Monolith Soft is a Japanese video game studio founded by Tetsuya Takahashi and Hirohide Sugiura, best known for their Eastern RPGs, particularly the "Xeno" metaseries.
Most of the people that would eventually form the company were just a nameless studio under Square Co., producing two well-received RPGs for the Sony PlayStation: Xenogears and Chrono Cross. Takahashi and his team wished to make Xenogears a full fledged series, but they were unable to as Square's higher-ups wanted to focus their resources on their Earth-shatteringly popular Final Fantasy franchise.
Shortly after the creation of Chrono Cross, Takahashi and many of his team members left Square and went to Namco, the company who would provide them the start-up capital needed to form their own company. Thus, Monolith Soft was born. For the entirety of The Sixth Generation of Console Video Games, Monolith Soft was a subsidiary of Namco. Due to his departure from Square, Takahashi could not acquire the rights to Xenogears. Instead, he decided to create Spiritual Successor Xenosaga, which he was able to develop into a proper series, but failed to realize his complete vision before it suffered enormous amounts of problems in production and was canceled after Episode 3. Monolith Soft was also able to produce the Cult Classic Nintendo GameCube RPG Baten Kaitos.
Towards the beginning of The Seventh Generation, the newly-merged Namco Bandai sold 80% of its share of Monolith to Nintendo, making the company its subsidiary; they would later sell the rest, making Monolith Soft a first-party developer for the gaming giant. Their most noted projects under Nintendo are Xenoblade (or Xenoblade Chronicles outside Japan) games: Spiritual Successors to Xenogears and Xenosaga which have arguably become the most popular and successful of the Xeno series. They have also lent developmental assistance to some of Nintendo's other first-party games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2, particularly its Octo Expansion.
They're well known for a story Takahashi refers to as something called "Perfect Works", that never was able to be told the way Takahashi wanted it to be. Xenogears and Xenosaga were intended to be parts of it, but the games being canceled and suffering such massive production issues forced him to start over and reboot the whole thing. The most insane part of this is that when Takahashi had seemingly gave up on it and went on to other things,Satoru Iwata convinced him to attach the Xeno title to a game he was working on completely unrelated to Perfect Works to honor his past struggles. This game called Monado: Beginning of the world, became Xenoblade. This, combined with Nintendo contributing with a minor miracle of their own by delaying Xenoblade to let Takahashi see it through to the end, allowed him to release the game mostly as he intended. Being an absolute success, Takahashi was allowed to make sequels that retroactively added Gears and Saga elements thus Xenoblade managed to revive the Perfect Works story line completely by accident.
They should not be confused with the American-based game developer Monolith Productions.
Games by future employees under Square
Games under Namco/Namco-Bandai
Games under Nintendo
- Disaster: Day of Crisis
- Endless Frontier: Super Robot Taisen OG Saga (co-developed with Namco Bandai subsidiary Banpresto)
- Endless Frontier Exceed: Super Robot Taisen OG Saga
- Project X Zone (co-developed with Namco Bandai subsidiary Banpresto)
- Project X Zone 2
- Soma Bringer
- Xenoblade Chronicles