The Let's Play Archive

Chrono Trigger

by Quovak

Part 23: Does Jesus Get Whacked When He's Weak?

Quovak posted:

Every time, we try to find escape, an ending which despite our greatest wishes never comes.

Quovak posted:

What the endings tell us is that there will never be an end. The time at which we kill the hedgehog never mattered, as the villain was no hedgehog but ourselves. New "heroes" will be made and seek an end, and when it never comes the cycle will repeat itself anew. We are all space hedgehogs, and we are all the legendary heroes who become them, and the notes.

Quovak posted:

And there we go. Other than the aforementioned DS ending, which will come next time, that's every ending in the game.

I disagree.

Well, it's the end of an era. Don't worry if you're not fully sure what's going on. Keep reading; it will be clear in a bit.

Kazumi Kobayashi: I've lost 22 pounds because of this game. You'd better be enjoying it!
Kaname: Like, does this mean we're finally free to go home?
Yoshinori Ogura: Well I'm glad they gave me a bit part in this game...
Keita Eto: It'll cost you 10,000,000G to fix a broken map!
Kazuhiro Ohkawa: Congratulations! Now wasn't that fun?

The people we're talking to are the developers, represented by various sprites of people, times, &c. The warp gates take us to different rooms populated by the same groups who brought them to life machine language, and the game decides to forgo any attempt at framing and just address the audience, no frills.

Yasuyuki Honne: Phew, what a relief it's over!
Shinichiro Hamasaka: Good job guys!
Fumi Nakashima: Someone kiss me!
Hiroyuki Ito: Heh heh... the Tyrano Lair? Yup, it was my bright idea to put the switch in the mouth!

My hope with all this was to show off everything I could about a game I adore and in which I never seem to lose interest. Playing at level 1 was a gimmick; I wanted an excuse to go more in depth than I ever had, both for other people and myself, and I felt it would offer something novel to viewers who had also played CT a dozen times.

I am truly sorry your parents gave you that name.

Kiyoshi Yoshii: You finished the game already? What about all the work I put in it!?
Akihiko Matsui: Now wasn't that SPECIAL? See you same time, new game!
Manabu Daishima: Hey out there in TV land! How're we doing? It's me, Manabu Daishima! If you like this game, check out the other Square Soft titles!!
Minoru Akao: Boy isn't this fun?

Hopefully it's been worth it despite my kudzu-style updates, long delays, and occasional iambic pentameter. If you've come this far, you clearly don't mind some ranting and tortured self-reference, so I figure it's worth taking cues from the game and taking one final minute to lay out my thoughts.

Koji Sugimoto: Bet you can't beat the score of 2110 in the bike race!
Hirokatsu Sasaki: Ever since I started growing out my hair I've been getting a lot of attention...from guys! Yikes!
Kazumi Kobayashi: I've lost 22 pounds because of this game. You'd better be enjoying it!
Tadahiro Usuda: Look closely and you'll appreciate the individuality of the monsters. Check out the shadow on this guy's sword!

Chrono Trigger's my favorite game, and even its flaws are clearly products of a design team that loved what they did. I think a large part of CT's appeal is how contagious this enthusiasm was, and how far the developers pushed themselves to make countless tiny things that it takes a dozen playthroughs just to see. This game was designed to be loved.

Masanori Hoshino: Hey, they promised to name the game Hoshino Trigger!
Takayuki Ohtachi: Mission complete!
Akane Haruki: Feed me! They've kept me locked up for so long!

I don't think Square-Enix or the genre are beyond saving. FFXIII, for a semi-recent example, is an absolutely terrible game, but it has (in my mind) the best menu-based combat I've ever seen, an incredible setting, and a willingness to move beyond the FF7 school of design even if in that case it was largely for the worse. That said, even if SE never becomes less SE, there are plenty of other developers (looking at you, Monolith Soft) who could easily take their place, and I'm not a diehard who thinks the JRPG genre even needs a new Chrono Trigger at all.

Kazuo Suzuki: Hey that's me, the merchant-maker!
Keisuke Matsuhara: Thank you, thank you, no applause necessary, just send money... Another of my masterpieces will be available soon, so stay tuned.
Kenichi Nishi: Boy it was a long haul... I've gotten my first grey hairs because of this game!!
Haruyuki Nishida: Want to see a Chrono Trigger 2? That'd be nice huh?

Personally, I'm fine leaving Chrono Trigger how it is. I don't think it would benefit from being remade in 3D (though I'd buy it on day 1, almost no doubt), I don't think it needs any sequels, and I don't think spending two decades chasing its legacy would be all that much better than when we did it with FF7. What I would like to see is more companies follow its example in a broad sense: Get a Dream Team™ and some G-Force together, and challenge them to make something ten years ahead of its time.

Yusuke Naora: Well are we having fun yet?
Hiroshi Uchiyama: That's a pretty good costume you got on there, kid! Wait! It's really YOU, isn't it?!
Tsutomu Terada: Hey don't mess with the monsters I created! They kinda grow on you after awhile you know?

I'm under no delusions that Chrono Trigger was something other than a product of corporate decisions with the primary goal of making money, and I don't want to mythologize it beyond the point of recognizing that newer games are fully capable of doing more. The modern games industry, for all its faults, is great, and I don't think it's possible to argue that games aren't more impressive and consistently high quality than they were on the SNES.

Plus, these days, enough yelling actually gets them released places. I definitely think we've moved on.

Hopefully, despite my occasional excesses, I've let at least some of you appreciate Chrono Trigger in a way that you didn't before. It's a wonderful game that, if anything, is even more impressive when judged fifteen years down the line, and I can only hope it will be topped a hundred times over. I'm still holding out hope for Final Fantasy Versus XIII.

(That was mostly a joke)

This ending conclusion is found by utterly breaking the game to the point where even its designers are impressed, killing Lavos (CC's not part of my personal canon) at one of two points in the game. One option is to kill him at the very beginning, before Marle's even sent back in time. The dramatically more interesting option is to do so at the Ocean Palace, when his stats are inflated and you're doing pretty well if you can last until the menu first appears.

Crono here is still at Level 1, and we're still wearing the equipment from Lavos. Needless to say, surviving the Lavos fight with only Marle and Crono is impossible. I told you that how I got here would soon become clear.

First, though, I think this is something that Crono deserves.

The Ocean Palace fight is supposed to last five seconds, so its pattern is incredibly basic and designed to leave no time. Lavos has a mere three attacks that he uses in order: Death Rains From The Heavens (I'll call it DRFTH), Chaotic Zone, and a one-member needle attack. Chaotic Zone's damage is just into the triple digits, and, while Crono can't survive, a Level 4 Marle can if she's given an HP-increasing Gold Erng. The needle attack does over a thousand damage even with the best equipment we have, and is essentially a guaranteed kill for one character regardless of the setup we choose.

DRFTH, then, is the main attack we have to plan around surviving. While the Greendream doesn't carry over through New Game Plus, it is possible to finish that sidequest before this fight begins. The ideal strategy would seem to be the same as when we fought it in 1999, focusing on surviving the first wave and then Lifeline-ing our way to consistent survival. Unfortunately, doing so won't work.

Robo, with ** speed and a haste helm, can revive the two others just before Lavos' second attack. Once he's done that, however, Chaotic Zone will kill Crono and Marle again, since Robo doesn't have any Life techs and Revives just give 50 HP.

It is possible to revive Marle with one ATB bar and heal her with another, which allows both her and Robo to survive the Zone. After that, though, Crono needs to be revived, and then Lavos will kill another member. That character needs to be revived, and Lavos will launch DRFTH before you ever have a chance for all three characters to fill their bar.

Even if Robo is given a Shield and the best armor in the game, DRFTH still does far more damage than he can withstand. We need to use a different strategy, and, together with Big_Kake (the author of the guide I was using for this ordeal), I managed to work out something specifically for this LP.

Ayla, with the best armor, a Gold Erng, and a cuts-damage-by-33% Shield, can just barely survive DRFTH. This is on New Game Plus (it's almost certainly impossible your first time through), so everyone's given the best equipment they have. The Wallet carries over, so everyone's stats are the same as before, and I've stockpiled enough items from charming late-game enemies that conservation's a thing of the past (I chose to conserve Megalixers when other healing items worked, but this is completely unnecessary and just gamer OCD). In no way does any of that make this easy.

First, we have to play around with luck manipulation (not in a fancy TAS style, just by saving/loading until the ℗RNG decides to play nice). Lavos opens the fight with DRFTH; if Crono's patiently lucky enough to start with a turn, there's a very brief period (like, maybe five frames) where he can select Items and use a Shield before Lavos' move. Obviously, turning on Wait (making the battle stop while in menus) is vital, as is setting the cursor to memory and using an item in a battle right before, making it so all you need to do is press A. This isn't something I could do consistently, but I did eventually get the timing to where I could pretty confidently do it in about one of three attempts.

Crono has the GreenDream and Haste status, so we've just enough time to make this work if we're (I'm) the swiftest menu navigator known to man. What we want to do is revive Marle and have Crono use a Lapis (200 HP to all), giving her and Ayla enough health to survive Chaotic Zone. The reason we don't simply give Marle the GreenDream is that she needs the extra health from the Erng to survive CZ, and she needs to be alive after CZ to help Ayla get to the point where she can survive DRFTH.

This fight can be broken into discrete parts between one Chaotic Zone and the next. Remember, this Lavos has an unchanging cycle of the same three attacks, and we need the following to hold true every time he uses DRFTH:

1. Ayla needs to be alive.
2. Ayla needs to have full (or nearly full) HP.
3. Ayla needs to have a Shield.
4. Ayla needs to have Haste.

The reason for that last one is that the amount of time between DRFTH and Chaotic Zone is absurdly tight, and Ayla normally only gets one move between them. She needs to heal herself from DRFTH to survive Chaotic Zone, but this leaves her the only one alive.

When Lavos gets to his needle attack, which he does after Chaotic Zone and before the next DRFTH, it will take out Ayla if she's the only one alive. We need a dummy to take that attack, and Marle needs to have turns to make sure this can work. If Ayla has Haste, she can revive Marle and use a Megalixer (or Lapis, if you want to conserve), leaving us with two party members to begin the next Chaotic Zone - Chaotic Zone group of attacks.

We also need to attack Lavos someehere in this, so Ayla wants to use Triple Kick whenever she can; it can deal about 1500 damage (of a 30,000 total) each time. A typical battle plan for one of these "groups" looks like this:

Someone who loves tedious planning posted:

1. Lavos uses Chaotic Zone
2. Marle Hastes Ayla
3. Ayla revives Crono
4. Ayla Triple Kicks
5. Lavos kills Crono
6. Marle heals Ayla
7. Ayla Triple Kicks
8. Lavos DRFTH
9. Ayla revives Marle
10. Ayla uses a Megalixir
11./1. Lavos uses Chaotic Zone

There aren't defined "turns" in CT, but Ayla gets about two attacks to anyone else's assuming she has Haste. This is starting to seem like a decent plan, but two things are less than ideal. The first is that Haste and the Shield will wear off, and we need to keep track of exactly when they will. The second is far more important: check out steps 3 and 5.

Who Lavos kills with his needles is (psuedo-)random, and if it happens to be Ayla you're fucked. Marle would need to revive her, heal her, and shield her in time for the next DRFTH, which is impossible (and, if by some alignment of the stars it is, she still won't have Haste and you won't be able to recover for next round). We need to make sure that Ayla's never hit.

Here's where things like reviving Crono come into play. I don't know the exact way the ℗RNG determines its seed, but it has something to do with how many people are alive and the attacks which were recently used. Techs are all interchangeable, as are Items, but the combination of Items, Techs, Attacks, Characters, order of moves, and the results of the last time this happened are used to determine who the needles attack.

So, with some save stating and some patience, we can figure out what combination will work for each round, with "working" meaning making sure Ayla isn't hit. Thankfully, millisecond-based timing has no effect, so it's fully possible to consistently follow a battle plan once you've mapped it out. The strategy I made only works for the specific PRNG seed I start with; if I screw around until another chance to start with Crono as first-mover, following this plan gets completely different needle results.

Because of that, I'm not going to bother posting the whole outline; just know that every single thing I do is meticulously planned around manipulating luck while constantly leaving Ayla shielded, hasted, and alive. There are a number of dead ends you can run into where nothing will stop Ayla from being hit; some of my moves are idiotic in the short-term but vital to there being a possible live-Ayla later on. Near the end, I attack Lavos and then barely Shield Ayla before DRFTH; had I switched those positions around, the fight wouldn't work, and about 80% of my attempts that didn't fail at the first tight button press failed there.

While I used save states to figure out my battle plan, the video was recorded in one continuous take. The audio gets a bit weird when it comes to menu selecting (I assume that's the fault of SNES9x), but you'll see why I'm not in a rush to re-record. All of this violates the spirit of the challenge (everything being possible on an actual cartridge; it technically is, but would require such absurd consistent luck that I don't think it counts), is of no help to anyone but me, and fails to demonstrate anything except my ever-decreasing standards for where tenacity ends and stupidity takes hold.

But how else will know the answer to an important question? Crono is a man who was resurrected (several times, actually) after a sacrifice for other people's souls, fed a hundred soldiers with a single piece of food, held power over the Life tech, received gifts from men with ridiculous names, attacked established religious and political orders, divided Zeal from her children by bringing not peace but a sword, and fought imps alongside Robo and a frog (much more here). Does a man like that -- Crono, I'm saying -- get whacked when he's weak?


(Unless you count all the times that he did.)

From there, we end up in his cave gullet, and the other two stages are exactly the same as before. Switch characters and equipment, abuse Lifeline and Megalixers, and use a Save State so you can shuffle your inventory if Robo doesn't start with a turn. After that, you're awarded the Programmer's Room non-ending, where, after the tour from the first half of this update, we get to hear Hironobu Sakaguchi blatantly lie about the way that I made this LP.

And that's Chrono Trigger. I hope you've enjoyed it; it's been a wonderful series of times.

Good night, thread.