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You owe it to yourself to play Xenoblade Chronicles before Xenoblade Chronicles 3

When it comes to JRPGs, few are more shameless than themselves Xenoblade Chronicles. Released in 2010 as a final hooray for the nearly deserted Wii, its colorful mix of MMO-lite combat, mechs and endearingly serious British voice acting combine to create an unrivaled gaming experience. Despite its humble Wii origins, Xenoblade’s massive breadth and all-time orchestral score create a grand sense of adventure that few of its genre peers have managed to surpass – even now, 12 years later.

The rebirth of the Switch is well worth your time and money – especially if you’re excited for the next game in the series.

But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. If we had to name it anything, we’d have to file this cult oddity under flawed masterpiece. This is a meandering game. It’s a tale of tiny tropes and towering titans that’s as often boring as it is exciting, and thanks to its auto-attack system – ripped entirely from an MMO – it boasts one of the most bizarre combat systems in gaming. Despite everything, I keep coming back to the lush lands of Bionis and Mechanis.

Xenoblade Chronicles wasn’t always an easy game – and the hardware it was relegated to certainly didn’t help. I’ve tried getting into Monolith Soft’s RPG masterpiece on various occasions, with varying degrees of success. Since the Wii version was released in an incredibly limited edition, it was nearly impossible to get hold of a copy of the game. So I started my Bionis journey first with a Dolphin emulated version on my Mac – and failed miserably thanks to some useless Wii controller mappings.

In the second round, I was fortunate enough to experience a legitimate version: the terribly powerful new 3DS port. However, it stuck like jelly to a wall thanks to its terrible frame rate. Turns out the third time was really the appeal for Nintendo’s weird little RPG; After committing to the Definitive Edition on Switch, in the immortal words of protagonist Shulk, “Now I really feel it!”

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Just look at this beautiful world. Look at it!

In Xenoblade Chronicles, history rides on the backs of the giants that came before…literally. Centuries after an ancient war, humans and other races have sought peace by creating civilizations on the rusted and overgrown frames of gigantic mechas. While it’s probably not the smartest place to buy real estate, it’s a premise tailored to Xenoblade’s main hook – its sprawling exploration. Starting at the base of each dormant behemoth, you’ll eventually work your way through each ascending Bionis biome, from legs to waist, until you fight atop them – your head in the clouds.

Despite having a barely understandable “Skill Link” system, item crafting, autocasting, and the concept of gaining XP just for exploring still feel like quality-of-life improvements that most JRPGs sorely lack. Combine that with a relaxed approach to sidequests, a total lack of random encounters, and shockingly overleveled enemies, and Xenoblade’s cozy little world feels tailor-made to tackle at whatever pace you see fit.

It helps, of course, that Xenoblade can now be played on a portable console. With a runtime of over 70 hours, this is a mammoth undertaking – and one that’s perfect for escaping on a plane or lying upright on the sofa. Even though Xenoblade Chronicles is a 12 year old higher resolution game, it’s still absolutely stunning at times. With each new area you discover, land stretches as far as the eye can see. From rolling hills to moss-covered mechanical structures, sparkling lakes to murky caves, it’s no wonder developer Monolith Soft was brought in to help work on Breath Of The Wild almost a decade later.

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Without this there would be no BOTW. Seriously.

Xenoblade’s narrative might be less revolutionary than its gameplay, but make no mistake – it’s still one that will keep you invested in this fantastical, fairytale-like world. While the game’s main protagonist may be known to many as “that weird naked dude in Smash,” the stupid, sexy Shulk admirably fits into the category of endearingly naive anime jerks. Almost sickeningly optimistic, Shulk’s faith in his friends and determination to triumph through adversity offer more JRPG clichés than you can shake a potion at. Yet it’s the heartwarming way this lovable cast of characters interact that keeps this down-to-earth British brigade from spawning any vomlets.

It’s crazy to think about now, but as we get closer to the series’ second Switch outing, Xenoblade Chronicles was just a hair’s breadth from being resigned to the rubbish heap. Now regarded as the premier JRPG franchise of the big N, this odd world of mechs, swords, and adorably charming British voice actors was almost seen as a niche Japanese experience – one not worthy of a global release. Thankfully, hell doesn’t have a rage like a despised web, and after the hugely successful fan petition – Operation Rainfall – a massively insatiable Nintendo finally buckled and released the already localized game in Europe and then America. It was a triumphant moment for art, fandom and low-res anime protagonists around the world.

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The sugar-sweet cast will go to your head and heart.

Despite the modern Nintendo exclusivity, the franchise’s origins can be traced back to a more Sony-friendly time for MonotlithSoft as a spin-off of Tetsuya Takahsi’s iconic PS2 series Xenogears. Much like Final Fantasy, which defies continuity, each Xenoblade stars a new colorful cast of cartoon protagonists while continuing to tie into the broader mythos of Xenoblade. However, unlike Square Enix’s favorite cash cow, Xenoblade weaves its individual titles together in some obtuse and ancestral ways.

The third game in the series also promises to stitch the last two games together – yes, they might have taken place at different times, with different casts, but the story’s sci-fi setup means Monolith Soft can draw on whatever is to come Headed into the series before to wrap it all up in one neat little package with the third game. So you owe it to yourself to play the first title – now available for everyone to play conveniently on Nintnedo Switch! – before you dive headlong into Nintendo’s best game of the year (that Breath of the Wild 2 lag stings, right?)

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Like a strange spiral, the third game pulls the last two stories together into one.

With the third release pushed back to July to fill the Advance Wars hole in Ninty’s release schedule, there’s never been a better time to explore what came before.

While the Wii has been something of a wasteland for JRPGs, this Nintendo-backed exclusive has, against all odds, become a staple of the House of Mario. Thanks to Xenoblade Chronicles’ unique marriage of MMO-like combat, expansive open world and endearing, combative story, there really is nothing else like it. While it may frustrate almost as often as it delights, if you have even the slightest interest in JRPGs, you owe it to yourself to swing that Monado and rush full force into this endearing little gem.

https://www.vg247.com/play-xenoblade-chronicles-before-xenoblade-chronicles-3 You owe it to yourself to play Xenoblade Chronicles before Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Fry Electronics Team

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