something and Marle reacts to by making everything up.
Lavos very fast! Deep under earth already.
There were gates in the future, Marle, well after Lavos had left. There are gates at the End of Time. There was a gate already in this era, which you may recognize as the entire reason we are are currently here. Are you aspiring to be like Gaspar?
I realize that most people reading this have already played through this game. I also realize that the people who hadn't done so but started when they first read this have now worked through Square's entire back catalogue and most of Dostoevsky on the side. For those of you who haven't, however, this is where my sales pitch for this game is going to make the Jehovah's Witnesses seem low-key.
Up until now, Chrono Trigger has been a good game. In fact, that's not giving it enough credit; Chrono Trigger has been a great game. It's had interesting characters, strong pacing, incredible polish, and a fantastic battle system, still easily one of the best the genre has offered. It's done a lot of things well and almost none of them poorly, and it's solidified itself as still being ahead of many games that are designed today.
Chrono Trigger could have easily gotten by on just being this: A competent play on Arthurian archetypes with some clever subversions thrown in, an apocalyptic future for setting the stakes, a contemporary anchor, and the prehistoric for variety, as the story jumped between short-term diversions that led to incremental long-term gain. Had the game continued as it has been, a clever and hugely effort-laden way for an RPG dream team to show off their skills, it would still be a game I hold in high regard. But it wouldn't be a game I still replay every year or two, it wouldn't be my go-to introduction for friends who want to try their hands at video games, and it wouldn't be a game I've spent months LPing because I didn't feel the two that existed were enough (then again, I did the same for Golden Sun, so that might not be the best barometer).
This part of the game is what changes that. This time portal is what marks the end of a game I like and the beginning of probably the best video game I've ever played. This is where Chrono Trigger becomes the game that turned Cymbal Monkey from someone who hates JRPGs into someone who bought Nier within a day of me recommending it to him. This is where a choir of angels descends from the heavens to serenade you into everlasting bliss, and then you play Chrono Trigger and it's also quite good.
But don't hype yourself up for it too much. Best to let it whack you off guard when you're weak.