Xenoblog Chronicles or Monado: Bloginning of the World.

Posted by Dalai (6980 posts) -
Xenoblade Chronicles Edition
For those who know me well, you may know that I've always been a skeptic of modern JRPGs to the point where I avoid them at all costs. I believe I can count the number of post-SNES JRPGs I've played to some degree on one hand. And I think I may have a finger or two left to fill. So it's hard to believe that I even acknowledged Xenoblade Chronicles let alone buy it, play it, and spend nearly 100 hours taking out monsters and Mechon. A game like this would normally be ignored by the likes of me, yet here I am making my glorious comeback blogging about it. So what (or who) is to blame for this? 
 
  • The glowing reviews from critics and fans who praised Xenoblade Chronicles?
  • The grassroots organization known as Operation Rainfall who began pushing the release of Japan-only Wii games last year?
  • The lack of anything worthwhile on the Wii in 2012?
  • The hope of a JRPG that maybe I might like?
  • Hailinel?
To be brutally honest, I blame all of that. With the promise of a great and uniquely refreshing JRPG on the Wii during the end of its cycle, it was just a matter of whether I wanted to spend the money on something I can ultimately dislike in the end. Then I spent the money. It was well spent money. 

The part of the blog where I explain why Xenoblade Chronicles is awesome.

Yes, a Wii game can still be beautiful.
I guess the first thing that comes to mind is its setting. The entire world consists of two sleeping gods, Bionis and Mechonis, who fought each other and... got tired I guessed. Or mortally wounded each other. Life forms on both gods, one bionic, the other mechanic. Makes sense so far. Now these gods are massive and make for some beautiful settings. With plenty of variety, lovely vistas, and spectacular landscapes, it's hard not to stop and just look around to enjoy the scenery. How did they pack in all this world on the Wii? The fuck do I know, but I don't care. 
 
The second thing that comes to mind is the story. My biggest gripe with the JRPG genre has to be the general "spiky-haired boy of destiny finds ultimate weapon, fights to save the world alongside a rag-tag group of friends." Xenoblade Chronicles is about a... spiky-haired boy of destiny who finds the ultimate weapon and fights to save the world alongside a rag-tag group of friends." To be honest, Shulk's hair isn't really spiky in the traditional sense... it points downwards so it's cool. The rest still applies. But to Xenoblade's credit, the characters are likable and there are some twists and turns in the plot that kept me interested. It's a good vs. evil story done right. Personally, I'm partial to Riki for a lot of reasons. I can't find a reason to hate the guy. He's great for comic relief and he's so underappreciated by the group. And from my experience, he's the most versatile of the bunch and a great asset to have. Also, he's a sex machine. 
Blades of steel.
  
The next thing would have to be the combat and sometimes, the lack of combat. It's much more action-oriented and fast-paced which makes it tougher to strategize at times. I did feel a bit overwhelmed trying to understand some of the nuances of the game and it does take many hours to discover and understand everything, but once you know the strengths and weaknesses of your characters and enemies and what weapons and gems are worth equipping, the combat feels great. The best part about the combat is the ability to not just avoid fighting anything not worth fighting. Basically, you fight enemies whenever you feel like it with few exceptions. And even if you decide to kill something, you can just jump right in and start slashing away. The only issue I have with the combat is how easy it becomes if you are like me and must finish every side quest you can find. Those who like a challenge should probably skip the more annoying side quests (the majority of them) and earn those kills. 
 
Another reason why Xenoblade Chronicles is awesome is all the moving parts in the game. Monolith Soft made sure to add as many mechanics in this game as they can. For those who like meeting everybody, there's the affinity system. Like making friends? Talk to your fellow allies... which may lead to intimacy. For those who like making stuff, there's gem crafting. Like learning stuff? There's an arts system with the ability to upgrade. Skill trees? Sure, why the fuck not? Achievements? Absolutely and on the Wii of all places. If you've played Xenoblade Chronicles for any extended period of time, you probably had to spend a solid 20 minutes or more just messing around with your inventory, learning and upgrading your skills, choosing which armor will give you the best advantage, and on and on just to maintain maximum efficiency. 
 
Lastly, Xenoblade Chronicles does all of the things above smoothly. If there's one thing Nintendo hates, it's waiting. And if there's one thing Nintendo knows, it's its own hardware. Combine the two and you have one of the smoothest games of this size and scope. Xenoblade Chronicles doesn't waste your time with loading screens or unnecessary traveling and I am so grateful because if some other company was in charge of the game, I'd lose a week of my time just looking at loading screens. Instead, I wasted time collecting flamingo nut sacks for the local cook. Fucking side quests. I can only take so many fetch quests before going mad. 
 
So in conclusion, it's a game. And it's really good. 

But Dalai, did Xenoblade Chronicles change your opinion on Japanese role-playing games?

No.
But at least somebody dared to be a little different. With the sheer volume of games that are released, there will always be a few oddballs that stand out in the crowd. And with the world proclaiming that Japanese gaming is as dead as PC gaming, Xenoblade Chronicles came out and showed America that Japan is still a threat, or at least can be with a little originality and great design, but it's still the exception. Just like I believe Persona 4 and The World Ends With You were exceptions a few years back. What the genre needs is another Final Fantasy VII
 
If you're facepalming at the moment, I don't mean we need more Final Fantasy VII clones. That's the problem. I think what Japanese developers need to do is some type of dramatic Final Fantasy VII-esque shift in the genre, whether that means incorporating some elements seen in Western games without compromising the "Eastern"ness of JRPGs or... more guns, maybe? I'm drawing a blank here, but some things need to change. The Operation Rainfall constituency might like things the way they are, or maybe not. I don't know them all personally. I'll have to ask around. 

Speaking of Operation Rainfall, Dalai, did it change your opinion on petitions?

No. I didn't sign a goddamn thing and it made its way to my living room. The only ways I contributed to this operation was a simple tweet and actually buying one of the games. I don't think Reggie Fils-Aime is following me... yet. 
 
Nobody truly knows if Operation Rainfall made any impact in bringing Xenoblade to America, but it really doesn't matter at this point. What matters in the end is that two of those games championed by the group has or will be released in the U.S. But I think it was all about padding out the lousy 2012 Wii lineup and in a way, fulfilling a promise of a U.S. release that was hinted at long ago and less about a relatively small group of individuals pushing for games that are too Japanese for the general public at large. It's not like Xenoblade Chronicles came out of nowhere... remember Monado: Beginning of the World? It did have one of those vague TBD release dates back in 2009. People remember these obscure games that get little fanfare and will often never forget about them. I see these passionate cries for something unique as being healthy to the industry and helping get the word out about unknown games. Xenoblade Chronicles would not have done as well as it did if not for the outcry of support and it will likely be true for The Last Story and maybe Pandora's Tower if it rains down upon us. I do think petitions do have an impact on sales and spreading the word around, but I have my doubts petitions persuaded the suits to take a risk like this. 
 
But if it helps you sleep at night, go for it. I'm always up for different game experiences. 
 
Now all that's left to do is actually finish the damn game. Technically, I'm near the end, but I think I have some side quests left undone and if ZombiePie is listening, I also have some shit to suck out of a lead pipe. You know what the lead pipe is marked. 
It's marked "shit delivery system", son.
#1 Posted by Dalai (6980 posts) -
Xenoblade Chronicles Edition
For those who know me well, you may know that I've always been a skeptic of modern JRPGs to the point where I avoid them at all costs. I believe I can count the number of post-SNES JRPGs I've played to some degree on one hand. And I think I may have a finger or two left to fill. So it's hard to believe that I even acknowledged Xenoblade Chronicles let alone buy it, play it, and spend nearly 100 hours taking out monsters and Mechon. A game like this would normally be ignored by the likes of me, yet here I am making my glorious comeback blogging about it. So what (or who) is to blame for this? 
 
  • The glowing reviews from critics and fans who praised Xenoblade Chronicles?
  • The grassroots organization known as Operation Rainfall who began pushing the release of Japan-only Wii games last year?
  • The lack of anything worthwhile on the Wii in 2012?
  • The hope of a JRPG that maybe I might like?
  • Hailinel?
To be brutally honest, I blame all of that. With the promise of a great and uniquely refreshing JRPG on the Wii during the end of its cycle, it was just a matter of whether I wanted to spend the money on something I can ultimately dislike in the end. Then I spent the money. It was well spent money. 

The part of the blog where I explain why Xenoblade Chronicles is awesome.

Yes, a Wii game can still be beautiful.
I guess the first thing that comes to mind is its setting. The entire world consists of two sleeping gods, Bionis and Mechonis, who fought each other and... got tired I guessed. Or mortally wounded each other. Life forms on both gods, one bionic, the other mechanic. Makes sense so far. Now these gods are massive and make for some beautiful settings. With plenty of variety, lovely vistas, and spectacular landscapes, it's hard not to stop and just look around to enjoy the scenery. How did they pack in all this world on the Wii? The fuck do I know, but I don't care. 
 
The second thing that comes to mind is the story. My biggest gripe with the JRPG genre has to be the general "spiky-haired boy of destiny finds ultimate weapon, fights to save the world alongside a rag-tag group of friends." Xenoblade Chronicles is about a... spiky-haired boy of destiny who finds the ultimate weapon and fights to save the world alongside a rag-tag group of friends." To be honest, Shulk's hair isn't really spiky in the traditional sense... it points downwards so it's cool. The rest still applies. But to Xenoblade's credit, the characters are likable and there are some twists and turns in the plot that kept me interested. It's a good vs. evil story done right. Personally, I'm partial to Riki for a lot of reasons. I can't find a reason to hate the guy. He's great for comic relief and he's so underappreciated by the group. And from my experience, he's the most versatile of the bunch and a great asset to have. Also, he's a sex machine. 
Blades of steel.
  
The next thing would have to be the combat and sometimes, the lack of combat. It's much more action-oriented and fast-paced which makes it tougher to strategize at times. I did feel a bit overwhelmed trying to understand some of the nuances of the game and it does take many hours to discover and understand everything, but once you know the strengths and weaknesses of your characters and enemies and what weapons and gems are worth equipping, the combat feels great. The best part about the combat is the ability to not just avoid fighting anything not worth fighting. Basically, you fight enemies whenever you feel like it with few exceptions. And even if you decide to kill something, you can just jump right in and start slashing away. The only issue I have with the combat is how easy it becomes if you are like me and must finish every side quest you can find. Those who like a challenge should probably skip the more annoying side quests (the majority of them) and earn those kills. 
 
Another reason why Xenoblade Chronicles is awesome is all the moving parts in the game. Monolith Soft made sure to add as many mechanics in this game as they can. For those who like meeting everybody, there's the affinity system. Like making friends? Talk to your fellow allies... which may lead to intimacy. For those who like making stuff, there's gem crafting. Like learning stuff? There's an arts system with the ability to upgrade. Skill trees? Sure, why the fuck not? Achievements? Absolutely and on the Wii of all places. If you've played Xenoblade Chronicles for any extended period of time, you probably had to spend a solid 20 minutes or more just messing around with your inventory, learning and upgrading your skills, choosing which armor will give you the best advantage, and on and on just to maintain maximum efficiency. 
 
Lastly, Xenoblade Chronicles does all of the things above smoothly. If there's one thing Nintendo hates, it's waiting. And if there's one thing Nintendo knows, it's its own hardware. Combine the two and you have one of the smoothest games of this size and scope. Xenoblade Chronicles doesn't waste your time with loading screens or unnecessary traveling and I am so grateful because if some other company was in charge of the game, I'd lose a week of my time just looking at loading screens. Instead, I wasted time collecting flamingo nut sacks for the local cook. Fucking side quests. I can only take so many fetch quests before going mad. 
 
So in conclusion, it's a game. And it's really good. 

But Dalai, did Xenoblade Chronicles change your opinion on Japanese role-playing games?

No.
But at least somebody dared to be a little different. With the sheer volume of games that are released, there will always be a few oddballs that stand out in the crowd. And with the world proclaiming that Japanese gaming is as dead as PC gaming, Xenoblade Chronicles came out and showed America that Japan is still a threat, or at least can be with a little originality and great design, but it's still the exception. Just like I believe Persona 4 and The World Ends With You were exceptions a few years back. What the genre needs is another Final Fantasy VII
 
If you're facepalming at the moment, I don't mean we need more Final Fantasy VII clones. That's the problem. I think what Japanese developers need to do is some type of dramatic Final Fantasy VII-esque shift in the genre, whether that means incorporating some elements seen in Western games without compromising the "Eastern"ness of JRPGs or... more guns, maybe? I'm drawing a blank here, but some things need to change. The Operation Rainfall constituency might like things the way they are, or maybe not. I don't know them all personally. I'll have to ask around. 

Speaking of Operation Rainfall, Dalai, did it change your opinion on petitions?

No. I didn't sign a goddamn thing and it made its way to my living room. The only ways I contributed to this operation was a simple tweet and actually buying one of the games. I don't think Reggie Fils-Aime is following me... yet. 
 
Nobody truly knows if Operation Rainfall made any impact in bringing Xenoblade to America, but it really doesn't matter at this point. What matters in the end is that two of those games championed by the group has or will be released in the U.S. But I think it was all about padding out the lousy 2012 Wii lineup and in a way, fulfilling a promise of a U.S. release that was hinted at long ago and less about a relatively small group of individuals pushing for games that are too Japanese for the general public at large. It's not like Xenoblade Chronicles came out of nowhere... remember Monado: Beginning of the World? It did have one of those vague TBD release dates back in 2009. People remember these obscure games that get little fanfare and will often never forget about them. I see these passionate cries for something unique as being healthy to the industry and helping get the word out about unknown games. Xenoblade Chronicles would not have done as well as it did if not for the outcry of support and it will likely be true for The Last Story and maybe Pandora's Tower if it rains down upon us. I do think petitions do have an impact on sales and spreading the word around, but I have my doubts petitions persuaded the suits to take a risk like this. 
 
But if it helps you sleep at night, go for it. I'm always up for different game experiences. 
 
Now all that's left to do is actually finish the damn game. Technically, I'm near the end, but I think I have some side quests left undone and if ZombiePie is listening, I also have some shit to suck out of a lead pipe. You know what the lead pipe is marked. 
It's marked "shit delivery system", son.
#2 Posted by Mesoian (1572 posts) -

The end of this game is a big bag of cocks. Boss Rush sequences followed by poorly constructed levels followed by Boss Rush sequences.

Considering how much hype this game had around it, I was expecting it to be a lot smarter than it was. But it ends up having the same problems as every other Monolith game. A fairly interesting story and combat good enough to keep you enthralled enough until the end, where the game becomes a clunky mess in the developers attempts to make the combat difficult, when all they're doing is breaking every system they spent 40 hours trying to hammer into you.

#3 Posted by Mento (2415 posts) -

@Mesoian: I can't imagine what the end-game must've been like for people who didn't overlevel themselves with side-quests. All I recall was an absurdly spacious castle dungeon, some portentous BGM and cutting down absolutely everything in the way. And then that insane ending. Was there any boss fight in particular (keeping in mind spoilers) that seemed unbalanced?

Hey Dalai. I'm responding to your blog with an @ so you get two notifications instead of one. I think I oughta concur with your bullet point list of reasons for why I wanted to play Xenoblade as well. That darn Hailinel gets everywhere. (I also liked how it was one of the very few JRPGs to make it to Europe, especially with the whole US release still up in the air. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad you guys got it eventually, it's just that turnabout is fair play is all.)

Moderator
#4 Edited by Encephalon (1238 posts) -

Wait. You're telling me you didn't want to throttle Riki every time he opened his stupid fucking mouth?

Seriously, though, I had a reasonably good time with this game, though admittedly I lost interest near the end, sometime after the Japanese curveball, and have yet to finish it. Xenoblade seemed pretty genre standard to me as far as story and character goes, so I'm not sure where the delineation is between Xenoblade and the JRPGs you apparently don't care for, but you're certainly entitled to like what you like.

Probably the best part of the game is the battle system, specifically the precognition twist on it. That first boss fight when you start having to dynamically react to Shulk's visions was just fantastic.

#5 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10375 posts) -

Xenoblade Chronicles is pretty rad!

#6 Posted by Dalai (6980 posts) -

@Mesoian: @Mento: I remember the Gadolt fight being littered with cheap shots. It took me several attempts and some additional leveling up to actually beat him. And I was overleveled throughout most of the game. It was at that point where my level felt somewhat balanced.

@Encephalon: Riki didn't annoy me one bit, surprisingly. And I had a ton of success with him on the battlefield. Anyway, I do realize the story isn't that different from the usual JRPG fare, but I just wasn't bothered by it for some reason. It could be because of my lack of JRPG experience or they just presented it in a good way. Something just clicked this time.

#7 Posted by Hailinel (23689 posts) -

I'm closing in on the end of the game (maybe). I'm at a point where I'm going to do every sidequest I can before I get sick of them, because the point of no return on a lot of the timed quests is right around the corner. That said, I'm enjoying the hell out of this game and am less than half an hour from a hundred total hours clocked. A friend of mine is only a zone or two ahead of me and has logged a fuckton more hours than I have, has completed more sidequests, has more achievements than I'll probably ever have the patience to gun for, and is...well, she's enjoying the hell out of it, too. She also happens to be a diehard Xenogears fan and is constantly having fun with the thematic similarities between the two games (as well as Xenosaga). It's really interesting to get her perspective on Xenoblade, as she also happens to have studied up on gnosticism and other elements that influence the games and their respective worlds/universes.

I do believe, however, that Japanese RPGs are as good as they ever were. You mention wanting to see another Final Fantasy VII landmark, but I don't think that's ever going to happen. Final Fantasy VII's popularity was a case of perfect timing. The game's overall quality played a large role, of course, but so did the fact that it was the first Final Fantasy for the post-cartridge generation of hardware and a game that Sony pushed hard in advertising the Playstation brand. It received more marketing in North America than all of the rest of the series combined up to that point. It was that moment when the series really broke into the mainstream among western audiences.

It's also, unfortunately, that moment that became cemented in a lot of peoples' minds in what defines a JRPG. No matter how much the genre has evolved since 1997, there are still people, seemingly some of the GB staff included, that constantly ignore most every step of evolution that both the Final Fantasy series and the genre as a whole have gone through in the past fifteen years. And even then their focus on the genre is laser-focused onto the Final Fantasy series for the most part, from which they'll zoom even further in on the flaws. Final Fantasy XIII is a great example of this. The game has easily one of the best incarnations of the Active Time Battle system to date as well as an interesting story and characters. But despite what the game does well, critics of the genre zoomed in on:

  • The overly linear map design. This is a valid complaint, but even so, it's not the first Final Fantasy to feature a linear path. (See: Final Fantasy X.)
  • The slow pace of gameplay's unveiling. The game takes its sweet time in doling out gameplay concepts for the first twenty hours or so, but over that same time, the story is constantly moving. There is always something going on to keep the player engaged. And if you're so focused on the fact that you can't access the Crystarium from the start, then you're missing the forest for the trees.

And so on. But in terms of what Final Fantasy is, specifically, it is a series that has always changed things up from game to game. People that fell in love with Final Fantasy VII were upset that Final Fantasy VIII didn't conform to the same concepts. Others hated Final Fantasy XII because it was so MMO-like and put more focus on the events of the story than the characters themselves. If people want an RPG experience that doesn't change that drastically in terms of its mechanics or presentation from game to game, they should try Dragon Quest.

And then there's just the general problem of critical apathy, where certain portions of the professional critics and reviewers out there simply refuse to keep their knowledge of the genre and the games in it up to date. Not everyone is like this, of course, and I don't expect every reviewer to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre as a whole. But I do count the Giant Bomb staff as part of this problem. They cover JRPGs in quick looks, and for the most part, are generally dismissive and uninterested (see the Kingdom Hearts 3D Quick Look for an example of this) or they make statements that make them seem foolish or clueless. (See Patrick's comments about Xenoblade being a JRPG that "finally gets it" in its quick look, or his factually inaccurate comments regarding Final Fantasy and Tetsuya Nomura on the Bombcast.) I should preface this by saying that I am a fan of Kingdom Hearts, and that I have, for the most part, kept up on the story of the games. That being said, when Brad states that he apparently hadn't played through a KH game since the first one, and then had no interest in the story and no understanding of the evolution of the series as a whole from beyond his main point of reference, it seems absurd that he'd even bother covering the game enough to provide a quick look of it because he genuinely lacks any interest in in it whatsoever and has no desire to educate himself.

I can't be the only one that finds that absurd.

Yet, it's this sort of blase, ignorant, disinterested approach that Giant Bomb takes to the genre as a whole that seems to breed some of the contempt for it that I've seen on these forums. Because just like the crew, there are users that share that same level of disinterest, but trust the staff enough that they'll eat up and parrot anything that they spout as absolute, regardless of how foolish the staff looks to anyone that knows better. I'm honestly curious on just what the staff's actual, sum total frame of reference for the genre is, because beyond Persona 4 and Final Fantasy XIII (which Brad reviewed), I can't think of a single game in the genre from the last five years that anyone on the staff has played even halfway to completion, as far as they have been willing to talk about.

Online
#8 Posted by Hailinel (23689 posts) -

@Encephalon said:

Wait. You're telling me you didn't want to throttle Riki every time he opened his stupid fucking mouth?

Riki is hilarious. He's actually a nice twist on his character archetype. Who'd guess he's:

  • 40 goddamn years old.
  • Married with like ten kids.
  • Only Heropon because his kids have driven him into serious debt.
  • Online
    #9 Posted by Dalai (6980 posts) -

    @Hailinel: You wrote a blog within a blog because I referenced you, right? I mean, you were the staunchest supporter of OP out of all the people here I know. You did the dirty work for me and the other lazy bastards.

    As for the JRPG stereotypes, you're probably not wrong about the preconceived notions of JRPGs among many gamers and the Giant Bomb staff... and probably most game journalists in the U.S. right now. In fact, I'll admit to having the mindset as well. Maybe I've been out of the loop so long, I ignore the changes, but maybe the doubters and skeptics like me do have some valid points about the direction of the genre and the similarities. I still think a major shift in JRPGs is needed, but I don't think anybody knows what that is.

    I still really liked Xenoblade so maybe there's hope for me and JRPGs yet.

    #10 Posted by Video_Game_King (35838 posts) -

    @Hailinel said:

    @Encephalon said:

    Wait. You're telling me you didn't want to throttle Riki every time he opened his stupid fucking mouth?

    Riki is hilarious. He's actually a nice twist on his character archetype. Who'd guess he's:

  • 40 goddamn years old.
  • Married with like ten kids.
  • Only Heropon because his kids have driven him into serious debt.
  • I still didn't like Riki at all, though. I'm more than glad that Nopon had no greater influence on the plot.

    As for Dalai's opinion on Xenoblade, I....pretty much agree, only with trillions more words.

    #11 Posted by Hailinel (23689 posts) -

    @Dalai said:

    @Hailinel: You wrote a blog within a blog because I referenced you, right? I mean, you were the staunchest supporter of OP out of all the people here I know. You did the dirty work for me and the other lazy bastards.

    Possibly, yes. Also, you're welcome. :P As an Operation Rainfall supporter, I am doubtful that the campaign itself was entirely responsible for the North American release of Xenoblade. But it did get noticed by a lot of people and, on some level, informed them that hey, there's an audience for those games over here.

    But my thoughts in that blog post within a blog post (Xzibit post?) had actually already been on my mind quite a bit lately, and were only stoked all the more when I watched the KH3D QL this morning. Your comments just made me pull the trigger on my ranting.

    I'm sure that the critics and skeptics do have some valid points, but all the same, I think that it would be better if the doubters and skeptics spent more time educating themselves on the genre before offering suggestions about the direction that the genre should go. It is, as I believe I noted in the KH3D QL thread, that a lot of the opinions I hear are kind of like if a guy read The Hobbit, and then read Return of the King, and then started complaining about how the story makes no sense, why was Bilbo replaced with this Frodo guy, why is the whole thing so much more serious and dour, and where the fuck is Bombur? Basically, it's people asking for the genre to change to be what they want, rather than what the creators of the games and the fans that already enjoy them want, without the full context of what it is people enjoy about them.

    Online
    #12 Posted by K9 (621 posts) -

    Xenosaga series from PS2 was my second favorite RPG series from that generation and Xenoblade is my favorite RPG from this generation of consoles, hands down. What Monolith studio excels at is having interesting storybeats. New characters make their appearance at just the right time and new twists are revealed on just the right occasions. Plus, they are a delight to play as well.

    What Monolith needs to work on for their next game is making actual characters more interesting. Shion from Xenosaga was such a bland protagonist and several of main characters from Xenoblade failed to deviate from this unfortunate trend. The whole Nopon race was awful and that awfulness carried over to their badly designed vertical Nopon village.

    But despite these flaws I greatly enjoyed the game. It captured quite nicely the open world feel of being able to go anywhere and encountering enemies that are way above your ability to beat them. But you know that such enemies exist and will one day fall under your hands. Even when I reached maximum level and felt that nothing could beat me a 120 level monster showed up and gave me business.

    Excellent RPG game. Way better than Skyrim in my opinion.

    #13 Posted by Dalai (6980 posts) -

    @Video_Game_King: So slightly shorter than your Persona 4 review?

    @Hailinel: Now I kinda want some Xenoblade spinoff starring Xzibit aptly named Xziblade Chronicles.

    I don't think I would want the established franchises like Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Tales, etc. to cater to the haters (rhyme intended) and alienate the fans, but I'm sure there is room for an original IP to experiment a bit more with different settings, mechanics, and themes. That's why I respect the Persona series. They're still classic turn-based JRPGs, but they distance themselves from the usual formula and create something unique and brilliant.

    #14 Posted by Video_Game_King (35838 posts) -

    Surprisingly, it's longer. I had to use five images for it, and the caption on the last one is "WHY WON'T THIS BLOG END ALREADY!?".

    #15 Posted by Hailinel (23689 posts) -

    @Dalai said:

    @Video_Game_King: So slightly shorter than your Persona 4 review?

    @Hailinel: Now I kinda want some Xenoblade spinoff starring Xzibit aptly named Xziblade Chronicles.

    I don't think I would want the established franchises like Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Tales, etc. to cater to the haters (rhyme intended) and alienate the fans, but I'm sure there is room for an original IP to experiment a bit more with different settings, mechanics, and themes. That's why I respect the Persona series. They're still classic turn-based JRPGs, but they distance themselves from the usual formula and create something unique and brilliant.

    I think that, perhaps, you should take a look at The Last Story when it ships. The game has a combat system with mechanics that are very much out of the ordinary for the genre.

    Online
    #16 Edited by Encephalon (1238 posts) -

    @Dalai said:

    That's why I respect the Persona series. They're still classic turn-based JRPGs, but they distance themselves from the usual formula and create something unique and brilliant.

    Ironically, take one step outside of the JRPG milieu, and the "high school drama with supernatural elements" setting is perhaps the most well-worn of the last decade of anime. It's really a credit to the Persona guys that they can straddle that line.

    #17 Edited by K9 (621 posts) -

    Dalai market forces play a big role in inhibiting creativity so that studios churn out whatever sells the most. This is true not just of JRPG but games from every genre. How many shooter games can you name that truly stand out from the rest of the crowd in its characters, setting, story, and gameplay? Only MGS4 and Spec ops come to my mind and even they are not truly unique in all aspects.

    There have been several JRPG games that have experimented with something new but since something new doesn't equate to financial success, they just kind of faded way from the psyche of the masses. Xenosaga series was originally meant to be 6 games that spanned across multiple generation of consoles but lack of financial success did not allow it to reach its true potential. It was innovative in how it wrestled with some heavy concepts. There is Shadow hearts Covenant and Shadow hearts Brave New world; JRPG games set in 20th century U.S. that had excellent comedic characters and a fun story. But despite their originality they did not caught on with the masses either.

    More often than not what gets caught on are tried and true ideas. Like Encephalon said, a game set in Japanese middle/high school with kids gaining special powers has 0 originality. About half of anime series released every year in Japan has this plot line. I am not saying persona games are bad but they should not be praised for their originality, because they aren't. Games from original Shin Megami Series take a lot more risk in their often dark storyline but unfortunately they aren't as popular as the spin off persona series.

    #18 Posted by ZombiePie (5561 posts) -

    I don't ever blog about video games in terms of describing my experiences...ever. But I came really close in regards to writing a blog about my time Xenoblade and also in regards to Bastion. Both for the same reason in that they were games that were from genres I don't play often and were highly recommended by friends and ultimately I didn't enjoy. Yes, that's right I didn't like Xenoblade Chronicles, but that's okay, I'm happy I gave it a try and am equally happy that the game was released to a wider audience. In fact I'm at that point where I'm more willing to play games outside of my comfort zone than I ever have, even if that means I fall on my face a couple of times, as a result of the experience. I'd say playing games and not liking them is just as normal as playing them and thinking whatever you played is the greatest thing since Optimus Prime died for your sins. 
     
    In regards to putting why I didn't enjoy the game, or what part of it didn't connect to me in the form of a massive blog for everyone to read over, someone beat me to it. MajorMitch, wrote out his reasons and as I saw his reasons were exactly the same as mine

    Moderator
    #19 Posted by Dalai (6980 posts) -

    @K9: Well I can't really dispute the fact that familiarity sells. You mentioned shooters having similar problems with originality and that's pretty much true. The same can be said about WRPGs, MMORPGs, and almost every major genre at this point. I think the reason JRPGs get the most criticism is because of cultural divisions between the East and West and because this stigma has been around for years now as opposed to shooters, MMORPGS, etc. where the fatigue for those types of games are now just starting to happen en masse.

    As for the Persona comments, a game based in high school alone is foreign to most of the American audience even if that whole storyline has been played out in other media. To someone like me who isn't surrounded by Japanese culture and anime, it's not at all played out. However, I wouldn't want to see Persona clones coming out of the woodwork every week either.

    #20 Posted by Mesoian (1572 posts) -

    The worst boss fight in the game, and the worst environment, is when you go back to the "inside bionis". Almost every normal enemy is enormous and every platform is only 3 times the width of your character. That means if you're trying to position yourself to do back and side attacks like you have been ALL GAME, you're constantly falling off and dying. The boss of that area, the woman commanding the Telethia is just as bad due to her stupid sheild bits and the fact that her boss room is coated in acid, and your stupid AI characters will constantly ignore it and swim through it in order to get to good position points. It's terrible.

    And like you said, if you aren't dramatically overleveled, the end boss sucks. I was level 80, which is the same level as everything past the point of no return. I demolished everything on the way to the final boss (which is ANOTHER boss rush...), and then the final boss was suddenly 5 levels higher than me. Can't go back to grind it out, there's nothing you can do, Just like Xenogears, Just like Xenosaga 1 and 2. That kind of pacing is garbage.

    @Mento said:

    @Mesoian: I can't imagine what the end-game must've been like for people who didn't overlevel themselves with side-quests. All I recall was an absurdly spacious castle dungeon, some portentous BGM and cutting down absolutely everything in the way. And then that insane ending. Was there any boss fight in particular (keeping in mind spoilers) that seemed unbalanced?

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