On fanmade Chrono Trigger games

Posted by Apathylad (3066 posts) -

Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes

Release Date:   Officially canceled, but an alpha version leaked online on May 2009.

I’m not too familiar with the legal system, but I’m pretty sure I can draw a picture of Batman, a copyrighted character, and share it amongst my friends without facing any legal trouble.

Hell, I could just as easily change the ending to the Harry Potter franchise and

However, according to fan-made games involving Chrono Trigger license, I cannot make a sequel to a game of a franchise I love.

Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes takes place a few years after the SNES classic, which was released back in 1995 (and was rereleased on the Playstation and Nintendo DS years later with some additions). The project apparently started back in late 2004 by using a ROM hack, which in this case was the main factor that caused Square Enix’s legal team to file a Cease and Desist letter. The letter, which you can read here ( http://crimsonechoes.com/letter.pdf), states that the ROM was altered, and that the creator’s of Crimson Echoes acknowledged that they with stop the project if Square Enix felt threatened by it. This is very unfortunate for fans of the series and the creators Crimson Echoes, as the main website states that “the game featured ~35 hours of game play, 10 multiple endings, and 23 chapters, much like the original Chrono Trigger” by May 2009, and it was to be distributed by the end of the month.

However, the game was leaked online and made available to download through torrent sites. The designer’s site claims this was an alpha build though, and while it has the basic structure of the game, there are some bugs that were removed in later versions of the title. If you are interested in downloading it, it is recommended to use the ZSNES emulator. Also, several videos of the game were released on Youtube, complete with commentary on some of the design choices. You can watch the first of these walkthroughs here:

 

  

Unfortunately, this was not the first time a fan project of the Chrono Trigger universe was shut down. The original was considered to be one of the greatest RPGs of its day, and fans have asked for a sequel for years (the 2000 release Chrono Cross, while also praised, had some allusions to its predecessor, but also had different themes, characters, and art designs). Another ambitious project that was revealed in 2004 and cancelled later that year was Chrono Resurrection, which was set to recreate events from the Chrono Trigger game in full 3D. That project was destroyed on grounds of copyright infringement as well, so it appears history repeats itself. Here’s some footage on the project:

 

  

As for my personal opinion on the matter, I’m not too sure where the legal line is drawn. Flash games are all over the internet, and many of which use copyrighted characters, so I’m a bit confused as to when something is acceptable as fan fiction and when some trademark is broken. Nevertheless, I commend the dedication that all these gamers have in recreating and reimagining a video game without expecting personal gain. Also, they have proved themselves as adept programmers, which is a talent that many do not have. 
With classes ending soon, I may go back and play the original and give the Crimson Echoes videos a look.

References:

-           On Crimson Echoes

http://www.thetanooki.com/2009/05/31/chrono-trigger-crimson-echoes-leaked/#comments

http://crimsonechoes.com/

-           On Chrono Resurrection

http://www.opcoder.com/projects/chrono/

http://www.chronocompendium.com/Stories/28

#1 Edited by Apathylad (3066 posts) -

Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes

Release Date:   Officially canceled, but an alpha version leaked online on May 2009.

I’m not too familiar with the legal system, but I’m pretty sure I can draw a picture of Batman, a copyrighted character, and share it amongst my friends without facing any legal trouble.

Hell, I could just as easily change the ending to the Harry Potter franchise and

However, according to fan-made games involving Chrono Trigger license, I cannot make a sequel to a game of a franchise I love.

Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes takes place a few years after the SNES classic, which was released back in 1995 (and was rereleased on the Playstation and Nintendo DS years later with some additions). The project apparently started back in late 2004 by using a ROM hack, which in this case was the main factor that caused Square Enix’s legal team to file a Cease and Desist letter. The letter, which you can read here ( http://crimsonechoes.com/letter.pdf), states that the ROM was altered, and that the creator’s of Crimson Echoes acknowledged that they with stop the project if Square Enix felt threatened by it. This is very unfortunate for fans of the series and the creators Crimson Echoes, as the main website states that “the game featured ~35 hours of game play, 10 multiple endings, and 23 chapters, much like the original Chrono Trigger” by May 2009, and it was to be distributed by the end of the month.

However, the game was leaked online and made available to download through torrent sites. The designer’s site claims this was an alpha build though, and while it has the basic structure of the game, there are some bugs that were removed in later versions of the title. If you are interested in downloading it, it is recommended to use the ZSNES emulator. Also, several videos of the game were released on Youtube, complete with commentary on some of the design choices. You can watch the first of these walkthroughs here:

 

  

Unfortunately, this was not the first time a fan project of the Chrono Trigger universe was shut down. The original was considered to be one of the greatest RPGs of its day, and fans have asked for a sequel for years (the 2000 release Chrono Cross, while also praised, had some allusions to its predecessor, but also had different themes, characters, and art designs). Another ambitious project that was revealed in 2004 and cancelled later that year was Chrono Resurrection, which was set to recreate events from the Chrono Trigger game in full 3D. That project was destroyed on grounds of copyright infringement as well, so it appears history repeats itself. Here’s some footage on the project:

 

  

As for my personal opinion on the matter, I’m not too sure where the legal line is drawn. Flash games are all over the internet, and many of which use copyrighted characters, so I’m a bit confused as to when something is acceptable as fan fiction and when some trademark is broken. Nevertheless, I commend the dedication that all these gamers have in recreating and reimagining a video game without expecting personal gain. Also, they have proved themselves as adept programmers, which is a talent that many do not have. 
With classes ending soon, I may go back and play the original and give the Crimson Echoes videos a look.

References:

-           On Crimson Echoes

http://www.thetanooki.com/2009/05/31/chrono-trigger-crimson-echoes-leaked/#comments

http://crimsonechoes.com/

-           On Chrono Resurrection

http://www.opcoder.com/projects/chrono/

http://www.chronocompendium.com/Stories/28

#2 Posted by EpicSteve (6479 posts) -

That's the sad truth about big business and today's market. Props to those guys anyhow!

#3 Posted by cstrang (2381 posts) -

It's a tough line to toe when it comes to top-quality fanmade games.  If it's something that could actually stand as an actual release, developers could snatch it up (or would feel that they had to).  Either way, it sucks for the fans, 'cause we either have to pay for another game, or don't get one at all.

#4 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -

Copyright varies from place to place, and some people come down hard on other people using their property (I doubt I would, but I'm not famous so it's easy for me to say that).  As long as they're not making money from the project, though, their attacks make them look like jerks, and in some places at least it wouldn't work as a legal challenge.

#5 Posted by SuperfluousMoniker (2907 posts) -

I followed Crismon Echoes a bit, it was especially sad how they got struck down within days of completing the project.

#6 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -

Chrono Resurrection looked very good. I was sad to see it shut down.

#7 Posted by Neon941 (238 posts) -

Game companies generally like to keep a tight grip on the reigns of their franchises so that they maintain complete creative control. Generally speaking I respect and encourage that line of thinking, but when it comes to Chrono Trigger Square really needs to just grow up, either they need to just let it go or they need to make a proper sequel. In all likelihood they do plan to make a sequel someday but it's a challenge nobody wants to take on for fear of screwing it up.

#8 Posted by Tiwi (1401 posts) -

I feel sad for the people that worked on them. But then again, what did they expect? that it was going to go unnoticed?

#9 Posted by AltonBrown (950 posts) -
@Neon941: They need to kiss and make up with Sakaguchi. If there's going to be a CT sequel, Sakaguchi, Mitsuda,and Toriyama all need to be on board.
#10 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure said:
" Copyright varies from place to place, and some people come down hard on other people using their property (I doubt I would, but I'm not famous so it's easy for me to say that).  As long as they're not making money from the project, though, their attacks make them look like jerks, and in some places at least it wouldn't work as a legal challenge. "
It should be noted that in terms of the remake project, Chrono Trigger for both SNES and Playstation had been out of print for years. No money was being made by Square during that fan remake's development. 
 
Legality or not: It's upsetting that fans have done more productive and worthwhile things with the Chrono franchise than Square has, simply sitting on the rights and have done nothing with it. That Chrono DS port doesn't count. 
#11 Posted by Cerza (1653 posts) -

I remember both of these projects. Square killing Chrono Resurrection is fucking crime and one of the reasons I don't have a lot of respect for them.

#12 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -
@vidiot: What's strange is that they probably just got more notoriety from the cease and desist.  I think stuff like this needs to be allowed, since it only strengthens the existing product's value, if they ever want to actually do anything with it again.  Maybe they have something planned, I dunno.  I want to think it's some sort of cross-cultural misunderstanding or some gray area thing, but I have little sympathy for big companies picking on fans, especially ones that put so much damned work into projects for no pay.
#13 Edited by MikkaQ (10283 posts) -

Well if they used the rom, it's a bit different than rewriting the ending of a book, it's like rewriting the ending, but taking entire paragraphs from the book as well. You can't really use their assets. Making one's own assets though for non-commercial purposes is fine. BUt the remake would have ostensibly taken the script from the game. Which is an asset. 
 
So basically square was right in what they did. had these dude come up with entirely original material, they wouldn't have been faced with this.  
 
What's so hard about writing one's own RPG, if you can already produce THAT? Or even remaking the sprites and gameworld yourself? 
 
"  It should be noted that in terms of the remake project, Chrono Trigger for both SNES and Playstation had been out of print for years. No money was being made by Square during that fan remake's development.  " 
 
Well they clearly had plans for the game as they did remake it for the DS. Just because they're not selling something from the franchise doesn't waive their rights to the characters and stuff, and it also doesn't mean they didn't have plans to remake it. They were probably waiting for the right platform. 
 
Not to sound like a total dick, but... be original! The movies I make aren't remakes of better movies. 

#14 Posted by TheHT (11128 posts) -

Chrono Ressurection looked amazing, but I've never heard of Crimson Echoes. Pretty messed up of SE to kill em unless they plan on doing those themselves, but based on the letter to Crimson Echoes, that seems unlikely.
 
And OP! Harry Potter spoilerz!!! Not cool. This site has spoiler tags doesn't it?

#15 Posted by Apathylad (3066 posts) -
@TheHT: 
Alright, I put spoiler tags. Personally, I didn't think it was much of a spoiler since it was a main plot point of the sixth film and book, so it was pretty predictable it was going to go in that direction later on.
#16 Posted by WilliamRLBaker (4777 posts) -

Just noticed but Crimson echoes 98% beta was released back in janurary so you can play it without those bugs.

check out prophets guile as well.

#17 Posted by Veektarius (4763 posts) -

I don't see the point in a sequel to this game. The mechanics were good, but there's nothing stopping someone from making a game that uses similar mechanics of non-random encounters, variable enemy positioning, and combo magic. Making a good story is the hard part, but you aren't going to get there by building off of CT. That bird is done.

#18 Posted by Beforet (2916 posts) -

It's a dick move, but I might have been tempted to do the same. Partly for ego, as I don't want someone else doing my job better than me, and partly as risk management. If Square had allowed Crimson Echoes to happen and then released their own sequel, which they may have if CE roused enough interest in the brand, any similarity to the fan game could prompt legal action from those developers. At least, if the developers were US based (which I don't know) and if Square released their sequel in the states. I don't know how copyright works outside of the US, so I can't say for the rest of the world.

It's the same reason most American (again, only going from what I know) authors refuse to read fanfiction.

#19 Posted by Marz (5648 posts) -
i remember these, but yeah i didn't care too much about crimson echoes... but the 3d remake looked pretty cool.  
#20 Posted by Hailinel (24382 posts) -

I remember Chrono Resurrection. I had little sympathy for those guys since, in their game credits, they tried to pass off aspects like the music and character design as their own creations while shoving the actual creators into a "Special Thanks for Not Suing Us" section at the end. I'm sorry, but creating Crono fanart and putting it in your fan game's gallery does not make you a character designer.

#21 Posted by WilliamRLBaker (4777 posts) -

It came down to one thing Sqaure squashed alot of fan made projects because they were being made to look bad they were being shown as a company only capable of reusing the same old formula and then rerererereerrereereererereerererereerereleasing games on any system that they could get their hands on and they realized this they saw aspring fans making games better then they could with far smaller teams.

#22 Posted by Hailinel (24382 posts) -

@WilliamRLBaker said:

It came down to one thing Sqaure squashed alot of fan made projects because they were being made to look bad they were being shown as a company only capable of reusing the same old formula and then rerererereerrereereererereerererereerereleasing games on any system that they could get their hands on and they realized this they saw aspring fans making games better then they could with far smaller teams.

Uh, no? When most of those projects were squashed, Chrono Trigger hadn't seen release on anything other than the SNES and Playstation.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.