Gladly the Chrono Cross I’d Bear


Chrono Trigger is a somewhat unusual game in that it kills off its main character. The hero, known as “Crono” because the game only allows for five-character names, is taken out by the alien parasite Lavos in the Kingdom of Zeal. It’s possible to win the game without him, but since it involves time travel there’s a little more to it than that. Unfortunately, the way time travel works in the game is that your characters can use gates or a vehicle to access various eras, they can only go back to AFTER they last left that era. There is, however, a way to circumvent this with the Time Egg, also known as the Chrono Trigger, which is in the keeping of Gaspar, Guru of Time.

You also need one of the weird moving clone-dolls that Norstein Bekkler provides, and Belthasar’s help in climbing Death Peak. The wishes of the party, combined with the Time Egg and Marle’s pendant, allow you to go back to Crono’s death and replace him with the doll. Apparently Lavos doesn’t notice the difference.

When I learned about Islamic views on the crucifixion of Jesus, I immediately drew the connection to Crono. Not that Crono is Jesus, exactly, but there’s often somewhat of that vibe to video game heroes. Jesus probably spent less time zapping monsters with lightning, but we don’t know that for sure. Anyway, there’s a verse in the Quran that indicates the crucifixion was merely a matter of appearance, and that Jesus didn’t die but was elevated to Heaven right then and there. Exactly how the illusion was pulled off isn’t clear, but some Muslims have speculated that someone else was crucified in Jesus’ place. This isn’t entirely original with Islam, either.

The Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter has the titular apostle seeing a vision of Jesus on the cross with another Jesus above him laughing. The laughing Jesus is the true, living person, while the one on the cross is merely a fleshly shell, reflecting the general Gnostic view about how the material world is basically a prison. According to the translation I found through Google, Jesus identifies the one on the cross as “the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness.” He doesn’t make it clear whether this body can still feel pain, but if it can it strikes me as rather inappropriate to laugh about it. I don’t think any of these sources claim that Jesus was replaced by a doll made by a mad scientist with no visible body and brought back in time, but it’s not like we have any eyewitness accounts anyway.

It is perhaps telling that the town of the Mystics in the year 1000 is called Medina, the same as the second holiest city in Islam. Was it called that in the original Japanese, though? As mentioned here, the names of the Gurus are only the same as those of the Three Wise Men in the English translation.

Speaking of Crono’s death, I recently came across this post on Press the Buttons that indicated the original idea was that the party would have to go back to the beginning of the game and recruit an earlier version of Crono, and later return him to that time, making his death permanent.

I wonder whether you would have had to build up this earlier Crono’s statistics. You’ll notice that this solution, while ultimately more depressing, also involves travel back to a moment in time when some of the party members had already been present, so going back to Zeal and saving a stronger version is obviously more practical. Of course, Magus goes back to his own past, so it’s apparently possible in certain circumstances even without the Time Egg. There’s also the odd sequence when Lucca can go back and prevent her mother from losing her legs, an event she witnessed as a child, which comes after some speculation about the entity that allows for time travel in the first place. I suppose this entity is not all-powerful, but has the ability to set things into motion.

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