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CONSOLE: Super Famicom (via Satellaview) DEVELOPER: Squaresoft PUBLISHER: Nintendo
RELEASE DATE (JP): August 31, 1995 GENRE: Racing/Reference
// review by SoyBomb

For Chrono extremists only.

The Satellaview was a physical add-on for the Super Famicom (the Japanese model of the SNES). It basically served as a primitive modem that unscrambled satellite signals to form something visible on the player's television screen. However, instead of transmitting television shows, they would broadcast playable game data during a specific time each day for one hour (known as the "Super Famicom Hour" on the broadcasting TV station St.GIGA). Using an on-screen menu, gamers could navigate and play a wide variety of games, magazines, or other applications. Some were broadcast daily, while others were only available on specific dates, sometimes only on one day in the lifespan of the service. Some games were originals designed for the service, while others were also available in retail stores. Game data could be saved if the player also possessed a special memory pak and inserted it into the system during the broadcast hour. Taking advantage of the satellite capabilities, some games even had voice actors speaking during play! It was a very unique, if not a tad expensive, feature of the Super Famicom, boasting (at its peak) well over 110,000 users. With the slow fade-out of the Super Famicom's popularity over newer consoles, the Satellaview service died out in June 2000.

Chrono Trigger was undoubtedly a popular RPG from Squaresoft in 1995. To further commemorate its success, Squaresoft released three small titles on Nintendo's Satellaview system in July 1995, all of which bear the title "BS Chrono Trigger" (the "BS" actually meaning "Broadcast Satellite" and not something profane). These were not available in stores. Let's take a look at each one individually.


In order: Jet Bike Special, Character Library, Music Library

The first is BS Chrono Trigger: Jet Bike Special. Taking from the classic race between Johnny (written as "Jonny" here) and Crono before the party can pass through Site 32 and move on in 2300 A.D., Jet Bike Special gives you the opportunity to relive that race... and nothing more. That's literally ALL this little game is. There are two modes available, both QUITE cleverly named. First is "Game Mode 1", which is the typical bike race to the finish line between Johnny and Crono. You are allowed up to three turbo boosts to get ahead of your opponent. "Game Mode 2" has the same goal, but you do not have any turbo boosts at your disposal. If you choose "Record" from the menu, it is likely that you could have seen the racing records of other players on the Satellaview service on this screen. The last option is "From Jonny", where Johnny himself gives you some racing tips (not that you actually need them in this very simple race). If you love easy jet bike racing and pixelated Mode 7 graphics, this is right up your alley.

Next is BS Chrono Trigger: Character Library. It's not quite as action-packed as the Jet Bike Special, that's for certain. You have several options available. You can browse through descriptions of each playable character in the game, as well as flip through every single pose they ever make in the full game. There is also an index of every enemy/boss, and you can play around with their sprites as well. Unfortunately, they aren't presented in a list, and you have to basically scroll through each character and its description until you find what you're looking for. This isn't such an issue with party members (there are only seven), but to look for a specific enemy can be an unnecessarily tedious task. There's also an "Explanation" option on the menu that tells you how to use this encyclopedia of characters, as if it wasn't easy enough to understand. Character Library is quaint but underwhelming.

Finally, we have BS Chrono Trigger: Music Library. If you love the soundtrack to Chrono Trigger (and it is, admittedly, incredible), then here is your chance to listen to all the songs from the game. The tracks are listed first by disc and track number, as the soundtrack apparently spanned three discs. The name of each song is also written (in Japanese). You can listen to the song loop pretty much for an infinite amount of time... or until the broadcast ends... or your Super Famicom burns out. This is, perhaps, the least glamorous of the three BS Chrono Trigger releases. They could have at least put a background image in place to keep the eyes moderately motivated.

By themselves, each release is enjoyable for a few minutes of time at most. Even if you string them together as one package, they come across as mundane and lacking any pull factor except for absolute Chrono Trigger zealots. But even they will get bored easily and yearn to play the actual Chrono Trigger. Luckily, there's an Exit function in each game for a swift escape. The Satellaview service has been cancelled for well over a decade, so you won't easy get your hands on these crusty gems. The contents of Character Library and Music Library wedged their way into the PlayStation re-release of Chrono Trigger, so some remnants of these broadcasts have been kept alive...


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