Chrono Trigger's surprise Steam release yesterday reminded us that Square Enix don't really care too much about doing justice to their old games. The PC version appears to be a port of the mobile port of the original, which is like watching Dunkirk in gif form on a 4K TV. So here's how to play Chrono Trigger at its best.
Chrono Trigger on SNES (or modern equivalents)
If you want the definitive version of Chrono Trigger, then there's only one platform for it: the SNES it originally released on in 1995. Actually, that's a lie now, thanks to the sudden deluge of SNES-like consoles appearing on the market. The Analogue Super Nt is probably your best bet for enjoying the original pixel art and pleasing fonts upscaled onto a modern flatscreen. Our resident retro expert Tom recently discovered that the Super Nt made things looks just as good as his memory fools him into thinking they were, but there are other options with a newly announced console from Hyperkin called the Supa Retron HD which can also play original carts for slightly cheaper. Sadly, Nintendo's own Mini SNES does not support its original cart hardware and can only play what's pre-installed on it, unless...
Chrono Trigger Emulation
Look, no-one wants to get into a big philosophical debate about the moral ramifications of playing unofficially distributed ROMs of out-of-print software. BUT, most available emulators are pretty dang good at getting just how Chrono Trigger looked and sounded on the original hardware. If you bought the game once, misplaced your cartridge seven house moves ago and want to play again, we're not going to say it's entirely legally justified but I think you can be happy that the developers got their reward from you for their hard work. We're also not going to link to any emulators or ROMs but you seem like a smart person so we'll leave the rest to you.
Chrono Trigger on Nintendo DS
This is probably the best of the non-original software for Chrono Trigger. The port team, made up of members of the original development team, conducted a labor of love to get everything looking as good as possible on the handheld's tiny screen. They also used the dual-screen to reasonably good effect, getting all the menus off the main screen and letting the original art really shine. It'll work on a 3DS, too so you don't need to go hunting for an old DS, and is perfect for playing on the go.
Chrono Trigger on PlayStation
The original PlayStation version of Chrono Trigger includes a bunch of extra features not present in the original, such as anime cutscenes and special extras available after completion. There's a couple versions of this port available, but the easiest one to get is a bundle with Final Fantasy IV called Final Fantasy Chronicles. It's now available on PSN for PS3, Vita and PSP so you don't have to dust off an original PS One for it either. Not quite the definitive version, but those extras are pretty nice and the font and pixel rendering doesn't leave you feeling terrible.
Chrono Trigger on iOS/Android
The mobile ports. They look pretty bad. They look like they were run through every automation process possible to get them to show up on modern smartphone screens. If you're not entirely into the retro look then, well, we're not sure Chrono Cross is even a game to consider buying but if you want to stick with it for that amazing story you've heard about, you'll be ok with the mobile port.
Chrono Trigger on Steam
Absolutely not. It's just the mobile port on a bigger screen and all the text is laid out terribly. It looks like someone made it in RPG maker. Avoid.