2006 Interview with Hiromichi Tanaka, FFIII
Thanks to Legends of Localization for providing this.
From FFI and on, we would always look at the previous games for things we felt could have been better. FFI had an orthodox design, while II featured a narrative story plus a brand new growth system that didn’t use experience points. FFIII had jobs you could switch between while you fought, the ability to cast multi-target spells, and other such gameplay tempo improvements, as well as more fully-refined experience and battle systems.
After we finished FFIII, we started FFIV with the idea of a slightly more action-based, dynamic overworld rather than keep combat as a completely separate thing. But, at some point, it wound up not being IV anymore… Instead, it was eventually released as “Seiken Densetsu 2” (Secret of Mana), but during development it was actually referred to as “Chrono Trigger”. (laugh)
At the time, just after FFIII, we were working with Mr. Toriyama on a game with a seamless, side-view system. A CD-ROM attachment for the Super Famicom was scheduled to be released, you see. So we had this enormous game planned out for the CD-ROM attachment, but ultimately we were never able to release it.
So we had the Chrono Trigger project changed to a new game, and this other game we had been working on was condensed down into Seiken Densetsu 2. Because of this, Seiken 2 always felt like a sequel to FFIII to me.