What Is Monolith Soft Working On Now?

Friday, May 4th, 2012

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Xenoblade Chronicles has been lauded by critics as one of the finest role-playing games of our current console generation. Their internal development team has a rich history of crafting fantastic experiences, their roots dug deep with titles such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, and extending to more recent hits such as the Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos series.

Xenoblade Chronicles was their most recent title, and although it may be relatively new in the eyes of most gamers in North America, the game actually was completed and launched in Japan over two years ago. What has Monolith Soft been working on in the meantime?

A Nintendo-Owned Studio Reaches Skyward

When the majority of the development for Xenoblade was completed, the team was hard at work coming up with ideas for their next game. However, being a Nintendo-owned studio means there is never a dull moment in development. Nintendo’s own The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword had a deadline to meet, and since development was finished on Xenoblade, the team at Monolith Soft was called in to help with graphics. The lead designer from Monolith Soft, Yasuyuki Honne , was even credited with “Special Thanks” in the game.

Growing In Numbers

On February 22, 2011, Monolith Soft posted several openings for Wii U developers, requesting programmers, planners, and artists. Specifically, they were looking for effect designers who could create map and battle effects. Monolith Soft also needed a motion designer for event and battle scenes. Another job was for an experienced 2D designer who could draw mecha.

Exactly one year later on February 22, 2012, Monolith Soft again posted several job openings, this time for the Nintendo 3DS console. Positions were opened for a 3D CG designer, effects designer, and motion designer.

At the time of writing this article, Monolith Soft is still actively recruiting, posting new positions on their official Twitter and website on a regular basis.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Around the same time that they made their Wii U job posting, an image was posted to the Monolith Soft website, http://www.monolithsoft.co.jp/. Could it be a sign of things to come?

And Speculation Runs Rampant

What could Monolith Soft be working on? We won’t know until either more information slips or an official announcement is made. But in the meantime, here are a few snippets from interviews over the past four years, as well as some backstory to help get you excited:

1. Monolith Soft developed both Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean and Baten Kaitos Origins for the Nintendo Gamecube. Speculation that a third game in the series would arrive was hinted in several interviews, most notably one with gaming blog Cubed3.com in 2008:

Cubed3: Finally, Hirohide Sugiura of Monolith Soft previously told Cubed3.com that the team was eager to do Baten Kaitos for DS, and had ‘several’ Wii games in development. Can you please provide our readers with an update on these points?

Nomura-san: We at MONOLITH SOFTWARE are still willing to start developing a new “Baten Kaitos” when the time is ripe…As for our new Wii games, they will be disclosed by Nintendo again when the company sees fit to do so. In the meantime, please hold on and remain patient…

2. From the same developer interview, Monolith Soft discussed the possibility of a sequel to Disaster: Day of Crisis, potentially coming to a handheld, if that is something that fans would be interested in:

Cubed3: Once the game is completed, it certainly seems like there is scope for a sequel. Will we see Raymond Bryce facing more terrorist threats and battling with Mother Nature again in the future?

Yamagami-san: Yes we have actually already got a concept for a sequel in place. However, it can never be realised unless the original achieves a good sales result and we receive many requests from as many customers as possible asking for a sequel. We are definitely looking forward to the requests for that, so please let us know!

3. In the past, Monolith Soft has developed games in the Super Robot Taisen series, as well as licensed Dragon Ball Z titles for the Nintendo DS. They could simply be looking to bulk up their team to bring over additional licensed titles.

4. Soma Bringer, a real-time RPG for the Nintendo DS, was developed by Monolith Soft, but never saw the light of day outside of Japan. The game, with it’s Secret of Mana-like combat, sold moderately well in Japan and received the fan-translation treatment due to poor localization policies at Nintendo of America. No hints have been dropped regarding a sequel, but, if demand is high enough…

5. The critically acclaimed PlayStation game Xenogears was developed by many of the staff members who eventually left Square to form Monolith Soft. As Square Enix maintains the rights  to Xenogears, it is unlikely, however not impossible, that they could return to that specific game in some capacity.

6. Monolith Soft also developed Xenogears‘ spiritual successor, the Xenosaga series. Namco Bandai owns the rights to the Xenosaga series, and recently had Monolith Soft port Episode I & II to the Nintendo DS system. In theory, they could potentially port Episode III to the DS/3DS as well, or even work on a sequel, as many plot holes were left unfilled, mostly because the saga was intended to be an epic six-part series that was cut down to three because of development concerns. Although Monolith Soft is now a wholly own subsidiary of Nintendo, they are still on amicable terms with Namco Bandai, making this another possibility.

7. The veteran developers at Monolith Soft played a heavy role in the creation of Chrono Trigger, and were the sole team at Square responsible for the sequel, Chrono Cross. If Square Enix ever decided to pursue a sequel to the Chrono series, and wanted to bring on board the “dream team” behind the classic original, they would need to tap talent from both Monolith Soft and from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker Studio. This scenario is highly unlikely, but we are just speculating after all.

8. With the immediate success of Xenoblade Chronicles, with rumors abounding that it may be one of the top sellers for the launch month of April, a sequel to Xenoblade may not be too far from reality. In an interview with Nintendo Power, Xenoblade‘s creator said the possibility for a sequel exists:

Nintendo Power: Over the course of Xenoblade Chronicles, players explore the world so thoroughly that it doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. Do you have any thoughts as to how you might build it into a series?

Tetsuya Takahashi: Do you really think so? I always build room for sequels into all of my games.”

[SOURCE: Nintendo Power, April 2012, p.84]

9. Who knows… maybe they could be working on something entirely new to wow our imaginations. The concept and design team at Monolith Soft is simply amazing, and their fantastic worlds have filled us with wonder for a long time, and will hopefully continue to do so for a while to come.

What do you think Monolith Soft is working on? What would you like to see? Will it make it outside Japan? Let us know in the comments section below!

  • Xenoblade sequel!  That would be my vote, and really I also didn’t think it was possible until I beat the game; in my opinion, the possibility for a sequel is definitely there, after seeing the ending.  Really, that’s just a testament to how strong I thought the story and the characters were in that game, the fact that I’m left wanting more.

    Really, though, it’s probably not likely, and whatever these guys do end up doing will probably be amazing (I had no idea any of the major players at Monlith also worked on Chrono Trigger).  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for seeing them at E3 this year.

  • a sequel to disaster day of crisis. Hmmm makes me really wish that the first one came over to the states

  • I think part of Monolith Soft is developing Project X Zone for Namco. It seems to fit in their style with Namco X Capcom and the Endless Frontier series.

    With regards to Disaster, I doubt they will ever make another one after the Tsunami last year. If Irem cancelled the Disaster Report series, I don’t see Nintendo making another Day of Crisis.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s an overstatement to say Xenogears was developed by Monolith Soft. Yes, a lot of the key talent worked on Xenogears, but they were Square employees at the time. Monolith Soft was founded in 1999; Xenogears came out in 1998.

  • Andrés Ruiz Bernabeu

    Another chapter in the Xenoblade world would be like a dream for me! Best RPG ever!

  • formerroadie

    Makes grabby hands!

  • could you imagine monolith, mist walker, and square enix all teaming up to make a new chrono game! it has a .0001% chance of ever happening… but god that would be amazing

  • praxis

    Xenosaga Episodes IV (Xenogears is actually part 4 of the six-part story), V & VI, Xenoblade II and Chrono III

    • Xenosaga and Xenogears, as much as I hate to admit it, are not directly related. Tetsuya Takahashi himself stated that it’s more of a re-imagining of the original story. There’s a lot of hinting that they are directly related, but if you notice, it’s more like they used the Xenosaga series to retcon Xenogears. Also, Xenogears was Episode V in the original planned hexalogy.

  • praxis

    What I would totally LOVE to see (but unlikely too) is a rpg made by SquareEnix, tri-Ace, Level-5, Mistwalker and MonolithSoft!!!  We can only dream…

    • Pablo

      I’ll give you tri-Ace (music), Level-5 (art), Mistwalker (character dialougue), and MonolithSoft (programming), but I don’t see any room in there for SquareEnix. There are shitty publisher. Should be published by Nacmo or Nintedo

  • Considering the story I’m not sure how a direct sequel to xenoblade can work out. I’m sure they’ll find a way if they want to bad enough. Same with baten katos, I’d love another but the story didn’t leave all that much open.

    • Robgoro

      I think the post-story world of Xenoblade Chronicles is perfect for a sequel! *Spoilers ahead* When Alvis told Shulk that the world he created was boundless and full of life (and walking towards the same destiny etc. etc. fate and what not), it left me wondering what was out there – beyond the wreckage and mainland where the main cast was settling down. Although I don’t think X is a direct sequel to Xenoblade chronicles, I am VERY excited to see what they’ve done with exploration in “X”. So long as the entire landscape doesn’t look like a barren wasteland.

    • I suppose. I’m more curious what the villians are going to be though.

    • Robgoro

      If they’re truly doing something Xenoblade related, then I doubt it has anything to do with the antagonists of the last game. It’s too early to tell, but after Xenoblade Chronicles, I think it’s safe to say that this game is in capable hands. Another good thing? 1:30 seconds of footage and not a single hallway to worry about 😉

  • Inuboy1000

    Xenoblade Chronicles sequel or GTFO. Xenoblade is so amazing, I was just playing it and I’m still not even done. This is like the longest game I’ve ever played. Literally. I only have one criticism, and yes I spoiled it for myself. Melia and Shulk don’t get together, instead Fiora comes back to life. What? In this case I wish it was more like Final Fantasy 7, because in that game Aerith’s death left and impact on you that never went away. Sadly she comes back to life and it seems like from my perspective it’d be like “Why did I just come all this way to avenge you if you’re still alive”.

  • grevlinghore

    My soul is burning with desire for a Baten Kaitos 3. The first two were AMAZING, for lack of a better word…