Chrono Trigger is now an immensely popular JRPG with a lasting legacy. It's gotten several remasters and ports over the years, and fans have been clamoring for a true sequel or remake for years. It's a beloved game with a long history and a huge influence on games that came after it.
Here at Geek to Geek, we've been getting ready to do a HUGE celebration for Chrono Trigger‘s 25th Anniversary in August. But this brought up a big mystery: A lot of the sites we saw listed the release date as August 11, 1995, but some sites (and at least one book) listed it as August 22nd of that year.
So what gives? A game this popular has to have a definitive release date in North America, right? Well, as it turns out, maybe not. The answer is a little complicated.
The Mystery Begins…
It all began one morning when I casually mentioned doing a 25th Anniversary post or series on the site. The whole Geek to Geek crew started planning and hatching ideas. I said that the release date was August 11, 1995. But as part of the celebration, we're currently reviewing the Chrono Trigger book from Boss Fight Books, which lists the release as August 22.
B.J. and I started digging around. We're nerds. You know we're nerds. Big nerds. So we had to get to the bottom of this!
I mean, we're planning the Chrono Trigger 25th Anniversary Celebration here, plus we're doing an upcoming episode on the game on Dragon Quest FM. After all, Dragon Quest's own creators Yuji Horii and Akira Toriyama were two members of the game's “Dream Team”. We needed to know the actual date! We needed proof! Was it August 11 or August 22?
So, B.J. and I put on our Sherlock Holmes hats (not really), and started digging around the internet and through old Nintendo Power magazines. We found some contradictory info online, from scholarly sites, and places like Wikipedia.
The first article, “History and Features of the Chrono Trigger SNES Release” gave the date as August 22 (which you can see in the above photo, or read the full thing here.).
Wikipedia gives the date as August 11, 1995 (see the above photo); however, B.J. and I have both spent time as college English teachers, so we know all about Wikipedia's unreliability. I mean, anyone can just go in and change the date if they want, and it could take a while for it to get corrected. So maybe all the folks giving August 11 as the date were just pulling the info from some incorrect Wikipedia info. But was it really incorrect info?
The (Video) Game is Afoot!
Thankfully, the August 11, 1995 date on Wikipedia is cited (unlike the date from the journal we found from Washington State University Vancouver). Unfortunately, neither of us could get the archived webpage in the link to work. So, now we're back where we started…again.
B.J. already had several old Nintendo Power issues in his office, particularly Issue #73 which teased Chrono Trigger. While he looked through his copies of Nintendo Power from around that time, I dug up Issues #74, #75, and #76 online. You can find scans of all of those right here, and it makes for some fun, nostalgic reading.
None of the Nintendo Power issues gave an actual date. The closest thing we found was a recap from a later issue that listed Chrono Trigger‘s release date as “August 1995.” Again, that didn't really help us out.
After spending a good chunk of the morning texting each back and forth, pouring over vast amounts of Chrono Trigger promos online, and searching forums, we decided to take the mystery to Twitter. Surely, someone out there knew the correct answer and could provide us with definitive proof about the game's release date.
The Mystery is Solved…Kinda
Just searching for “Chrono Trigger August” on Twitter, I found mixed results yet again. Even from five years ago, when the game celebrated its 20th Anniversary in the U.S., the tweets were convoluted and contradictory. It's like no one can agree on when this game released. But why?
Eventually, I tweeted out this question and asked for anyone online to help me out. I've had good luck with people finding answers for me in the past, so I thought it was worth a shot. During this time, B.J. had found some links to old forum posts from 1995. In these posts, people had said stores near them released the game on August 22. You can see a sample of that right here:
Okay, cool. It looked like we finally had our answer. These forum posts were likely as close as we were ever going to get to finding out the game's true release date in North America. We were a little disappointed, but B.J. and I both agreed that we'd have to accept this as the answer.
The Plot Thickens
A little while later, however, one of my friends on Twitter, The Lucha Dork, said he found the archived webpage that Wikipedia had cited for the August 11 release. The one that B.J. and I couldn't get to work. Remember that? It was very early in our sleuthing that morning, and we'd pretty much given up on it. But Lucha managed to find the archived webpage, and it was even from the official Nintendo page! (Turns out, you needed a Flash-enabled browser to access it.)
Like any good mystery, it all goes back to something introduced early on. It's like that old Chekhov quote about how you don't introduce a loaded rifle into the story if it's never going to go off. Well, our loaded rifle from an archived webpage, and it did go off! You can find a screencap of that post from Nintendo right here:
So, there you have it. A nerdy little mystery full of twists, turns, and Chekhov's gun.
After all of this digging around, we've accepted August 11, 1995 as the Chrono Trigger release date. Nintendo's website is as official as you can get.
And as for the other date, August 22, 1995…maybe there were store delays in the U.S. that resulted in major outlets not getting the game on time. Maybe this is why so many folks consider August 22 to be the release date.
Whatever the reasoning, until something even more official comes along (which, at this point, seems doubtful), we're going to consider this case closed and the Chrono Trigger release date to be August 11, 1995.
If you enjoyed this post, don't forget to check out our upcoming 25th Anniversary Celebration at Geek to Geek next month. You can also read my other posts at DragonQuestAustin.com or check out my new podcast, JRPGs and Me!