There were three ways this was going to go.
1) I try, and likely fail, to express why Chrono Trigger is my favorite video game of all time, using personal anecdotes and a lot of inflated language to overstate its greatness.
2) I attempt to offer some grand insight on a 20 year old video game you’ve likely already played.
3) I just type.
This conundrum is not exclusive to today. In fact, I’ve faced this exact same issue for most of the year, putting way too much pressure on myself to say things about random video games that will somehow resonate with people and perhaps make them forget they’re just reading the rantings of an unknown blogger. I needed my work to be important. I needed the things I said to be profound. I needed to… turn the things I love into work. It always stuck in the back of my mind but didn’t quite hit me until this morning. When I booted up Chrono Trigger, I suddenly remembered why I started this; why I want to continue doing this.
I’m a big believer in the “right place, right time” philosophy, not only when it comes to personal achievement, but also when determining the things that influence us the most. Portishead became one of my favorite bands when a depressed teenager heard “Roads” on the radio at 3AM. A DJ, somewhere, that I’ll never meet, decided to queue up an off-playlist B-side because he knew no one would notice at that hour. If I got to bed earlier that night, my life would have taken a different direction. Just the same, had I not bought a Super NES and a beaten copy of Chrono Trigger that had been rented a thousand times, I wouldn’t be doing this.
Playing it today, I find myself incapable of turning the act of playing Chrono Trigger into a job. It’s not possible. The game is too sincere, too full of optimism even in its darkest moments. It is, at its core, a story about change. More specifically, it’s about the ability of people to enact it on the world, even after tremendous hardship. At no point do Crono and his friends falter or question whether they’re fit to be ones to save the world – they simply do it. Silly as it may sound, there’s something inspiring about that. It’s also something that I can’t really overthink. Chrono Trigger is an easy enough game even for someone that hasn’t beaten it over and over, streamlining all of the things that annoy me about most other JRPGs.
That lack of thinking translates to a lack of anxiety, which is something that I’ve had to carry every day for the past year, not knowing what each new day would bring and whether or not I’d be able to deliver. In that respect, it was a perfect game for me to end on. There is no fear for me when I’m in that world. There is no worry; just the feeling that I can positively enact change on everyone I encounter. That was, after all, the whole point of all of this. Sure, I want to get internet famous and have tons of adoring fans and all that, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be something good in the world, even if that world only consisted of a select few. That’s the goal of any writer, any creator – to affect people.
Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of that, trying to fit myself into this rigid definition of what a “games critic” needs to be, as if that was something that didn’t change constantly. As a result, I wrote a lot bad stuff this year. But I’d like to think I’ve done some good as well. When comfortable, I can be a pretty gosh darn okay writer, and if I can use one word to define my relationship with Chrono Trigger now, it would be that – comfort. I fully expected to end the year absolutely sick of video games. There were moments when I got close, but now I can only look at the future and all of the experiences I’ve still yet to have, that I’ve still yet to write about.
My time with Chrono Trigger today was sorely needed, not just for the comfort, but as a reminder of what I’m doing with all of this. Maybe, one day, someone will stumble upon something I wrote and it will touch them the same way that Portishead song touched me, that will give them that same rush of endorphins that I get every time I see an X-Strike. Art is contagious like that. It infects one of us and then we can’t help but want to spread that feeling to as many people as possible. There’s only one way for that to happen.
Yes, this is the end of one journey, but that voice in my head that constantly questioned my every move for the entirety of 2016 suddenly has something new to say as I look to the new year.