Author Topic: Interview with Kato & Mitsuda  (Read 4964 times)

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Interview with Kato & Mitsuda
« on: March 09, 2023, 09:24:46 pm »
On YouTube, SQUARE ENIX shared a video called The birth of #CHRONOCROSS Interview with Original Director Masato Kato and Composer Yasunori Mitsuda at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNcJyNaUT3o. (The Remaster producer Koichiro Sakamoto and briefly the project manager Mariko Sato join.)

They discuss:
0:00 Opening and self-introductions
1:59 Mr. Kato and Mr. Mitsuda's long-awaited reunion
5:54 The remastered edition was originally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of CHRONO CROSS
7:06 Mr. Kato: "Why I agreed to remastering RADICAL DREAMERS"
9:13 Mr. Mitsuda: "The way the CHRONO CROSS music sounded on the PlayStation is everything"
10:52 Refined elements that retain the nostalgia of the past
12:50 Some of the original illustrations were actually only half-finished
14:38 The musical refinements to achieve what couldn't be done at the time
16:28 About the elusive masterpiece RADICAL DREAMERS
20:31 CHRONO TRIGGER, RADICAL DREAMERS and CHRONO CROSS are connected
21:56 Did the idea for CHRONO CROSS exist when CHRONO TRIGGER was being made? [Player Question]
21:41 Why were parallel worlds used?
25:08 Why are there more than 40 playable characters?
26:30 Which parts moved you emotionally when the scenario, music and graphics were combined? [Player Question]
29:54 The relationship between the music of CHRONO TRIGGER and CHRONO CROSS [Player Question]
31:40 Composing the music of CHRONO CROSS through intentional subtraction [Player Question]
34:26 Fight between Mr. Kato and Mr. Mitsuda (!?)
36:09 How did you come up with the main theme? [Player Question]
37:41 Why does "Chrono Cross -Scars of Time-" feature shakuhachi? [Player Question]
39:16 What are the lyrics to "Dragon God"? [Player Question]
40:39 About the composition of the new song
44:12 New arrangements of the pieces Mr. Mitsuda wanted to record
48:28 The experience of CHRONO CROSS and the message Mr. Kato wanted to convey [Player Message]
51:48 What does the music of CHRONO CROSS mean to Mr. Mitsuda?
53:01 What does CHRONO CROSS mean to Mr. Kato?

Transcript, adapted from YouTube captions:[hidden]
(mistakes probably my own)

Yasumoto:
Hello everyone. I'm Hiroki Yasumoto. Joining us on this episode of "Inside SQUARE ENIX" are the producer of CHRONO CROSS: RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION, Mr. Koichiro Sakamoto. The director of the original edition, Mr. Masato Kato. And the composer, Mr. Yasunori Mitsuda. Thanks for coming today. I'm surprisingly nervous. After all, I grew up with the CHRONO series. So, it's wonderful to see CHRONO CROSS being re-released like this. We will be talking about that today. I'll try not to be too nervous. Let's start with self-introductions. Firstly, Mr. Sakamoto, please.

Sakamoto:
My name is Koichiro Sakamoto. I'm the producer of the CHRONO CROSS: THE RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION. I wasn't involved in the original game. It would be presumptuous of me to sit… however, I hope to share some interesting anecdotes from the development process. Thanks for having me.

Yasumoto:
Next is Mr. Kato.

Kato:
I was in charge of the scenario, events, directing and more on CHRONO CROSS. My name is Masato Kato.

Yasumoto:
Next is Mr. Mitsuda.

Mitsuda:
I'm the composer, Yasunori Mitsuda. Thanks for having me.

Yasumoto:
CHRONO CROSS is an RPG with a story that transcends time and space as it unfolds across two interlinked parallel worlds. There are over 40 party members. People and dimensions intertwine in an epic drama about the planet itself. I'll be asking the developers about the game, music, and remaster in general. Let's get started. Mr. Kato is now with Wright Flyer Studios. Mr. Mitsuda is now with PROCYON STUDIO. Neither of you are at SQUARE ENIX anymore. laughter But of course, you worked together on the original game. Do you ever see each other now?

Kato & Mitsuda:
Never. Not at all.

Kato:
When was the last time we saw each other? Maybe when we met for the live concerts.

Mitsuda:
That must be it.

Kato:
I don't really like people.

Yasumoto:
No way!

Kato:
I don't meet up with people.

Yasumoto:
But he has such an upbeat personality. laughter

Kato:
I keep my work life and private life completely separate. We normally never see each other. We get along when we do meet, of course. We communicate frequently by email or on social media. It's not as though we're estranged.

Yasumoto:
You're just not really the communicative type to begin with?

Kato:
Yes. We never see each other.

Yasumoto:
But when you were approached about the remaster, you must have had to meet up to discuss it. Was that your first meeting in a long time?

Kato:
I didn't have any meetings with Micchan about the sound production.

Mitsuda:
We didn't meet up in person.

Kato:
I work with the text mostly, so I did all my work online. The discussions about the soundtrack were handled by SQUARE ENIX.

Yasumoto:
So the only time you've met to talk about the game is right here and now?

Mitsuda:
That's right.

Yasumoto:
I guess we're doing you a service then. laughter

Kato:
Even everything for the song lyrics was done over email. I wrote the words and sent them over. It's a long time since we've met up in person.

Yasumoto:
I feel like we're doing a good deed. I'd like to ask Mr. Sakamoto a question. You were the producer of the remaster project. How was the process overall?

Sakamoto:
The person who initiated the project ended up leaving for certain reasons.

Yasumoto:
I shouldn't ask why?

Sakamoto:
That's right. laughter I took over after that. This was my first opportunity to actually meet Mr. Kato and Mr. Mitsuda. We also had a project manager Sato on site. Sato handled most of the communication with them. Because of her immense contribution she's joining us today, just by voice.

Yasumoto:
Thank you for joining us, Ms. Sato.

Sato:
It's a pleasure.

Yasumoto:
Could you introduce yourself?

Sato:
I was the project manager for this game. My name is Mariko Sato. I worked on arranging various details with Mr. Kato and Mr. Mitsuda. Such as how to implement certain things into the game.

Yasumoto:
Okay. So you did the most work, then? laughter

Sakamoto:
I was mostly involved in arranging things internally.

Yasumoto:
Ms. Sato handled communication with the creators... Following up on deadlines, for instance?

Sakamoto:
And you managed that all by yourself.

Yasumoto:
That's a heavy job. Well done. laughter

Sato:
Thank you. I hope to talk about our focus and the difficulties.

Yasumoto:
Thank you. Turning back to Mr. Sakamoto now. You mentioned that you joined midway through the project. Was there a series of events that led to making the remaster?

Sakamoto:
I commented about this on Twitter. Originally, the project started up to commemorate the 20th anniversary. But there were personnel changes along the way, like I said. Various issues cropped up. It shouldn't have taken us this long to make.

Yasumoto:
It should have come out a lot sooner?

Sakamoto:
Yes. It ended up marking the 23rd anniversary.

Yasumoto:
That's Michael Jordan's jersey number. laughter

Sakamoto:
That's when it was released. Back when the project was launched, CHRONO CROSS was possibly going to become unplayable. There was a Game Archive service on PlayStation 3 that allowed you to play PlayStation 1 games. But PlayStation 4 was already on the market. We didn't know at the time if PlayStation 4 would also have a Game Archive service. It looked like CHRONO CROSS could become unplayable. So, a remaster project was set up. That's the back story.

Yasumoto:
And it wound up being released on PlayStation 5. laughter I'd like to ask Mr. Kato a question. When you were heard about the remaster and the re-release of RADICAL DREAMERS, how did you feel about it?

Kato:
They had approached me multiple times about RADICAL DREAMERS. They wanted to bundle it with other games such as the Nintendo DS port of CHRONO TRIGGER. But I told them it was an old title. It breaks off midway. It's not a fully finished game. So, I was a bit ashamed of it, and I kept saying I didn't want to re-release it. I didn't want to see it revived in some new form. So, I kept turning them down. But then the game started selling at an incredible premium, which was a strange and unpleasant situation. So, I thought, "Why not?" It may be embarrassing to me, but if people want to play the game normally and we're letting them play it, then that's fine. I resigned myself to the idea. laughter I realized it was inevitable. So, I said, "Okay, as long as we do it properly." And the matter was settled.

Yasumoto:
It sits between CHRONO TRIGGER and CHRONO CROSS at an important point in the timeline.

Kato:
It's not strongly connected in specific terms. First, you have CHRONO TRIGGER, then RADICAL DREAMERS. Then we made CHRONO CROSS. There was a change in how I felt as the creator.

Yasumoto:
From the players' point of view, I totally understand. We couldn't play the game. We couldn't play RADICAL DREAMERS at all.

Kato:
Most people didn't even know about it.

Yasumoto:
That's right. Even if it attracted a premium, I'm surprised those people managed to play it. Impressive. More on that later. I have a question for Mr. Mitsuda now. How did you feel when you first heard about the remaster?

Mitsuda:
None of the games from when I was at SQUARE have been remastered. For instance, CHRONO TRIGGER hasn't been remastered. XENOGEARS hasn't either. I kept hoping for something to be remastered. Then CHRONO CROSS came up. I was surprised they went for CHRONO CROSS first! I was delighted. I was really happy for my work to come to life again in a remaster.

Yasumoto:
In fact, your compositions are one of the reasons for the game's popularity. They're often featured in many videogame orchestral concerts both in Japan and overseas. Your music gets so much air time. I assumed there must be a remaster already. But there were none.

Mitsuda:
That's right.

Yasumoto:
So, I was overjoyed. When a game is remastered, they always ask for the music to be arranged or re-arranged, right?

Mitsuda:
I thought so, too. But for the CHRONO CROSS music, the way it sounded on the PlayStation was everything. It was fully completed. So, I didn't want to mess with it.

Yasumoto:
That's amazing. I'm glad to hear that. The players will love that too, to hear that the music they experienced was fully complete. We're hearing some wonderful stories. The next question is for Mr. Sakamoto. What has been refined for THE RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION?

Sakamoto:
You can probably tell at a glance. The old jaggies have been removed from the 3D models. It was on PlayStation 1, after all.

Yasumoto:
It was stunning even on PlayStation 1.

Sakamoto:
I focused the most on maintaining the same touch and feel. So it would feel the same as playing it on PlayStation 1. Looking at old PlayStation games now, the graphics are surprisingly sloppy. I wanted to preserve the original impression without it looking sloppy.

Yasumoto:
It's a remaster, not a remake. So, it has to follow in the footsteps of the original in a sense.

Sakamoto:
Of course, the text needed to be easier to read. So, we converted the font to HD. Some players might prefer the nostalgic experience. That's why we included a "pseudo dot font". Players can choose whichever they want. There are certain complications to re-using the original fonts. The property rights are complicated and we were a bit unsure. It seemed safer to change the font, so we chose a pseudo dot font. There is a background filter feature. If you use the original backgrounds, it's a bit blurry. It looks sharper with the filter switched on. Again, fans will have their own preference. If you want the original experience, just keep the filter off.

Yasumoto:
We beautify our memories. Some people will want to play it exactly as they remember it.

Sakamoto:
We also asked Mr. Nobuteru Yuuki to refine the character illustrations. Some of the original illustrations were actually unfinished. So, we had Mr. Yuuki draw them. That was a tough task for Sato, right?

Sato:
That's right. Initially, I went to ask if we could use the illustrations. He had a few regrets about them, and he said, "Let me redraw them." That sounded like a boon for us, so I asked him to do it. Initially, we were just asking to use them. But there are so many characters in CHRONO CROSS that I wondered if he could get it done on time.

Yasumoto:
That was your first concern.

Sato:
He said, "Let me check my schedule!" And he managed to get it done on time.

Yasumoto:
So essentially all of the characters in the remaster edition were all retouched or redrawn? Every single one of these characters?

Sakamoto:
That's right.

Yasumoto:
That's a huge task. There are so many great characters.

Sakamoto:
Some people may be emotionally invested in the original illustrations. So, we let you switch between the original and the remastered versions.

Yasumoto:
They don't seem to detract from the original image though.

Sakamoto:
That comes down to individual preference. Some of the color filling is a bit different. Some people will be able to tell the difference.

Yasumoto:
Maybe discovering those differences is one way of enjoying the game.

Sakamoto:
And last of all, Mr. Mitsuda. We asked him to refine the music.

Mitsuda:
The hardware of the PlayStation actually came with various limitations. The sound would be distorted above a certain volume threshold. It would break up harshly. For example, in "The Dead Sea -Tower of Geddon-", I wanted to give it a wider, expansive sound. But the sound distorted because of problems to do with the timbre. I had to adjust the stereophonic sound into more of a monaural feel. But this time I tried widening the sound, like I had originally wanted to. I cleaned up the noise as well. I refined every single piece for the remaster.

Yasumoto:
So the music quality has changed significantly?

Mitsuda:
That's right. We adjusted everything, such as the unwanted noise in the original and the stereo sound. It sounds more polished now.

Yasumoto:
Even at the stage of the PlayStation, compared to the NES and Super Nintendo, I felt it had an unbelievable sound palette. But there were still problems?

Mitsuda:
There were various limitations. For instance, pure tones like a clarinet would break up. So, often I couldn't use them for the melody even when I wanted to. It was very frustrating.

Yasumoto:
I had no idea. Only the creators would know that. We just take what we're given and say, "This is the best!" laughter
I had no idea.

Mitsuda:
It was a struggle.

Yasumoto:
You can also play RADICAL DREAMERS -Le Trésor Interdit-, which was originally released on Satellaview. Can you tell us about this, Mr. Sakamoto?

Sakamoto:
It was published in 1996 on Satellaview. Satellaview was a Nintendo service. We released four titles in total for Satellaview. But when the platform was discontinued, those games became unplayable. They became truly elusive gems.

Yasumoto:
I guess I can say this here… No one I knew owned a Satellaview. No one. The Satellaview used a satellite, right? It's in the name - satella. That's impressive.

Sakamoto:
I've only ever seen one in the office. laughter The game has seven scenarios in total. Completing each scenario leads to the next. Mr. Kato penned the main scenario, "Kid - Le Trésor Interdit". That story links to CHRONO TRIGGER.

Yasumoto:
Position-wise, you mean?

Sakamoto:
And it was also the prototype for CHRONO CROSS. You'll be able to tell when you play the game. The beginning of CHRONO CROSS is very similar to the scenario for RADICAL DREAMERS. I won't go into detail, but I'm sure you'll see what I mean. The story unfolds in the format of a sound novel.

Yasumoto:
Did you leave it unchanged?

Sakamoto:
We did change the font. The original one was difficult to read. We also improved the resolution of the background graphics.

Yasumoto:
But conversely, the retro feel is great.

Sakamoto:
You're right. It wouldn't have turned out good if we sharpened the graphics too much. We found a happy medium.

Yasumoto:
There were many sound novels back then.

Sakamoto:
Even though it is a sound novel, it does have combat scenes too. The player has hit points, and it's game over if you lose them all.

Yasumoto:
I'd love to try playing it. Lots of people wanted to play it, but not many had access to a Satellaview. You must have constantly had people saying they wanted to play it, right? Was there much of a reaction when you announced it would be bundled with the remaster?

Sakamoto:
A lot of people were surprised that we were releasing them together. Even in the development team, when we were working on the CHRONO CROSS remaster, we thought this would be our last opportunity to include RADICAL DREAMERS. If we missed this opportunity, there probably wouldn't be another remaster or another chance to release it. So, we told Mr. Kato, "We want to include it." Some people were skeptical of whether it was really necessary. But we felt it was definitely what the fans wanted, so we worked hard to get it included.

Mitsuda:
When I heard from Ms. Sato that RADICAL DREAMERS would be included, I guessed that Mr. Kato had finally given up. laughter He was always dead against it. So, I assumed he must have yielded. Which was welcome news to me.

Kato:
Maybe it's because I've gotten older.

Mitsuda:
Maybe so.

Kato:
At this age, you don’t really care anymore. laughter

Yasumoto:
So Ms. Sato, did you know that--had you heard that Mr. Kato had rejected the idea?

Sato:
Yes, I did know. But--

Yasumoto:
You pretended that you didn't?

Sato:
Yes, I said to him, "I want to play it."

Yasumoto:
Thanks to you taking action, the game is now playable.

Kato:
I think if we hadn't made RADICAL DREAMERS, then we never would have made CHRONO CROSS. When I started working on it, I never guessed that it would connect to CHRONO TRIGGER. It was just a story about the thieves Serge, Kid and Magil. They sneak into Lynx's manor and have an adventure. I started out writing it as an original story. When I got to the final scene, though, I realized, "This character is from CHRONO TRIGGER!" I didn't have the faintest inkling while I was writing it. So, RADICAL DREAMERS was born because of CHRONO TRIGGER. Then because we had RADICAL DREAMERS, when we later set to work on CHRONO CROSS, we took the opportunity to properly remake RADICAL DREAMERS, because it was left in an unfinished state. To me, CHRONO TRIGGER, RADICAL DREAMERS and CHRONO CROSS are all connected. They form a kind of sequence.

Yasumoto:
It's great that the game is playable now. Let's move on to the questions from players. Here is a question from a player. "When you were making CHRONO TRIGGER, did you already have the idea to create a sequel featuring one of the characters from CHRONO TRIGGER?" Mr. Kato, can you answer this? That wasn't the case at the time, right?

Kato:
Like I said before, when we were making RADICAL DREAMERS, I certainly didn't think that the story would connect to CHRONO series.

Yasumoto:
It turned out that way as you were writing it? This is all fascinating. If we didn't have RADICAL DREAMERS, we might never have had CHRONO CROSS. Many people were never able to play RADICAL DREAMERS. So, it's wonderful that it was included with the remaster. How did you come up with the parallel worlds idea?

Kato:
I was approached to create something new. CHRONO TRIGGER was based on time travel. So, when I thought about doing something different this time, I decided to make a game using parallel worlds. Basically I hate repeating something I've done before. I like trying my hand at something new--something I've never attempted before. In that sense, if I had to play a game, or make a game, I wanted to see what I could construct with parallel worlds. I thought about what I wanted to do next, and it made clear sense to me to go with parallel worlds.

Yasumoto:
Having parallel worlds makes it an extremely expansive universe. And then having to write the story around that… well, you must enjoy a challenge. It seems terribly demanding. But maybe the expanded range of possibilities is a silver lining.

Kato:
The preparation stage before making the game is the most fun. "We could do this!" "I'd like to try that!" Daydreaming and coming up with ideas are the most enjoyable part. You don't think about the hard work at that stage. You just impulsively and continuously expand your ideas. Like "We could do this!" or, "This would be awesome!" Then actually having to transfer that into data drives you to tears. laughter "Whose idea was this?!" "I wish I'd never suggested this!" "Stupid me!" Every single time I drive myself to despair having to actually make it. There was a huge volume of character speech. There are two worlds, so two versions of each NPC, each leading a different life. That's what we had to create. I didn't realize that when we were brainstorming. But I wound up driving myself to tears as I typed in all the text.

Yasumoto:
It is outrageous when you really think about it. There are over 40 playable characters!

Kato:
Let me tell you… originally we wanted to make every character in the village playable.

Yasumoto:
That would have been even more hellish!

Kato:
Unsurprisingly, this idea was rejected. Looking at it with a cool head, even I could see it was impossible. I gave up on that very rapidly. Then it was simply a matter of "I want a character like this and like that!" I kept on adding whatever I wanted on a whim, and we ended up with that greatly diverse cast of characters. When I look at the character lineup now, if someone was to ask me, "Did you really need Funguy?" laughter Maybe I would say he might not be necessary.

Yasumoto:
There must be a need for him, because we're talking about him now!

Kato:
I feel sorry for what I did to Funguy. I should've given it more thought. I should've fleshed him out more if I wanted to include him. He ended up being called an unwanted character. I feel bad about that.

Yasumoto:
You should hold a Funguy Illustration Contest. Put him in the spotlight. Let's go to the next email. It's another player question. This is for Mr. Kato. "What scenes stirred your emotions in CHRONO CROSS when you saw the scenario, music and graphics come together? The speech and music fuses wonderfully in every scene. Reading the lines reminds me of the music, and listening to the music reminds me of the words and visuals. They are all memorable." This person has a deep love for the game. Mr. Kato, are there any particular scenes that touched you emotionally when combined with Mr. Mitsuda's music?

Kato:
I think everyone would agree with this one. The conversation with Miguel at the Dead Sea.

Yasumoto:
I don't know if we should include spoilers.

Kato:
In that part of the game, the visuals, the music and also the story come together to make it an event. Even if I do say so myself… it's a memorable scene, one of my favorites. There's just one more. It's after the attack on the orphanage. There's an interaction between Serge and Kid. "The Girl Who Stole The Stars" plays in the background. It's about the relationship or the connection between Serge and Kid. The visuals, sound and story really come together well, making it intensely memorable.

Yasumoto:
You have to experience it to understand it. Those are fairly heavy moments. But having weighty music makes it hit even harder. I think I understand what you mean. How about you, Mr. Mitsuda?

Mitsuda:
He took the words right out of my mouth. laughter There's also the opening piece, "Chrono Cross -Scars of Time-". When I first submitted it, they showed me the movie and music combined. In fact, in the first cut, the sequnce of shots was a bit different. The part where the music suddenly takes off intensely was where Serge is on a ship shooting across the water. That was how the first version started. I loved that version. In the final version, it starts with the cut where Serge travels between dimensions. He's on the beach being sucked into the billowing portal. I like both versions. But I can still remember the thrill of the opening music combined with the graphics. It gave me goosebumps. To see my music expressed in such a neat way made me really happy. That first impression of the movie and music married together is always the most enjoyable part for me. I remember it vividly even now. That scene blew me away.

Yasumoto:
It's a crucial shot. It's the very first one. It's definitely an exhilarating piece. I hope you all enjoy it partnered with the music too. Let's move on. We have a question for Mr. Mitsuda about the music. "In the CHRONO CROSS and CHRONO TRIGGER music, there are similar but not identical chord progressions. For example, in "Chronopolis" and "Chrono Trigger". And similar but not identical passages, such as the high point of "Chrono Cross -Scars of Time-" and "Chrono Trigger". That's the impression I get. Did you compose the music intentionally like this because of the intertwined stories?"

Mitsuda:
It's gratifying to have someone listen so carefully to the music. There is one thing I always do. I always like to have a good grasp of what happens in the game when I write the score. I definitely create those relationships when composing. Even down to the phrase level. Like you said, "Chronopolis" borrows just the chord progression from the main theme of CHRONO TRIGGER. Another example is a piece called "Chronomantic". This plays during the scene onboard a ship. In CHRONO TRIGGER, the structure is A -> B -> C -> climax. But in Chronomantic it starts with the climax, and other elements are shuffled around. The music expresses that there is a connection but they are different worlds. It makes me really happy when people notice those things.

Yasumoto:
So it's an "official" allusion, then?

Mitsuda:
The answer is a resounding yes.

Yasumoto:
It feels good to have people notice that. Are there elements like that scattered in other places?

Mitsuda:
Yes, a lot.

Yasumoto:
Finding all of those would be a fun task. We hope you all enjoy it. Let's go to our next question. "The CHRONO CROSS music features many irregular time signatures. The instrumentation and sound effects are also different compared to other PlayStation games. CHRONO TRIGGER has a typical, conventional RPG soundtrack. Is there some reason you flipped that with CHRONO CROSS and adopted mainly this style of music? The normal battle theme "Whirlwind" uses an irregular meter. Although that should make it hard to catch the beat, it has momentum, style and a bewitching allure. It's a masterpiece."

Mitsuda:
Yes, you're right. There are many irregular time signatures. But I'm not sure if I'd call CHRONO TRIGGER typical, conventional RPG music. The famous RPGs at the time were DRAGON QUEST and FINAL FANTASY. I wanted to forge a totally different path from those.

Yasumoto:
It's tricky to define "conventional".

Mitsuda:
True. To my mind, CHRONO TRIGGER is certainly not conventional RPG music. "RPG" brings to mind Mr. Koichi Sugiyama's DRAGON QUEST, or Mr. Uematsu's FINAL FANTASY. I would call those conventional RPG music. That's my rough sense of it. So, CHRONO TRIGGER is not traditional RPG music. But CHRONO CROSS was especially edgy. Normally, when new hardware comes out, you want to make the music lusher, more flamboyant, and richer. As a developer, you have these new possibilities. You get the urge to squeeze all the potential out of the new hardware. CHRONO CROSS does the exact opposite. I whittled the music down, reducing the number of tones. Sometimes the instrumentation is just a guitar. You normally want to create a lush sound with lots of instruments. But when composing for CHRONO CROSS, I intentionally used a subtractive approach. It feels so edgy--almost too edgy, even to me. As for the irregular time signatures, there are many pieces where even I struggle to find the beat. laughter Like a piece mixing 5/8 and 7/8 time and so on. There are a lot of pieces like that. It sounds strange to my ears now. That's a distinctive feature of CHRONO CROSS. Part of its character.

Yasumoto:
It has an exotic vibe, or a seething effervescence. Did that choice make sense to you, Mr. Kato? Do you request a specific "image" for the music?

Kato:
We didn't really for CHRONO CROSS.

Mitsuda:
Mr. Kato and I only had one fight. laughter Well, we are always arguing. But we fought about Home World and Another World: I originally said that one piece was enough. Mr. Kato said Home World and Another World needed different music. When you actually travel between dimensions, from the first Arni Village to another identical Arni Village, the characters all say completely different things--of course they do. When I saw that, I thought, "Oh, this needs another piece." I humbly admitted I was wrong. laughter And I wrote another piece.

Yasumoto:
Having different pieces is great from the player's point of view.

Mitsuda:
It's the same but feels somehow different. I thought that the music should also express that sense of "the world with you" and "the world without you". So, I told Mr. Kato, "I'll write it!"

Yasumoto:
That's good.

Mitsuda:
I could tell it was needed when I played the game for myself. But composing is such hard work. They ask for another piece like it's nothing. laughter People don't really understand how much work "just one piece" is. Particularly the planning team! They casually say, "Oh, we need a piece here."

Kato:
And he said, "No, you don't! One is enough." laughter

Mitsuda:
Even one piece is a massive chore.

Yasumoto:
Let's move on. Here's another player question. "The many musical pieces brilliantly match the visual worldview. They're so wonderful you can almost feel the atmosphere. How did you come up with "Chrono Chross -Scars of Time-"? Was it a burst of inspiration? Or did you craft it more gradually?"

Mitsuda:
When Mr. Kato first showed me the storyboard, I got an idea of the sound I wanted to create. It popped into my head. The storyboard was that comprehensive. I could tell what Mr. Kato wanted to express in the opening movie just from looking at the storyboard. It was more of a flash of inspiration. With that first glance, I already knew the structure from start to end.

Yasumoto:
So the two of you were destined to work together? You must have a similar creative sense.

Mitsuda:
I'm not so sure.

Yasumoto:
You don't think so? laughter

Mitsuda:
You would understand if you see Mr. Kato's storyboard. It's highly detailed. Not just the illustrations.

Yasumoto:
That must be helpful.

Mitsuda:
It's very easy to follow. In a sense, it's like reading a comic book. So, the music kind of jumps into my head. It makes it extremely easy.

Yasumoto:
Thank you. Let's go to our next question. ""Chrono Cross -Scars of Time-" features the shakuhachi, Japanese bamboo flute. What was the reason or thinking behind using that instrument?"

Mitsuda:
I originally wrote it for the shinobue, another kind of Japanese bamboo flute. I used shinobue on the demo track. The performer could play both instruments. We did the first take with shinobue, but it sounded somehow thin and sluggish. It lacked punch. In the studio, we decided to give shakuhachi a try. When the artist played it on shakuhachi, we knew, "This is it!" The tone color fitted perfectly. After that, we recorded the rhythmic strings. But the shakuhachi by itself was lost against the strings. Again, it lacked punch. I asked the violinist to follow the shakuhachi melody, and they ended up playing in unison. We elaborated the music so much in the studio that the demo and final versions sound like totally different pieces. I tested out all kinds of spur-of-the-moment ideas. It was great fun because the music kept on changing.

Yasumoto:
That's fascinating. Thank you. Here's our next player question. "I love videogame music and CHRONO CROSS is my favorite. "Dragon God" features snatches of Mitose's vocals, and I can't help but hum along to it when I'm driving. But I still have no idea what the words are. What are the lyrics and what do they mean?"

Mitsuda:
This is referring to the final boss music. Those vocals aren't actually by Mitose. It's a style of singing from northern Europe called "joik". I used a sample of that singing. I don't know the meaning of the words either. laughter

Yasumoto:
So it plays an obbligato role?

Mitsuda:
Yes, that's right. Mitose sings on the "Sorrow" track. That's the part where Serge stabs Kid. It plays during the cutscene. I quite like incorporating vocals into music, making you think, "That's coming from the PlayStation?!" I like using the internal synthesizer to insert vocals. It gives you a shock, right? I did that often. I don't know what the words are in the song. laughter

Yasumoto:
mimicking "It's not Mitose's vocals and we don't know the meaning." OK, so the answer is, "We don't know." Let me ask about the music a bit more. There are some new music and rearranged pieces. Tell us how you composed the new music. "Dreams of the Past, Memories of My Soul" is a totally new piece.

Mitsuda:
Like I said, I didn't expect Mr. Kato to agree to including RADICAL DREAMERS. I was certain he would say no. When I heard that Mr. Kato had given the green light, I asked how players would select which game to play. They said there would be an initial menu screen where you would select CHRONO CROSS or RADICAL DREAMERS. So I was asked to write a piece for the new menu screen. I went through my memories of CHRONO CROSS and RADICAL DREAMERS, trying to think what kind of music would match both games. And for some reason, I decided to go with a song. It's surprising to suddenly hear a voice singing at the menu screen, right? Mr. Kato wrote the words for me. I thought it would be great if the lyrics were about Kid and Serge's story. So that's the composition I went with.

Yasumoto:
Were the lyrics written first? Or do you insert them afterwards?

Mitsuda:
First, I composed the music. Then Mr. Kato wrote lyrics to match the melody. It's sung in Irish Gaelic. Not many people can speak it anymore.  It was a chore to translate. First, we translated Mr. Kato's lyrics into English, then from English into Gaelic. But it's an ancient language, so basically only old women can speak it now. We had all of the pronunciation checked by the Gaelic speaker to make sure the Gaelic was accurate. We wanted a singer around Kid's age, meaning around 16 years at the time. So we had Aisling McGlynn perform the vocal part.

Yasumoto:
She has a beautiful voice.

Mitsuda:
Totally beautiful. You can see her in the music video. At first, she sings with a hood on, representing Kid as a thief. Then, as the young girl grows up, she goes from a thief back to being a normal girl. It tells the story visually. You can really feel her searching for Serge. It's a great video, huh?

Yasumoto:
Was it shot in Ireland?

Mitsuda:
Yes.

Yasumoto:
Everywhere in Ireland is picturesque.

Mitsuda:
It's really beautiful.

Yasumoto:
Just astounding. I'm sure people can find the lyrics somewhere, so they can read along as they listen to it. I'd like to ask about the arrangements. You said you wanted to preserve the original sound but scale it up. Some of the pieces have been arranged. Is there any back story to how this happened?

Mitsuda:
The piece you just heard was an original composition for the menu screen. When you're recording music, though, it's a waste to just do one song. In the limited time we had, we decided to recorded as much as we could. So I selected some pieces that I wanted to try recording.

Yasumoto:
You selected the pieces yourself?

Mitsuda:
There were several pieces I wanted to try out for making arrangement.

Yasumoto:
You can see the track list on the screen. "Fossil Valley" is up there.

Mitsuda:
You see "Termina (Another World)" and "Bound by Fate", which are popular pieces, and "Fossil Valley" too. There's a three-piece Nordic band called Dreamer's Circus. They did the arrangements for these pieces. I had them pick the pieces they liked. There are three members in the band, so they each did an arrangement. Each one reflects the personality of the musician. They are wonderful arrangements that really stay true to the world of CHRONO CROSS.

Yasumoto:
Going back to the instrumentation you mentioned before… it's a three-piece band?

Mitsuda:
Yes, that's right.

Yasumoto:
That's an extremely limited number of sounds.

Mitsuda:
That's right. I've said this about CHRONO CROSS many times, but one theme of the music is that it doesn't use drums. Almost none of the pieces have a drum part. The timbre of acoustic instruments fits the kind of game CHRONO CROSS is.

Yasumoto:
Was this music video shot in their home country? It's spectacular. laughter

Mitsuda:
Beautiful.

Yasumoto:
Amazing. It looks like an RPG itself.

Mitsuda:
Apparently they wanted to film the ocean in summer. But it ended up being done in winter.

Yasumoto:
It's still lovely. Is this their studio?

Mitsuda:
It's a museum. They said it was a Viking museum. Apparently ships used to be built there. That's where they filmed the video.

Yasumoto:
Make sure you don't forget to check out the music videos. The arrangements may not be exactly in a modern style. They remain true to the unique world of CHRONO CROSS. I'm personally looking forward to listening to them. I hope you all do too. So they brought the arrangements to you. Did you do any editing or supervision?

Mitsuda:
For the arrangements done by Dreamers' Circus, I did nothing in particular. They just came to Japan, we went to the studio, and they immediately started playing.

Yasumoto:
That's so cool!

Mitsuda:
They said, "How's this?" That sounds really cool! I just said, "Okay!"

Yasumoto:
It must be over and done quickly! laughter When you take everything into account, Mr. Mitsuda has done such great work. I hope you all enjoy the music. We've been talking non-stop but we're running out of time. I've been babbling away. We're coming to the end. Here's a message from a player. "CHRONO CROSS holds a special place in my heart. I can still vividly recall the bright blue world, the NPCs living out their lives, the fleeting moments of rollicking with friends, and the sorrow for what has passed. In particular, Kid's final words of gratitude struck my heartstrings. If someone is searching for you even if you have no memory of them, then living your best life may be a beacon of hope to them. That's what this game made me believe." It's hard to ask for a comment after that. laughter

Mitsuda:
It's a beautifully written message.

Yasumoto:
Mr. Kato, it must make you happy that many people feel like this, right?

Kato:
Yes. The theme of CHRONO CROSS is parallel worlds. The course and meaning of life is built on choices and crossroads.  I hoped that playing CHRONO CROSS would inspire players to reflect on different aspects of their own life. It's not me saying, "This is how you should live your life." I don't give any answers. I pose various questions, and I hope that each player can think for themselves about their own life, and find their own answer. That was my wish when I made CHRONO CROSS. So it makes me really happy to hear about players thinking about their lives and pondering how they want to live. I want to say in return, "Thank you for experiencing CHRONO CROSS." Your life is yours alone. Please find your own answer, and follow your road in your own way. That's my strong wish.

Yasumoto:
Back then, I was living at home and my mum was strict. She would nag me endlessly when I played videogames. But games are a marvelous experience in their own right. You can obtain a lot from them. I would ask mothers everywhere to not dismiss your child offhand, please. laughter We've heard some wonderful stories. Let me go back to Mr. Sakamoto. Isn't it great that you were able to remaster this game which contains such a wonderful message?

Sakamoto:
Absolutely. It's awful when games become unplayable. I would hate for the discontinuation of a console to make such a wonderful game inaccessible to everyone. We had CHRONO TRIGGER. But people couldn't play CHRONO CROSS. I wanted to eliminate that situation. That was the final motivation spurring us on. If other players feel like the one who wrote that message, then maybe this remaster might reach even more people and have a wider impact. That would make me happy.

Yasumoto:
Let me ask a final question to each developer. What does the music of CHRONO CROSS mean to you, Mr. Mitsuda?

Mitsuda:
How old was I at the time? Maybe 25 or 26.

Yasumoto:
It's incredible you wrote that music when you were so young.

Mitsuda:
I was really edgy when I was younger. You could stay I still have a bit of an edge. How can I put it? The music of CHRONO CROSS is imbued with something that I could only create at that age. It's similar to that player's message. You hear the music when you're playing the game as a child. Then when you listen to it again as an adult, it brings back your happy childhood memories. That's one of the great things about music. I'm really happy that I could help make a game with beloved music. CHRONO CROSS is a very important work to me.

Yasumoto:
We could dig this game deeper even from an aspect of its music. I hope you all enjoy the music. Next is Mr. Kato. What is CHRONO CROSS to you?

Kato:
This might be obvious. Of course, there are certain things you can only create at a certain time, with certain people, at a certain age. The "me" of now and "me" of the future will, of course, keep creating things that only I can create. But I could only make CHRONO CROSS back then, with those collaborators from that time. It's amazing when you think about it. Various opportunities and circumstances all came into alignment. You seldom see everything fit together so well to culminate in a beautiful form. No matter how talented your team might be, there is no guarantee that you can create something of value. It's amazing that the efforts of each staff member came together to shape that final result. It's miraculous. Even looking at it now, I'm impressed--stunned by it. CHRONO CROSS has a unique place in my heart, and it will remain a wondrous title for me. It's different to the other titles. It's a highly unique game. I will continue to love it forever.

Yasumoto:
Thank you. Thank you for those lovely words. Now to Mr. Sakamoto. Do you have a message for our viewers?

Sakamoto:
CHRONO CROSS finally made it onto the shelves. By the time you're watching this, you will probably have played the game through once or twice. Some people will have played the original. But there was virtually no way to play RADICAL DREAMERS. We've combined these into one package to deliver to the world. From what I saw, some people downloaded and played the game at midnight on the release date. That makes me incredibly happy. This isn't a spoiler, but there are multiple endings. So, you can replay the game multiple times. We hope you enjoy it.

Yasumoto:
Thank you. That's all. Thank you everyone.

Sato, Sakamoto, Mitsuda, Kato:
Thank you.

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