There was a time when the mere mention of the phrase ‘Japanese RPG’ would result in one of two responses – total rapture from the legions of fans of the seemingly endless series of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, or loud yawns from the rest who didn’t get it and just saw a hugely overblown and repetitive formula.
Now, ironically, Nintendo have released possibly the finest evolution of this sub-genre exclusively on the Wii, which many observers suspect is in a state of decline. Xenoblade Chronicles is anything but derivative, though, as it’s set in the unique world of Bionis which is a land that has literally grown up on the petrified body of a giant.
Monado versus Mechon
The peaceful Homs (or humans) who live there are under constant attack from a race of evil robots known as the Mechon, and when one of the Colonies is attacked and many of its inhabitants killed, a young orphan called Shulk decides to set off with some of his close pals and other companions he acquires on the way to seek vengeance.
The main focus of Xenolblade Chronicles’ storyline is on a mysterious blade called Monado that Shulk has inherited. If the sword’s full powers are uncovered, he will be able to defeat the Mechon hordes. Although there are countless cut-scenes, several are used to display Shulk’s other ability – to see into the future and then to use that knowledge to avoid disaster.
Battles generally play out along the same lines as Final Fantasy, with only one character being controlled at a time. Special moves can be developed, though, and your party can build their affinity to the point where chain link attacks can be made – very useful against harder opponents and bosses.
With extensive quests also available (in the style of World of Warcraft), massive, beautifully realised maps to explore (and thus gain xp), a huge cast to get to know, a stunning score and a compulsive story to keep you hooked, Xenoblade Chronicles has scaled the heights of the JRPG.
- Stunning locations and massive maps.
- Maybe still a few too many cut-scenes.
Xenoblade Chronicles may well have single-handedly rescued the JRPG from terminal decline with gorgeous graphics, a beautiful soundtrack, an engaging narrative and a happy marriage of Final Fantasy style combat and a plethora of side quests.