September 14, 2011 - Hiromichi Tanaka Seiken Densetsu Liner Notes
Hosted in full here; many thanks to that site for translating these amazing liner notes. Here's the relevant portion:
Over 25 years ago, the original Seiken Densetsu project we had planned was a 3-D dungeon-type RPG that was projected to be released in the Famicom Disk System. That was before the first Dragon Quest had been released, so if we had managed to complete that game as we had planned, most likely it'd have become the first title to become a commercial RPG. Unfortunately, this project was canceled and thus it never saw a release.
Therefore, we began working on the second Seiken Densetsu project, which was supposed to be a grand episodic RPG divided in three chapters, under the lead of the director Mr. Kazuhiko Aoki. The game was supposed to be developed for the Famicom Disk System as well, but between the arrival of ROM media of a much larger capacity and the fact that the Disk System itself was not being supported anymore, we were forced to terminate its development. At this time we only had the trademark Seiken Densetsu registered, but after all, both of the titles that were going to bear it were canceled before any progress had been made into them.
Then, many days and months later, the Game Boy was released. This time, following the release of Makai Toushi SaGa (Final Fantasy Legend), we managed to make Seiken Densetsu as a Final Fantasy Gaiden. It was an ARPG due to its action elements, but the other reason for us giving it that name was because I felt it was time to finally give some use to that trademark we had lying around.
Soon enough, it became the time in which the Super Famicom was completed and released. During that time, we were still seeking a higher capacity media for our games, and upon getting word from Nintendo that they were developing a CD-ROM adapter for the Super Famicom, we decided to start a project in a different direction from Final Fantasy IV, which at the time was in the middle of development and was touted as a next-generation RPG fitting the large storage capacity the new cartridges had. The development codename for the new project was Maru Island, and we were making it as a collaboration work with Akira Toriyama-sensei after we established contact through Shueisha. I frequently ran back to the office just to receive and look at the screen mock-ups that Toriyama-sensei did in the initial stages of the project.
Despite that, the CD-ROM adapter was never completed. Once everyone learned that the CD-ROM adapter was never going to see a release, they decided to abandon everything that had been planned for development since the very start, including Toriyama-sensei's contributions, and decided to revise the project in order to make it release into a ROM cassette. We said that we would wait for the CD-ROM to make a collaboration project with Toriyama-sensei, but when it was revised, it actually became an entirely different project with an entirely different direction. That was what later on was completed into the game we know as Chrono Trigger.
Thanks to the high speed of the ROM, it was possible to seamlessly make the action visible in the field without the need to make a transition into a battle screen. But in the end, the new RPG I wanted to start making — one that didn't have a command-style battle system (Motion Battle System) and tested the reflexes of the players — wasn't a title that existed at the moment.
Upon seeing that my goal was to make an action RPG, and learning that an ARPG was the next game we were going to make, I decided to make it into a sequel for Seiken Densetsu, so we reestructured everything to use the world setting we had already from the previous game, and Seiken Densetsu 2 was finally completed. Seiken Densetsu 3 was created as part of the Seiken Densetsu series from its very inception. Thus, this was pretty much the complicated history of the Seiken Densetsu titles.
Back then, I would have never imagined that so many people would have continued loving the Seiken Densetsu series and its games so much that it would continue for over 20 years like this. My greatest thanks to everyone who played through them during this long stretch of time. Really, thanks to all of you.