Chrono Trigger is an exceptional game. Many people who’ve played it (perhaps even most who’ve played it) will say that it’s an excellent game; some even go so far as to call it a masterpiece of the JRPG genre. I absolutely agree with that sentiment, but I feel that “exceptional” is the best word to describe a game like Chrono Trigger. Not because it just so good, but because there’s so much that sets it apart from peers like Final Fantasy VI or Super Mario RPG. Its battle system is unique. The way it uses and treats its characters is unique, and its soundtrack is something special in itself. It’s not just that the songs are great, but that they also used with such impact. Each one feels just right for each use and one in particular is always able to draw out the feels, even when you know it’s coming. That song is known as “At the Bottom of the Night.”
(Video from YouTube channel: Video Game Music)
“At the Bottom of the Night” packs so many emotions and themes into its chiptune beats that the type of song it is almost depends on what’s happening in the game at the time. For Frog, it was at first a song of regret; playing as he recalled his failure to prevent a friend’s death at the hands of Magus. Later, it became the tune of bittersweet reunion as Frog encountered that friend one last time and learned why they were able to meet one last time. For Robo its a theme of sweet reunion and bitter truth as he finds both a long lost friend and learns the nature of his existence. For the party at large, it was a song of loss as they were reeling from a major defeat and the loss of a friend. It’s the same tune each time, but each time the game uses it the song gets influenced by the events currently unfolding, so it manages to have a different feel each and every time!
“At the Bottom of the Night” is an exceptional song in an exceptional game. Every other song in the game is very defined in regard to their themes and the emotions they try to draw out. This one depends mostly upon context to define its themes and feel rather than having them be inherent. It changes with the game, catches us off-guard, and brings on those feels each and every time! A truly noteworthy song that very well may not yet have been matched by anything that’s come out since!
Have you heard a game song that’s managed to affect you in different ways? What type of song was it? How do you think it was able to do it?