End Boss Month #28: Chrono Trigger

I apologize that this entry is a day late. I normally have written this entries after returning home from work in the evening, but I had a social engagement last night that kept me out for the whole evening. But to make for that, both yesterday’s and today’s entries will be posted today. We’re almost at the end, folks. I’m not about to skip an entry now.

Priorities, ladies and gentlemen. Opportunities like this don't come every day.

But as for this belated entry, I’m sure that a lot of people here will likely be familiar with the subject. It was, after all, the entity at the core of the myriad shenanigans in Giant Bomb’s most recent Endurance Run. Today, we’re looking at Chrono Trigger’s very own Lavos.

Let's do the Time Warp again!

In basic terms, Lavos isn’t particularly complex. It’s hard to say of it’s even truly sentient. A being from space that crashed into the planet in the prehistoric era of the game’s world, it sleeps for eons until a fateful day in 1999 A.D., when it finally awakens, causing mass destruction and robbing the planet of the majority of its life. Afterward, it presumably takes a hike, in search of the next luckless world on which to feed like a spiny Galactus.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, it causes more trouble during 12,000 B.C.; an age that is otherwise dominated by a stark class division between “enlightened,” magic-using humans that live in the floating kingdom of Zeal, and their magic-less brethren, forced to live in squalor in earthbound caves. The reach of Lavos’s essence corrupts the mind of Zeal’s ruler, turning her into a lunatic bent on seeing Lavos’s awakening. When our heroes briefly face off with Lavos in this era, things end badly; the game’s protagonist Crono is killed; annihilated by Lavos’s power. (But he can get better.)

So in general, bad things happen when Lavos is involved, and it’s up to the player’s party to undo the damage. And with the power of time travel, there are plenty of options available when it comes to confronting Lavos. The player can confront it directly by traveling to 1999 through either the Epoch or the End of Time, and take it on as he awakens, or by completing a run through the Black Omen; the floating dungeon of darkness and doom that Queen Zeal summons from the ocean’s depths after her nation is destroyed.

Whatever path is decided on, however, fighting Lavos is a test of endurance. First, there’s its hard candy shell, which mimics the forms and attacks of bosses fought throughout the game. And then inside, where Lavos’s creamy center resides, there’s two more forms. And its final form is particularly deceptive. Throughout the game, the player encounters bosses accompanied by two assistants, or giant hands, or other assisting pairs. Kill the core, and the assistants follow. In Lavos’s case, however, the central figure of its final form is not the actual core. It’s one of is “assisting” bits. And before I figured this out, my first battles with Lavos really dragged on. In my defense, I was young and naive.

Still, with Lavos’s defeat, the timeline remains safe from harm. On the other hand, the DS version of the game offers up an extra ending in which Lavos isn’t the final boss, but rather just part of the final boss. Combined with Schala, this being, the Dream Devourer, is meant to better connect the game to Chrono Cross. But frankly, I personally loathe Chrono Cross, and will therefore choose to not discuss this particular incarnation beyond a clumsily inserted, fleeting reference near the end of this entry.

Once again, my apologies for missing the chance to post this yesterday. But as I said, End Boss Month will continue with a second entry posted later tonight. Until then, however, I imagine that I’ll be getting a lot of hate over that Chrono Cross crack.

25 Comments
26 Comments
Posted by Hailinel

I apologize that this entry is a day late. I normally have written this entries after returning home from work in the evening, but I had a social engagement last night that kept me out for the whole evening. But to make for that, both yesterday’s and today’s entries will be posted today. We’re almost at the end, folks. I’m not about to skip an entry now.

Priorities, ladies and gentlemen. Opportunities like this don't come every day.

But as for this belated entry, I’m sure that a lot of people here will likely be familiar with the subject. It was, after all, the entity at the core of the myriad shenanigans in Giant Bomb’s most recent Endurance Run. Today, we’re looking at Chrono Trigger’s very own Lavos.

Let's do the Time Warp again!

In basic terms, Lavos isn’t particularly complex. It’s hard to say of it’s even truly sentient. A being from space that crashed into the planet in the prehistoric era of the game’s world, it sleeps for eons until a fateful day in 1999 A.D., when it finally awakens, causing mass destruction and robbing the planet of the majority of its life. Afterward, it presumably takes a hike, in search of the next luckless world on which to feed like a spiny Galactus.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, it causes more trouble during 12,000 B.C.; an age that is otherwise dominated by a stark class division between “enlightened,” magic-using humans that live in the floating kingdom of Zeal, and their magic-less brethren, forced to live in squalor in earthbound caves. The reach of Lavos’s essence corrupts the mind of Zeal’s ruler, turning her into a lunatic bent on seeing Lavos’s awakening. When our heroes briefly face off with Lavos in this era, things end badly; the game’s protagonist Crono is killed; annihilated by Lavos’s power. (But he can get better.)

So in general, bad things happen when Lavos is involved, and it’s up to the player’s party to undo the damage. And with the power of time travel, there are plenty of options available when it comes to confronting Lavos. The player can confront it directly by traveling to 1999 through either the Epoch or the End of Time, and take it on as he awakens, or by completing a run through the Black Omen; the floating dungeon of darkness and doom that Queen Zeal summons from the ocean’s depths after her nation is destroyed.

Whatever path is decided on, however, fighting Lavos is a test of endurance. First, there’s its hard candy shell, which mimics the forms and attacks of bosses fought throughout the game. And then inside, where Lavos’s creamy center resides, there’s two more forms. And its final form is particularly deceptive. Throughout the game, the player encounters bosses accompanied by two assistants, or giant hands, or other assisting pairs. Kill the core, and the assistants follow. In Lavos’s case, however, the central figure of its final form is not the actual core. It’s one of is “assisting” bits. And before I figured this out, my first battles with Lavos really dragged on. In my defense, I was young and naive.

Still, with Lavos’s defeat, the timeline remains safe from harm. On the other hand, the DS version of the game offers up an extra ending in which Lavos isn’t the final boss, but rather just part of the final boss. Combined with Schala, this being, the Dream Devourer, is meant to better connect the game to Chrono Cross. But frankly, I personally loathe Chrono Cross, and will therefore choose to not discuss this particular incarnation beyond a clumsily inserted, fleeting reference near the end of this entry.

Once again, my apologies for missing the chance to post this yesterday. But as I said, End Boss Month will continue with a second entry posted later tonight. Until then, however, I imagine that I’ll be getting a lot of hate over that Chrono Cross crack.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Hailinel said:

In basic terms, Lavos isn’t particularly complex.

Isn't he, though? I mean, the game does shove some confusing narrative stuff about fate or ultimate evolution or whatever at the exact end, when Lavos reaches his true form.

Posted by Jay444111

@Hailinel said:

Priorities, ladies and gentlemen. Opportunities like this don't come every day.

Oh you bastard! I have been wanting to see this movie for a while and you got to see in theaters! MONTANA SUCKS ASS!!!

Seriously... I have really been trying to watch this movie somewhere. Why is this not on hulu!? Or something?

Also Lavos is awesome. Just imagine this... Lavos is not the only one of his kind out there! dun DUN DUUUUUNNNNN!!!!

Posted by believer258

The only game I've played today is Chrono Trigger, for a few hours. Thus far it's been the first JRPG that I've ever truly gotten into. It's freaking amazing. Also, since we're talking about Chrono Trigger, here's a little something that I found charming:

As a slight disclaimer, I didn't actually read most of your post so as to avoid any spoilers.

And, as a quick question, I'm currently about to get to the Queen in 12000 BC as she's raising Lavos up. Ballpark estimate - how much longer is the game? I seem to be past the halfway point, but I can't be entirely sure.

Posted by ssj4raditz

The music during the Lavos fight is so great.

Posted by Demoskinos

ULTIMATE DAMAGE!

Posted by FateOfNever

I agree with some of the sentiment about the Dream Devourer.

I think if Chrono Cross had just simply been a better game, I'd feel better about the inclusion of the Dream Devourer "fight and ending" in the DS version because I think what it does is more of a 'complete' ending that fits with where things go since I always felt like the base ending of CT just felt incomplete with the standard "Magus goes off to try and find Schala and you know, stuff that we'll never ever explain or get to or anything." Or how they talk, several times, about the fact that they're possibly just viewing memories in time of someone else, but, they never spell any of that idea out. But after trying to play CC again and just.. ugh.. that game.. That game makes me sad.

As for Lavos itself though, I still look back and appreciate it. While the fight itself doesn't change, the fact that you can approach Lavos from so many different 'angles' was always something that I liked. You could fight him just about as far back in time as you wanted to, you could take out the Black Omen in just about any time, you could leave Lavos alone until the day he finally pops up to destroy the earth, you could even just fight him AFTER he destroys the planet if you really want to go to the Black Omen then.

And while Lavos itself doesn't seem exceptionally deep or complex, the fact that they raise questions about Lavos actually 'guiding' the planet from its slumber is something that's also interesting. From controlling Queen Zeal to potentially affecting the course of evolution, from time to time it made me wonder. Clearly Lavos succeeded in destroying all life on the planet. At least in one time line. However, if he did guide the course of evolution on the planet, he is also directly responsible for the actions that happen that lead to him being destroyed... In fact, everything he does eventually leads to his destruction in multiple time lines. I wonder what would have happened if he hadn't guided evolution or tried to control Queen Zeal or anything of the sort. Would the human race, as a whole, had simply become too powerful and been able to stop him? Or was it somehow his intent to be destroyed? If so, that would suggest that Lavos was intelligent enough to know that if it was defeated, it could join with someone of enough power to become a being that could destroy all of reality.

But in the end, Lavos was also just one of maybe hundreds of its species.. How many other planets had been consumed by the breed of Lavos? What is the species classification on Lavos anyway... And if thousands of other planets have been consumed, what are the odds that the entire point of the species was to just simply multiply until they could find a way to destroy all of existence? Questions!

Posted by c0l0nelp0c0rn1

@Video_Game_King said:

@Hailinel said:

In basic terms, Lavos isn’t particularly complex.

Isn't he, though? I mean, the game does shove some confusing narrative stuff about fate or ultimate evolution or whatever at the exact end, when Lavos reaches his true form.

Besides the fact that you can fight him at any point in the game.

Posted by Karkarov

Ah good old Lavos he was a great villian. Back in the day square did it so well, now they suck by comparison. In fact in alot of ways many RPG designers could learn from SNES and early PS1 era Square. There is no star child in Chrono Trigger and the game make it obvious who the last boss is like.... what? 3 hours into it?

Stop trying to amaze the player with some insane convoluted plot and just throw out a good story with a villain people can love to hate.

Posted by Jay444111

@FateOfNever: Exactly! In terms of evil and destruction levels of Galaxy wide infestation of these things is even more of a threat than the damn Reapers from Mass Effect. Fuck, these things could be COMMON in this games universe!

It is a frightening aspect. Maybe he guided evolution just to create more lifeforms to consume... like cows to a slaughter. The thing is so much of a eldritch abomination that we could probably never see how smart or how truly many there are of his species. However... even scarier is that it is more animalistic... if so... then holy shit how the fuck did THAT species evolve!?

Posted by Encephalon

Lavos was a great villain. I really like the eldritch abomination type, if done well, and Lavos was fittingly menacing for the part.

You know, I never realized until the GB Endurance Run that Lavos was basically Square's practice run for Jenova. Which was, in turn, their practice run for the Phantoms from The Spirits Within. Square sure does love their "alien scourge encased within a meteorite" stories.

Posted by Hailinel

@believer258 said:

As a slight disclaimer, I didn't actually read most of your post so as to avoid any spoilers.

And, as a quick question, I'm currently about to get to the Queen in 12000 BC as she's raising Lavos up. Ballpark estimate - how much longer is the game? I seem to be past the halfway point, but I can't be entirely sure.

I'd say that's about accurate. Without getting spoilery, you're about to hit a pretty wide swath of optional content.

@Jay444111: It does pay to live in metropolitan areas at times (there are plenty of drawbacks, too). Though if you really want to watch it, I believe that the DVD is still on sale. Not sure if it's on Blu-ray, yet.

@Demoskinos said:

ULTIMATE DAMAGE!

THE ONLY SOLUTION!

@FateOfNever: Chrono Trigger does leave a lot of questions unanswered; a lot of them about Lavos specifically. It's a shame that Chrono Cross was such a poor sequel and proper answers could never be provided. It's fun to speculate, though.

Posted by laserbolts

@ssj4raditz said:

The music during the Lavos fight is so great.

I agree. Fuck man I love Chrono Trigger and I have to say the music in that game is my favorite thing about the game. I loved everything about it too so that's saying alot.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Hailinel said:

proper answers could never be provided.

What about Radical Dreamers or that other stuff for the Satellaview? Or are those useless in that regard? (Also, I think there was a ROM hack that would do a good job of answering those questions, but Square killed it.)

Posted by Jay444111

@Video_Game_King said:

@Hailinel said:

proper answers could never be provided.

What about Radical Dreamers or that other stuff for the Satellaview? Or are those useless in that regard? (Also, I think there was a ROM hack that would do a good job of answering those questions, but Square killed it.)

Wait... what are you talking about? I am highly interested now.

Posted by kindgineer

@Hailinel: Why do you loathe Chrono Cross? I see a lot of hate for it, but nothing really to back it up. I was looking into maybe picking it up for a good retro night as Chrono Trigger is one of my favourite games. Mind if you explain the reasons behind your discontent that can't be compared to the normal drudgery?

Posted by NTM

And the next will be Hive Mind from Dead Space? :D

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Jay444111:

Regarding what, exactly?

@ck1nd:

From what I've seen, Chrono Cross is a love-it-or-hate-it game, meaning I should get around to playing it and writing the inevitably great blog that will ensue.

Posted by EquitasInvictus

Lavos was really a great boss! Good buildup to the final battle, good music, and most of all: a memorable cry!

Posted by Hailinel

@ck1nd said:

@Hailinel: Why do you loathe Chrono Cross? I see a lot of hate for it, but nothing really to back it up. I was looking into maybe picking it up for a good retro night as Chrono Trigger is one of my favourite games. Mind if you explain the reasons behind your discontent that can't be compared to the normal drudgery?

In my personal opinion, Chrono Cross is not fun to play. I'm not particularly fond of its combat system. But really, the gameplay is beside the point in my reasons to loathe it.

Basically, the game suffers from atrocious writing. The game contains an extensive list of playable characters, but they're either shoehorned in poorly, offer no real consequence or benefit, and display no personality beyond an accent or inflection in their dialogue. Suikoden titles have significantly larger casts and have routinely handled their characters far better than Chrono Cross.

And there's the plot, which takes a giant shit on Chrono Trigger. As in years before Chrono Cross starts, Guardia is invaded, and Crono, Marle, and Lucca are all killed. This plot-point is a fucking afterthought. But the truly ridiculous pat is how they try to convince the player that Kid, the Australian-accented tomboy, is the reincarnation of Schala, raised in Lucca's orphanage.

What.

No, seriously. What? The writers used this ass-pull of a plot point as the primary connection between the stories of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. And they did it poorly. Very poorly. And even then, it's inconsequential because Kid can die during the course of the story if you don't do the proper things to save her.

In short, Chrono Cross feels like a game that was originally written as an original universe and story that was made a Chrono Trigger sequel by virtue of shoving in plot elements in the most ham-fisted way one could imagine.

Posted by Hailinel
Posted by kindgineer

@Hailinel: Ah, that makes a lot of sense why there are people against it. Sad to hear such a fantastic (potential wise) idea was wasted away on short-comings. Thanks for the reply, I'll probably end up passing on it and keep my fond memories of the franchise.

Posted by EquitasInvictus

@Hailinel: You make some really great points about the backstory carrying over to Chrono Cross that makes me not even want to consider picking it up out of curiosity. Now that I think of it, for them to practically undo everything you did to save Guardia and the world in defeating Lavos and repairing the very fabric of time with the backwardsness of Chrono Cross' setup renders a lot of Chrono Trigger almost trivial, which is a shame, since there was a lot of finality to how Chrono Trigger resolves. That aspect alone about Chrono Cross is what's keeping me away from Cross and I agree that could simply be attributed to a bad narrative and storytelling; I'm really attached to Chrono Trigger and it's a huge deterrent to find in what ways Cross is supposed to be a sequel!

If I do examine Chrono Cross one day, however, I guess I'll cope by taking that perspective of Chrono Cross being its own universe outside of Chrono Trigger and see if I can appreciate it more that way.

Posted by sungahymn

Completely agree with Lavos. Such an outstanding villain, even though he couldn't talk (which is part of the appeal, really).

As for Chrono Cross, I'm watching a walkthrough and it seems perfectly fine to me, but your points are valid.

Posted by FateOfNever

@sungahymn said:

As for Chrono Cross, I'm watching a walkthrough and it seems perfectly fine to me, but your points are valid.

How far into the walkthrough are you?

And I feel like watching the game would be considerably different than being forced to actually play it.

The story for the game also gets needlessly convoluted later on.

As far as the story is concerned I think there are some neat concepts, and I think that the DS version of CT actually does a real good job of setting up CC, but that game's faults are many.

I actually did a series of blogs on the game awhile back as I tried to play through it and eventually I just gave up. I wasn't enjoying myself at all and found myself constantly getting angry at the game for just how badly written it was, how random the combat system felt at most times, and how parts of the story pretty much just make you a bad guy but no one seems to have any problem with it.

Posted by believer258

@Hailinel said:

@believer258 said:

As a slight disclaimer, I didn't actually read most of your post so as to avoid any spoilers.

And, as a quick question, I'm currently about to get to the Queen in 12000 BC as she's raising Lavos up. Ballpark estimate - how much longer is the game? I seem to be past the halfway point, but I can't be entirely sure.

I'd say that's about accurate. Without getting spoilery, you're about to hit a pretty wide swath of optional content.

Thanks! I actually got past that part about an hour ago and made it up to where Magus befriends you and a bunch of weird things happen in a bunch of place, and got on the Black Omen. I can see why this game is considered one of the greatest games of all time, everything about it thus far pretty much transcends that fine line between "great" and "truly something that no one should skip for any reason whatsoever".

Anyway, this thread has convinced me to skip Chrono Cross. I've known that it wasn't as good as Trigger for a while but I was going to play it anyway. The ire it has gotten from you and some others, though, has convinced me to avoid it like the plague lest I wind up hating it as much as I did something else a while back.