I played this game maybe three years ago on Pandareous's recommendation in one of many threads I bitched about how shitty jrpgs are (he also recommended Planescape Torment which is another equally good, if not better, rpg though admittedly in an entirely different vein). It ended up hooking me and I fully agree it's one of the best jrpgs out there. Great game that ended up circumventing a lot of problems I've always had with traditional jrpgs. Fast, active battle system. Fun characters that I cared about but didn't take themselves too seriously. Perfect length and pacing (seriously the pacing in this game is about as good as it gets).
Really it's pretty sad that just a couple years later FFVII set the mold for the future of the jrpg (though to be fair I liked that game too), and left Crono Trigger as some sort of a relic lost to the 16 bit era. I think the jrpg, as a genre, would be doing a lot better if they went back to making games like this and stopped with the absurd, overwrought bullshit that currently consumes a vast majority of games that come out under the jrpg moniker.
Chrono Trigger is my favorite / highest rated game. Its been YEARS since I've played it, and I'm actually afraid that nostalgia fed my score a little bit. I really don't THINK so though, because I remember loving the balls out of it way back when, too, and even when I had it head to head w/ Final Fantasy III. I would like to play it again soon, but I've got a lot of other RPGs on my plate currently.
I especially liked that you could pick your own groups, and each set of 3 had their own wicked maneuver. Solid.
In case you missed it, Chrono Trigger will be the featured game in the Epic Center for the month of September, starting week of August 30th. If you haven't played this game before, or would like to again, now would be a great time to join up!
I finally played Final Fantasy VII some months back and it's an interesting game in that, as you say, it's still a good game, and it's not really nearly as over-reliant on cutscenes as it is notorious for, but I could definitely feel it pushing into a direction that I don't really like. Kind of the transition to something new and worse, though still pretty solid since it hadn't fully transitioned yet.
ProJared's opinion of this game - The video is really well put together and warns when he talks about spoilers - however if you haven't played this game in a very very long time, then you may want to wait as it will trigger (pun!) fond memories that you may have wanted to save for the Epic Centre play through.