Released in 1995 during a golden age of gaming, Chrono Trigger graced our Western shores on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Considered by many to be one of the best RPGs of the SNES, it holds a special place in the hearts of both old-school gamers and newer gamers who have had a chance to play any of its several rereleases. While a beautiful game in many regards, its music, composed by Yasunori Mitsuda with assistance from Noriko Matsuda, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and Nobuo Uematsu, stood out just as well as its gameplay and sense of humor.
In fact, its music has become so popular in gaming culture that even famed concert group Video Games Live! plays the series' music in their performances. This leads us to a track that best captures the magic of Chrono Trigger. Track number 6, Guardia Millennial Fair, on the Chrono Trigger Original Soundtrack.
As you may have guessed from its title, the song Guardia Millennial Fair first plays in the Guardia Millennial Fair as our hero discovers the fun to be had such as races, a haunted house, Gato the robot, and has his famous encounter with Princess Marle. As Crono enters the fair, you are greeted by the sweet, yet quirky tune of 16bit maracas, bass guitar, and piano followed by a quick "Haa!". As the instruments continue past the chant, they are joined by one of the weirdest instruments ever made, the accordion. What makes the accordion such a welcoming instrument is the fact that it so quickly changes the atmosphere of the fair. As soon as the instrument plays, you expect to see a group of dancers to come rushing in dancing across the screen. While the maracas are left to support the song on and off in the background, the accordion continues to work in unison with the piano for a few moments until the chant "Haa!" returns signaling for the accordion to step aside to make way for the flute.
The flute works similarly to the accordion by working together with the piano, but it creates an even more light hearted sound than the accordion did. It brings in a sound that makes you imagine little children gathering around the medieval like square searching for candy and fun rides. But that moment is short lived as the chant returns yet again replacing the flute with both the returning accordion and clapping hands.
The clapping, my personal favorite, is simply a repetition of two claps, but it adds so much more to the fun, playful atmosphere of the fair when accompanied by the accordion. You half expect an assortment of clowns and jesters to enter the fair offering balloon animals to the visitors and causing all sorts of mischief. As the song passes the one minute mark, the instruments pause to allow a beautiful duet of the flute and piano. This is the most enjoyable segment of the entire track. It makes you want to pause what you are doing to simply take in the music. It's so relaxing that you would expect it to be in a scene involving a sunrise or sunset. I'm not quite sure how else to describe it. It's like the music is communicating, "The long day is over. Let the stress melt away and enjoy yourself with your family". As the duet takes its leave, the song repeats itself from the beginning seamlessly as it first began with the sound of that silly accordion continuing to add to the overall liveliness.
Perhaps what makes this song stand out so much from its counterparts in the soundtrack is the sheer amount of instruments used. As mentioned earlier, there is a flute, bass guitar, piano, electric organ, maracas, and the list just goes on. Now while these sounds come from a SNES chip and not actual instruments, it is still a feat to make all of the sounds work together to create such a believable medieval atmosphere. It's so believable in fact that if you listened to the song by itself to just picture what would be going on, you would turn on Chrono Trigger to find that almost everything you imagined is in the fair. The games, the attraction, the food, it's all there.
It's no wonder that the music of Chrono Trigger is what made Yasunori Mitsuda such a famous composer. If anything, he has shown that experimenting with sound can and will pay off. Guardia Millennial Fair is a rich, uplifting track that will stick with you for days after beating Chrono Trigger. I know that it has for me.
Be sure to listen for yourself if you haven't ever had the chance.