V-Jump Interview

Posted By at 8:53 AM on Thursday December 25, 2008


An old interview with the developers of Chrono Trigger.

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V Jump Books Dokusen Project!!

Two members of the Chrono Trigger team discuss the secret story behind the game!

It’s a scorching hot TALK BATTLE!!

Yuuji Horii Hironobu Sakaguchi DREAM PROJECT

Event ideas, character design, the real story is just inside! See the dynamic relationship between the developers revealed as we present this information to you!

They are, of course, Yuuji Horii and Hironobu Sakaguchi, masters of the Chrono Trigger world!! We conducted this special interview for our readers! Let the interview begin!!

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-The game and its graphics were beyond belief.

——Let’s start the interview off with something basic. After completing the game and playing the final version, what were your thoughts? Do you think you were able to accomplish what you set out to do?

Horii: In my mind, the game went beyond our expectations. There were highlights that, in the end, were more than I thought they’d be. The scene where you’re going into the jail – just the feeling I got from entering the dungeon surprised me. Seeing the scrolling background of the passage left a deep impression on me. Not just the mountains in the background; the inside as well.

——We were also asking before about the “light and dark” theme of the graphics.

Sakaguchi: Our colleagues who worked on the graphics were also talking about that. If the prison had been done in the normal style, it would have been rather devoid of colour.

——Horii, would you say that the dungeon had the best visuals, in your opinion?

Horii: Yes. The graphics were excellent, if that’s what you mean. I’m not a professional artist, so I appreciate someone else going in there for me.

“I was the one who created Gonzales.” —— Sakaguchi

——Sakaguchi, how about yourself? Do you find that there was a place that went far beyond what you imagined?

Sakaguchi: Something like the stained glass of the courtroom. That part was amazing. At the beginning I imagined the courthouse to be suspended in the sky, connected by a floating bridge to the mountains. I wasn’t thinking about the contrast with the light, that was created through the efforts of the staff who drew it.

Horii: As for this game, I’m only involved with the plot. If there’s a fairground, I just write that there’s a fairground, I don’t write down any of the details. Then the staff brainstorm and come up with a variety of attractions to put in. With entertainment like a robot battle and Square’s ride, there are many things with which to amuse yourself. I think it lent a certain freshness to the game to have everyone working together.

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Ideas were brainstormed under the orders of the director.

——Do you think that working with each other, there were parts of the game that reflected your personalities?

Horii: Off the top of my head, I think that the fairground events were very Sakaguchi-esque. Characters like Gonzales, especially.

Sakaguchi: I was the one who created Gonzales. *laughter*

——Is that so? *laughter*

Horii: Suddenly bursting into song…

Sakaguchi: Actually, I was also behind the primeval dance next door. *laughter*

Horii: It’s a good thing that I started dancing to it too.

Sakaguchi: Actually, Kitase, who was directing the game, was the one who asked me to put something in there.

——Was it because you would always say that to him when you were the director and now your positions have been reversed?

Sakaguchi: That’s right. *laughter* Because Kitase only recently became director, so he was always saying “Sakaguchi, Sakaguchi, I’m really sorry about this, but since I’m the director now, I’m going to have to ask you to do this.” *bursts out laughing*

“Square had a variety of new ideas.”—— Horii

Chrono Trigger had a degree of freedom never-before-seen in games.

Sakaguchi: There were times that I felt under pressure to make as much of a Toriyama-style world as possible, but contrary to my expectations I found that it was okay to play around with Toriyama’s universe. It felt like anything was possible.

Horii: Because of this, even in really serious scenes there’s a lot of silliness. Take the part where you defeat the Dragon Tank after escaping from the prison. The enemies hanging off the edge link together to form a human bridge. *laughter*

——Even with the character names, like “Sir Krawlie” *laughter*

Sakaguchi: That would be impossible with something like Final Fantasy. It would be rejected immediately. *laughter*

Horii: We had a lot more freedom than we would with Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. We weren’t worried about the feel of the world, it would be whatever we ended up making.

Sakaguchi: It was a totally new game.

——Sakaguchi, would you say there was a part where Horii’s personality shone through?

Sakaguchi: Yes and no. When I read the faxes he sent me, I was surprised. They were written like flowcharts, and the response time showed an almost user-like mentality. I thought it was amazing.

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They wanted to make the most of time travel.

——I thought I had played till the end, but after the Undersea Palace the game suddenly awarded the player a lot more freedom. You could go around doing all sorts of things. What was your intention there, seeing as the story was so much more linear before?

Sakaguchi: FFVI was the same.The style had its pros and cons. We had several events that had to be completed using time travel, so we wanted to make the most of them. Also, when we came up with ideas for bosses that you had to defeat by hitting their weak points, we began to realize we couldn’t put them into a linear story. Players would get stuck and need to consult a walkthrough. As a result, I wanted to make use of those ideas in areas that were optional for the player. The game is accordingly easier to understand than Final Fantasy, and in order to help the player progress through the game we made the Brink of Time. We created it so the player could go there to receive hints and carry on.

——I feel like there is one particular optional event that you’d like the player to experience most. There were a lot of events that caused time paradoxes or made use of time travel, weren’t there?

Sakaguchi: Those were the most popular Chrono-like parts according to the testers as well. Though surely if you just skipped through the story at that pace from the beginning, you wouldn’t be able to follow it, right?

Horii: Isn’t that right. It wouldn’t make any sense.

Sakaguchi: Because the Chrono Trigger world could be understood through a linear story, I thought that players would enjoy events that caused time paradoxes and required travelling through time.

“Enjoy the differences between the 1st and 2nd playthrough!” —— Sakaguchi

The second playthrough will feel different.

——Chrono Trigger has the option for a second playthrough using your progress from the first game. Was this so players could enjoy the multiple endings?

Sakaguchi: That was one of our intentions, but there was also something we didn’t expect… the testers themselves felt as though they wanted to travel through time again. They wanted to start a new game, go to Leene Fair, and time travel once more. That was actually the good thing about time travel, I think. In normal RPGs, the second time through, it feels like a chore to play all the way from the beginning again. With the New Game + you’re able to keep your characters’ strength, so your sense of battle is different. You feel like time travelling in Chrono Trigger once more.

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Horii: With the options in Chrono Trigger, you often find yourself wondering about what would have happened had you chosen to do something different. The second time through gives you more chances to toy with what people say.

Sakaguchi: Wherever we could, we tried to make it so that a slight change in your behavior caused subtle differences in people’s reactions. If you feel the changes, I think the second play-through will hold a whole new interest.

Horii: For example, even if you’re found guilty during the trial the first time through, you might be found innocent the second time. During the initial playthrough, you won’t be aware of the hole in the dungeon wall, you’ll clear the game still wondering what it is. But, later, if you try to clear the game 100%, you’ll go outside and realize after that you could have gone out there in the first place. *laughter*

Sakaguchi: Even just waiting in the dungeon for your punishment to be enforced, you’re able to expand the story.

——You can play through again with a different history. By changing the history through your actions, you can change the ending, right?

Sakaguchi: Everyone will probably play a second time to see the different endings. But multiple endings aside, I think that if you enjoy the differences between playthroughs, you’ll find the second time interesting as well.

“You toy with the subtle changes in people’s reactions.” —— Horii

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Hironobu Sakaguchi:

Profile: Born in 1962 in Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Sakaguchi joined Square in 1982 and participated in development, starting with computer games. After the Famicom’s King’s Knight the Final Fantasy became a big hit. Since then, he has continued to play an active role as a producer.

We’re often asked if we like frogs.

——The world of Chrono Trigger is so varied that it gives rise to a variety of characters that suit it. Chrono Trigger seems to boast characters that have, until now, never before been seen in games like Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. Where did those original ideas come from?

Horii: The staff studied the drawings of Toriyama. They a put lot of effort in. We felt as though we couldn’t let the drawings go to waste.

——One of the protagonists is a frog. Was that your idea, Horii?

Horii: Toriyama gave us the rough sketch of a frog character he had drawn.

——So what made you decide to use a character like that?

Horii: For some reason, we had been talking about how we wanted a non-human character.

Sakaguchi: We’re often asked that. Frogs have appeared before in the Final Fantasy series. People ask if it’s because Square likes frogs! *laughter* But that’s not the reason at all. *laughter*

Horii: When we were creating the characters, we were thinking about what sort of friends Crono would have in each era. The game’s protagonist is a young boy, so how many females should we have? When Square was working on the in-battle actions, they thought it would be boring to have only human characters. When trying to think up characters that weren’t human or robot, they started considering the frog. *laughter*

——Easy to understand that development. It has character.

Horii: There were pigs, too. And monkeys. But they aren’t so different from humans.

“I want to better capture the feel of a Toriyama-style world.” —— Sakaguchi

The events that make you burst into tears are the best.-

—–Out of all the events, which ones did you two like?-

Horii:- It’s a normal part of the story, but there’s a course of action where Marle disappears somehow, you see the resulting future, and you have to do something to prevent it. That’s the start of it all, the rest of the story just stems from it. I like that part.

Sakaguchi: I really like the episode with Marle and her father. That’s because in this game, contrary to what you’d expect, there are some family issues. *laughter* I like events that, rather than making you cry like in Final Fantasy, make you burst into tears.

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Yuuji Horii

Profile: Born in 1954 in Hyogo Prefecture. After having a hand in Free Writer, Horii was influenced by the Enix Game Contest which sparked his career. He was in charge of scenarios in the smash-hit Dragon Quest series, and has also worked on the Itadaki Street games.

No matter what the developers do, the game tends to be difficult.

——For the first time awhile, Sakaguchi designed detailed monsters.

Sakaguchi: When we were making Final Fantasy III, Aoki, the producer of Chrono Trigger, was the one in charge of the monsters. He’s been poking his nose into it ever since. So, I designed some concepts for monsters, then I, Aoki, and two others crowded into a room and discussed things like needing a barrier to defeat certain types of magic. In this game there are many enemies you have to defeat by hitting their weak points. I think it shows that we like simulations.

——So that means that your personality shone through, Sakaguchi.

Sakaguchi: At first getting through the game was tough. The testers were saying “You guys are being cruel. Whose idea was this?” It was mine! *laughter* Harsh, right?

Horii: We developers had managed to make the game too difficult!

Sakaguchi: It’s always like that the first time, no matter what.

Horii: It’s because we know too much. The developers think the game’s just right, that they’re being too soft. They’re thinking from their own experience. The puzzles were the same. Lots of players didn’t figure out things we thought they’d get easily.

Sakaguchi: There were exceptions to where people got stuck, though.

Horii: Right, the places where players got stuck differed from person to person.

Sakaguchi: You get to the point where you just need to talk to the person, so why don’t you talk to them? *laughter*

“We’ll get Toriyama to draw the world map!” *laughter* —— Horii

They wanted to release the game by the end of the year.

——It’s hard to hear after everything’s finished, but do you feel there are places where you would have liked to have done something differently?

Sakaguchi: If we had tried a little harder, we could have reached our goal of releasing the game by the end of the year. *bursts out laughing* It was a little heartbreaking to have to change the release date.

——Can we hear about what you’d like to do if you made a sequel?

Sakaguchi: The sense of dancing you get from exploring Toriyama’s worlds is a little more difficult to capture than I initially thought. If we can successfully channel that feeling, we’ll be able to create a fantastic world. If we try to do a sequel, I want to perfect that completely.

Horii: And we’ll get Toriyama to draw the world map for us! *laughter*

Sakaguchi: Then it will really be a Toriyama-style world. *laughter*

——Well, everything turned out great! *laughter* Thank you very much for joining us today.


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One Response

  1. Gary says:

    you are awesome. thanks for translating this. loved this game.

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