ATB’s Top 25 Male Characters: (21) Crono

crono

“What are you hanging around here for? I thought you guys said something about a nice little slide show.”

We’re now into the meat and potatoes as the top 25 continues. Tomorrow, our list continues the countdown to the #1 male video game character of all-time on Aug. 31.

21) Crono (Chrono Trigger) – 3 votes/106 points

Chris:  There are characters in our top 25 (and by extension, our top 100) who have been backed by superb writing. Others, like the protagonist from Fallout 3, are forged by the series of choices that you make for them. In the case of Crono, he’s a silent protagonist played to perfection.

Some folks might wonder why a character who never speaks (except for one line in an alternate ending) managed to sneak into the top 25. Crono works for two reasons: his actions and his interactions.

For a teenager who just wanted to go to the Millennial Fair, Crono sure has to put up with a lot of nonsense. Remember to feed the cat, his mom says. More like remember to go through the eras of history and defeat Lavos to prevent a terrible future. Crono sacrifices himself in the process, blocking Lavos’ attack with his face to give the rest of his group time to escape. The player can actually beat the game without him, but doing so means skipping an epic side quest that involves a body double, a Time Egg, and a touching moment with Marle on top of a mountain.

As for his interactions, there were a lot of simple touches that Chrono Trigger used to give its protagonist life. Using only facial expressions and body language, Crono tells you when he’s excited, shocked and amused. He looks despondent while being led to his execution in shackles. He blinks slowly and frequently when confused. He chugs soda like a champion and has a Tiger Woods fist pump when he succeeds. All of this is what makes Crono tick, and that’s what makes him so interesting to me.

Shaun: As you’ll continue to see on this list (spoilers), silent protagonists often end up being great characters because without the crutch of speaking, they are forced to rely on alternative means to express what they’re thinking and feeling, and become defined solely by their actions, rather than what they say.

Chris mentioned a variety of ways Crono conveys his emotions, and while I agree with all of it, I think specifically the moment Crono sacrifices himself  is what speaks the loudest to me. It wasn’t enough that Crono set out on a quest to save the world from the apocalypse to begin with — Crono was so devoted to this mission that he gave his own life to prevent it.

The fact that he (probably) is then brought back from the dead for one final fight with Lavos is the epic cherry on the cake that is Crono, and is probably the main reason why Chrono Cross was considered a disappointment. It’s hard for the audience to swallow when the “sequel” to one of the most beloved titles of all time leaves out one of the greatest characters ever conceived.

Joseph: My katana-wielding friend from childhood memories long passed, Crono was a great main character for a great game. He could dance, drink and possibly be executed for stealing someone’s lunch. But his true virtue was his ability to attract and interact with his companions. Crono, like many early protagonists, didn’t get dialogue. That didn’t stop him from putting his foot down when Magus tried to summon Lavos. It didn’t stop him from sacrificing himself by stepping in front of a disintegration ray. And unlike many other main characters, I had the option of leaving him dead. I could continue the battle without him and save the world in his memory. But there was no chance of that happening. I had cats to feed and a vendetta to settle, and Crono had to be on the front lines to deliver his lightning-infused retribution. Vaporize my main character? No, Lavos, you cannot avoid the Luminaire I have in store for you.

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Honorable Mention

Introduction

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