Some original Chrono Cross data may be lost to time (or data migration)
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is out today, but the journey to bring old classics to modern platforms isn't always quite as easy as folks may assume. In a launch day announcement, the original producer of Chrono Cross, Hiromichi Tanaka, shared a few notes on its preservation - plus some thoughts on his favorite projects.
In a message posted via the official Chrono Cross Twitter, Tanaka explained he'd heard taking the classic PlayStation title and remastering it "was a real struggle" since original resources weren't all easily accessible. During his time on the project, Tanaka says the data for Chrono Cross was all preserved on Square Enix's internal servers "perfectly," but perhaps perfect is a little more subjective here as it sounds like the Chrono Cross data had no backups.
It's an old game, launching in Japan back in 1999, so our modern problems weren't really a consideration. Tanaka hypothesized the Chrono Cross data loss came after he'd left the company and Square Enix moved servers, transferred data, and wiped company storage clean for other endeavors. Some specific components were salvaged for a while as Tanaka's personal projects, like the GUI elements and cutscene data, but that was a decade ago before he left the company. His comments on the data situation are available in the official image, but include:
"Jokes aside, I hear that making the remaster was a real struggle because not all the resources remained from the development of the original. We started managing all development data on internal servers from the time of Chrono Cross's development, so all of the data was perfectly saved on the servers at the time. I would imagine that the issue must have come afterwards, when the game's data was moved onto magnetic tape to make space on the servers, and perhaps it ended up being lost as the company moved location several times.
Anyway, the resources for areas that I worked on GUI elements and the full frame data for cutscenes were all saved in parts of the server were allocated for personal storage, so they were preserved perfectly when I left the company 10 years ago. Well, it has been almost a decade since then, so I have no idea what the situation is like now!"
Those GUI elements Tanaka mentioned seem to hold a special place in the producer's heart, noting the Chrono Cross GUI was one of his favorites and that he'd consider it "some of my [his] life's finest work." On creating that GUI, Tanaka explained a few of the older developer tools at his disposal.
"For example, during battle the skill commands spin and fly in on a metallic plank. Back in the day, I used ray-tracing software on a Macintosh II (they wouldn't buy me one of the new iMacs) to create the material for the plank and the model data for the crystals on each end that differ by element, and then spun the graphic manually as I rendered it frame by frame. On modern-day hardware, I'm sure you'd be able to render it in real time..."
Tanaka's GUI project is among the elements given the high-res treatment in the Chrono Cross remaster. In the RPG Site review, staff writer Cullen Black called The Radical Dreamers Edition "a wonderful remaster marred by an unoptimized Switch port."