196th RPG Review Special Part 2: Xenogears for the PS1 review

Hello,  and welcome back to another part of the multi-part RPG review, counting down to the 200th review! I decided to take a look at a great and somewhat untouched RPG from the vault of Square’s gaming library. It’s weird that they haven’t touched this game to make loads of money on. I mean, they do know they don’t HAVE to do Final Fantasy. I know they have bought a lot of companies and their products like I.O Interactive and their Hitman and poorly done Kane and Lynch franchise. They also bought out Crystal Dynamics, who made the Legacy of Kain and Tomb Raider series, but that is for another time. We are here to talk about RPG’s. Today, we are going to talk about a game that is amazingly good, and for some reason, no sequels have been made for it. There is a so-called prequel trilogy that is supposed to be connected to the series, but the producer denied any connections to it. This game I am talking is the beloved Xenogears. Like I said a couple times, it’s weird that they don’t touch this game. I mean, it sold over a million copies by 2003. That should declare a sequel. Anyway, just like Threads of Fate, this game is great, and I would highly recommend it if you’re a rabid RPG gamer and love the old Squaresoft titles.

The story starts off with our main hero, Fei Wong Fong. Enter your Gundam Wing, “Hey, he looks like Chang Wufei!” comment here, and move on. He lives a peaceful life in a small village named Lahan with his close friends. However, after meeting up with another main character, a doctor named Citan, Lahan is under attack by giant Gundam-like robots. Fei is forced to take control of one of the robots known as Weltall. While fighting the enemies in this new robot, he goes berserk, and without him knowing it, kills his closest friends and destroys part of the village. After finding out this dark fact, Fei leaves the village to get revenge on the other kingdoms that are having a war over the land of Ignas. The story has some good moments, some dark moments, and some hidden religious themes of reincarnation of destiny, but there are a lot of side stories that kind of make the entire story confusing as a whole. The characters are well fleshed out to an extent, and it’s enjoyable. It is better than Final Fantasy 13’s story.
The gameplay is very unique in Xenogears. It uses the usual active-time battle system that the Final Fantasy franchise used to use, but it has some very interesting touches to the formula. Instead of just choosing an attack and waiting for the turns to be over, you get to control what attacks your character does. All of the main characters can perform combo attacks by pressing a certain pattern of buttons, like “square, square, triangle”. Throughout the game, the character can perform super moves ala Street Fighter if you press certain buttons in order. Characters can also learn magic-like moves, like the usual fire, earth, water, and wind attacks, but updated for the post-apocalyptic world of Xenogears. The other main gimmick is the Gears, your giant Gundam robots for the game. During most parts of the game, mostly boss fights, you get to control your own giant robots. You usually get your small, medium, and strong attack, and can only perform combo moves when you get attack points. This can happen when you perform a simple and successful hit on an enemy. Your Gears also have special powers, but they usually are what magic style attacks your characters have. You can’t always use your gears due to the fuel system that is used each time you use an attack. During the exploration of the dungeons or levels, whichever you like to call them, there are minor platforming sections and some puzzle solving, but it isn’t as in-depth as the combo system.
The graphics have that isometric look that a lot of late PS1 games had, like Final Fantasy Tactics, Wild Arms 2, Grandia, and Journey to the West shared. Battles take place in 3D, but your characters still stay that pixilated sprite look, and the animations are nice. The music is amazing with the composer being Yasunori Mitsuda who is famous for the music for Chrono Trigger and its sequel, Chrono Cross. He has also worked on games like Tobal No.1, Mario Party 2, Front Mission Gun Hazard, Graffiti Kingdom, Xenoblade, and Radical Dreamers. He is a very super talented guy with some great tunes put into Xenogears that sound in the right place due to the whole post-apocalyptic world setting. I mean, the world itself isn’t like damaged or destroyed, it’s more like an earth with grassy fields, mountains, and stone buildings that hasn’t been taken over by technology. The voice acting is nice, but there isn’t much of it. Grandia and Lunar: Silver Star Story had much more voice acting.
However, this wonderful RPG does have some glaring flaws. The first thing I noticed during the platforming sections is that the controls are awkward since you have to use the D pad to control your character. Why didn’t Sony do analog stick controllers at the beginning?! It makes platforming just frustrating and not that fun since you have to be very accurate with your jump or else you will miss it. This game came out in 1998 and it should have used the analog stick technology! I also find it hard to progress sometimes through the game due to very vague ideas on what I’m supposed to do next. I mean, it’s easier to know what to do sometimes, but it took me awhile to know what the heck I was supposed to do during some of the parts in the game. This game does use anime-style cut scenes, but you don’t see a lot of them, nor do you hear a lot of voice acting. These elements are rare and far between, and it’s annoying! If you are going to use them, USE THEM MORE OFTEN! I also wish there were more healing abilities for your Gears, since potion-like items won’t work on them.
Xenogears was a big surprise for me when I first played it. Yeah, the story might be a little Gundam-esque with some plot holes here and there, and it might be tedious at times, but it is one of my favorite RPGs. It has a unique combat system, and you get to pilot giant robots! You could go out and find a hard copy of the game, which is about 30 bucks, maybe more, but you can easily get it for 10 dollars from the PSN store. Again, 10 dollars for an RPG that takes about 40 hours to complete, if that doesn’t sound like a great deal, then I don’t know what is. Thank you for reading this, and we are now down to 4 RPGs left!
This game gets an 8 out of 10