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!