When dealing with fictional worlds, I tend to be fairly analytical and very detail-oriented. I like to know how an imaginary world works, and what its history and geography are. As the actual creators are not always as careful about such matters as the geeky fans, this often involves piecing a lot of different material together, some of which can be inadequate and/or contradictory. I can stare at maps of fictional lands for long periods of time. Part of that is just that I like maps, whether of real or unreal places, but part of it is also because they show the locations of different stories in relation to each other. This carries over to video game worlds, although here such matters can be even trickier. Some game series will present a fairly consist geography, and I’ve addressed this before in terms of the Zelda games and the first three Dragon Quests. The Mario games, on the other hand, will feature the same locations in multiple games, but where they are isn’t always consistent. You don’t need to look any further than how Toad Town is landlocked in Super Mario RPG, but on a seacoast in Paper Mario. I would like to put together an at-least-partially-accurate map of the Mushroom World, as was done with the even more internally contradictory Springfield from The Simpsons, but I have to wonder if anyone else would be interested. And some game series make it even trickier by setting different entries on the same world in very different time periods. The first two Breath of Fire games supposedly took place on the same world, but the geography wasn’t similar at all. In a game world, I guess you can always use magic or an apocalyptic event to explain such things, but even that only goes so far. In the rest of this post, however, I’m going to look at a world that incorporates multiple time periods into the same game. I am referring, of course, to Chrono Trigger.
Really, the world of Chrono Trigger isn’t that big, which makes a certain amount of sense as you’re visiting it in five different eras. There really wouldn’t have been enough room for a huge world AND the extensive use of time travel. As it is, the only significant power in the present appears to be the Kingdom of Guardia. Porre and Choras both appear to be protectorates of Guardia, while Medina is independent but doesn’t appear to play a major role in politics. Also, unlike many role-playing video games, there’s very little roaming around the overworld, and hence few landmarks that aren’t obvious. It looks like the royal family of Guardia has been in power even before the kingdom existed, and will continue to be after its fall. At least, that’s the indication given by the revelation that Ayla is Marle’s ancestor and Doan her descendant.
The former is the chief of the Ioka tribe in the year 65 million BC (humans have been around for a lot longer in this world than in our own), and the latter the descendant of the director of Arris Dome in the post-apocalyptic 2300 AD. I don’t recall any mention of ancestors of Marle’s existing in 12,000 BC, however. The fact that Marle has a pendant from Zeal could suggest a relationship to their royal family, but since Queen Zeal and both of her children end up missing in action, I don’t see how they could have had descendants. Maybe I’m taking the ancestry thing too seriously, though, especially considering how many years we’re looking at here. The Guardian kings might be Ayla’s descendants, but millions of other people would presumably be as well. Well, that’s assuming this world HAS millions of people; you certainly don’t come across anywhere near that many.
Chrono Cross takes place on the same world, but in an area that didn’t appear in the earlier game, the El Nido Archipelago. Its absence in the original is explained by saying that it was created by the supercomputer FATE after Crono and his friends changed history. Also, Porre has apparently become an independent power and conquered Guardia, killing the heirs to the throne in the process. We never learn much about the details involved here, though, which I think is another reason why Cross isn’t all that well-loved as a sequel. It really comes across as tangential, with the characters and locations from the original game playing only minor roles. While I can see that they wanted to do something new and not just revisit the same old places, it’s kind of disappointing that the world players explored throughout millions of years of history is only in the background in the later game. Oh, well.