|Yarns of Chrono
|February 9th, 2011
02/09 - 12:00PM EST
Welcome to another Chrono filled episode of Q&A! Well we've
also got an Ys sequel pitch
and letter about Dragon Quest as
Historia or just really
want to pitch your own Chrono
Trigger sequel. Either way this has been great fun so far.
Don't forget there's still until the end of February to enter! Now, on
to the letters...
"How would you do a sequel to Chrono
Trigger?" While I know I'm not eligible to win, I can't
help but have the sneaking suspicion that something I wrote to you
might have inspired this contest. So here's how I would do it.
Quite possibly! Anyway, let's hear what you've got. I'm expecting
something awesome that will make people happy you aren't eligible.
First, let's look at what "Chrono"
titles: the obvious time
aspect and the will or need to change. As themes go these are
pretty easy to work with. Trigger
and Cross approached the time
theme literally from two different angles. The first had its
heroes moving up and down the timeline whereas the second had its
heroes moving laterally across alternative timelines. For mine, I'd
like to return to the up/down temporal axis, even if it practically
requires that I break with the original Chrono-verse. It's probably
for the best, to be honest.
Time travel is just a tough plot device to work with. However, the good
thing is you can pretty much go and break the original timeline at your
leisure, or just say your new story is on another alternate timeline.
There are lot's of different possibilities. You could even have a game
where you have to wander about the timeline trying to fix events from
the original game that have now been altered (again).
Now we need to look at the second theme. Crono and Co.'s main
motivation in Trigger comes
from their experience with the post-Lavos future. The Day of Lavos is
the main event their striving to alter, and for much of the game
they're witnesses to the history building up to that event, rather than
active agents of change. Most of the major events (like Leene's
kidnapping, Magus' defeat, the arrival of Lavos, or the Mammon
Incident) would have / already had happened without them anyway. In
contrast, Serge and Co. are stuck in the fractured now of Cross, subject to events far in the
past that have made them the metaphorical victims of History as well as
the literal victims of FATE. Their eventual goal is to eliminate the
main factor forcing the timeline to fragment (the Frozen Flame), and
their main opponent wants to make things turn out the way he wants them
That's an interesting point. Now that I think of it, pretty much the
whole timeline up to the The Day of Lavos remains the same throughout,
with the player mostly taking part in the events, not really changing
the outcome. Perhaps, taking the split-timeline idea from Cross, you could create a storyline
where one timeline The Day of Lavos occurs and Lavos is not destroyed,
and another where he is, so the future you visit in the original game
is still intact. I'm not sure where the story would go from there, but
it's a good starting point!
I suppose now would be a good time to drag out my big old notebook of
random plot ideas (yes, I really have one of those) and see what
inspiration lies therein. It's story time.
I think you need to take a picture of this notebook. No, I demand you
take a picture of that notebook. I await your jpeg.
Our three main characters (let's call them Ral, Tem, and Po for now)
live in the peaceful little republic of Kastodia. One or more of them
is related to the local crackpot genius inventor, Auntie Kia (short for
Know-It-All), who has spent the last decade or so researching exotic
time magics (mostly timeflow-related spells like Haste and Slow) in the
hopes of deriving solid scientific principles from them. The
result of her hard labor is the Time Shield, an energy barrier that
separates the bearer from the flow of time by one degree. That is, the
shielded person can still witness events, but cannot influence or be
directly influenced by them. Stepping up the power allows a greater
degree of separation, resulting in the area affected by the shield to
float up or down the history of the world. Kia then rigs her
entire house with Time Shield generators in the hope of turning the
building into a waystation for time-tourists. Friends and family are
all invited to attend the inaugural test.
About a million different ideas just popped in my head that could be
done with this base story, but I'll save them...
She flips the switch, the generators whirr into life, and the world as
they know it disappears. In its place is a bombed-out
wasteland. After the house is safely parked and stable in time, a
quick excursion to the ruins of the venerable Kastodia Library turns up
several old history books which show a markedly different past two
centuries. Something besides them has been at work on the timeline.
So essentially, they protected themselves from changes to the timeline
at the same time someone went back and altered things? Very
interesting. Why haven't more games explored the idea of time travel?
There are so many different ways the story could go from here. Even
have the supposed "villains" who altered things actually have some sort
of noble goal. Perhaps they altered the timeline to save their own
homeland, but this devastation was a side effect?
Now it's time to introduce the villains. Far, far futureways at
the end of history, three factions are vying for power. Each
group has its own Time-Shield and is trying to rearrange history so
that its rivals cease to have a viable place in time. To them,
the temporal continuum is in a constant state of flux as a time-war
rages. The 200 year era of peace which led to Kia's inventive
existence lasted all of fifteen minutes from their point of view. Now,
three kids from Kastodia, their eccentric aunt, and their oddball
families have created a fourth side in the conflict just by existing.
I really have to say it's a good thing you can't win the contest
because this is freaking brilliant. It solves the problems associated
with characters no longer extant in the timeline (they're protected),
allows for vastly different scenarios thanks to complete altering of
the timeline, and could even tie into the original Chrono games very well. You'd then
even have the option of having multiple versions of characters in your
party that you've brought in to be protected from timeline changes. I
want this game.
So how's that for a pitch? One of the things I like about this
setup is that there's no guarantee that the events necessary to restore
the heroes' timeline will be happy ones, or even moral ones. If
it's a situation where an assassination changed the course of history
in favor of them, then they'd have to side with the assassins against
whoever is trying to prevent the murder from occurring. There are
lots of good story opportunities here.
The opportunities are simply endless, and I like that the nature of the
characters can be very "gray". To give the story some kind of "endgame"
you can have one "true" storyline that the heroes need to get events
back to, but have the process of doing so be very messy.
All I need now is a name... How does Chrono
This was fun. We should do it again sometime.
actually seems like the perfect name.
Indeed! In fact, I'll present a challenge to you right away. Pitch me a
direct sequel to the SaGa game of your choice. Have fun!
You see? Someone brought up Tales
first this time. You all saw it!
Dear Wheels on the bus,
Should North Americans be excited for the English release of Tales of Graces F? Click
Oh boy should they ever! Not just
because it's a new Tales
game, but it's the first Tales game
be getting which uses an off-shoot of the Tales of Destiny Remake battle
system. Not only that, it's also only the second Tales game (after Hearts) to ditch a world map area
in favor of all the locations being interconnected (think Final Fantasy XII if that sounds
confusing). I think people will find this game very refreshing.
Okay, forgive that ill attempt at humor. I'm super ecstatic that the
game is finally coming! That bit of news made my entire day... no, make
that my entire MONTH! It's also nice to see that the "wishful thinking"
that I wrote about last August is actually coming true, and that Bandai
Namco is localizing the latter, superior PS3 version of the game for a
change. It seems like they finally learned their lesson concerning
which version of a game to localize. Now, what would make my entire
YEAR would be the localization of the PS3 version of Vesperia too! Of course, we
shouldn't complain to Bandai Namco if that doesn't happen, because it's
nothing short of a miracle that we're getting Graces, and we should be thankful
for that, not keep on whining for more so soon.
Exactly! I can feel for people wanting the PS3 version of Vesperia, but we do already have a
perfectly fine version of it, and we should take solace in that. From
what I've heard, we should be very thankful we aren't getting the Wii
That does make me wonder something, though. Fans rightfully loathed
Bandai Nacmo's decision to not localize the PS2 version of Symphonia and the PS3 version of Vesperia, since it meant that we
were stuck with the inferior versions of those games. That obviously
isn't going to be the case with Graces,
version, despite it being the inferior version?
I don't even have a PS3, so you'd expect me to be one of those people
who would want the Wii version brought over instead, but that ISN'T the
case, because I'd be sick of them making the same mistake all over
again, even if it meant that I'd have to wait until I acquire a PS3 to
play the game. I wouldn't want fellow Tales
fans to be denied the superior version again just because I'm so cheap.
Was Symphonia on PS2 really
superior? I'm sure it had extra features, but there's no way it could
look quite as good as the Gamecube version, or have the blazing fast
load times. I think I'd still prefer the Gamecube version even if the
PS2 version had a ton of new features. Nintendo's adherence to quick
load times on its systems is a good thing. As far as Vesperia, the PS3 was stilling
taking its good sweet time to get going here, so bringing the 360
first and foremost (I'm sure they already knew of the PS3 version at
that point), with its larger userbase was absolutely the correct move.
It doesn't seem to have worked out, like a lot of JRPGs on the 360, but
we can't say for sure the PS3 version would have done better.
As far as the Wii version goes, there seem to be some hints about them
bringing Graces F to the Wii
and bringing that over, but I think that would be a lot of work. I
highly doubt they'd get a good return on such an investment. Honestly,
I've said this before, but I think the only reason we never got the Wii
version to begin with is due to the massive bugs. I think you'll want
to get a PS3 anyway, as I have a feeling we will certainly see Xillia in the west.
Concerning all these ideas about a Chrono
2 and what the game could be about, well, who says it
has to be a sequel? Just because it has a "2" in the title, that
doesn't necessarily mean that it has to continue the story (case in
point: Street Fighter IV is
actually a prequel to Street Fighter
III), so why not a prequel, or even a retelling of the same
story? I know that the latter idea may seem dumb, but think about it.
This game is all about time travel, which, as was mentioned in the last
column, can get pretty complicated. So maybe they can remake the game
with a Mass Effect level of
freedom and consequence. Just think: what if you had to freedom to
decide on what to do and how to go about doing it, and not only seeing
the immediate consequences of your actions like in Mass Effect, but even the
far-reaching consequences when you travel to the future? And still keep
on playing the game and seeing it progress along the path of your past
This right here, is an absolutely fantastic starting point. The
thought of the development process needed to make such a thing is
headache-inducing. Who cares about that though? Let's take this idea as
far as it will go. We aren't developers, we don't have to worry about
actually making it work!
(Possible spoiler alert) For
example, let's say you choose NOT to save the queen, Marle's ancestor,
when she is kidnapped towards the beginning of the game, and then
travel to the future. The kingdom could then be under the rule of a
different dynasty, since Marle's came to an end, and maybe your
character will have an entirely different love interest in her place
for the rest of the game as a result. Or going a little more extreme,
let's say you choose NOT to side with the humans in the stone age when
they fight with the lizard people, and as a result, the future will be
ruled by the lizard people, creating an entirely different game
experience! (I realize that this could cause continuity problems with
why your character can continue to even exist, but I'm just throwing
out ideas, not laying the groundwork for a serious game)
Don't worry about continuity problems, you can always make
rules for time travel, or even make whatever is used to accomplish it
in this game protect you from changes in the timeline (see the first
letter in this column). I think the key to making any time travel story
is just to create a set of your own rules, and then stick to them. That
way anything that may normally be a continuity problem will make sense
in your world.
Furthermore, maybe instead of retelling the same game with a greater
level of freedom, maybe the game could start as a prequel of sorts,
taking place before the game. Going with nonauno's idea from the last
column about a possible threat that Lavos defeated and took the place
of, maybe the game could take a page from Eternal Darkness's book. In the
beginning of that game, your character had the choice between three
different deities, and his decision would determine which of those
deities would become the "evil" god, and which would become the "good"
god for the rest of the game (well, "good" in the sense that it opposes
the evil one). Melding that with the Mass Effect idea, and you can even
determine who will be the main bad guy in the game, and what the
conflict in the world would be about, thus creating multiple, seemingly
completely different RPG plot lines. Maybe what determines the game's
universe and conflict being about either angels and Derris-Kharlan like
in Tales of Symphonia, or
about fonons and fomicry like in Tales
Abyss could be what junction the universe took at the
beginning of time in those games. Who's to say maybe those two games
weren't once the same universe but took different time lines determined
by different forces of the universe? A game that let's you determine
the forces of the universe like this idea could be like a million
different RPGs rolled into one!
I love this idea. Essentially make an open-world time travel
RPG where the very fabric of time is your plaything. Completely
impossible to develop of course. Let's not let that hold you back
though. The only problem with this, is that we need some kind of end
game. Some kind of driving force. Perhaps the "hero" needs to alter the
timeline to destroy Lavos, by any means neccesary?
But wait! My crazy mind isn't done brain-storming yet! Since you have
an actual time machine, maybe you can actually travel back in time to
an earlier point in your game, and actually REDO quests differently, so
that you can see all the possible outcomes from all the possible
decisions without needing to play a different game file all over again!
This would actually eliminate the need to save multiple files in case
you regret some decisions early on, because, I mean, you have a
freakin' time machine! You should be able to redo past decisions and
mistakes! Unlike Mass Effect
where you would have to replay the game to try all the different story
progressions (the earlier the branching path, the more of the game you
would have to replay), this game with its time machine should allow you
to potentially see every possible story path and outcome to a decision
all in just one single file! If you want to go nuts with this idea,
maybe you can play all the way until you are about to reach the end of
the game, but then hop in your trusty little time machine, and warp
back all the way to the beginning of the game, and be able to redo the
quests from the game's exposition and play the entire game all over
again! I mean, the NPC's whom you interact with on the beginning quests
would have no way of knowing that all that time has passed for you and
your character (unless they can visibly see that you aged a few years
since they last saw you a couple of hours ago), and would let you
partake in those quests once again, and maybe try different story paths
this time around. And since you would probably be leveled up still,
that should reduce the tedium of repeating the easy parts of the game
and let you power through them to see the different story paths. I
understand that such an idea could take years or even decades of
development time to actually realize, since you'd have to create
thousands upon thousands of possible scenarios that goes even beyond Mass Effect's level of ambition,
but I can still dream, can't I?
This actually sounds more down to earth, if we keep it within the
varying paths a game like Mass Effect
could take. So, you would have a Mass
Effect-type game, but could go
back (leveled up fully of course) and redo things, possibly even save
characters that ended up dying or just to change a decision that turned
out poorly. Unlike the previous idea where you were talking about
changing the very nature of the story, this idea is possible. So here's
hoping Bioware somehow gets to make a new Chrono Trigger! Fantastic ideas!
Whew, typing that sure was a lot of fun! I hope you enjoy reading it as
much as I enjoyed thinking it up!
I did very much enjoy reading it, was good to hear from you
again! Look forward to discussing Tales
Graces with you in the future.
First and foremost the story of course would have to be epic as always.
I would like to see the story go further in the future than most would
think. Based off the ending of Ys IV
(the no-Canon one), I think the story should take place while Adol is
with the mystery woman he married at the end of IV (though we all know the woman
looks an awful lot like Lilia). This would be very interesting because
Falcom never actually said who the woman was that he married. Of course
this isn’t going to be the main story, just a backdrop for the
timeline. Now that we finally focused on the five dragons of Altago in Ys VII, a lot of people may wonder
what adventure could Adol go on next. I say they should delve more into
the Eldeen winged people. They have been shrouded in mystery far too
long. Adol could somehow end up on a floating continent hovering in the
atmosphere. Depending on where the Eldeen people originally come from,
Adol can even end up on another planet to explore or a populated and
civilized moon. The possibilities are endless really and it makes me
all excited thinking about it. The combat of course needs no change
except I would still like a block option included, there were a few
times in VII to where I would
have preferred to block rather than run around at crazy speeds
(although fun that can really be J)
I like the idea of focusing on the
Eldeen winged people. The Ys series
been around long enough, and a game focusing on them seems like a
great idea. I'm sure Falcom can even make it stand-alone, while still
explaining some of the past mysteries about the series. I'm certainly
down for this idea. Who knows when we'll even see an Ys VIII though, we all know how
much Falcom likes to re-release past games.
I'm not sold on the idea of there being another planet involved,
though. That idea gave me a strange flashback to Highlander 2 (which with its
Queen music gives us an even stranger connection to Ogre Battle). I think it best
for the Ys series not to get
too sci-fi on us.
Great idea though!
The Last Hope (No not the fourth
I haven't written in forever, but when you mentioned your love for Dragon Quest IV I felt
I know that DQ III is
supposed to be the golden child of the series, but I've always loved IV so much! Something about
it hit the perfect balance between FF-style
and open world exploration. Whereas III was extremely open, with little
guidance as to where to proceed, IV
let you discover the world and its characters in part first and then
made you go out and explore.
I'm guessing the love of Dragon
Quest III comes from the job system. Dragon Quest IV doesn't even need
it though! The structure of Dragon
Quest IV just shocked me. I can't come up with any 8-bit
game that accomplished as much with story as IV did. Torneko's story especially
is a lot of fun. Granted my opinions are biased, as I've only played
the DS version. I kind of missed most of the series past the first
game, until getting Dragon Warrior
I&II for gameboy color as an unexpected Christmas present
one year. Despite this, Dragon Quest
the first game in the series I actually finished!
What are your thoughts on the game? How would you compare it to
other DQ titles?
Keep up the fun columns! Even if Tales has been talked to death.
I kind of take the Tales stuff
bit too far yes, but a lot of people do write in about it. I shall
cut back on the Tales puns though.
IV, for me, is the best title of the 8-bit quartet. It even
stands up reasonably well to the more recent titles (we'll see about VI next week!). It would be
hard for me to say it's better than the most recent entry though. Dragon Quest IX is just so massive.
I'd say it stands as the simplest example of what makes Dragon Quest so beloved. The world
of Dragon Quest IV feels
real, and it's one you'll want to explore. I'd recommend it to anyone
looking for a great RPG.
That's all for this week! Someone sent in a great Ogre Battle sequel pitch I've been
itching to post, so look for that next week. By then I'll probably be
well on my way into Tactics Ogre
(I never really played the original) so it seems like a good time to
get that one up. So keep these Chrono
Trigger/Ogre Battle/Ys sequel pitches coming!
Current Backlog: Super
January 12th: Wheels
January 19th: Wheels
January 26th: Wheels
February 3rd: Wheels
About the Host
What I can't wait for:
1. Tales of Graces
2. Dragon Quest VI
3. Tactics Ogre
4. Ys 1+2
5. Radiant Historia
On my Playlist:
1. Resonance of Fate Soundtrack
2. Final Fantasy XII soundtrack
3. Tales of Graces Soundtrack
1. Does Resonance of Fate deserve a sequel
(spiritual or otherwise)?
2. EA has gotten Bioware to pump out RPGs faster than they did in the
past. Is this due to increased resources, or are they are risk of
the output of the RPG machine?
3. Does the crazy complexity of the Armored Core series qualify any of
the games as RPGs?
4. If Secret of Mana on the iPhone is a success, will Square Enix
revisit the Mana series?
5. Should Camelot do a new SRPG franchise, since it's unlikely they'd
work with Sega again?