Remaking Japanese RPGs into Western RPGs

Chrono  Trigger Cover SnesObsidian Entertainment recently mentioned that they would like to remake Chrono Trigger into a Western-style console role-playing game and the gaming world went, "huh?"  I personally like the idea, while the usual haters are going to hate, but this actually has a small chance in happening since Square Enix recently recruited Obsidian to work on the Dungeon Siege IP Square picked up recently.  So the companies have a relationship, anything could happen now.

As a gigantic fan of Chrono Trigger, the idea of a remake honestly doesn't bother me.  Any Chrono game at this point is better than no Chrono game.  Square Enix has shown over and over again that they will never come back to the series in any serious form, so why not contract it out to a studio that is actually interested (and experienced in picking up old IPs, if somewhat lousy at it sometimes)?  Chrono Trigger on the Super Nintendo and its ports to the PS1 and DS sold over 3 million copies, but sales outside of Japan have always lagged, why not take one of the best games ever and adapt it to a new audience?  There's definitely potential.

Chrono Trigger westernized wouldn't be the first time something like this was done before either, Anachronox, a third-person computer RPG released in 2001 by Ion Storm was heavily influenced by Japanese RPGs, including Chrono Trigger.  Anachronox was met with favorable reviews and seems like a successful cross-genre attempt of a game in retrospect.

Obsidian seems to think Chrono Trigger is a good place to start because of its linear-but-sometimes-open game world and different routes to the final boss, which I would agree with, but there are some other JRPGs I wouldn't mind seeing a WRPG remake:

Star Ocean 2 Second Story CoverStar Ocean: The Second Story features insane battles with tons of screaming and A.I. handled spell casting along with a decent sized cast of characters that it feels like it could make a natural progression to a Western RPG in the hands of some brave developers.  The story is told from two viewpoints, there's a major earth-shattering plot point mid-game, and not every character is required (let alone obtainable).  Match that with the romance options already in the game and the cool pick-pocketing metagame and I think Star Ocean 2 might be the best example of a potential Japanese RPG becoming a Western RPG.

Final Fantasy VI is chock full of a huge playable cast of characters that have great histories between them, are brooding and angry about their past, and even have weird father-daughter-grandfather family triangles.  Imagine the dialogue trees that could spawn from this game!  Plus the major plot point in the middle of the game rocks the world and would allow for some excellent changes in the Western RPG style of world.

Earthbound isn't the perfect example, but I think one of the great things the game featured was that after you beat the game, you could re-explore the entire world and feel the affect of your actions.  This feels very WRPG-ish but isn't even found in that genre often enough.  Mass Effect 2 let you keep playing after you beat the final boss, but there was very little feeling that you actually completed something great outside of some new dialogue.

Comments

Obsidi-

If Obsidian had a better track record of actually finishing their games, I'd be a bit more hopeful. KOTOR 2 was a complete mess of glitches...though admittedly, they actually ended up being pretty fun: I got to massacre an entire cave full of hallucinations before I got stuck in an endless conversation loop in one case. I've heard Neverwinter Nights 2 and Alpha Protocol are similarly full of technical bugs. On the other hand, the games tend to have good stories, and Alpha Protocol's narrative structure regarding choice and consequence is apparently top notch.

I'm not sure how I feel about having Chrono Trigger remade in the age of Metal Gear Solid and Mass Effect, though. If there's ever been a succinctly-written RPG, it's Chrono Trigger, and nowadays it seems developers love to bloat stories with tons of excessive text and VA. I'd hate to spend an hour in Lucca's childhood accident scene navigating through dialogue wheels. I think it COULD work, but I can't see the game's tone and charm translating well to the third dimension in the modern RPG climate, and I'd expect more than a few crazy hitches to hamper the fun if Obsidian were in charge.

If Chrono Trigger becomes

If Chrono Trigger becomes more westernized, I'd love to see it shifted more toward an action RPG. The battle system could be a Kingdom Hearts meets Devil May Cry kind of thing. I would totally play that.

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