Credit to the Gaming Intelligence Agency for translation.
[07.24.99] » An interview in the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu reveals Chrono Cross' expected length, its geographical location in relation to Chrono Trigger, the story behind the new battle system, and other gameplay details.
The latest issue of Weekly Famitsu, Japan's largest gaming publication, contains an interview with Chrono Cross' director Masato Kato, producer Hiromichi Tanaka, and composer Yasunori Mitsuda. The three key players behind the project share a variety of new and intriguing gameplay revelations. Most notably, Kato remarks that one can expect to complete the game in about 30 hours, though "the system takes advantage of the PlayStation's features to make the game enjoyable to play even after you've finished it." According to Kato, one is "essentially free to choose the story's path" during the game, and later explains that "we couldn't include a lot of storyline splits in Chrono Trigger, so we stuck with a multi-ending setup, but in Chrono Cross the storyline itself changes as you go on."
In addition, Kato explains, "Chrono Cross takes place in the same world as Chrono Trigger, although [in] a different area." One can expect to explore many of Chrono Trigger's locations extensively in Chrono Cross, and, as reported earlier, dimensional travel or "parallel worlds" will play a strong role throughout Serge's travels. The full interview follows. Thanks to Andrew Church for the fantastic translation.
A "CHRONO" WITHOUT THE "DREAM PROJECT" NAME?
Weekly Famitsu: First of all, this game doesn't seem to have the name "Dream Project" associated with it. Is it truly a sequel to Chrono Trigger? And why isn't it called "Chrono Trigger 2"?
Kato: There's a long story behind that, but to keep it short... After finishing Chrono Trigger, we created a game called "Radical Dreamers". Although we hadn't planned it that way initially, Radical Dreamers eventually ended up as a sort of sequel to one of the subplots in Chrono Trigger which we weren't able to tie up in Chrono Trigger itself. When Radical Dreamers was finished, we did Xenogears, and when talk turned to what to do after that, we decided to redo Radical Dreamers properly. That's why we didn't give the new project the name "Chrono Trigger 2".
Weekly Famitsu: Is there any pressure associated with the fact that this game isn't associated with the "Dream Project"?
Kato: Tons. (laughs) I suspect Mr. Yuuki is particularly under pressure as the successor to Akira Toriyama.
Weekly Famitsu: Yuuki is the character designer for Chrono Cross, right? What led you to choose him?
Kato: He worked with Tanaka on Seiken Densetsu, and he does the kind of quality work we're looking for. This isn't a Dream Project game, but there are some connections to Chrono Trigger. We didn't want to directly extend Chrono Trigger into a sequel, but create a new Chrono with links to the original.
A THEME OF PARALLEL WORLDS
Weekly Famitsu: So what are those connections?
Kato: Chrono Cross takes place in the same world as Chrono Trigger, although a different area. There are a number of episodes where players who've played Chrono Trigger will go "Oh!" when they recognize links to the earlier game. Of course, you can finish Chrono Cross just as easily without knowing Chrono Trigger at all.
Weekly Famitsu: Chrono Trigger used time travel as its main theme. What's the theme of Chrono Cross?
Kato: Parallel worlds.
Weekly Famitsu: So the player travels between these parallel worlds as he progresses through the game?
Tanaka: Yes, although there are some scenes central to the game.
Kato: There are certain events that have to be completed in order to continue, but outside of those, the player is essentially free to choose the story's path.
Weekly Famitsu: Creating the music must be tough work.
Mitsuda: With different worlds, they each need their own themes. Of course, it's still in progress.
AN ABSOLUTELY NEW BATTLE SYSTEM
Weekly Famitsu: So what can you tell us about the new battle system?
Tanaka: The developers of the Xenogears battle system started over from square one, trying to see what kind of interesting, enjoyable battle system they could come up with.
Weekly Famitsu: Is it true that there's no need to level up in Chrono Cross?
Kato: In Chrono Trigger, even though enemies were displayed on the map and you could easily avoid them, you couldn't beat the bosses unless you fought battle after battle with the weaker enemies to raise your level. As long as we're going to have the enemies on the map so you could avoid them, we figured we should make it so you can go straight to a boss and win without having to fight all the enemies in between. We wanted to create a kind of battle system that would let you fight the way you wanted without forcing you to fight battle after battle. After a lot of trial and error, we finally arrived at the new system used in Chrono Cross.
Weekly Famitsu: Is it hard for new players to get used to?
Tanaka: Not at all. If you want, you can still play as if you're working for experience levels, as in older games. I designed the battle systems for FF1-3, but by that point the orthodox XP-based battle system was more or less perfected, so with Seiken Densetsu 2 [Secret of Mana] we decided to try a new direction and added an action element to battles.
Weekly Famitsu: Seiken Densetsu 2 is a bit different from your ordinary command-oriented RPG battle system.
Tanaka: Yeah. We tried to balance that out a bit with the classic system in Xenogears, but in the end it was still an experience-oriented system. So this time, Kato wanted to see if we could do away with experience points entirely, and amidst a lot of grumbling (laughs) we decided to give it a shot.
Weekly Famitsu: Where did the "element" idea come from?
Tanaka: It's kind of like a card game where you can choose the cards in your deck. But if it takes too long to decide on the best deck, the pace of the entire game will be slowed down, so we tried to keep things simple, and fast-paced. The delay between turns is gone, and you can control any character you want at any time. The idea is to give the player a feeling of being in complete control.
Weekly Famitsu: So how big is the game overall?
Tanaka: Oh, 30 hours or so? It's not an overly long game.
Weekly Famitsu: Mr. Mitsuda, how does the music in Chrono Cross compare with that in Chrono Trigger? Is it similar, or a different style?
Mitsuda: Both, actually. People who've played Chrono Trigger and Radical Dreamers will probably like the music in Chrono Cross. The music is basically similar to the stimulating ethnic music from Radical Dreamers, but also has something of a Xenogears flavor to it. What with the increasing tension as the release date approaches, the music may get a bit out of hand near the end (laughs).
Kato: We've tried to keep the number of sounds in Chrono Cross to a minimum, putting more meaning into each.
Mitsuda: A few sounds with a lot of content, or something like that. Things like the sound of a plucked guitar string.
Tanaka: It's powerful music--so powerful you start to ask yourself if it's really PlayStation music.
Mitsuda: The opening is powerful, and the ending is a song that brings out the beauty of the Japanese language.
A GAME TO SURPRISE ITS PLAYERS
Weekly Famitsu: Chrono Cross looks like it'll be a game anyone can enjoy over and over.
Tanaka: There've been a lot of games recently aimed at hard-core audiences. We wanted to make a game that's enjoyable for everyone.
Kato: We couldn't include a lot of storyline splits in Chrono Trigger, so we stuck with a multi-ending setup, but in Chrono Cross the storyline itself changes as you go on. Plus the system takes advantage of the PlayStation's features to make the game enjoyable to play even after you've finished it. It's my policy to try and create games that run counter to users' expectations, surprise them. In Chrono Trigger, the hero's fate changes significantly as the game goes on. This time, we've got an even more stunning system in the works. We hope everyone will look forward to it and enjoy it.
Note: Weekly Famitsu went on to express worry over the new systems, but eventually gave Cross a rating of 36/40, with four reviewers voting 9/10.
Alternate Translation (DeepL)
Masato Kato (Director, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, etc.) Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, etc.)
Hiromichi Tanaka (Producer, FF1-3, Seiken 2, 3, Xenogears, etc.)
Yasunori Mitsuda (Music composer. Yasunori Mitsuda (Music composer, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, etc.)
KATO: After Chrono Trigger was finished, I made a game called Radical Dreamers. At that time, I wanted to give an ending to the story that I couldn't follow in terms of scenario in Trigger. At first I didn't intend it to be that way, but when I finished it, it turned out to be a story about a character in "Trigger," like a sequel to the story of a character. After "Radical" was finished, I began development of Xenogears, and when we talked about what to do after that, I decided that if I was going to do something, I should give "Radical" a proper form once again. We went through that kind of work, and that's why this work was not simply a sequel called "Trigger 2. Yuki-san had a connection with Tanaka through his work on "Seiken Densetsu," and we asked him to help us achieve the quality we were looking for. This new game is not under the supervision of Dream Project, but it is closely related to "Trigger". We didn't want to make a sequel to "Chrono Trigger" as "2," but we wanted to make another "Chrono" that intersected with "Chrono Trigger. The setting of "Chrono Cross" is a remote place in the story of the previous game. So, for those who have played the previous game, there are episodes that you will recognize. Of course, those who don't know the story can also enjoy it without any problem, as it is complete only in this "Cross". The game is a parallel world, and you move through multiple worlds that exist in parallel.
Tanaka: There is a main scenario, though.
Kato: There are events that must be completed at key points, but it is a scenario in which you can go anywhere you like on branch paths.
Mitsuda: If there are two worlds, there will be a theme song for each. We are still in the production stage.
Tanaka: The guys who developed "Xenogears" and other games are rethinking the battles from the ground up to see what kind of battles would be interesting.
Kato: In the previous game, you could see the enemies and could escape if you wanted to, but you couldn't beat the boss unless you earned experience by defeating the zakos. If you could escape from the zakos, you had to go straight to the boss to win. Wouldn't it be weird if you couldn't beat the boss and ended up having to earn experience? So I wanted to make it so that those who wanted to fight could fight, and those who didn't could go on ahead. Even if you get to the boss, you can still win depending on how you fight.
Tanaka: You can also play in the same way as before, by accumulating experience little by little and developing your character. I designed "FF" from "1" to "3," and I thought that the orthodox experience-based RPG system had already been completed there. I thought that the orthodox experience-based RPG system had been completed there. So, as an evolution in a different direction, I added an action element to Seiken 2. Xenogears was an attempt to find a middle ground. This time, Kato asked me if it was possible to create a system that did not depend on experience, and I thought he was being reckless (laughs), but I was determined to give it a try. The concept of elements is like a card game, where you have to decide what kind of deck you want to build. But if you spend too much time thinking about combinations, you lose your groove. We are trying to keep that in mind and pursue a good sense of groove and feeling in the battles. To achieve this, we decided to eliminate turn waiting time so that players can move their favorite characters whenever they want. We are trying to give the player the feeling that they are always "in control" of the game. The movies are made by the same staff as in FF8, utilizing Mr. Yuki's illustration touch. It's not long, but it's of tremendous quality.
Mitsuda: We've pulled songs that we think people who played "Trigger" and "Radical" will want to hear again. Basically, it's based on the radical trad we did for "Radical," but it also has a sludgy sound like we did for "Xenogears. Toward the end of the development process, the tension gets higher and higher, and I find myself breaking down more and more, so I'm sure the end result will be outrageous (laughs).
KATO: This time, you kept the number of notes small, and made every note count.
Mitsuda: The number of notes is small, but the capacity is huge. I let you hear the sound of the guitar strings plucking.
Tanaka: It is shocking music. It sounds like it could have come from a PlayStation.
Mitsuda: The opening is shocking. And the ending is a song that makes the best use of the Japanese language.
Tanaka: These days, there are many games for a few enthusiasts, but we will make this one fun for everyone to play.
KATO: In the previous game, we didn't incorporate many branches in the game itself, and only used a multi-ending format, but this time, the story also branches. This time, however, the story will branch out. Also, like the previous game, we are planning a convenient system that takes advantage of the PlayStation's functions so that the player can play the game again and again after clearing it. It is my policy to always betray the expectations of the user, or rather, to create something unexpected. With "Trigger," I played around with the main character's fate quite a bit. This time, I have prepared an even more shocking development, so I really hope you'll be waiting for it.
(1999) Chrono Cross
When Chrono Cross was released, the creator himself anonymously entered a prize drawing for an illustration postcard, hoping to win a kit of Tsukuyomi. It turned out to be a complete failure, though. I mean, it was a shocking spoiler that the mask was actually a dragon's horn. No, don't do that kind of thing. LOL!