When I was younger I remember a game called Dragon Warrior. I didn’t know, or care, it was really called Dragon Quest and I didn’t even know what type of game it was. All I knew was that it looked cool and I wanted to play it. I was confused, there was a lot of menus, and if I walked too far in one direction some monster would kill me. That was my introduction to role playing games on a console.
As the years rolled on so did I. Companies from Japan kept putting our RPGs so I kept playing them. To this day I believe Chrono Trigger is the finest example of what the genre can do. It was not bound by any one setting, it had multiple endings, a diverse cast, a solid story, amazing game play and on top of all that it looked wonderful. It had no equal and I doubt it ever will. I grew to love JRPGs.
Then one day Square, the same company that put out Chrono Trigger released Final Fantasy X. I consider Final Fantasy X the downfall of JRPGs. It was nothing more than cut scenes and character designs with no substance. The game play was horrible, the world was bland, and the characters were soulless. Nothing seemed to matter and I didn’t care. Other games quickly fell in line. Instead of being sold a game we were being sold a digital fashion show with bad pop music thrown in. I grew to hate JRPGs.
I use to hope that one day a new game would come along and save the genre. Breathe new life in it and show people that it still mattered. I know we will never get that game as long there is life in the Final Fantasy franchise. It is too big an anchor to the past and it will continue to drag the genre down as its flagship series. So even when a game like Xenoblade comes around it is just not enough. The old ways carry on.
Xenoblade does everything right. From the opening the story grabs you and pulls you into the game. Visually it looks amazing thanks in no small part to fully fleshed out world. The game takes place a giant being called a Bionis that is frozen in combat with another. Colonies that exist one side are being attacked by mechanical creatures from the other. So that’s where the story kicks off.
The combat is fast and fluid. The action takes place in real time and the AI controlled party members actually come off as having some level of intelligence. There is always something to do in the game. Every knew area that opens up offers its own new quest to complete. Some are basic, like killing a certain amount of an enemy type, while others are far more complex such as trying to rebuild a town and populate it with people. When you die you are not punished in any way and back tracking to old areas is quick and easy. There is a lot of different ways you can choose to play and level up characters but none of it comes off as overwhelming. This is a game all fans of RPG games should play.
Xenoblade is the best JRPG to hit in along time. If only that meant something.