The Prerelease is a "beta" version, with nearly all main features of the game intact and ready for serious testing. But in software engineering, before beta versions come alpha versions, which are stages of the game's rough development. Other betas and alpha version of the Chrono Trigger Prerelease may exist, most likely sent to magazines for review. While the chances are slim that some of these may ever find their way to the internet, surviving pictures from old magazines depict such versions. Also displaying the alpha version is a preview video issued by Nintendo, depicting a completely different overworld.
One shot illustrates an extra door to the Guardia treasury in 600 A.D. (recall that it did not exist in that era), and pale guards.
The second, from a Brazilian magazine, is the more interesting. Crono's hair is different; it lacks the usual spikes. The status screenshot shows a count of "5" for each of the four elements, suggesting that characters may have different charges or levels of elemental power despite having a primary element affinity. The Epoch is flying over the ground, and jet vapor seems to be coming from two exhaust pipes. The details of the Arris Dome are also a little different.
Third is EGM's Chrono Trigger coverage (#7), which features some interesting screenshots (many of which seem to be taken from the mock-ups made for the prism cards).
On the first page, the Giga Gaia battle is clearly taken from the One Peaceful Day scene prism card mock-up. The EGM writer also claims that Crono is from a town called "Stoal" (significantly different from Truce). The tiny character images near their descriptions are taken from other screenshots and mock-ups in the article.
Things get interesting on page two. In the upper left, there's an early screenshot of a Heckran battle; the battle menu is very rough. The battle is clearly meant to show the cover art of the game, and it features a mountain tileset that doesn't appear in the final version of the game or the Chrono Trigger Prerelease (it's quite beautiful with snow-covered leaves). In the next screenshot to the right, the party's fighting a Goon in a forest setting (this isn't on any of the cards). And to the right of that is the scene from the All Star Cast card. The next row of screenshots begins left with an image of the Epoch flying over Guardia Kingdom in 1000 A.D.; interestingly, there's no western landmass leading to Zenan Bridge, but there does appear to be extra eastern landmass. To the right of that is the Epoch Lucca prism card scene, followed by the Riding the Pterans scene. The final row begins and ends with a tall image of Magus's castle and an image of the courtroom, respectively; the courtroom image is what the The Silvard scene card is taken from, and this EGM issue allows us to see that King Guardia XXXIII is the one sitting above the judge. Between these two tall images are three screenshots; the first shows the Telepod experiment. The second shows the party fighting a Goon in Manoria Cathedral with dialogue (which is completely new), and the third shows the party running around the early version of Algetty with Ayla seemingly pasted in the lower right corner in her victory pose (this is probably a mock-up image).
Moving on, Chrono Trigger was again featured (barely) in EGM #63 (October 1994).
The first and third images come from preview materials we've already seen, but the second image is fascinating. It shows Crono at the Ocean Palace entrance speaking to Schala and Janus; it's also possible that they're at the Sun Palace or another Zeal structure entirely, like an early version of Sealed Pyramid. It's possible that Schala and Janus were meant to survive the events of the Ocean Palace in Masato Kato's early planning; naturally, he would have changed this to avoid a temporal paradox and to set up Schala's involvement in future Chrono games. On the other hand, perhaps the Sun Stone recharging event happened before the Ocean Palace Incident in early planning. There appear to be two Moon Stones on either side of the group under columns of light.
Thanks to ONSLAUGHT
V-Jump Preview Video 1
The V-Jump preview video reveals huge overworld differences between versions and other changes. It's an incredible contribution by Chrono fan Carnivol, and features interviews with Chrono Trigger's creators. The video begins, amazingly, with the Untitled track from the Chrono Trigger Prerelease. Several alpha arrangements of the tracks play throughout, featuring very rough and basic instrumentation.
Transcribed by GekkaHikko and translated by GlitterBerri.
Players can soar on the wings of time in the time machine designed by Mr. Toriyama.
Now to introduce the characters.
And now, Mr. Sakaguchi, Mr. Horii, and Mr. Aoki take the stage! Let's listen as these three spill the secrets behind the creation of Chrono Trigger!
Video and Screenshots
You can watch the video here, or download it here. To play Youtube's "flv" format files on your computer, you can use VideoLAN, a great freeware tool capable of handling countless types of encoding. The video begins with the title of the game with the "Untitled" music playing.
The preview then shows the announcer talking about the Dream Team, which cuts to a clock background with a spinning Crono sprite.
The preview then shows the beginning of the game as normal. The overworld is distinctly different; Truce appears larger and more primitive than its future self. The graphics are pretty standard and Leene's Square appears bare save for the bell and a few balloons.
The Epoch then appears with the exhaust vapor behind as in the magazine screenshot. What's interesting is that the back grill raises and closes during the course of the video, hinting at some other function of the vehicle.
Two sets of four monsters each appear following the battles. Very minor differences, if any, exist between sprites. The Cave Ape retains the sad face in the Prerelease beta version.
Character art and brief explanations of every character but Magus are then supplied.
The scene shifts to the Dream Team, including Sakaguchi, Horii, and Aoki. A brief shot of unreleased Epoch concept art flashes in the background with the rest of the preview.
Guru of Reason Chrono'99 has linked the screenshots together for composite pictures:
Forumer cald attempted to recreate the plane's graphics:
V-Jump Preview Video 2
This is a second V-Jump video lasting 18:56 in length, released as its own VHS tape by V-Jump. It features scenes from a build of Chrono Trigger a little earlier in development than the Prerelease. The extended demos are narrated by developers in Japanese as an extended interview. The personnel interviewed include Akira Toriyama, Yuji Horii, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and then Hoshino Masanori (art director), Keizo Kokubo (main program), Yoshinori Kitase (director), Takashi Tokita (director), and Kazuhiko Aoki (producer). The instrument sampling is different. Thanks go to dan_death for finding it on NICOVideo, and to Chrono'99 for helping analyze personnel. You'll probably have to get the great, open source freeware player VideoLAN to play it. To download it:
- 1995 Special Edition Original Video (MP4, 132 MB)
Recordings of the altered instruments are available by clicking Alpha Tracks. Please visit Supporting Material Translation for translations of the unique/different screenshots. Getting started, the demo scenes proceed like this:
- Dactyls flying to Tyrano Lair
The lava burns brightly as it does in the later Prerelease.
- Crono standing near campfire
- The Blackbird sailing over water
The thrusters burn brighter.
- Zeal, with the Blackbird docked
- Crono, Lucca, and Robo crossing Zenan Bridge
- Magus's Lair
- Crono slashing the Dragon Tank
- Crono arriving at trial
- Lavos erupting (with early sprite)
The demo then features Crono, Marle, and Lucca's arrival, a short trip to the Arris Dome, and the Day of Lavos cut scene. Instead of triggering the video, Marle engages a menu with the three Dream Team members on it (Toriyama, Horii, and Sakaguchi) and other developers. Each narrates several scenes of the game while music plays.
Early sealed door design is present.
Toriyama is selected first. Character and scene art follow; the scene stuff includes the full picture frame, which has never been seen before.
Yuji Horii is then selected in all his plot-hole creating glory.
Here's the unknown village.
One of the imps is gray instead of green.
The party enters the Proto Dome Gate.
Sakaguchi is then selected.
The King's sprite may be slightly different.
These Chancellor lines are different.
This judge dialogue is different.
This Lucca line is unique to the video. It takes the place of her line about identifying the Prometheus Dome.
Here's Hoshino Masanori, art direction. Remember "Hoshino Trigger"?
The flowers at the base of the Mystic Mts are purple instead of beige (as they are in the Pre). Ultimately, this would turn mostly into dirt for the final version.
This Masa & Mune fusion line seems to be different.
Two Leapers chase the party down a primitive-looking Mystic Mts entrance. The palette hasn't even been adjusted to fit the 65000000 B.C. look, yet.
Keizo Kokubo (main program) appears.
Barrels are on the conveyor belt rather than robots.
The Ioka Meeting Site design is primitive.
Yoshinori Kitase (director) is next. His segment is mostly composed of music.
Next is the race.
Frog's dialogue contains an extra character at the end.
We then come upon Takashi Tokita (director).
Johnny's dialogue here is slightly different.
The Underground Sewer unused area appears here as host to a staged battle. Until the text is translated, its purpose will remain a mystery.
Though unimportant to analysis, the famous mountain Kilwala makes an appearance.
The Chancellor's "justice system" dialogue is slightly different.
There's a long pause (two ellipses' worth) when Lucca talks about robots' hearts which isn't present in the final.
Doan's wording is slightly different when talking about 'healthy'.
Finally, there's Kazuhiko Aoki (producer).
Orange bats are present.
Flea's eyes seem different.
Crono, Robo, and Lucca try out a prototype triple tech on a Goon (whose name is different from the final's).
The bit stays in the center of the Guardian, and the strange gun emplacement removed in the final can be seen in action.
Lavos spits fire and battles on the ground.
Lavos exhibits a prototype of the Shadow Doom Blaze.
The graphics beneath the information center's monitor are different.
The Blackbird sprite flies over a totally static Zeal with the blimp also seen on the hologram cards. The fact that Zeal's sky is totally stationary suggests that this was completely a mock-up. If anyone knows the purpose of that blimp, it's Masato Kato.