December 17, 2021 - Masato Kato, Famitsu
Masato Kato, the key player of "Another Eden" and "Chrono Cross", talks about the collaboration scenario "COMPLEX DREAM"... "I'm sure that people who liked "Cross" will also find enjoyment in "Another Eden".
Chrono Cross" is an RPG for PlayStation released by Square (now Square Enix) in 1999.
Following in the footsteps of the 1995 RPG "Chrono Trigger," this RPG spun an epic story about the fate of the stars while moving back and forth between parallel worlds, all the while updating the system and other aspects of the story.
Both games, with scenarios written by Masato Kato, have been loved for 22 years and are still highly acclaimed for their intricacy and depth of flavor, to the point of being the subject of discussion videos. At the same time, the music by Yasunori Mitsuda has been highly acclaimed and has become a legendary title for a long time.
The time has passed, and the single-player RPG "Another Eden: The Cat Beyond Time and Space" (hereinafter referred to as "Another Eden") began service as a unique game on April 12, 2017.
This is because, while it is a smartphone game, it eschews the usual friend functions and timed events that are common in smartphone games, and allows players to sit back and enjoy the story and the charm of the characters.
The core scenario of this game is also written by Masato Kato, who once thrilled RPG fans with "Chrono Trigger" and "Chrono Cross".
In other words, "Another Eden" and the "Chrono" series were both written and directed by Mr. Kato, and they have a very strong affinity in terms of the attitude of the characters that underlie the story.
This time, "Another Eden", which has just been released for PC on December 6, 2021, has announced a miraculous collaboration (collaboration) with the legendary "Chrono Cross", literally transcending time and space. The name of the collaboration is "COMPLEX DREAM"!
From Chrono Cross, "COMPLEX DREAM" features the main character Serge, the winsome girl Kid who invites him on a journey, and the mysterious Harle, who is the trickster of the story and sometimes guides Serge's adventures despite being an enemy. The scenario will diverge depending on the choices you make while playing, according to .......
Another Eden" and "Chrono Cross" are two titles in which various thoughts and miracles have come together to form a concerted effort. I asked Mr. Masato Kato about these two titles and his thoughts on both titles and this "COMPLEX DREAM". Especially for "Chrono Cross" fans, this is a must-read.
Incidentally, this is the first time in 22 years that we have had the opportunity to experience new episodes related to "Chrono Cross".
- The interview was recorded in November 2021, before the release of "COMPLEX DREAM".
"I could write as if I were making what I was making yesterday."
--When I heard about this project, I was excited and said, "It's finally here. This is your third collaboration with a work that you yourself created over the past 22 years. First of all, could you tell us how you feel about it?
Kato: I'd rather work on something new than stick to past titles, so I thought it would be fine to collaborate with new titles like "P5R -Persona 5 the Royal-" and the "Tales of" series, but everyone around me seemed to strongly want to collaborate with "Chrono Cross".
So it wasn't so much that it was my idea that made it happen, but rather that it just happened (laughs).
(laughs) -- (laughs).
Kato: I'm very attached to Chrono Cross, so I was really grateful for the opportunity. But it's 22 years old, so younger people may not even know its name.
On the other hand, the fans who have loved the game for all that time have their own feelings about it. That's why I really started to think, "If I'm going to do this, I have to make something interesting.
--So even in your long career, Chrono Cross is something special.
Kato: I like it for what it is (laughs). Looking back, Chrono Cross is the pinnacle of my career as a creator.
I think "Baten Kaitos: Endless Wings and the Lost Sea" is a better scenario in terms of cohesiveness and completion, but "Chrono Cross" is my best work because I created it as I pleased.
As I said at the time, "Chrono Cross" was overdone, and as a game and scenario, it was weird. If you look at it in terms of completeness, it's about 70 or 80 points. It's not a game that gets a perfect score.
--In the past, you've also said that a 9 is the best compliment you can give.
Kato: Yes. I'm sure not everyone will be satisfied with it, but it's the one where my colors came out the best, and I was able to give it everything I had without complaint.
Because of that, the story of Chrono Cross is not finished in my mind. Most titles are finished when they are finished, but somehow Chrono Cross has always stayed with me.
That's why when I was working on this game, I was able to write as many stories as I wanted for Serge, Kid, and Harle as if I was working on the same game I was working on yesterday.
This time they appear in the three-headed form from Another Eden, so there is a freshness to the story, but it's not like I pulled out something I had in an old drawer and put it on .......
I think that's because the title "Chrono Cross" is still very much alive in my mind.
"How do adventures across time and space intertwine with parallel worlds?"
--Since the theme of this collaboration is based on Chrono Cross, do you think it will be about parallel worlds?
Kato: As long as we're collaborating with Chrono Cross, the theme will be parallel worlds. Moreover, it's only a collaboration within "Another Eden".
We couldn't make something like the original "Chrono Cross" where there are dozens of characters and the story branches depending on who you take along.
--To what extent is the story related to "Chrono Cross"? Is it a part of the continuous flow from "Chrono Trigger" and "Radical Dreamers: The Jewel that Cannot be Stolen"?
- Chrono Trigger is an RPG for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) released by the former Square in 1995, featuring an epic story of time and space travel with a splendid production team including Yuji Horii, Hironobu Sakaguchi and Akira Toriyama. The planning, main scenario, and direction were done by Masato Kato.
- Radical Dreamers - The Jewel That Cannot Be Stolen is a sound novel adventure game released by the former Square in 1996 with satellite-view distribution. The game depicts the episodes that connect "Chrono Trigger" and "Chrono Cross", in which the original forms of Serge, Kid, and Lynx appear. The main scenario, "Kid: The Jewel That Can't Be Stolen," was written by Masato Kato.
Kato: In my mind, Chrono Cross is structured so that what the player does in Chrono Trigger will come back to haunt them in Chrono Cross, so the two are connected.
On the other hand, in "Radical Dreamers," the setting itself is connected, such as the interactions between the characters Kid and Serge and Lynx, so those connections are still there in this game.
For me, "COMPLEX DREAM" is the latest episode in the "Chrono" series. The time axis is not after Chrono Cross, but rather somewhere in the middle. Each of the characters will be called into the world of "Another Eden".
--So it's a very strong connection.
Kato: This time, as a tribute, we made the first 3DCG movie for "Another Eden". It's a tribute to the opening movie of Chrono Cross, in which "CHRONO CROSS: Scars of Time" plays. When you watch it, you'll be deeply moved.
--I get chills when I think of Yasunori Mitsuda's famous song. Why did the characters from Chrono Cross come to the world of Another Eden in the first place?
Kato: It has to do with the "dream of the stars", which is one of the most important backgrounds in the Chrono series.
It's a dream that a dying star has at the end of his life, like a running lantern. From the star's point of view, it is only a moment, but for the people who live there, it is years or decades, and life is a piece of the running lights of the star's dream.
To take it one step further, the dreams of the stars in "Chrono Cross" and the dreams of the embryos who see the future in "Another Eden" intersect and intertwine intricately to create the stage for this Symphony.
That's why the title of this Symphony is "COMPLEX DREAM", which means a complex and intricate dream.
Hoshi Kato's dream and the dream of the future foreseen by the Embryo become one and the same, and for this reason Serge and the others are called in from the world of Chrono Cross, while the Embryo tries to change its own dream in a "Another Eden"-like development. So the story revolves around the struggle between these two dreams.
--If you're familiar with both of them, it's a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.
Kato: If you know Chrono Cross, you'll be able to say, "So this is how they're going to blend into the new world! For those who have been playing "Another Eden" for a long time, the game takes place in a time and space where the Embryo that was supposed to be defeated is actually still alive.
For those who have been playing "Another Eden" for a long time, the game is set in a time and space where the Embryo that was supposed to have been defeated is still alive. One of the dreams that the Embryo was seeing was the dream of the stars in "Chrono Cross", and one of the futures that the Embryo was seeing on various screens was the opening of "Chrono Cross". ...... I think we were able to intersect the "Chrono" series and "Another Eden" very well.
--I can only hope for the best.
When I first came up with this idea, I thought it would make a great game.
"What Harle and Kid left undone."
--There are a lot of "Another Eden" players who have never heard of Chrono Cross. How do you plan to teach those people about Chrono Cross in the game? Is there any problem in playing the game even if you don't know it?
Kato: For example, Kid and Harle, who are lost in the world of Another Eden, say, "Isn't this the El Nido Islands (the setting of Chrono Cross)?" They ask. Then, when someone asks, "What are the El Nido Islands?", I'll say, "Well, there's a village on these beautiful islands," and I'll give a little background explanation.
We want players who don't know anything about Chrono Cross to be able to play the game and think, "This is the kind of character that comes from that kind of world," and get interested in Chrono Cross.
Ideally, I'd like people to do their own research and make their own discoveries, and then play Chrono Cross and think, "There was a game like this 22 years ago! I'm hoping that through "Another Eden", people will discover Chrono Cross. If they play "Chrono Cross", they will naturally connect to "Chrono Trigger".
--You're also delving into the characters in this collaboration, aren't you?
Kato: When you play the subquests, you get to know the characters Kid and Harle.
Yes, Harle is very much in line with the theme of Chrono Cross. This time, Harle is very much in line with the theme of Chrono Cross, because the end of Harle's life was not fully depicted in Chrono Cross: .......
Kato: This time, we're coming from the Chrono Cross world, so it's Harle before she leaves.
Knowing the fate that will eventually come to her, what will she think when she comes to this world of Another Eden? What would you think if that Harle came to this world in Another Eden, knowing the fate that would eventually come to you? But I think it's okay to live freely." .......
--I think I'm going to cry just listening to that .......
Kato: In the world of Another Eden, I think it's okay for Harle to be driven by her desire for freedom as a living person. I'm trying to depict a way of life.
--When I heard your story, I thought, "Wow! It's a collaboration! That's not the same thing.
Kato: Basically, when I say I want to create something new, I tend to drag out what I couldn't draw (laughs).
(laughs) I wanted to draw Schala, the character that I couldn't draw in Chrono Trigger, so I made Radical Dreamers a long time ago. It started out as a story about three different bandits, but by the end I was like, "This is Chrono Trigger, isn't it? Then I realized that I should make it Schala's story.
After finishing "Xenogears", Hiromichi Tanaka, the producer, and I talked about how we wanted to make "Radical Dreamers" into a more proper game, and "Chrono Cross" was born.
However, we couldn't finish the story of Harle in "Chrono Cross", and now we're going to do the same thing in "Another Eden". (Laughs).
--(laughs). Harle is very popular, isn't she?
Kato: Her design has a great impact, and she played a good role in the story, so she is still loved by fans. That's why I wanted to re-draw her story, which is so beloved.
--The completion of the story after 22 years is unbearable. How do you go into Kid, on the other hand?
Kato: Kid is a story about Ashtear.
Kato: Kid's unfinished business is her relationship with Ashtear. This time, Kid wanders into the world of Another Eden, meets Ashtear, and asks her why she's still alive. And there, a bond is formed. That's where Kid is trying to settle the score.
--It's like, "Whoa! It's a big surprise."
Kato: Right? (laughs)
"The route changes when certain characters are present."
--Let me talk a little about the system. I understand that there is a "new game plus" specification, but does that mean that you have to play several times?
Kato: Basically, you can start the game if you've cleared up to chapter 13 of Another Eden, but the story will unfold in multiple ways, and the endings will diverge. If you've cleared those chapters and finished the first part of Another Eden, you'll see a new branch.
Basically, it's a single storyline, but the presence of certain characters, such as Kid and Harle, will change the events, and the route will change depending on their abilities.
Kato: For example, if it's Kid, she can use his thievery skills to open a closed prison or door, and if it's Harle, she can use her abilities to go to places she normally can't go.
--I see. So there's an inevitability to going around.
Kato: In addition, in both routes there are guests such as Glenn and Starky. Each route will have a new event, which is an added bonus to the branching.
"Starky and Mojo"
--Starky, as I recall, had a sad conversation event with Harle in the main story of Chrono Cross.
Kato: I love Starky. Harle and Starky are good friends again this time. In fact, it's because of this relationship that I wanted to have another good conversation with Starky if Harle was going to be in the game, so I couldn't not include her.
--I see. Even though the number of players is limited, when you think about it, you can't leave out Starky.
Kato: I wanted to include more unique characters like Mojo (laughs). (laughs) When we were choosing the characters, I didn't suggest Serge, Kid, and Harle, but it was a unanimous decision, and I was the only one who said, "Why don't you include Starky and Mojo? (laughs).
(Laughs) Kato: When we were working on Chrono Cross, we only created characters that were not good. Even though people would say, "Nobody needs Funguy," I was happy to write them. I did think to myself, "Now that I think about it, maybe I went too far with Funguy." But he had his own taste.
--At the time, I was thinking that with over 40 characters in the game, there would be characters like this (laughs).
(laughs). Kato: At that time, I was free to do whatever I wanted.
Even for Mojo, when I started thinking about the character, I thought, "Let's make a straw doll! So he inevitably ended up in the first Arni village.
--The first straw doll is .......
Kato: As I said in my old strategy books, I asked Hiromichi Tanaka, "What kind of game is it if the first two friends you get when you start the game are a straw doll and a dog? What kind of game is this? He corrected me and said, "You need to start out with a heroine, a childhood friend, or a proper character to grab the player's attention."
--Was Mojo supposed to appear before Leena and Kid?
Kato: In the first scenario I wrote, Mojo was supposed to be dancing around in the scene where he meets up with Leena (laughs).
Kato: Basically, I'm out of control. When I'm in the mood, I do whatever I want. But the calm people around me keep me in check. That's how it is with "Another Eden" every time (laughs).
(Laughs) Even though I do whatever I want, I only explain the bare minimum in the scenarios, so in Another Eden, I always get criticized by people who say things like, "I don't know what you're talking about," or "Ordinary people can't understand that.
(laughs) But of course, in any work of art, it's not just me, but each and every time there is a different staff member who makes it what it is.
--So it was born from the passion that each of you had.
Kato: Yes. Of all of them, Hiromichi Tanaka's presence was the most important. Even though I was selfish and said I didn't need experience, Mr. Tanaka himself came up with various level-up mechanisms such as level stars, and worked very hard on the battles themselves.
Mr. Tanaka himself assured me that this was his ideal battle system, and that he couldn't make anything better. But I responded by saying, "No, that's just weird" (laughs). (laughs) The battles were still too complicated, and I heard many players say, "I don't know what I'm doing."
In this way, I think the staff of the game, whether it was the battles, the scenario, the graphics, or the monsters, were all very passionate about "getting it done."
"How did you convey Chrono Cross to the young staff?"
--I could go on and on, but let's get back to the story of ...... "COMPLEX DREAM" (laughs). (laughs) The battles are the work of the other staff members, right?
Kato: That's our staff. Daisuke Takeshima, the director of the game, replayed Chrono Cross from the ground up, and was able to incorporate as many of the systems as possible, such as the "new game plus", "elements", and "field effects". "New Game Plus", "Elements", "Field Effects", and other systems were incorporated as much as possible to make "Another Eden" as interesting and "Chrono Cross"-like as possible.
Not only him, but all of the staff took the initiative and put a lot of effort into it. However, we couldn't destroy the "Another Eden" system, so they knew what they couldn't do.
The art director, Takahito Egusa, also likes Starky so much that he would ask me to draw it! Let me draw it! He was so excited that he drew a bust-up for the conversation.
--When you decided to incorporate Chrono Cross into Another Eden after 22 years, did you explain anything to the staff?
Kato: There are a lot of Chrono Cross fans among our staff, so there was no need to explain anything. Before I could explain, they all had the strategy book.
--That's a quick story (laughs).
(laughs) But when I'm talking about Chrono Cross with the staff, and they say, "I was five years old," I get a little depressed (laughs).
(laughs) Kato: But he's still playing with me. Of course, they don't understand what's in it, but they can proceed. They didn't understand it when they were kids, but now that they're adults, they play the game or watch the popular videos of it, and they say, "I was surprised to learn that this is what the story is about." That's why people started asking me about it.
Our generation has been making what we want to make for about 30 years, since the days of the NES, but today's young staff in their 20s and 30s have already had games since they were children and have grown up with them. They make games not because they think they are good or bad, but because they like the game or because they want to make that kind of game.
The current staff of "Another Eden" also came together because they like games like "Chrono Cross".
That's why they said, "We can make 'Chrono Cross' this time! That's why everyone is so happy that we can make Chrono Cross this time.
"Micchan and Mr. Procyon"
--It's been a while since I've worked with Procyon Studio, led by Yasunori Mitsuda.
Kato: I had asked Procyon from the beginning to use the music for the scenario that collaborates with Chrono Cross, starting with the opening song "CHRONO CROSS: Scars of Time" and other important songs from Chrono Cross, but since it was a collaboration, I wanted them to draw new songs.
As for "Another Eden", Shunsuke Tsuchiya and Mariam Abonnathar have been working with us for a long time on the music in the game, and recently we've had the opportunity to have them appear in our live performances again, so we decided to ask them if we could have them perform the "Chrono Cross" concert again.
However, Micchan (Mr. Mitsuda) was as busy as ever. However, Micchan is still very particular about the music for Chrono Cross, so we talked about how we would work together as Procyon's supervisors to make sure the music was perfect.
--The result is still wonderful.
Kato: The finished product is as good as I've ever seen.
--Did you find the perfect song for the scene without saying a word?
Kato: That's right. I first worked with Tsuchiya-san and Mariam-san at the beginning of Another Eden, and at that time, I gave them various materials, such as "This is the kind of music I want," and asked them to change the music if I wasn't satisfied with the finished product.
However, as the scenario progressed, the two of them began to adapt more and more to the world of "Another Eden", as if they could see what I wanted to create and what I wanted them to do.
For example, in the Ogre Arc, they created a very cool battle song with a chorus, and without my nagging, they were able to create more and more great songs. So I had a very good relationship with Procyon.
I've been able to work with Tsuchiya-san and Mariam-san again through this collaboration, and I'm hoping to work with Micchan again in Another Eden if there's a chance.
My Kid's here.
--Speaking of the sound connection, the characters in Chrono Cross will have voices for the first time. Did you tell the staff what you had in mind for the voices?
Kato: I'm not familiar with voice actors. That's why the staff knew the characters and chose the right people for them.
On the other hand, while I said that I didn't care at all, I still had an image of the character in my mind. I have my own image of what Kid should sound like, like, "I'll never forgive you guys! I'll kick your ass to the moon!" That's how she says it..
When I went to the recording location to convey this, I found that the voice matched perfectly because it was chosen by people who knew what they were talking about. The moment I heard Kid's voice, I was like, "Oh! My Kid is here! That's awesome!" I was suddenly thrown forward (laughs).
Kato: And then there's Serge. In Chrono Cross, Serge doesn't speak. He's just the protagonist and the player's alter ego, so you can hear what he says through choices and such, but he doesn't say a word in normal situations.
In this "COMPLEX DREAM" game, Serge speaks as one of the characters and has a voice, and I thought, "This is something new. It's very fresh." But then I thought about ...... and realized that in "Radical Dreamers", Serge is talking (laughs).
--Oh! In the text.
Kato: Yes, yes. Radical Dreamers is a text from Serge's first-person point of view. So, in other words, Serge is speaking in full sentences. I forgot about that (laughs).
"I hope people will enjoy "Another Eden" through "Chrono Cross."
--Again, what do you think attracted players to Chrono Cross so much?
Kato: The power of Nobuteru Yuki's characters and Micchan's (Yasunori Mitsuda) music. As a person who writes stories, I just gave form to what was inside me, but it was different for other people, and I think there was a freshness to it at the time, like "I've never seen anything like this" or "I've never touched anything like this.
--It was certainly fresh.
Kato: When I think about it now, parallel worlds weren't really used in games back then, and as a fan of science fiction, I naturally thought, "Chrono Trigger was a space-time story, so I'd like to continue the trend in the upcoming Chrono Trigger 2, but with a parallel world theme, and make it a different title." I just did my best to do what I wanted to do at that time in a natural flow.
--Even after 22 years, Chrono Cross continues to be loved. Is there anything you would like to say to the fans who support the title and to the "Another Eden" fans who are looking forward to this Symphony?
Kato: All I can say is thank you very much. There are people who have accepted what I've created with all my heart and soul.
I think it's the same way with people. I think it's similar to the feeling you get when you meet someone, and you don't know exactly why, but you hit it off with them the moment you meet them, and you remain friends for decades afterwards.
If some part of the title, which I could do whatever I wanted, touched a chord with the fans, and they have loved it for a long time, I can only be grateful.
On the other hand, I think there are a lot of "Chrono Cross" fans who don't like to play games on smartphones, and I'm sure there are people who avoid "Another Eden" because of that, so I'd like to get those people interested in "Chrono Cross" and get them to play "Another Eden".
I'm sure that people who liked "Chrono Cross" will find their own way to enjoy "Another Eden" as well.
If that happens, it will make us feel very happy. In a sense, it's a miracle that we were able to make this collaboration happen, so I hope that everyone will play it without missing a beat.