January 30, 2007 - Jeux-Video PC Interview with Hiromichi Tanaka
Chrono'99 read the article (it's in French), which can be found here. It doesn't mention Chrono directly, but it does provide some background:
The first thing I did when I saw this interview was Ctrl+F to see if the word Chrono is mentioned somewhere... It's not. This interview doesn't directly speak about the Chrono series, but some details are very intriguing. In a nutshell, here's the interesting info that Tanaka and Sundi say:
- Tanaka states that before FFXI, Square knew basically nothing about MMORPGs. The person who came up with the idea of making Square's first online game is Sakaguchi himself. Some years ago, Sakaguchi bought studios at Hawaii in order to make 3D movies there. There, he discovered what MMORPGs are and the passion that Americans have for this kind of game.
- When he came back to Square Japan, Sakaguchi said "We must definitely make MMORPGs, it's gonna be awesome!" His Square colleagues were a little skeptic, so he made them play EverQuest, and they all changed their mind. Their excitement for EverQuest and MMORPGs as a whole became as strong as their excitement for Wizardry and normal RPGs years ago when they decided to make the first Final Fantasy. Since there was no Japanese MMORPG on the market, everybody agreed to make one, and it became FFXI.
...So, what does this have to do with Chrono? The timing! The Hawaiian studios that Tanaka is referring to is Square Pictures and the movie is of course the ill-fated FF:The Spirits Within. This movie was released in 2001, and EverQuest in 1999. Chrono Cross was released in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in the US. We already knew that after having finished the CC English translation, Tanaka's team immediately began working on FFXI... Well, perhaps we know the reason why now: Sakaguchi made them play EverQuest and they excitingly agreed to develop an MMORPG! Even FFX (released in 2001) was going to have multiplayer features, but Kitase's team had to scrap this idea in 2000.
According to GameSpot, Tanaka's team did consider making a new Chrono game in 2001 (especially the former director Masato Kato) and at the same time the trademark "Chrono Break" was registered, but the project was somehow never greenlighted... Did Sakaguchi or some other official refuse to greenlight the project? or did Tanaka's team simply couldn't put together the project as they were busy with FFXI? FFXI was released one year later, in 2002, but the team continued to work on it since it's an online game.
I realize this post is full of guesses and suppositions, but all those events are so close to one another on the timeline that we can wonder if they influenced each other. To make a crude conclusion:
Did EverQuest kill Chrono??
Maybe not directly, but it certainly must have been an important variable in the equation. Square Enix even outright published EverQuest II in Japan in 2004...
Gee, to think that the demise of the Chrono series may be somehow indirectly connected to the whole Spirits Within fiasco... what a waste.