Whatever Happened To: The Chrono Series?
My fellow Gamers;
As I continue to walk down these dusty halls, seeing yellowed bits of gaming boxes once promising worlds to play in; worlds once vibrant, lively places to visit. Worlds resplendent with wonder and charm. Worlds that once excited and fueled speculation to sequels and continuations in various forms.
Worlds now hushed by time and tide.
Walk with me, if you will, and find out whatever happened to…..
The Mysterious Time Displacement Effect: The Chrono Series
Year of Inception: 1995
Creators: Kazuhiko Aoki, Akihiko Matsui, Yoshinori Kitase, Takashi Tokita
Last Seen on Consoles: 1999 (Japan) 2000 (North America) – Chrono Cross
In what was considered the twilight years of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, it seemed Square considered one last push towards greatness. In 1995 the developer released the first Chrono Trigger, a game that followed the exploits of Crono and his eclectic group of friends (most of whom he meets at various points in the timeline) as they travel into prehistory, the Dark Ages, back to the present, into a dreary post-apocalyptic future, and even to the end of time, all the while trying to understand and destroy an alien parasite-entity known as Lavos. From where it came, no one really knows, but what it does on the infamous “Day of Lavos” is apparent when Crono and his friends travel into the future.
What was interesting is that the game had reportedly sixteen very distinctive endings. One even had you meeting the in-game pixelated sprites of the game’s design and direction team. The game also let players continue with a New Game+ that allowed players to carry over certain items, levels, and skills (and was vital for allowing players to see the various endings besides the regular “canon” version).
In 1999 the game’s sequel, Chrono Cross, made the jump to PlayStation One and from 2-D sprites into 3-D rendered character models. The game also had a beefier roster of playable characters, from six (or seven depending on certain choices made in the game) in Chrono Trigger, to 45 in Chrono Cross.
Chrono Cross followed the exploits of Serge, a 17-year old boy who one day slips into an alternate dimension where it’s discovered he drowned as a child ten years ago. Determined to find out the truth behind the incident, his adventures bring him to confront the Time Devourer – which is a melding of the parasite Lavos with Schala, the missing sister for whom Magnus was searching in the first game. Dealing more with parallel dimensions rather than time travel itself, various players, characters, and even items (e.g. the Masamune sword) from the first game were nevertheless either mentioned or played prominent roles in the sequel.
Both games received near universal critical praise, with an estimated five million units sold between the two. A quasi-sequel text-based adventure game, Radical Dreamers: Nusumenai Hoseki (circa 1999) was released for the Japan-only Super Famicom system that tied up various “loose ends” between the events of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Officially there has been no translation by Square into English. However, an unofficial hack by ROM hacking group Demiforce made the game available through emulation.
All told, the Chrono series has been very successful for Square, with Chrono Trigger being the third-best selling game of 1995 and its re-release on the PlayStation as part of the Final Fantasy Chronicles package topped the Playstation sales charts for six weeks. IGN ranked the Chrono series at number 2 in their 2008 “Top 100 games of all time” list, while GameSpot ranked it 28th in their 2006 “Greatest Games of all Time” article. GameInformer ranked the Chrono Series 8th in their 2008 article “Top Ten Sequels in Demand.”
Despite the critical acclaim, there has been no real word on any continuation of the series since.
Where it is now: In 2001, Square-Enix acquired two trademarks, Chrono Break and Chrono Brake, fueling rumors that the series would continue. Since then, however, Square-Enix has been rather dormant on that front, and the American trademark Chrono Break eventually expired in 2003 (it should be noted however that the trademarks are still active in both the European and Japanese sectors).
Despite the original team being scattered across various projects throughout Square-Enix, some have expressed a desire to continue the franchise. Director Takashi Tokita, now head of Square Enix’s Production Team 7, mentioned the possibility of a “Chrono Trigger 2″ in a 2003 interview, while Hironobu Sakaguchi remarked in April 2007 his creation Blue Dragon was an “extension of [Chrono Trigger].”
During a Cubed3 interview in 2007, Square Enix’s then-Senior Vice President Hiromichi Tanaka said that although no sequel is currently planned, one might still be possible if the original Chrono Cross developers can be reunited. However, though Yasunori Mitsuda has expressed interest in scoring a new game, he warned that “there are a lot of politics involved” with the series.
So for now, despite the willingness of the original team’s desire to try their hand one more time at the Chrono series, the reality of reuniting them all together again still remains in limbo.
Probability of Revival: π