The Let's Play Archive

Chrono Trigger

by Quovak

Part 16: The Fated Hour (Part 2)

Round two of our sidequesting adventures begins with an unpictured Robo and this island, which, as can be seen to the upper left of the G, won a gold star for being the best island at hosting the Geno Dome (meanwhile, the building received an exasperated sigh for increasingly stretching the meaning of the word "dome"). The Geno Dome, or Genocidome as the Japanese would say, is my least favorite of these side quest dungeons by far, and the progression of what we have to do probably won't make sense when conveyed through screenshots and rambling text. Don't hesitate to skim.

I haven't seen them in ages. Let me...welcome them. Come closer... Let's see just what you can do…

Robo's issue of the week is to come to terms with the Sisyphean torment of being shallowly named for a piece of mythology which, besides blatantly exceeding the character limit followed by all of the other characters' real names (Glenn, Janus, Nadia, Jesus, and Steve), was kind of tempting fate. The name was ultimately decided on mere hours after his creation, after a fierce back-and-forth on the merits of "Odysseus", "YouWillBetrayUsAndWeWillRegretGrantingYouOurKnowledge", and "Dome".

Speaking of heroes of arbitrary suffering brought upon by the absurd, the first leg of this dungeon is an enemy gauntlet. I can scarcely contain my joy.

No longer content to eat only the first of things (Proto Four sounds like... oh screw it), these robots have joined forces with the fantastically name Debuggests (a palette swap of Debuggers) to defend this two-mile conveyor belt ride to the death. Robo needs to constantly use Area Bomb while Frog heals with Mid Tonics and Lapises (restores 200 HP to all) and Crono shines refracted light of death. Some eight of these battles later and we can move on.

Well, okay, the malnutrition, rampaging robots, and barren inhospitable wasteland are most of it, but a pretty solid part of it is the despair. Read some Frankl.

Don't you understand? This planet would be peaceful if there were no humans around.  And yet you still want to fight? Why?

This puzzle is not going to come across clearly in screenshots at all, but in a fiendishly Darkseed II-inspired twist we need dolls to be used as batteries. The first doll is blocked by a clearly unkillable robot built to be goalkeeper for Shakthtar Donetsk, and our goal is to summon another one over so that they'll block each other and not us (software engineers scoffed at the idea of programming around both this and the other chief defect-turned-feature "Spontaneously decides not to guard"). Toy factories amped up security significantly in the wake of their Chrono Trigger collectibles being stolen by a strange man with no arms or legs.

Meanwhile, in order to progress we need to unlock these pods (this one through a devious time waster of making us guess the proper alignment of three switches) and carry electricity from various examples of shoddy wiring to various examples of doors.

Couldn't you summon electricity with your mind?
Yes, but you have to keep in mind the conditions of this playthrough. I’m underequipped to provide that sort of provision and instead would prefer to ration my own magical ability, making the best use of the scarce resources which we’re allotted and better equipping us for upcoming fights. Because you aren’t directly or permanently hurt in this circumstance, we as a unit are weakened significantly less by your sacrifice than we would be had I expended MP and in turn contributed to an attrition of our reserves. Hopefully you understand that my reluctance to do so, while seemingly heartless, is ultimately an attempt to provide for the betterment of the entire group including yourself, and that I mean no ill will towards you nor do I mean to imply callousness towards the suffering that you’re experiencing. It’s also worth bringing up that, as a human of limited lifespan, I’ll have fewer opportunities to recoup the utility lost by expending magical energy, while as a robot your maximum utility is theoretically unlimited, particularly when placed within a framework of your duty and fulfillment in serving us, your creators and benefactors, in mutually beneficial arrangements such as that in which we’re currently engaged. I understand your sentiment and find it a valid one, but I think I’ve demonstrated that it is in our best interest to use you an an electrical conduit rather than relying on my own abilities, seemingly magical and unlimited though they may be. I’ll make up for it by trying to contribute more in battle, and hopefully we can both learn from this and accept each other’s strengths and sacrifices as we continue along in our I have eight MP.
…life is…pain…
Eight. M. P.

Also there's a speed tab right where that doll was, the most devious design choice of all.

Lavos's children will one day have to leave to seek new planets, and prey.  This world COULD sustain them...if humans were not around...  We robots will create a new order... A nation of steel, and pure logic. A true paradise!  Our "Species" will replace you...  So stop your foolish struggle, and succumb to the sleep of eternity…

This console hooks into the also-controversial "Bypass our defenses" program and, while failing to explain why preventing the world from being conquered by biological space hedgehogs is an impediment to silicon rule, does explain how to unlock doors and defeat poorly implemented guard algorithms. It also warns us that, regardless of circumstance, we are not to leave the building with the dolls, though the honor system method of loss prevention proved far less effective that than the wanton murder approach enacted in response to the unprofessional behaviors of leaving typos and bloodstains respectively on meeting tables and quarterly reports. Nothing happens if we try to leave with the dolls.

At the top of the screen in that left image is another guard robot, in this case programmed to follow intruders like a poorly coded puppy rather than actually guard things and bank on the hope that most people who break into factories full of robots fear robots.. Our goal is to lure him back to the beginning, where he can block the other one. Please take this moment to reflect on the high quality pathfinding AI regularly found in one-off NPCs on an SNES.

I think I liked it better last year when we were doing this with cats.

And so, having reached an impasse over whether Robo's armor is Anzac or F5CC7A (It's Tacao), the guard robots opt to guard each other and let us get the doll. Originally placed there for a science experiment over whether robots could feel childlike glee and love, the experiment was deemed inconclusive as a result of poor methodology and a lack of interest in writing a punchline for this joke. Let's go fight a boss.

... Atropos...?
Yes, it's been awhile Prometheus. You can stop pretending now and join us.
This has been a guise?
Mwa, ha... Unlike the other R-series, Prometheus had a special task. To live with humans and study them as a species...
Tell them, Prometheus...
Now step back Prometheus. We'll get rid of these humans, then go see Mother...
I won't allow you to hurt them!
...... You are indeed defective. They have tampered with you. I'll destroy them, then fix you.
Atropos... you've changed.
Indeed. Mother remade me to eliminate humans more efficiently! Step back, Prometheus!
My name is Robo.

Atropos, one of Greece's classical Fates, chose the method of death for mortals. XR either marks her as the opposite of a prescription or, less likely, references the Labarum, the first two letters of Christ in Greek (Chi-Rho) and a reference far too sophisticated for an unsophisticated reference and not nearly sophisticated enough for a sophisticated one. Most likely, the Matriarch simply named all of her children these types of things, only to face crushing disappointment when Theseus became a plumber for the frogs in the sewer chunnel and "YouWillBecomeAMessainicArchetypeAndSacrificeYourselfForMan" just sat in front of a laptop all day and wrote fanfics. Even her golden children must have caused some disappointment, however, when she realized that most humans couldn't fight back if the robots won a war by throwing pebbles at them and that Promotheus' reconnaissance was mostly just an assignment to be Miroslav Tichý.

For these references, I'm just going to start throwing syllables together and see if anyone calls me on it. It will still be more profound than "Atropos XR".

Like Rjidôs Nardhsi, winner of 2004's Poneifiori Strådivlaus Memorial Prize Competition, challenge in this battle does not exist. Have Robo heal himself if his health gets low and just wait out her Area Bombs with a Black Mail, then bask in the glow of successfully having pressed A at Level 1. This sidequest is far from the best this team ever designed.

I'm damaged? What happened?
My memory bank... Mother must have done something nasty when she reprogrammed me... Partial memory...restored... I'm sorry...Prometheus... Vital functions are do...wn... M...memory bank damaged...
Atropos...! for you... You can...plug this...into your circuits... Please...take care...of it... Good...bye...Pro...metheus...

As a reward, Atropos hands over her non-gender-specific ribbon cabling and enables us to mourn over her disappearing chassis in style. We already have an item called the Ribbon, which raises Hit by 2 and was equipped on Marle at the beginning of the game, and as such it's only marginally unclear that the "ribbon" in question is an automatic and permanent upgrade to Robo's stats and not, well, a ribbon. With that, the dungeon is essentially over, though there is a magic tab right around here and a hidden bonus if we want to explore.

I know this is really played out by this point and quickly approaching the level of "[Dungeon X] is a maze", but this game wasn't allowed to make mention of beer. Boss #2!

Come Prometheus, you must once again join us.  I'll reset your circuitry and erase your memories.  Then we'll dispose of these filthy humans.
I'm sorry but... I cannot afford to lose anything else...  Not my precious memories, or my irreplaceable friends.
You would betray ME, to stay with these humans? You would turn against the family of robots?
Humans have taught me much. Crono, Marle, Lucca, Frog, and Ayla...  I will not betray my friends.
Ho...!  Fu, hu, hu... This is rich...! Don't make me laugh! YOU, have emotions?!  I'll show you just how "human" you've become!

Mother Brain, designed to capture the fledgling but burgeoning lava lamp love pillow market in a fit of inspiration and MDMA, causes Ayla's maternal instinct to go crazy and adopt some tough-but-Proverbs 13:24-approved love. Given that she only has 5000 HP, the usual strategy is simply to come here after a few other sidequests, destroy the 1000 HP-per-turn-healing Displays, and press A a bit, but that's complicated due to a number than in this case is 1. Like most people obsessed with posthumanism, Mother Brain flies into an uncontrollable rage when deprived of flashing lights and the ability to tell the futurenet it's wrong, and destroying the displays causes all of her attacks to be replaced with this:

It doesn't go incredibly well.

Instead, we need to destroy two of the screens and use Boogie, which stuns the Display that this is a tech included in this game and lets us work away at her health. Ayla can charm a Blue Mail, we can sit and contemplate the importance of gender differentiation to robot society and how they traveled between this island and "towns" (my money's on trebuchets), and the party can go back to the typical strategy of frequently healing while using their strongest attacks. Repeat Boogying when Displaybot shuffles off the fever and the battle should turn out okay. The only thing to worry about is that Mother Brain shoots laser beams of death.

Huh, I guess that spying was kind of useless. Humans get whacked by laser beams of death; who knew?

All machines in the factory have been shut off for good. Let's go.

With that satisfying and reasonable conclusion, Robo is given two weapons, the latter of which is… flawed: the Crisis Arm is a middling weapon that supposedly gains incredible power at < 10 HP (that is, never), but in practice it only checks the last digit of his HP and is stronger if said digit is a nine. While one has to respect the metatextual critique on the untrustworthy nature of code, a safer bet is usually to stick with the Terra Arm and the safest bet is moving onto another sidequest. Onward to Quest #5!

Come on in! This's the Great Ozzie's place. Whoa!! Oh, and you again! Outta here!

Ozzie's Fort, which is roughly the quality of an actual pillow or tree fort, contains zero enemy encounters and is more or less just a place for some comic relief. We aren't actually getting anything of use here, but completionism dictates little seeing as it's a concept and incapable of issuing commands. Let us move on.

Ooh! I'll have you begging for mercy.  Flea!

Oh great Ozzie, stand back, and let ME take care of these cretins. You know, I REALLY don't like you. Get ready for a SLAPPING good time...get it?!

Ozzie, realizing he's late for his free colonoscopy, sentences us to some refights, while Flea, realizing it was a bad idea to keep being a bat around Ozzie (man, that's a topical joke), gives up the facade and becomes a straightforward battle on a non-Methylenedioxyhydroxymethamphetamine-inspired floor; look it up. We, armed with the power of actually having attacks, spitefully intervene in his life until he retreats by gelidly ascending upstairs. In English, the battle is won by pressing A.

You're nothing but common thieves! Anyone who tries to steal my treasure is looking for a VERY cruel death!

Oz... Ozzie's in a pickle!!!

Well, how about a good thrashing!
Yooouuu rang?
Slash, don't let me down!
Beat me once, shame on you! Beat me twice, shame on me. Grrr...

Slash, my fifth favorite punctuation mark after the ampersand, right curly brace, dagger, and interrobang, invested so many resources into roses that he produced little butter and is thus malnourished (let's go with that). He is thus also easy. Press A.

(The chest holds a Full Ether. This dungeon is a whirlwind of giving me things to say.)

Ozzie Pants!
Flea Vest!
Slasher 2!
These unique items make us INVINCIBLE!

We've switched Robo for Ayla so as to charm all three items, but we start with our focus on Slash because fighting all three at a time makes things a bit dicey. Every attack is countered with the Shadow-based Delta Force, which can thankfully be absorbed via Bla extortion based on embarrassing pictures of him with Tom Morello singing along to The Killers, in this case us. His Slasher 2 is a decent weapon but it doesn't touch the Rainbow, and in the manual is referred to as the Fleaver because that isn't confusing or ambiguous at all. He also has only 4000 HP, so as long as we survive the first couple of turns we can take him out quickly and make the rest of the battle a breeze.

The next and perhaps least dour fraction of this battle sees us tire of Flea's insincere remissions and choose to make him a godly but masculine casualty of us. The Flea Vest, a defect in a riotous translation (originally a bra because Japan) grants a favorably nonpareil M-Defense boost of a whoppingly plaintiff renewing 12, and the kiss-blowing coquet runs off like a visitor trying to see every noteworthy thing on the map. Oh comely.

Then Oswald. His pants boost defense by 45 (!) at the cost of permanent confusion even if the amulet is equipped, and he dies when you press Y if you remapped controls to that and A if you did not. Home stretch!

Fittingly, Ozzie concludes the linear collection of hallways and boss fights by fulfilling his focus and giving us no control over which lever we pull. Realizing the problems with rigging trapdoors to rooms containing teleporters back out, Ozzie took pains to make sure this door led instead to a room with some stairs (the room where we fought all three of them, in fact) in the hope that the fall will have us develop a debilitating fear of z-axis change. When we defy this nefarious plan by realizing stairs are just a trick of perspective, we're treated to the best boss dispatching in the game:

A lifetime of sword-holding squats whenever we've accomplished something has given our legs the strength to absorb those falls, but Ozzie is assumedly no more despite not appearing in that room when we run back down. We're done with this sidequest, but you know, that cat reminds me of something I forgot to do…

There we go. This hidden passageway holds the only reward we get for this sidequest, and, as mentioned, none of these items besides the Magic Tab are things that we're going to use. But you know, that Johnen Vasquez-themed popsicle reminds me or something I forgot to do...

Cat-Keeper In Chief is Sir Bekkler, and he has a few games for us to play:

The 80 G game is hard to describe, but we basically kick a series of stones at furbies to force them back behind the (open) gate. There are three stones that reappear periodically and the action is confined to straight paths, so think of this game as a time-sensitive version of Tempest. I would say Space Giraffe, but Norstein isn't nearly strange enough to play the role of Jeff Minter, and Jeff could never stand a career watching frogs run through lanes.

The 40 point game is one we played before. We can actually do this with all of our characters to get personal clones in their houses, further proving we fell for the oldest trick in the book when told it was a special request he'd need to charge thousands of G for. Between this and the jerky last update, I wouldn't be surprised if half of this continent's annual GDP goes to Galvanian princes - the other half to ferries and fairs.

And the 10 G game, which gets us the same Poyozo Dolls we used as batteries earlier this update, is essentially a shell game with four times the labor costs, an extremely high chance of collusion, trickery, and injury, and the hope that none of them will ever want to get a tattoo or grow a beard.  Vicks and Etc may also be clones in the least interesting ethical dilemma since whether one ought to divert a trolley into a shrub to save three ferns, and there's probably another Chzo joke waiting to be made, but making it isn't my feminine anthrobomorphic representation of Fate.

The reward for winning the 80 G torture porn minigame is this, which I feel I should probably tell someone about. This is not a scrupulous man.

You really couldn't just use an egg timer?
Gasps took my last one. Besides, I think this adds some nice pizazz.

If you already have the reward for a minigame you're given cat food, and this is what attracts more cats. For those of you playing along at home, beating Gato once nets you 15 Silver Points. Spending 80 silver points and beating the minigame gets you 16 oz of cat food, and getting 60 oz of cat food gets you another cat. The highest number of cats you can get, not counting the one you start out with or the first one you win from the game, is 9, and if you do this early on then they'll gradually run away unless you periodically gather more food. Gato and Norstein are at opposite ends of the fair, and a 100% success rate at the minigame means that, at minimum, you'll need to fight Gato 186 times (you could also play the strength test 2780 times, which is a fun but likely soul destroying way of passing the time between tomes). This "sidequest", which the team includes an explicit reward for, is probably worse than my fight against Nizbel Mk. 2 when I intentionally tried to make the game least resemble something like fun. It's still one of the less tedious sidequests Squaresoft's designed.

But it's worth it (it isn't), because one of those cats either got into our thing of grape jam or is Alfador. Quest #Last!

If I were to plant this seedling with mysterious powers that was passed down for generations, it could even restore this desert to green earth, but...... I can't plant it with monsters nesting in the desert cave......

Telling the woman in 12,000 BC to plant her sapling causes this to open up in the Middle Age, and following the Toma school of asphyxiating adventuring brings us to a hole we can venture inside. Even by my own fish-as-punchline standards there's relatively little at play here, but I feel it's the best note to end on before the final fights; this sidequest is by far the most important to a Level 1 playthrough and concludes with one of my favorite scenes in the game. Enjoy this quick play-by-play as we approach the end of one of several eras. In fairness to the universe, it largely takes place in a cave.

I'm glad they put that rock in the lower left. Those types of things really make the five-house world feel more alive.


We can head around on the sand conveyors and pick up an Aeon suit/helmet combo, some miscellaneous heling items, a Memory Cap, and a Muscle Ring, though these monsters might not be attacking as much were our inventory not increasingly composed of rotting meat. The cave holds two rooms and the second already features the boss, so we're in good shape to resume pressing A. Retinite, despite being made entirely of human sand bones, has inexplicably grown sand wings to complement his crotch eyes and giant sand thighs. It must be impossible for him to find proper fitting pants. In the sand.

While not strictly necessary, Retinite does actually benefit from tactics at Level 1, since when the core is dead he switches to more powerful attacks and starts upping defense. Frog needs to use Water to weaken Retinite, and then Crono can keep characters alive while Ayla, yes, hits A. Retinite heals himself by absorbing energy from the core, so every three absorptions Crono and Frog should use Spire to restore 750 HP. The Core's appalling physics enable it to defy the curvature of space time but not the power of dual techs, so as usual once it's down to 3-on-2 the battle's not even worth ending in a climactic way. The end.

It be settled then. Let us inform Fiona.

You can come for me when the job is done.

I've said this before, but I love how this game constantly gives you a sense of things changing as a result of your actions. Pretty much the whole game is watching your plans fail and getting whacked, so things like this are great little reminders that you're on the right track. I actually wish they had gone a bit farther with it, especially in the future where the Geno Dome feels a bit out-of-nowhere and tacked on, but it's a refreshing change of pace from how most RPGs handle sidequests and it really helps you forget that you've watched at least two civilizations collapse before your eyes when you get to take a walk and see some trees.

You know, it was kind of a dick move to clearcut a path through this forest to build a shrine to the forest.
Trees aren't going to fork over money at tourist traps. Do you want the hat or not?
Depends. Are you a man-eating snake?
Er... no.
Then no.

Also, Robo didn't look nearly that dilapidated when we got to him 300 years after the apocalypse.
Are you always this way with good marketing?
Usually, yes. Lucca never let me buy clothes with her.

What do you mean?
I have come to think that someone, or something wanted us to see all this. The different events over time, that we have witnessed. It is almost as if some entity wanted to relive its past.
Ayla know! When people die, elders say, see whole life pass by!
'Tis true that mortals do relive their most profound memories before death claimeth them. Yet those memories most often are sad ones.
Thinking things like, "If only I had done this," or, "I shouldn't have done that…" triggers unpleasant, old memories.
Will that happen when our time comes?
Probably...who knows?
Is there a point in time you'd want to return to, Lucca?
No...not really...
I'm sorry, was that something I shouldn't have asked?
It's ok, it's just something I don't like to think about too much.
Lavos playeth an integral role in the fortunes of this Entity...
It is unknown, whose memories these are. It may be something beyond our comprehension. Our journey may come to an end when we finally discover the identity of the Entity. ...shall we turn in for the night?

(Listen to this, trust me. Also, if you skimmed that exchange scroll back up and re-read it; we aren't hosting an impromptu forest fire in waiting for nothing)

I'm sorry, Lucca, but technology machines inventions technology machines. At least you're happy, right?
Well... kind of. I do wish you would take more of an active interest in me rather than just hiding behind your inventions and mistaking nominal attempts at including me in them as bonding, and it feels like you also neglect my mom for this hobby of yours when it doesn't really get us any closer to a better life. You just end up alienating people and boxing yourself into this corner where you constantly rely on work to distract yourself from the problems that single-minded obsession with work can cause. It feels like you're just in constant denial about people around you really want.
She's happy! Best father ever; I'm going to grab some more beer pop.

I appreciate that Lucca clarified AD. When I was young I used to meticulously date my loose-leaf journal entries. typically clarifying my use of Earth years and that I was using the Gregorian dates over the Julian. I did not, hover, clarify my last name, and Lucca thankfully decides to follow suit because (and yes, I realize this tangent is apropos of nothing) Chrono Cross reveals that her last name is Ashtear. In an update that's already played host to Atropos XR and SoySauce, Ashtear still manages a special place, and the anime level of this update would scarcely be higher if it actually included some long-delayed anime. All Lucca needs now is a good childhood tragedy and she'd make a shoujo / date sim protagonist for the age. Spoiler Warning: this flashback is not about the time Lucca's mom threw the best birthday and she got cake.

I should probably put all these christmas decorations away, seeing as it's June. I don't even know why he insisted on the bottles.
What IS this thing? Taban says to keep away from it, but it's so dusty. I'll just...

990 AD: Faced with criticism over his dream that every household would own a brutal maiming machine, Taban had retooled his invention into a brutal lemonade maker:

Unfortunately, this device also failed to catch on as critics contended it didn't do enough to fix underlying safety concerns; that lemon juice could go flying into somebody's eyes!

They were largely unmoved by Taban's contention that it would be operated from a safe hammer-length away.

A note hidden in another room tells you that the password is LARA, but it doesn't mention how to input it. Thinking back to ZABIE and realizing that you have to actually press those buttons on the controller allows you to save Lara McTerribleName, and see this:

Of course, while heartwarming, I feel it's worth taking another look at how this could have gone:

One of the only things I'll actually agree with the Compendium on reharding the suprioirty of the untouched Japanese was that these diaries were originally written in a third person style that implies immaturity, while the post-tragedy diary was in mature first person and the post-anti-tragedy-and-lemonade diary was a blend. The Japanese diaries also mentioned her wish to leave behind technology and becoma a "normal bride" but thankfully discovering that it's better to be an abnormal bride and get married with 90% more lasers. Continuing on with a more mature tragedy-re-stricken Lucca, returning through the gate to where Crono left six valentines in the corner leads to the end of our sidequests and the most useful item besides the wallet for a Level 1 game:

I'll give you my legs! They're lightweight and well balanced. You could mount some treads on me instead.
Thanks, you're such a good friend.
A...friend? Me, a robot? You called me your friend? Lucca, you've got a kind heart. You're always thinking of others.

It took 400 years and a lot of pressure to make! I hope you'll find it useful.
Robo... you're so sweet.

Lavos is about to be whacked while we're quite a bit stronger than we were before, and somewhat less weak.