Chrono Trigger is a game that relies heavily on our own world’s history and expectations, even if set in another timeline that barely resembles ours in actual historical fact. As a teenager playing this game, many of these never occurred to me, and I see nothing wrong with that (or in the direction I am now headed). The game is quite subtle about some of these expectations, placing the years on a line with the demarcations with which we are familiar: BC and AD. This is a world that does have various religions, but I somehow failed to notice the Christlike imagery present (it may be there, I’m often oblivious to the more subtle Christian imagery). It is something we can easily overlook, and something that actually aids our understanding of the game: we understand concepts such as BC and AD and don’t need it necessarily explained how this world obtained its dating system. I have made other assumptions in my go-around this time that caught me even more by surprise.
There are many things I forgot about Chrono Trigger that are a delight when I suddenly encounter them again. Among these is the encounter with Atropos in Geno Dome, 2300 AD. What confused me about this particular encounter is somehow I had set it in my head that Robo, the robot character who has a connection to the robots present in this time period, was asexual. It’s a robot, gender is something which we can impart to it, but it does not come equipped with a sex on to which we can map our expectations.
Until this point, the only robot that had oozed some manner of gender in my general direction was Johnny, the biking robot. His cool bravado and machismo brought to my mind A-Ha’s Take on Me video (there are better examples, but this is my favorite), and the name further gendered him to me. A name like Robo was gender neutral, and I am not one to assume the default gender/sex is male (even if I should have realized that this is quite common).
Then enters Atropos to remind me in two ways. “It’s a girl? How do we depict a girl robot?” Pink and equipped with bow. Not only does this display that Robo (and every other R-series and other robot you’ve encountered so far) is decidedly male, but it shows that the female robot is either bedecked in pink or is a shimmering rainbow of a human-eradicating (though human-form assuming) central computer called MotherBrain. The other signifier is the names attributed to each.
The Three Fates were Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos: those women that spun, measured out, and eventually cut the cloth of one’s life; Prometheus is the Titan who stole fire from the gods of Olympus and gave it to us lowly humans. Between these two robots there is a hint of a love story, and the sudden revelation of their names again plays into our understanding of our own universe and history. Atropos, strangely enough, does not live long. She is introduced and just as quickly killed off, having been corrupted by MotherBrain, and succumbing to Robo’s assault on her to protect his new friends.
Atropos’s own mythos saw her evolve from just the determiner of when to cut the cloth to determining how the death occurred (this was hardly odd, the stories were constantly evolving). This shift is mirrored in the corruption of Atropos, who goes from being the planet’s hope for a future as a robot who was just seeing the end of human fate and continuing on her own species’ survival to a machine seeking to wipe out the warmongering human race. From observer and marker to agent: she is seeking to cut the end of this human tapestry.
Prometheus, or Robo, then becomes mankind’s hope. He is not human, yet will suffer and fight to keep their struggle alive. He is also a combination of creators and different templates, having been constructed as an R-series robot, eventually broke down, and then being fixed by Lucca when you first discover him. Lucca becomes the Dr. Frankenstein to Robo, the Postmodern Prometheus. However, Frankenstein’s monster’s story is altered by seeing Robo learn from his human peers, not being shunned by them (probably helps that he’s not a stitched together corpse), and having him kill off his own female counterpart, instead of begging his Frankenstein for her existence. He kills off the evil she represents to mankind and thereby purchases his humanity, and stops her from cutting off the thread of human history.
As a story, this does not bother me in the slightest. I find it a well-written twist that works well on its own, or with the knowledge of not only the myths of Prometheus and Atropos, but that of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. Except, it comes wrapped in a marked pink bow (which does create an interesting contrast on her intent to kill). To some extent, it makes sense from a purely visual standpoint. If Robo is to be a heterosexual, the female needs to be show this heteros, or difference in Ancient Greek, and graphically the sprite for a female Robo needs to be altered. However, it now makes me realize that unless this particular game tells me otherwise, all the monsters and creatures I see can probably be safely assumed male.
The only time this backfires is when one first encounters Flea…