Before there is any misunderstanding about the title I must disclaim that the context is from an RPG video game. Sorry if I disappointed anyone. =)
Of all the storyline moments in RPG video game history, this one moment stands out to me above all—and it is a significant moment for many who’ve played this game—i.e., Chrono Trigger (first made by SquareSoft for the SNES, then remade for Playstation, NintendoDS, and smartphones to name few). [Spoiler alert beyond this.]
You travel around as the lovable—and introverted—Crono befriending characters who team up with you to save the world from Lavos, a monster sitting outside of time threatening to destroy not just the world, but time itself and all people who ever existed in any time period past or future—you’d think this was a little ambitious for a 16-bit video game—[sigh] oh we of little faith.
Cutting to the chase. On the journey to and fro time your team confronts this badass villain named Magus for the first time in Fiendlord’s Keep (c. 600 A.D.)—sounds like a nice holiday boutique, doesn’t it? First-encounter gamers will have a difficult time with this boss fight. Even when you’re defeated there is a certain sense of ‘well, at least I died at the hands of this cool sinister character’—at least I did.
If you win, Magus actually escapes before you vanquish him. You meet him again ‘later’ circa 12000 B.C. on a cliff.
Now, the moment of all moments. You are now presented with a choice to fight Magus again, your team now much stronger, though you’ve lost your beloved Crono who Magus can be partially blamed for. In fact, Glenn the lovable Frog character who CT gamers unanimously adore has incredible beef with Magus, who is also responsible for turning him into the creature he is—not to mention also responsible for killing his best friend Cyrus once upon a time, oi!
In fact, if you choose to fight Magus the game let’s you fight one-on-one and this becomes an all too classic moment of sweet vengeance teasing the gamer ego and testing one’s loyalty to Frog. (If you think this is strange emotional language to be using on 16-bit pixelated characters, be assured I’m not kidding; see forums like this and this and this one.)
Or, say ‘No,’ and walk away.
I would kill to find the stat breakdown of first-round CT gamers who chose ‘Yes’ vs. ‘No.’ I admit, first time around I said ‘Yes’, I fought, and I won. Eventually. (Lol.) The narrative for that choice goes something like this:
It was sweet vengeance, there was no other way to put it—heck, my favorite animal is a frog even to this day. BUT—the biggest ‘but’ I’ll ever put my face in—little did I know until after I finished the game what happened if a gamer chose ‘No.’ This:
He joins your damn team! Magus, the most badass mage that has ever warped across time joins your alliance and now you fight the real enemy—a big, spiky, time-warping, tumor-looking, mouth-for-a-face snail—together. I can go on boring you about the different ways this is an intriguing moment on the level of video game storytelling as well as innovative game-play design, but I’ll stop here.
This silly RPG moment in gaming history, no joke, is a touchstone for my life until this day. Life may tell you: “If you can’t beat’em, join’em.” Or it may say: “Love your friends, hate your enemies.” But wisdom will say, “Forgive.” And in this case, walk away. One player commented in a ‘fight Magus or not’ forum: “Have him joined. I loved Frog also but yeah, Magus is way too cool. Plus having some rivalry in your party brings a little extra something to the story.”
I haven’t come across another moment in RPG gaming history quite like it, have you? I’d love to hear about it even if it’s not RPG related.
[Part II next time!]
Chronopedia. (2008). Wikia. Retrieved from http://chrono.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Antiquity_Locations.
Chronopedia. (2008). Wikia. Retrieved from http://chrono.wikia.com/wiki/Frog.
Chronopedia. (2008). Wikia. Retrieved from http://chrono.wikia.com/wiki/Fiendlord%27s_Keep.
Chronopedia. (2008). Wikia. Retrieved from http://chrono.wikia.com/wiki/Magus.
Giant Bomb. (1995, March 11). Magus: do you battle him or join him? Forum: Chrono trigger. Retrieved from http://www.giantbomb.com/chrono-trigger/3030-9249/forums/magus-do-you-battle-him-or-join-him-10246/.
Knight_of_Malta. (2012, September 6). Chrono Trigger, should I fight Magus or let him join my team? IGN Boards: Community Central: The Vestibule: Chrono Trigger, should…http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/chrono-trigger-should-i-fight-magus-or-let-him-join-my-team.452655541/.
Viral_Pathogen. (2009, April 28). To Choose Or Not To Choose Magus? Forum: DSRole: PlayingConsole: style RPG: Chrono Trigger. Retrieved from http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/950181-chrono-trigger/49285709.