Monolith Soft

Last updated

Monolith Soft Inc.
Native name
株式会社モノリスソフト
Romanized name
Kabushiki gaisha Monolith Soft
Industry Video games
Genre Video game developer
Founded1 October 1999;19 years ago (1999-10-01) in Tokyo, Japan
Founder
Headquarters
Tokyo
,
Japan
Number of locations
5 (2019)
Key people
  • Tetsuya Takahashi (President)
  • Hirohide Sugiura
  • Yasuyuki Honne
  • Koh Kojima
Products
Number of employees
215 [1]  (2019)
Parent
Website www.monolithsoft.co.jp

Monolith Soft Inc. [lower-alpha 1] is a Japanese video game development company. It was originally owned by Namco (later Bandai Namco) until being bought out by Nintendo in 2007. The company was founded in 1999 by Tetsuya Takahashi with the support and cooperation of Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Namco. Their first project was the Xenosaga series, a spiritual successor to the Square-developed Xenogears . Multiple Square staff would join Takahashi at Monolith Soft including Hirohide Sugiura and Yasuyuki Honne.

Video game development is the process of creating a video game. The effort is undertaken by a developer, ranging from a single person to an international team dispersed across the globe. Development of traditional commercial PC and console games is normally funded by a publisher, and can take several years to reach completion. Indie games usually take less time and money and can be produced by individuals and smaller developers. The independent game industry has been on the rise, facilitated by the growth of new online distribution systems such as Steam and Uplay, as well as the mobile game market for Android and iOS devices.

Namco Japanese corporation;  video game developer and publisher

Namco Limited is a corporate brand name in use by two Japanese companies, and a former developer and publisher of video games for arcades and home platforms. The name is currently in use by Namco USA, a subsidiary of Bandai Namco Holdings, as well as a brand name for video games on modern platforms. The company was originally headquartered in Ōta, Tokyo. Two international divisions were established - Namco America in Santa Clara, California, and Shanghai Namco in Hong Kong.

Nintendo Japanese video game company

Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto. Nintendo is one of the world's largest video game companies by market capitalization, creating some of the best-known and top-selling video game franchises, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon.

Contents

In addition to the Xenosaga series, Monolith Soft worked on other projects including Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean and Namco × Capcom (the precursor to the Project X Zone series), along with assisting on projects from other developers. While several of its titles have released on the PlayStation 2, the majority of its games have released on Nintendo platforms. By the late 2010s, Monolith Soft operated four studios. Its main studio is in Meguro, Tokyo that produces the company's original video game properties; the secondary Nakameguro GS, Iidabashi Studio and Osaki Studio are similarly based in Tokyo, and a studio in Kyoto acts as a supplementary developer for both the studios in Tokyo and Nintendo EPD games. [2]

<i>Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean</i> video game

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is a role-playing video game developed by Monolith Soft and tri-Crescendo, and published by Namco, for the Nintendo GameCube. In it, the player assume the role of a "guardian spirit" - an unseen player avatar - who guides protagonist Kalas and his party of companions in an adventure across an aerial floating island-based kingdom in the clouds. The game is focused around the concept of "Magnus" - magical cards that capture the "essence" of items found in the in-game world. The concept is used as a plot device, for in-game item management, and as a basis for the card-themed battle system. The game was noted for its unique battle system, which included aspects of turn-based and action-based battle systems, collectible card games, and poker.

<i>Namco × Capcom</i> 2005 video game

Namco × Capcom is a tactical role-playing (RPG) crossover video game developed by Monolith Soft for the PlayStation 2 and published by Namco in 2005. The gameplay combines tactical RPG and action sequences during battles, featuring characters from video game series owned by Namco and Capcom. The narrative sees Reiji Arisu and Xiaomu, operatives for paranormal investigative group Shinra, confront distortions bringing characters from other realities into their own.

<i>Project X Zone</i> Video game

Project X Zone is a crossover tactical role-playing game for the Nintendo 3DS developed by Banpresto and Monolith Soft with assistance from Capcom and Red Entertainment and published by Namco Bandai Games. The game is a follow up to the 2005 video game Namco × Capcom and features characters from Namco Bandai, Capcom, and Sega. The game was released on October 11, 2012 in Japan; June 25, 2013 in North America; and July 5, 2013 in Europe. The game received mixed to positive reviews on release; praise went towards the game's cast, combat system, and presentation, but criticism was directed at its repetitive gameplay and confusing storyline.

The design approaches of Monolith Soft have shifted over its lifetime, with early games such as Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos being distinguished by a narrative-heavy approach, while later titles have focused more on gameplay. The company's stated goals are to create projects with wide creative freedom and to allow younger developers to contribute to these projects. The company is also notable for its focus on promoting a comfortable working environment with little to no overtime in contrast to the majority of other Japanese game developers, alongside collaborating with other studios and companies.

History

Origins

Monolith Soft was founded by Tetsuya Takahashi, a developer who had previously worked at Nihon Falcom and later at Square, in which the latter was merged into Enix in 2003 to form Square Enix. [3] [4] While at Square, he and his wife Kaori Tanaka (also known as Soraya Saga) would contribute to the development of multiple titles including entries in the Final Fantasy series. [5] [6] Following their work on Final Fantasy VI , Takahashi and Tanaka created a proposal for Final Fantasy VII ; while deemed too dark for the Final Fantasy series, they were allowed to develop it as their own project titled Xenogears . [7] Takahashi's ambition and drive prompted Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, then Executive Vice President at Square, to appoint him as director. [5] [8] Takahashi also wrote the script with Tanaka. [6] [7] Following the release of Xenogears, Takahashi became dissatisfied with Square's business approach at the time, which prioritized their major intellectual properties including Final Fantasy. This left Takahashi with no funding or creative room to develop further independent projects or continue his planned Xenogears series. [9] [10] [11]

Tetsuya Takahashi is currently the head of his own game development company Monolith Soft, Inc. In the past, Takahashi has worked at Square, participating on such games as Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. His most notable works are those within the Xenogears (Square), Xenosaga and Xenoblade Chronicles series, all of which he directed. He is married to Soraya Saga, who also worked with him at Square Enix, as well as on Xenogears, Xenosaga, and Soma Bringer. He is the co-founder and director of Monolith Soft.

Nihon Falcom Corporation is a Japanese video game company who primarily develop role-playing video games, most notably in the Ys and The Legend of Heroes series. The company was founded in 1981, making them one of the oldest role-playing game developers still in existence today. They are credited with pioneering the action role-playing game genre, the Japanese role-playing game industry, and the development of the personal computer software industry in Japan as a whole.

Square Co., Ltd. was a Japanese video game company founded in September 1986 by Masafumi Miyamoto. It merged with Enix in 2003 to form Square Enix. The company also used SquareSoft as a brand name to refer to their games, and the term is occasionally used to refer to the company itself. In addition, "Square Soft, Inc" was the name of the company's American arm before the merger, after which it was renamed to "Square Enix, Inc".

In 1999, Takahashi talked with Hirohide Sugiura, who had likewise worked at Square and was beginning to feel frustrated due to a lack of creative freedom. After discussing the matter, the two decided to create their own company and pursue projects they wanted to create. When planning their new company, Takahashi and Sugiura decided that they needed a publisher with substantial market presence to help them rather than being an independent studio. Takahashi and Sugiura approached multiple companies for support, but most of the companies they contacted outright rejected their offer as they believed that Monolith Soft should be an independent company. However, Namco were interested in investing into Monolith Soft as a dedicated subsidiary, whilst handling logistics and marketing so that the core staff could focus on game development. [9] An important supporter of Monolith Soft was Namco's founder Masaya Nakamura, who shared many of Takahashi and Sugiura's goals and ideals. [12] Monolith Soft is noted as being one of a group of video game companies—alongside Sacnoth, Love-de-Lic and Mistwalker—founded by Square staff who had worked on notable titles produced during the 1990s. [13] The company was officially founded on 1 October 1999 by Takahashi, Sugiura, and Yasuyuki Honne, who had worked at Square on both the Chrono series and with Takahashi on Xenogears. [3] [9] [11] The company's offices were originally based in Yokohama. [14]

Masaya Nakamura was a Japanese businessman and founder of Namco, initially an amusement ride manufacturing company, but which grew under Nakamura's leadership into the third largest video game developing entity in Japan during the 1970s and 1980s. Nakamura helped to usher in Namco's growing video game division for arcade games, leading to numerous successes including Toru Iwatani's Pac-Man (1980), which remains one of the highest-grossing arcade games worldwide; for his leadership in directing the company to this success, Nakamura is considered "the father of Pac-Man".

Sacnoth, Inc. was a Japanese video game development company. It was owned by SNK Corporation, then by Aruze following its acquisition of SNK in 2001. The company was founded in 1997 by Hiroki Kikuta with the funding of SNK; its staff, including Kikuta, were veterans of Square. While their first release was the Dive Alert games for the Neo Geo Pocket Color (NGPC), the company was founded to produce Koudelka, a role-playing game for the PlayStation.

Love-de-Lic, Inc. was a Japanese video game developer founded in 1995 by Kenichi Nishi. Its staff included many former employees of Square. After producing three RPGs, and adventure games, respectively, the company disbanded in 2000, going their separate ways to other small and independent game companies such as skip Ltd., Vanpool, and Punchline.

2000s

Namco era

Monolith Soft's first project was Xenosaga Episode I , a role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 2. Xenosaga was a spiritual successor to Xenogears; development began in 2000 when enough staff had been gathered, lasting approximately two years. [10] [15] [16] As with Xenogears, the game was scripted by Takahashi and Tanaka, who planned out the Xenosaga series as a hexalogy. [11] [17] In 2001, Namco producer Shinji Noguchi and Monolith Soft's Tadashi Nomura conceived a new IP for the GameCube unconnected to Xenosaga. Titled Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean , development began six months after the concept was formed, with Honne acting as director. [18] [19] [20] The game development staff of the company was now divided between the Xenosaga series and Baten Kaitos, the latter a project driven by the younger developers at Monolith Soft. [21] Baten Kaitos was co-developed with tri-Crescendo, which came about due to both submitting designs to Namco, which suggested they work together on the project. [20] [22]

<i>Xenosaga Episode I</i> 2002 video game

Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht is a role-playing video game developed by Monolith Soft and published by Namco for the PlayStation 2; the game was released in 2002 in Japan and 2003 in North America. It is the first entry in the Xenosaga trilogy, and forms part of the wider Xeno metaseries. Gameplay features exploration of environments through a linear narrative, while battles use turn-based combat with the player characters fighting both on foot and piloting large mecha dubbed A.G.W.S.; combat in turn features a system of button combinations for attack types, and multiple leveling systems.

PlayStation 2 sixth-generation and second home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 2 is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released in Japan on March 4, 2000, in North America on October 26, 2000, and in Europe and Australia in November 2000, and is the successor to the PlayStation, as well as the second video game console in the PlayStation brand. As a sixth-generation console, the PS2 competed with Sega's Dreamcast, Nintendo's GameCube, and Microsoft's Xbox.

A spiritual successor, sometimes called a spiritual sequel, is a successor to a work of fiction which does not build upon the storyline established by a previous work as do most traditional prequels or sequels, yet features many of the same elements, themes, and styles as its source material, thereby resulting in it being related or similar "in spirit" to its predecessor.

Following the release of the first Xenosaga game, Takahashi and Sugiura reassessed the internal structure of Monolith Soft, determining that the current lead developers were too old, clashing with their intended goals for the company to foster young talent. With this mindset, Takahashi stepped down from his lead role in the Xenosaga series. He continued to work for the company in a supervisory role by providing the series' scenario drafts, while younger staff continued the series development. This move also allowed Takahashi a greater degree of creative freedom in a number of projects as opposed to being tied to a single series. [23] In May 2002, Monolith Soft moved from Yokohama to their current offices in Meguro, Tokyo. [3] [14] [24] The next entry in the Xenosaga series, Xenosaga Episode II , began development under a new team following the release of Episode I. While developing Episode II, the staff shifted their focus from the main series to help tell the story through multiple media. [22] [21] Among these additional projects was Xenosaga: Pied Piper , a spin-off title for mobile devices co-developed with Tom Create and Namco Mobile. [21] [25] [26] Pied Piper was Tanaka's last work on the Xenosaga series. [17] Beginning in 2003, Monolith Soft also developed Namco × Capcom , a PlayStation 2 crossover game featuring character's from various Namco and Capcom video games. The idea was proposed by Monolith Soft, with development lasting two years. [27] [28]

Meguro Special ward in Kantō, Japan

Meguro is a special ward in Tokyo, Japan. The English translation of its Japanese self-designation is Meguro City. The ward was founded on March 15, 1947.

Tokyo Capital of Japan

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2018, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.

<i>Xenosaga Episode II</i> 2004 video game

Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse is a role-playing video game developed by Monolith Soft for the PlayStation 2. It was published in Japan (2004) and North America (2005) by Namco, and in Europe by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (2005). It is the second entry in the Xenosaga trilogy, and forms part of the wider Xeno metaseries. Continuing directly from the events of Xenosaga Episode I, Xenosaga Episode II sees protagonists Shion Uzuki and Jr. continuing to combat the plots of the U-TIC Organization and the insane Albedo Piazzolla. Gameplay is carried over from the first game, featuring exploration of environments through a linear narrative, while battles follow a turn-based system featuring a system of button combinations, multiple leveling systems, and combat featuring both the characters on foot and piloting large mecha called "E.S.".

In 2006, Monolith Soft was involved in four released titles; Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII , Xenosaga I & II , Xenosaga Episode III and Baten Kaitos Origins . [29] Dirge of Cerberus, was primarily developed by Square Enix with Monolith Soft providing development support. [29] [30] Xenosaga I & II was an expanded re-imagining of the first two games for the Nintendo DS, and is notable for being Monolith Soft's first title for handheld game consoles. [31] [32] The game was co-developed Tom Create in collaboration with multiple staff who had worked on the anime adaptation for the first Xenosaga. [26] [31] Xenosaga Episode III began development in 2004. While Xenosaga was planned as a hexalogy, the new team decided to restructure the series as a trilogy. Episode III the last planned entry in the series, with further games depending on its commercial success. [21] [33] The mixed commercial and critical performance of the Xenosaga series left Monolith Soft's development staff in a state of low morale. [34] Baten Kaitos Origins, again co-developed with tri-Crescendo, was released late in the lifespan of the GameCube shortly before the release of Nintendo's new home console the Wii. [35] A Baten Kaitos game for the DS was also in development at Monolith Soft, but Namco, which by this point had merged with Bandai to become Namco Bandai, cancelled the project. [32] [35] A third Baten Kaitos game was in early development for "a long time" according to Honne, but was cancelled due to unspecified circumstances. Future efforts with the series depended upon both fan demand and the cooperation of IP owners Namco. [36]

Nintendo era

According to Sugiura, Monolith Soft's relations with Namco had undergone a negative change after Nakamura retired as head of Namco in 2002, three years before the merger with Bandai. [12] [37] The company underwent changes and Monolith Soft felt they were being given less creative freedom, and the newly-created Bandai Namco was less willing to take creative risks. The company then received consultation from Shinji Hatano, an executive director at Nintendo, who advised them to continue creating innovative projects. Spurred on by Hatano's supportive attitude, Monolith Soft decided to break away from Bandai Namco to become a Nintendo subsidiary; this provided Monolith Soft creative freedom in exchange for software development exclusivity for Nintendo platforms. [12] Nintendo's purchasing of the majority of Monolith Soft's shares from Bandai Namco Holdings was publicly announced in April 2007. Nintendo became the majority shareholder of Monolith Soft with 80% of shares, while Bandai Namco retained 16% and remained as a development partner. Namco Bandai stated that the exchange of Monolith Soft shares would strengthen their relationship with Nintendo. [38] The remaining shares were divided between Takahashi, Sugiura and Honne. [39] Nintendo's acquisition of Monolith Soft contrasted against the company's previous publicized approach of not taking part in mergers and acquisitions of other studios and companies. In a statement on the matter, then-CEO of Nintendo Satoru Iwata said that the deal was initiated due to the positive relations between Sugiura and Nintendo, and the two companies' parallel design and development philosophies. [40]

Monolith Soft's first releases following its acquisition by Nintendo were Soma Bringer and Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier for the Nintendo DS and Disaster: Day of Crisis for the Wii, all released in 2008. [29] Soma Bringer was the company's first portable title to be developed entirely in-house, it was designed as an experience driven by gameplay rather than narrative. Multiple returning staff from the Xenosaga series including Takahashi and Tanaka contributed to the game. [6] [41] Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier, a crossover RPG, was co-developed with Banpresto and featured cameo appearances from Monolith Soft's Xenosaga series. [42] [43] Disaster: Day of Crisis, Monolith Soft's first and to-date only non-RPG game, was intended as a showcase for the capabilities of the Wii. Due to quality concerns and Monolith Soft's unfamiliarity with the Wii hardware, it was delayed from its planned 2006 release by two years. [29] [44] [45] Monolith Soft was also chosen to develop Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans due to their pedigree at developing RPGs. [46] During this period they assisted in the development of Super Smash Bros. Brawl . [29]

From mid 2006, Takahashi was working on a separate project; struck by an idea of rival civilizations emerging on the frozen bodies of two warring gods, he and Honne constructed a model of the two gods to better visualize the idea. After bringing their idea to Nintendo producer Satoshi Yamagami, the team began development in 2007. Takahashi later stated that the game's development acted as a means of boosting company morale after the failure of the Xenosaga series. The director, Koh Kojima, started his directorial debut with this game, having previously written the scenario for Baten Kaitos Origins. This game also saw a shift away from the narrative-heavy approach of Monolith Soft's earlier work, which Takahashi stated had been called out as old-fashioned. [34] [24] In contrast to many earlier Monolith Soft projects, the game was designed with an international release in mind. [47] The intended scale of the game caused problems, and Takahashi reluctantly went to Yamagami with a list of proposals to cut down the game to a suitable size as he was accustomed to doing for previous projects. Yamagami rejected all of Takahashi's suggestions, instead persuading Nintendo to keep supporting the project and allow the team to complete their work as envisioned. [5] Originally titled Monado: Beginning of the World, Iwata had the title changed to honor Takahashi's previous work on Xenogears and the Xenosaga franchise. The new title was Xenoblade Chronicles . [48]

2010s

Xenoblade Chronicles released in 2010 in Japan, and after multiple delays, also released worldwide to unexpected critical and commercial success. [47] Also released that year was Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier Exceed , a sequel to the original game co-developed with Banpresto that expanded upon the mechanics of the original and featured further Xenosaga cameos. [49] [50] [51] In 2011, Monolith Soft founded a new studio in Kyoto, closer to Nintendo's home base so the two companies could better interact with each other. Despite some initial reservations, the staff quickly settled into their new offices and the studio became a lauded place of work. [52] [53] Rather than original projects, the Kyoto branch acts as a supplementary studio, providing support for Monolith Soft and on Nintendo's in-house projects. The Kyoto branch has provided support for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011), Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012), Pikmin 3 (2013), The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013), Splatoon , (2015), Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (2015), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017) and Splatoon 2 (2017). [29] [53] [54] [55] [56] By the beginning of 2012, Namco Bandai had sold its remaining 400 shares in Monolith Soft to Nintendo. [39] [57]

The next game released from Monolith Soft, again in collaboration with Banpresto, was Project X Zone for the Nintendo 3DS. A successor to Namco × Capcom, the game received development support from and featured characters from franchises owned by Namco Bandai, Capcom and Sega. [58] [59] [60] Following the release of Xenoblade Chronicles, Monolith Soft was also working on a follow-up titled Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U. A spiritual successor to the first game, and the company's first high-definition video game title, Xenoblade Chronicles X shifted from a story-driven to an open world gameplay-driven structure. [55] [61] The incorporation of an extensive multiplayer element resulted in its release being delayed and the narrative being substantially altered. [62] [63] Monolith Soft also developed a sequel to Project X Zone, Project X Zone 2 . In addition to changing the character roster selected from Sega, Capcom and Bandai Namco, the game introduced characters from the Nintendo franchise Fire Emblem in addition to characters from Xenoblade Chronicles. [64] [65] [66]

During the last development stages of Xenoblade Chronicles X, Monolith Soft began work on a new Xenoblade title for the Nintendo Switch. Titled Xenoblade Chronicles 2 , the game returned to the story-driven structure of Xenoblade Chronicles while building upon the gameplay and technology of Xenoblade Chronicles X. [63] [67] [68] One of the game's story prototypes was later turned into an expansion titled Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country , released in 2018. [69] In addition to this, Monolith Soft also began development of a fantasy action game, hiring new staff for the project. [70] The company opened new studios in Nakameguro and Iidabashi during 2017 and 2018. [71] [72] The 1st Production team, known for their work on the Xenoblade Chronicles series, started hiring staff for development of a new RPG project in October 2018. [73] [74] In March 2019, the 2nd Production team started hiring staff for a new project in The Legend of Zelda . [75] [76] In April 2019, the company announced that it would open a new studio in Ōsaki, Tokyo, which officially opened in June 2019 [77] .

Games developed

Note: This list is for titles to which Monolith Soft contributed substantially, being either a major co-developer or the main developer. Minor collaborations and work by the Kyoto branch—which were primarily developed by other studios or by Nintendo directly—and "Special Thanks" related to games by other studios are not included.

List of video games developed by Monolith Soft
YearTitlePlatformPublisherRef.
2002 Xenosaga Episode I PlayStation 2 Namco
2003 Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean [co 1] GameCube Namco [20]
2004 Xenosaga Episode II PlayStation 2Namco
Sony Computer Entertainment EU
Xenosaga: Pied Piper [co 2] [co 3] Mobile devices Namco [co 4] [25] [26]
2005 Namco × Capcom PlayStation 2Namco [co 4]
2006 Baten Kaitos Origins [co 1] GameCube Nintendo [35]
Xenosaga I & II [co 3] Nintendo DS Namco [co 4] [26]
Xenosaga Episode III PlayStation 2 Namco Bandai Games
2008 Soma Bringer Nintendo DSNintendo [co 4]
Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier [co 5] Nintendo DSNamco Bandai Games JP
Atlus NA
[43]
Disaster: Day of Crisis Wii Nintendo
2009 Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans Nintendo DSNamco Bandai Games
2010 Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier Exceed Nintendo DSNamco Bandai Games [co 4]
Xenoblade Chronicles WiiNintendo
2012 Project X Zone [co 5] Nintendo 3DS Namco Bandai Games [59]
2015 Xenoblade Chronicles X Wii U Nintendo
Project X Zone 2 Nintendo 3DS Bandai Namco Entertainment
2017 Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Nintendo Switch Nintendo
2018 Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country Nintendo SwitchNintendo [69]

Philosophy

From the company's inception, Takahashi and Sugiura wanted to give creative freedom to pursue projects outside genre standards, in addition to hiring young staff. [9] [21] An early aim was to encourage younger developers to make their mark in the industry, which at the time was dominated by people in the late 30s and up. This outlook was the reason why younger staff were given charge of the Xenosaga series. [23] Kojima stated that younger developers were preferred as they could bring interesting ideas to a project. [78] According to Sugiura, a major element during the period in which Monolith Soft was under Namco was the focus on creativity. They wanted to balance this with the financial logistics of game design rather than having budgetary concerns stifle the creative flare of the staff. [21] When talking about their Wii U projects in 2012, Monolith Soft staff member Michihiko Inaba stated that the company wanted to show that Japan could keep up with the Western market in terms of ambitious games that pushed the industry forward, comparing Monolith Soft to Bethesda Softworks in this desire. [79]

Speaking about the move from Namco Bandai to Nintendo, Sugiura commented that it was a challenge to only be developing games for a single group of consoles. Nintendo endorsed the challenge to Monolith Soft with incentives such as making a particular game within given hardware specifications, providing the company time and resources to accomplish that. Another factor that changed within Monolith Soft's development process was Nintendo's increased quality control, which would moot any project that did not have the desired quality for their systems. [12] This sense of challenge was also echoed by Takahashi, who described both Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X as being defined by self-imposed challenges to the development team when creating the environments on limited gaming hardware. [5] Monolith Soft's scope and goals are often attributed to Takahashi's drive and ambition. [5] [34] While commonly associated with Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs), Monolith Soft focuses more on making role-playing games for a worldwide audience. [80]

Rather than a fixed development structure, Monolith Soft chooses to freely assign staff based on the direction a project takes, in addition to believing in collaborations with other companies on projects rather than developing entirely in-house. [3] According to a 2012 interview with Takahashi, a prerequisite for working at Monolith Soft is a deep passion for games in addition to general knowledge outside the field. [78] As opposed to many other Japanese and Western studios which have come under criticism for excessive overtime and poor working conditions, Monolith Soft strives for a friendly working environment and reasonable hours for its staff. Overtime is also negotiated with the management and receives payment, a rarity in Japanese business. Speaking in relation to this approach, Honne recited the company's motto; "Zero overtime and creative work allowed". [81] Despite the gaming industry's workforce being dominated by men, Monolith Soft has a notably high proportion of female developers working at the company, with around a quarter of its workforce in total. [3] [81]

Notes

  1. Japanese:株式会社モノリスソフト Hepburn:Kabushiki gaisha Monolith Soft ?
  1. 1 2 Co-developed with tri-Crescendo.
  2. Co-developed with Namco Mobile.
  3. 1 2 Co-developed with Tom Create.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Exclusive to Japan.
  5. 1 2 Co-developed with Banpresto.

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Kaori Tanaka, also known by her pen name, Soraya Saga, is a freelance Japanese illustrator, designer, and video game story writer.

<i>Xenosaga Episode III</i> 2006 video game

Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra is a role-playing video game developed by Monolith Soft and published by Namco Bandai Games for the PlayStation 2 in 2006. It is the final entry in both the Xenosaga trilogy and the larger Xenosaga series, which forms part of the Xeno franchise. Concluding the narrative of Xenosaga Episode I and Episode II, Episode III sees Shion Uzuki and the battle android KOS-MOS search out the origins of the hostile alien Gnosis while being hunted by Shion's former employers and four powerful humans called the Testaments. Gameplay is carried over from the first two games, featuring exploration of environments through a linear narrative, while battles follow a turn-based system featuring multiple leveling systems and combat with both a human party and mecha.

Yasuyuki Honne is a video game artist, director and producer. He was employed by Square from 1993 to 1999 and is now working at Monolith Soft. He is known for his work on the Chrono series, Xeno games and Baten Kaitos series.

<i>Xenoblade Chronicles</i> (video game) video game

Xenoblade Chronicles is an open world action role-playing game developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo for the Wii. Initially released in Japan in 2010, it was later released in the PAL region in 2011 and then in North America in 2012. A port for the New Nintendo 3DS was released worldwide in 2015. Xenoblade Chronicles is the first entry in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, a subseries which forms part of the Xeno metaseries. Although no direct narrative connections exist to previous Xeno games, it incorporates aesthetic and narrative elements from both fantasy and science fiction. The game features navigation through an open world split into zones, side-quests tied to party members' affinity, and a real-time action-based battle system which incorporates the main character's ability to see glimpses of the future.

<i>Xeno</i> (series)

Xeno is a Japanese science fiction video game series created by Tetsuya Takahashi. The first entry was developed by SquareSoft, and subsequent entries have been developed by Monolith Soft, a company founded by Takahashi after he left Square in 1999. While the various games have no direct story connections, they have common thematic links and all sport the "Xeno" prefix, which Takahashi has variously described as a means of identifying his games and a symbolic representation of the series. All the games in the Xeno series take place within a science fiction setting with some fantasy elements, with its stories frequently featuring psychological and religious themes.

<i>Xenoblade Chronicles X</i> Japanese role-playing video game

Xenoblade Chronicles X is an open world action role-playing video game developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo for the Wii U home video game console in 2015. Xenoblade Chronicles X forms part of the Xeno metaseries, being a spiritual successor to Xenoblade Chronicles without any narrative connections to prior Xeno titles. Carrying over several gameplay elements from Xenoblade Chronicles, players explore the open world planet Mira, completing a variety of quests and unlocking new regions to explore and gather resources from across Mira's five continents.

<i>Project X Zone 2</i> tactical role-playing video game

Project X Zone 2 is a crossover tactical role-playing game for the Nintendo 3DS developed by Monolith Soft and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Despite the game being the official sequel to Project X Zone, the plot is an homage to the events of its spiritual predecessor, Namco × Capcom, whilst retaining a standalone story. The game is a crossover between various franchises from Bandai Namco Entertainment, Capcom, Sega, and Nintendo. The title was released in Japan in November 2015, and worldwide in February 2016.

<i>Xenoblade Chronicles 2</i> 2017 video game

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is an open world action role-playing game developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch video game console. Released worldwide on December 1, 2017, it is the third installment in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, and the seventh main entry in the Xeno meta series; although it features a different setting and characters than the first Xenoblade Chronicles, it marks a return to a story-driven game, unlike the previous game in the series, Xenoblade Chronicles X, which was oriented towards open world exploration.

<i>Xenoblade Chronicles</i> video game series

Xenoblade Chronicles, also shortened as Xenoblade, is a series of fantasy and science fiction action role-playing video games developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo. It is a part of the Xeno meta series created by Tetsuya Takahashi, but was formed after Nintendo's acquisition of Monolith Soft. The series began with the original Xenoblade Chronicles game, published for the Nintendo Wii in 2010; it was a critical success and spawned sequels.

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