How Square’s Xenogears Became Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles

With fire emblem, Xenoblade Chronicles is perhaps the most prominent RPG in Nintendo’s first-party lineup. A one-part open world, one-part sci-fantasy epic, the franchise has won critical acclaim for its real-time gameplay, beautifully expansive worlds, and intricate storytelling full of mythical symbolism and philosophical allusions. The first game took Japan and Europe by storm, driving massive American demand, and the series has been a beloved part of the Nintendo family ever since.

This makes it all the more surprising that, had the story taken a slightly different direction, the series would never have existed. In fact, the Xeno name began with a proposal from Final Fantasy Game. After Squaresoft turned down the idea, this pitch turned into a PlayStation cult classic Xenogears. Despite a warm reception, the game’s behind-the-scenes drama led its creators to pursue their own ideas elsewhere, leading to various spiritual successors that eventually evolved into Xenoblade Chronicles.


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Xenogears: the beginning of a dream


the Xeno The story begins with creative couple Tetsuya Takahashi and Kaori Tanaka, better known by their pseudonym Soraya Saga. They came up with an idea of ​​what would become Final Fantasy VII, which Squaresoft dismissed as too complicated for its flagship franchise. Considering that the liberation FFVII was an exploration of pro-ecology identity and morality and deconstructing power fantasies, which may seem odd in hindsight. However, even at this early stage, it’s clear the pair wanted to create a very different type of RPG.


Tanaka and Takahashi’s idea became its own game, starting as a the trigger of a stopwatch successor before evolving into an original title called Xenogears. Although the game sold 1.9 million copies and became a critical darling, with its intricate characters and psychology-inspired narrative particularly acclaimed, its development left the couple frustrated. Squaresoft infamously diverted resources from the project, which led to a rushed second half, and the two left soon after to pursue their own creative ambitions.

With the help of former Squaresoft colleagues, Takahashi founded a new development studio called Monolith Soft. His first big project would be Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Machta sci-fi successor to Xenogears set in the distant future, with Namco as the publisher. This game was to be the first of a six-part story, through which the team could re-explore ideas from their first game without interference from the company.


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Xenosaga: the more things change, the more they stay the same


xenosaga

Unfortunately, Monolith Soft didn’t quite earn the freedom they so desperately desired. His relationship with Namco got off to a good start, with Xenosaga Episode I critically acclaimed, and the two companies even co-designed the Baten Kaitos series for Nintendo GameCube. Unfortunately, things went wrong. Future episodes fell short of sales projections, and the planned six-part story was condensed into a trilogy. Perhaps most surprisingly, Tanaka left the project halfway through for reasons that remain unclear.


It didn’t help that XenosagaThe localization of was among the worst a serialized story could have suffered from. Namco was woefully opposed to the introduction of RPGs in Europe, not providing continental versions for Xenosagaher own Tales franchise and many other titles. Xenosaga Episode II only reached the continent thanks to Sony but, as the central chapter of the saga, it left players without context for what was going on, thus killing international interest. By the time Namco merged with Bandai, Monolith was starting to feel constrained again.

Fortunately, Nintendo was interested in the young studio. After consulting with Executive Director Shinji Hatano, Monolith joined the iconic company with a simple deal: creative freedom in exchange for exclusivity. After releasing a few smaller titles, the studio came up with a new adventure set on the bodies of two fallen gods. Original title Monado: Beginning of the WorldNintendo President Satoru Iwata changed the name to Xenolame to honor Takahashi’s previous RPGs – and it marked the dawn of a new era.


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Xenoblade Chronicles: The dream comes true


Xenoblade has much better world building than Fire Emblem

Xenoblade Chronicles was a triumph like Monolith Soft had never seen before. With its unique real-time combat, the ability to see the future mid-game, and a story that read like a love letter to classic fantasy and sci-fi tropes, this was truly a unique game in its own right. kind. Ironically, given the failure of the past Xeno titles to be published in Europe, Xenoblade Chronicles was dubbed by British voice talent and became a global sensation even without a US release. Luckily, North America would eventually get the game thanks in large part to a massive fan campaign.

The success of Xenolame almost guaranteed a follow-up and, after porting the original to the 3DS, Monolith released Xenoblade Chronicles X. More of a spiritual successor than a direct sequel, the story followed a team of American space colonists stranded on the alien world of Mira. While not as groundbreaking as the original, the game’s various innovations and more futuristic setting were generally well received, and it remains a fan favorite to this day. Over the next two years, Monolith will build on XCXadditions to build a real sequel.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 extended the tradition of growth Xenolame multiverse, revisiting many ideas from the original while reinterpreting them in its own way. Although some older fans were disappointed with the game’s apparent desire to woo a younger audience, with a brighter world and more anime-influenced character designs, it nonetheless became Monolith’s most successful game. . He exceeded XCXthe original and its Definitive Edition remake in sales, and even got a standalone prequel game called Torna – The Golden Country to develop its backstory.

The story of Xenolame is a story every bit as compelling and heartwarming as the games themselves. It’s one of the few times a creator has been truly rewarded for sticking to their own vision and making this fight work out for the best. Despite all the battles Tetsuya Takahashi has fought throughout his career, his work has never been more popular and fans couldn’t be more excited about the newly revealed film. Xenoblade Chronicles 3. As the characters on the show would say, sometimes the future really can be changed for the better.


Keep reading: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will finally bring together the stories of the franchise

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