Jump to content
Armagon

Xenogears review: a JRPG masterpiece that's only held back by it's age

Recommended Posts

Alright, I typically don’t write reviews. However, Xenogears is an amazing game so I wanted to go in depth with my thoughts on the game. WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! However, said spoilers will be hidden, so if you haven’t beaten the game yet, you can safely keep reading and just skip the spoilery-bits. I apologize if this review feels half-assed or unprofessional or something, again, I’m not really good at these.

Story 

Even before playing Xenogears, I have heard how much of a masterpiece it’s story is. So naturally, that the biggest thing I was looking forward to when I played this game. And you know what? This story is a masterpiece. Easily on the level of Xenoblade 1 or even higher than that. The opening cutscene had me intrigued from the start and while the Kislev arc was pretty slow, I still found myself wanting to keep playing. I’ve heard about the complexity of Xenogears’ story but I didn’t see it at first. I’m one that tends to look at things at face value. However, after reading about the themes and topics of the game, I came to appreciate it more and holy shit, there’s a lot. There’s the obvious stuff like religion, which every Xeno game has, but then you get to stuff like the deeper meaning of society, human nature, 

Spoiler

Anima and Animus (which is a really major theme in the game),

sexuality, technology and it’s role and more. It’s definitely a game that requires you to play it more than once to fully understand it (but it’s a Xeno game, why wouldn’t you play it more than once?) There were somethings I didn’t like about the story though. Some of it can be chalked up to the incompleteness of Disc 2 but even in Disc 1, I found myself going “why”?

Spoiler

 Emperor Cain and the Gazel Ministry felt really underdeveloped. They were just there, they did things and then they died. The latter wasn’t even fought, they’re just backstabbed by Krellian. Hammer’s betrayal came out of nowhere. Perhaps I have to replay the game again but at no point did I ever see any signs that Hammer might possibly betray the group. With the exception of Dominia, the Elements also felt really underdeveloped.

Characters Fei’s got some great character development

Spoiler

as shown in wanting to go from someone who wanted to die out of guilt to someone who achieves an optimistic outlook on life and it’s deeper meanings was great. Fei’s also a really complex character in how he essentially has three personalities formed as the result of trauma he experienced in his childhood.

Fei’s also a pretty likable protagonist. I can’t compare him to Shion or KOS-MOS as I haven’t played the Xenosaga Trilogy yet but compared to Shulk and Rex, I do feel he’s more complex and better written than those two (though in terms of likability, I personally still think Rex wins in that part).

Then there’s the rest of the playable cast. Citan, Elly, Bart, Rico, Billy, Maria, Chu-Chu, and 

Spoiler

Emeralda.

 Citan was a great mentor figure and I liked his personality. I like to compare him to Dunban. Just like how Dunban is a mentor figure to Shulk, Citan is a mentor figure to Fei. 

Spoiler

Citan also had me very suspicious. Seeing him talk to Emperor Cain in various points across the story made me think he was gonna pull a Dickson and at one point, he almost did. But turns out that both he and Emperor Cain were actually good guys. Gotta give Takahashi props for that, he really had me fooled there.

Next up is Elly, the love interest of the game. Before playing the game, I’ve heard that Fei and Elly were one of the best couples in both the Xeno series and gaming in general, beating out Xenoblade 1’s Shulk and Fiora and Xenoblade 2’s Rex and Pyra/Mythra. Listen, people weren’t wrong when they said that. I can 100% agree that Fei x Elly is the best ship. It starts of slowly and develops, but then 

Spoiler

you find out that Fei and Elly have existed for 10,000 years and it just makes their relationship much more inspiring (is this the right word? I suck at writing.)

As for Elly herself, she’s a great character. I was surprised to see her temporarily leave early in the game

Spoiler

but it was to her benefit as we eventually got to see her doubting and disagreeing the methods of Solaris but feeling that she can’t do anything about it and seeing her grow out of that was nice.

Elly is best girl.

Best boy is Bart. Bart’s such a great character. I love how he can be both funny (“BART MISSILES!") and serious when the time calls for it. Because of that, he reminds me of Xenoblade 2’s Zeke, especially since both of them wear an eyepatch and 

Spoiler

are the crown princes of their respective nations.

 I also think he’s got the best design out of the main cast. Also, I found out that he personally customized his Gear, Brigandier, to have a an eyepatch over the left camera and that sounds like it would be a bad idea but it clearly shows Bart’s personality and I love it.

Rico, the first demi-human that we see in the game. I actually didn’t think Rico would be playable. I figured he would be important but didn’t think he would join. He’s definitely the brute force party member, which helped out quite honestly. Personality-wise, it was interesting

Spoiler

seeing him outgrow his cynical personality 

but besides that, I don’t have much to say. I liked him as a character but Rico starts a trend with the following party members and that is that, once his story arc is done, he becomes irrelevant unless he’s in the party. And if he’s not in the party, then he only becomes relevant when something affects the entire group or him specifically. 

Spoiler

Also, are we just going to ignore that he’s the heir to the Kislev throne? The game certainly did.

Billy is the next character on our list. Gameplay-wise, he reminded me a lot of Melia in Xenoblade 1 in how they both have this learning curve to them. I personally didn’t like Billy’s gameplay-style so I didn’t use him that much. He’s a great healer though, since he doesn’t have to use up a turn like Citan in order to heal the entire party. Billy is underdeveloped though. I liked him as a character and

Spoiler

seeing him go from hating his father to being able to appreciate him again

 was nice but past that, like Rico, there isn’t much to say. He pretty much drops off of the radar after his arc is done, unless he’s in the party.

Maria is both the weakest and one of the strongest characters in the game. I used her less than Billy because she can’t learn Deathblows but when it came to Gear fights, I tended to bring her along because her Gear, Siebzehn, is OP as fuck. Character-wise, like Rico and Billy above, there isn’t much to say. Likable character but her relevancy drops immensely after her character arc. She only has eight mandatory lines in Disc 2. Eight! EIGHT! Still, I liked her.

Chu-Chu. I actually have not much to say. Chu-Chu 

Spoiler

growing huge in Shevat

 surprised the fuck out of me but beyond that, I felt that I couldn’t really take Chu-Chu seriously. She’s the mascot of Xenogears, similar to the Nopon in Xenoblade, but unlike the Nopon, I didn’t find myself caring about Chu-Chu that much. I do appreciate that she can heal Gears but we’ll get to that. Compared to Riki in Xenoblade 1 and especially Tora in Xenoblade 2, Chu-Chu just…..exists, I guess. Again, I didn’t really care about her. She’s better than Tatsu from Xenoblade X though. Everyone is better than Tatsu.

Spoiler

Last but not least, there’s Emeralda. When we first found her in Zeboim, I thought she was gonna be important. And she was. Until the end of her arc, where her relevancy falls into the void. I mean, she has one sidequest near the end of the game and the ending of the game implies that sidequest is canonical. I liked her as a character though and she is OP as fuck in battle. I didn’t expect this child (who later grows into an adult) to have so many Deathblows. And said Deathblows had really cool animations. I just wish she had more relevancy.

And then there’s the rest of the cast. I won’t go into too much detail since there’s a lot but I’ll be sure to talk about the villains.

Margie was really nice (also, why does a non-playable character have more relevance than a majority of the party). Her relationship with Bart was well done 

Spoiler

(don’t know why they married though, they acted more like siblings than lovers)

 and she did more things in the story than I was expecting.

Sigurd’s cool. Maison was cool. Jesaiah had potential but he basically doesn’t exist in Disc 2.

I really liked Hammer

Spoiler

and why did he betray us? Like, I understand his reasoning, I just hate how there was no buildup to it. It just happened. Half the game was leading me to believe Citan was gonna betray us but nope, it’s fucking Hammer.

The Villains

Grahf had an interesting backstory, I just wish I got to fight him more often.

Spoiler

Half the time, he was just powering up lesser villains.

Ramsus was pretty great. He starts off as this calm-headed individual who slowly becomes more and more aggressive over the course of the game

Spoiler

because of his inferiority complex with Fei and the roots of that inferiority complex were really interesting, as he was a fetus when he developed it

Miang 

Spoiler

the true antagonist of the game has the same level of complexity that Fei has. At first being led to believe she was just a high-ranking officer, finding out that she’s connected to Fei and Elly over the course of 10,000 years and how she’s influenced (and killed off) humanity over the course of those 10,000 years was pretty mindblowing.

Krellain was also an interesting character

Spoiler

in how he influenced the world for 500 years. However, it’s hard to talk about him by himself; you gotta take Miang into account.

Spoiler

The Gazel Ministry was really underdeveloped and I was disappointed in them.

Gameplay 

Overall, I enjoyed Xenogears’ gameplay. While I do prefer Xenoblade gameplay, Xenogears’ gameplay was still fun. It was more than just a simple turn-based JRPG. There was a kind-of fighting game mechanic in how you use the Deathblows. Gear battles were fun too though I do feel they were inferior to on-foot battles. The difficulty itself wasn’t that hard, at least for on-foot battles. The only times I really had to use revival items was when I got hit by those instant-death moves. On to Gear combat though, while I liked it, my biggest gripe is that you’re unable to heal Gears mid-combat unless you have HP Frames equipped. If you didn’t have them, you were basically fucked when the game starts throwing boss rushes at you/you temporarily get locked out of the world map a few times. So like, I just turned on infinite Gear HP cheats out of spite. Also, for on-foot combat, this is benefit of the doubt but I wouldn’t have known about how Deathblows work if someone didn’t tell me. I say it’s benefit of the doubt because it was maybe in the game’s manual. I emulated the game so I didn’t have access to it. My other two gripes with the gameplay are the camera and the sense of direction. I got lost so many times and I had to look up a walkthrough just to find out how to progress. With the exception of the Kislev sewers, that one dungeon in Shevat, and the final dungeon, there are no dungeon maps (and for the former two, you have to actually find the maps). So whenever I found items and stuff, I didn’t find them because I was exploring the dungeon, I found them because I got lost and just happened to stumble across it. However, these gripes can easily be chalked up to the game’s age. A remake should easily fix those issues. The gameplay is still great, it just really shows it’s age sometimes. 

Spoiler

Babel Tower and Anima Dungeon 2 can go to hell though. The former requires a lot of platforming but you can't turn the camera. If you miss a jump, it's back to the beginning for you (by that, i mean back to that section). There's one part where you're vision is obscured and it's bullshit. I'm glad i abused save states for that part. Anima Dungeon 2 has cryptic puzzle solving that you aren't solving without a walkthrough.

Music Xenogears soundtrack is great. Perhaps not God-tier like the soundtracks in the Xenoblade games but still great. Easily has some of my favorite town themes. (Thames is my favorite). Also, y’all talk about the Oblivia and Mor Ardain themes but no one ever talks about Dazil, the original Xeno desert theme. The battle theme, I felt was alright. It didn’t stand out that much. Knights of Fire (the boss theme), however, is great and it WILL get stuck in your head. Every night in my dreams, I hear “total sentence imposed is ten”. It’s an amazing song. Some of the event themes were pretty cool. But you know what part of the soundtrack is God-tier? The ending theme. Like, even if you have no interest in playing Xenogears, go listen to the ending theme. It’s called Small Two of Pieces. Stars of Tears is also a God-tier song that unfortunately isn’t heard in the game. An instrumental version is used as the overworld theme though.

References Ok so this part is where I realized how much Xenogears references where in Xenoblade 2 and as such, there WILL be spoilers for both games. But also, this part is really only for those who’ve beaten both games. I would like for people who haven’t to find out themselves by playing. But honestly, playing Gears had me appreciate the rest of the series even more.

Spoiler
  • Thames=Argentum
  •  Gears=Artifices (and Skells in X) 
  •  Zeboim=Morytha 
  • Babel Tower=World Tree 
  • The duality of Elly and Miang=the duality of Pyra and Mythra 
  • Abel meeting Elly=Rex meeting Pyra
  • Super Dimensional Gear Yggdrasil IV=that Tornan battleship that transforms into a giant mech 
  • This one’s actually about Xenoblade 1 but the Wave Existence=Alvis when he takes the form of that green light

 

Final thoughts 

So yeah, this game is a JRPG masterpiece and if you haven’t played it, you should. As for where I would rank it compared to the other Xeno games, well, I’ve only played Xenogears, Xenoblade 1, and Xenoblade 2. I haven't played X or the Xenosaga Trilogy but X will be in some of the rankings below since i'm decently familiar with it.

  • Story: Xenogears=Xenoblade>Xenoblade 2>>Xenoblade X
  • Characters: Xenoblade 2>Xenoblade 1>Xenogears (but Fei x Elly>>Shulk x Fiora>Rex x Pyra/Mythra)
  • Gameplay: Xenoblade 2>Xenoblade 1>Xenogears
  • Music: Xenoblade 2>>Xenoblade 1>Xenogears>Xenoblade X (but Small Two of Pieces>Beyond the Sky=One Last You)
  • Overall: there is no ranking overall, I love them all equally. I mean, Xenoblade 2 is still my favorite but that’s only because one of them has to be the favorite. Of the three Xeno games I’ve played, they are all masterpieces. You can’t rank masterpieces. You can rank their individual parts but you can’t rank the overall package. These games are just that good.

Now time to wait for the prequels and sequels to Xenogears that will never happen.

Edit: I just realized that i posted this on the 20th anniversary of the game (in Japan, as it's already February 11th over there). Talk about timing.

Edited by Armagon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you loved it. It's one of my favorite games, and definitely my favorite of the Xeno games. I'm always wary when I see people who got into the "series" starting with one of the Xenoblades go back to it, because while I love it, I grew up with it. I can bring myself to understand that it's a 20 year old game, and it definitely feels like like it at times, especially with the platforming and gameplay pacing. So my enjoyment likely won't reflect everyone who started with Xenoblade.

I do think that for people who really enjoy the story and themes of Xenoblade 1 and 2(At least from what I've heard), Xenogears has a lot to offer, as you pointed out. I think it's probably the most "focused" of the Xeno games(Again, haven't played Xenoblade X or 2, basing my opinions on those based on what I've read), and it starts scratching the surface of the themes that will define the game very early. The fact that when weighed with the option of cutting gameplay content or rushing the story for a better paced experience overall, the developers chose the former, says a lot about the priorities of the game.

Edited by Slumber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your gameplay section only told me about old issues and how it's inferior to Xenoblade Chronicles, which already has mediocre gameplay. If you're trying to sell Xenogears to me, you have failed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Zera said:

Your gameplay section only told me about old issues and how it's inferior to Xenoblade Chronicles, which already has mediocre gameplay. If you're trying to sell Xenogears to me, you have failed.

Ok i never said it's gameplay was inferior to Xenoblade's. I said i prefer Xenoblade's gameplay but that doesn't make Gears' gameplay inferior. Is it dated? Yes. Is it fun? Also yes.....for the most part. From a purely gameplay standpoint, i would actually recommend Xenogears over Xenoblade because while i love Xenoblade's gameplay, i'm also aware that it's not for everyone. Xenogears, on the other hand, is turn-based, making it easier to get into and (from what i've seen) more people prefer turn-based combat over Xenoblade's MMO-styled combat.

I'm well aware that some might not enjoy the dated gameplay but if you're alright with PS1-era JRPGs, then there isn't really a reason to skip Xenogears.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on beating the original Xeno game!

Gears needing to burn huge amounts of fuel for healing, and not having HP Frames from the get go (who thought of that?) was annoying. I can agree here. And on the dungeons, maybe some of the getting lost issues had to do with the really old 3D graphics? 

 

About a certain girl

Spoiler
6 hours ago, Armagon said:

Last but not least, there’s Emeralda. When we first found her in Zeboim, I thought she was gonna be important. And she was. Until the end of her arc, where her relevancy falls into the void. I mean, she has one sidequest near the end of the game and the ending of the game implies that sidequest is canonical. I liked her as a character though and she is OP as fuck in battle. I didn’t expect this child (who later grows into an adult) to have so many Deathblows. And said Deathblows had really cool animations. I just wish she had more relevancy.

Well Emeralda's body is important. Without her, Krelian's nanomachine research doesn't rapidly advance. Emeralda the person, yup, that is unimportant.

I did find the Lighthouse scene touching, she's the "daughter" Kim Kasim and his Elly never could biologically have due to Zeboim's pollution. It's really touching, although I preferred her in her younger form, the adult self seemed a little rushed because that sidequest is all we really get of her past from her perspective.

Technically, Emeralda could go back to her child form. She's a sentient colony of nanomachines able to take whatever form she wanted. That is very interesting and has the doors open to countless possibilities as to what she could be or do. Something like splitting her pieces in particulate able to enter a Gear and then hack into its operating system to disable it would be one idea.

 

As for Miang, Grahf, and Krelian

Spoiler

I like them. The core antagonist trio for the entire game. I think XB1 was attempting a very pale reference to them with the Trinity of Lorithia-Dickson-Alvis.

They're united in one goal- resurrect Deus.

However, what they plan to do after that radically differs.

  • Miang as a biological DeusResurrect.exe, wants to merge with it and then conquer the planet and universe.
  • Grahf, from what I remember, wanted to resurrect Deus to destroy it for good?
  • Krelian, this was my impression during my one playthrough, came after Sophia's sacrifice to believe love between human beings wasn't possible. Humans were inherently treacherous after the double dealing of Shevat and Solaris, love was only a comfortable distance. Thus he wanted to resurrect Deus to force humans into God's "love"? (Then Elly and Fei convince him otherwise- which I find he shouldn't take as a real argument because Fei and Elly were programmed to love each other and have no free will in the matter IMO.)
    • The Xenosaga/gears wiki, maybe its biased, maybe I misread everything, doesn't at all state my first impression I think.

They work together, but in the end, they hate and want to backstab each other. It's an alliance of convenience, very Machiavellian or Bismarckian and something I would love to see again in another game.

Of them, I like Krelian the least. He seems the most philosophical and thus hardest to understand of the big three.

Miang is much simpler to get, and Grahf isn't much harder than her to understand the gist of. Grahf has badass on his side, Miang has more subtle manipulation on her's. Overall I like them equally, I can't play favorites.

While the wiki doesn't say this of Miang, I noticed that although her drive to resurrect Deus overrides everything else, and Ramsus is but a puppet to her, she might, just might, have developed actual feelings for him. Miang can't spare him because, again, her reason for existence is resurrecting Deus, but she might, somewhere in the 10000 years of living, have developed however slight, weak, and ultimately meaningless, have developed a little bit of humanity in herself.

 

One other thing about Karelian. I'm thinking Kallian gets his name from him- they look similar enough and visually there is a passing resemblance- but nothing more.

What I do know, is that Karelian is named after Karellen, a prominent Overlord from Childhood's End, a sci-fi novel by the famed master of the genre Arthur C. Clarke. The novel inspired parts of Xenogears. From what I noticed:

Spoiler

The Overlords living in UFOs hovering over the Earth for decades inspired Solaris the invisible civilization manipulating life on the surface of the planet.

The Overlords work for the Overmind, much as Solaris exists as part of the plan to resurrect Deus. 

The Overmind is both awesome in its mysterious powers, but also ominous in bringing humanity to an end by having it merge with it. The "good" awe of the Overmind inspired the Wave Existence, and the "bad" assimilate all aspect inspired Deus.

 

On Fei:

Spoiler

Compared to many other JRPG protags, he is rather pathetic. From what I remember, he doesn't get his act together for good until his personalities reunify right at the end. And even afterwards he remains a guilt bearing individual.

I do take issue with the Wave Existence reincarnating Elly as a lover figure after making the first Elhaym a mother figure to Abel as he asked. That has struck me as Freud's not so credible Oedipus Complex at work, and I don't really care for that. 

The rest of Fei's psyche is very well handled, perhaps the best psychological situation ever explored in a JRPG. Shulk and Cloud, the former another Xeno star and the latter Fei's contemporary also from Square, have nothing on the Contact here. 

Fei never getting a weapon and always being a martial artist is cool and rather original for a JRPG, no sword, no problem of being cliched.

I did like Citan, as the third most important character, he had a lot of facets to him. He is weak in a Gear, but his ground gameplay is fun, and while I said Fei is great without a sword, the gaining of a katana only made Citan better. The only nitpick I have with him is:

Spoiler

Being Emperor Cain's Guardian Angel, his one and only super secret confidant, how did he not know about Deus? Or about at a minimum the past 500 years and Fei's past lives? Cain should be privy to all of this. I got the sense Citan didn't know any of this at all, which, if Cain really wanted to stop Deus's resurrection, which he did to me, he should have told him.

Elly was good for the 1st Disc, but they rushed her shift into saintly motherhood on the second. In a hypothetical remake, a little "Disc 1" sidequest called "Elly Cares" to hint at this would have been beneficial.

And, this has nothing to with the game itself, but could they not have slapped a naked picture of her on the cover of Xenogears Perfect Works book? :facepalm: Makes "Perfect Works" sounds like splendid pornography or secret sex moves, and not plentiful explanations for all the intricacies of Xenogear's story, which is what it actually is.

Spoiler

Or if they had to include naked Elly, could they have at least thrown on a naked Fei?

Which reminds me that Xenogears is definitely more mature in content than XB or X. Fei's torture as a child when Miang took over Karen was a little hard to get through. I'm not a major fan of hugely mature themes, but I wouldn't change this in XG. The game is supposed to be nuanced serious sci-fi willing to go dark when it needs to be.

 

The nudity at the end will always be a little weird though, nice butt Krelian. But I get they aren't really naked, they're just leaving the physical world and entering the path to a pure spiritual existence. There is nothing sexual, and everything serious philosophical about their nudity, and I can understand and handle this. Fei and Elly I think had sex by that point too, and could surely recall a few memories of doing it together in their past existences (they share a hotel room in the Zeboim flashback and Elly says she can't get pregnant). So it shouldn't be embarrassing for them.

However, the game did include that shower scene earlier, which was played for embarrassing nudity laughs. And I forget if you have to inspect Elly's nanomachine tube at the start of Disc 2 or whether Melchior just says it anyhow, but he says "Don't look at the naked girl" to Fei when he gets up having awakened from Ramsus's near fatal attack. It's conflicting with the serious ending nudity, though I think the point to the shower scene, as much as I want to forget it, was to be a lighthearted moment in the middle of the very serious events of the Solaris visit.

I pity Rico for getting shortchanged with his subplot being cut short. Billy, maybe I just like the priestly types, but he was good (the What?! "I was going to sell my body" line aside). Bart I did find good, and his Aveh reclamation stuff serves the important role of providing a simple grounded conflict for the game's beginning. You can't have the secret plot and more philosophical and allegorical stuff happening right from the start, it'd be not so secretive and very overwhelming.

As for the music, Flight! and Grahf Emperor of Darkness are the two standouts to me besides those you name. The soundtrack is fairly small, but good.

And thats the end to my thoughts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

And on the dungeons, maybe some of the getting lost issues had to do with the really old 3D graphics? 

It wasn't really the graphics that caused it (though the camera does suck sometime). It was more of just the terrible sense of direction due to the lack of a map. The only thing you had was a compass that sucks.  

Speaking of the graphics though, i actually did end up enjoying them (though i enjoyed the sprites more).

Spoiler

There's one part at the end of Disc 1 where you have to escape Solaris and everything looks the same. Corridors, doors, etc. 

I forgot to add this but while i didn't mind the random encounters, they did occasionally get tedious whenever i got lost. Also, uh, are random encounters supposed to trigger when turning the camera? Cuz that's happened sometimes.

Spoiler
28 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

I did find the Lighthouse scene touching, she's the "daughter" Kim Kasim and his Elly never could biologically have due to Zeboim's pollution. It's really touching, although I preferred her in her younger form, the adult self seemed a little rushed because that sidequest is all we really get of her past from her perspective.

From what i hear, the Lighthouse scene was actually meant to be longer, and Emeralda herself was to get more character development and even her own Omnigear (not in the Lighthouse but in another Anima Dungeon) but it was one of the many things that were scrapped in Disc 2.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

About those unused Omnigears:

  Hide contents

latest?cb=20140207055035Image result for el crescens artwork

There you go.

Uh, you might wanna fix the second image. But yeah, i did take a look at the two unused Omnigears in the wiki. I'm actually gonna take a look at Perfect Works soon. There's a fan-translation (i didn't think it was Japan-exclusive but i'm not surprised that it was).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I really like about Xenogears is that it dips really heavy into a horror atmosphere at times.

Fei's first trip through Blackmoon Forest, ANY time Id shows up, Elly's psychotic breaks from using Drive, the sewers in the Kislev prison, any time Grahf gives somebody power, dealing with the Wels, the final dungeon, and of course, discovering what Solaris' food supply is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw your avatar change to Bart and thought, "Does that mean he played Xenogears recently?" I am pleased by this news! Many people had their first foray into JRPGs with Final Fantasy VII, but for me Xenogears was my most formative experience with PS1 RPGs. That Christmas (I think it was 1997? 1998?) I got a bunch of cash, and my dad drove my brother and I to the local Gamestop (or maybe it was still Software etc. at the time), and having read some gaming magazines I knew I was going in with the express purpose of buying games for our shiny new playstation that had the word, "gear," in the title. I got Guilty Gear, Metal Gear Solid, and Xenogears. I have never been given reason to regret those choices.

Anyway, on to discussion of the game! Every two or three years I get a weird seasonal urge to play Xenogears again, to the point that I've convinced my wife to try it out while I watch and coach her through the more obtuse parts (also she hated the platforming segments, including the escape from the sinking sand cruiser towards the beginning). If ever there was a magic videogame wish granting genie, My first or second wish would be for Xenogears to get the kind of remake treatment that Square-Enix is currently attempting with Final Fantasy 7. The story of the game's development just makes me long for that what if scenario.

Gears was originally going to be Final Fantasy 8, before Square decided they needed Final Fantasy to be way more generic for mass appeal. Then, roughly halfway through the development cycle, the bigwigs decided to cancel the project in favor of what would become what we know as Final Fantasy 8. Having poured months of their lives into this abandoned game, the dev team implored their bosses to let them release the game, on the condition that they turn in a finished game with minimal extra funding and time. They did, and it really shows in Disc 2. It should come as little surprise that Takahashi left Squaresoft not long after and started his own company with his wife and a few other former Square employees.

In my imagination, a remake of Xenogears would not necessarily have to have the most polygons, the highest resolution, or the most detailed models (though, realistically, most people say if a remake doesn't have those things, what's the point?), but would clean up the muddier backgrounds to make them easier to navigate, improve the UI, and fill out the massive swath of game that had to be cut. The abandoned subplot with Rico, Emeralda's character development, the two other anima dungeons, the other omnigears, the character never got to be playable but was planned to do so, the whole portions of game that turned into people sitting in chairs on a black background, all of that stuff deserves to be restored. I might personally prefer some minor rebalances of character and gear abilities, but that would be a low rung on the remake priorities ladder.

The heartbreaking reality is that Squeenix will never relenquish the rights to any of Xenogears, and nobody in that company is interested in rehashing Xenogears. I don't even think Mr. Takahashi himself, now with a successful development studio that has proven that they can make JRPGs with positively ENORMOUS worlds to explore, would want to go revisit his old pet project, and would prefer to move forward . But I continue to hold a torch for it.

I got a little sidetracked there. Let me try again.

After several playthroughs I tend to think of Fei more as a playable MacGuffin than the real protagonist. The real main character is, uh, somebody else [I forgot how to spoiler]. You may have noticed that Fei lacks any real agency for most of the game, just reacting to the increasingly crazy events that surround him rather than taking the initiative. From a certain point of view that's the point of his character, and he has a very convincing reason for such passivity, but the in-game result is that you have several long conversations about some pretty important stuff where Fei, our erstwhile hero, literally says and does nothing. He just stands (or sits) around in the same room while Bart or Citan or somebody else makes all the decisions and does all the talking (and man oh man, Citan talks a lot). Believe it or not, this doesn't even bother me that much. It's just an observation I've had after playing one of my favorite games like, ten times in as many years.

On a gameplay related note, I actually really liked the way gear combat worked in relation to on-foot battles. It was a nice balance that I haven't seen in a Xeno game since. Make no mistake, I love Xenoblade X, but I found myself missing the mecha combat in Xenogears. I'm not a fan of cooldown-based specials, and combining that with fuel consumption in XCX's skells just seemed unnecessary. I'm really hoping they develop the skells more in general in a hypothetical XCX2, and it wouldn't hurt to have a look at Xenogears for inspiration.

Edited by Omegaprism
I don't know how to spoiler cuz I'm dumb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Omegaprism said:

Gears was originally going to be Final Fantasy 8, before Square decided they needed Final Fantasy to be way more generic for mass appeal. Then, roughly halfway through the development cycle, the bigwigs decided to cancel the project in favor of what would become what we know as Final Fantasy 8. Having poured months of their lives into this abandoned game, the dev team implored their bosses to let them release the game, on the condition that they turn in a finished game with minimal extra funding and time. They did, and it really shows in Disc 2. It should come as little surprise that Takahashi left Squaresoft not long after and started his own company with his wife and a few other former Square employees.

Correction, Xenogears was going to be Final Fantasy 7(Or rather, it was one of the concepts that Square was considering for FF7). However, a lot of their team during Xenogears' development was interrupted near the end of FF8's development to go work on that instead, and to help with development of FF9.

Imagine a world where Xenogears was FF7.

Also, I'm not quite sure Takahashi has ever given up Xenogears. Every project since has heavy, heavy, heavy allusions to Gears(Xenosaga straight up having Weltall in it going beyond just allusion). He keep revisiting the story concepts that he first explored with Xears, and the one furthest away from that(X) compensated by more or less just having Gears in the game. I don't think there's a single game he's written since Xenogears that you can play and not go "Hey, that's just like Xenogears!" at. Plus, the fact that he's been sticking with the "Xeno" naming scheme 20 years after the fact says a lot.

So yeah, I don't think Xenogears is simply a "pet project" from 20 years ago to him. I'm sure it probably bothers him more than anybody else that Gears didn't really pan out the way he wanted.

Also, as much as Square doesn't seem to give a crap about Xenogears, they are celebrating its 20th anniversary and they did put Xenogears into World of Final Fantasy, a game that was supposed to just be big fanfare to Final Fantasy. Maybe it was a reference to the fact that Xenogears was almost a full-fledged FF, but it still seems odd to put it in there when other games with "Final Fantasy" in the title got 0 fanfare.

Edited by Slumber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Slumber said:

Correction, Xenogears was going to be Final Fantasy 7(Or rather, it was one of the concepts that Square was considering for FF7). However, a lot of their team during Xenogears' development was interrupted near the end of FF8's development to go work on that instead, and to help with development of FF9.

I stand corrected on the FF7/8 thing.

 

12 hours ago, Slumber said:

Imagine a world where Xenogears was FF7.

It's... so beautiful...

11 hours ago, Slumber said:

Also, as much as Square doesn't seem to give a crap about Xenogears, they are celebrating its 20th anniversary and they did put Xenogears into World of Final Fantasy, a game that was supposed to just be big fanfare to Final Fantasy. Maybe it was a reference to the fact that Xenogears was almost a full-fledged FF, but it still seems odd to put it in there when other games with "Final Fantasy" in the title got 0 fanfare.

Don't you be teasing me now with this World of Final Fantasy business, though! It was so hard to accept reality and move on! My heart can only take so much!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...