Excitement for the surprise Steam release of Chrono Trigger quickly turned into dread today as fans realized that this port, like most of Square Enix’s PC ports, looks like garbage. Why has Square had such a hard time getting this right?

No, Square Enix hasn’t replaced all of the character models with washed-out sprites as the company did for Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI. But this is a straight port of the mobile version of Chrono Trigger, and the developers didn’t alter the user interface or font, leading to hideous results:

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Just like with Final Fantasy V, this port of Chrono Trigger even has tiling errors. You can actually see the little square tiles on the map because they don’t align properly, as shown in this screenshot (red circles added, obviously):

It’s all a disaster, and it’s possible that Square Enix isn’t even aware that fans have problems with it. In September of last year, when I brought up the FFV and FFVI ports to veteran Final Fantasy producer Yoshinori Kitase, he seemed surprised that North American fans had a problem.

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“I am actually curious to know — I believe the port version, the one you can get right now, does use the more brushed up artwork that’s a little bit more refined,” he said. “Do fans want to see the older version that’s not as refined? Is that the sentiment?”

Hopefully they get the message that this kind of port isn’t going to please many people, either. I asked Square Enix why they chose to go down this route instead of tweaking the user interface to feel more like a PC game or emulating the SNES version, but the company has not responded. For now, you may want to stick to Chrono Trigger on DS.