By Ray Atkinson
Last post of June. Time for the obscure game of the month. Last time it was Rollergames for the old Nintendo Entertainment System. This month I am going with Xenoblade Chronicles for the Nintendo Wii.
Usually with obscure games, I like to go retro. Xenoblade, however, is well on its way to becoming retro. Seriously, you cannot find this thing for less than $80. It only came out last year!
Let’s take a look at what makes this game so obscure. Xenoblade is an RPG. Some would argue that the RPG genre itself, save for a few titles, is obscure. That is what Nintendo thought. This game came out in Japan two years before it dropped locally in North America. Why? Because Nintendo had “no plans” to release Xenoblade in North America. It took a highly ambitious fan campaign to change their mind (that and the fact the game sold out at launch in Europe). Nintendo still played it pretty close to the vest and made it a Gamestop exclusive alongside their own on-site sales. In other words: limited supply. That limited supply obviously sold out.
I was one of the lucky ones who bought this game when it dropped last April. My initial playtime only amounted to about 25 hours because somebody loaned me a little beast called Skyrim. Unfortunately, that made me shelve Xenoblade until recently. Fast forward a year. Now I have about 40 hours into it, and I’m not slowing down anytime soon.
This game is immense. I mentioned Skyrim earlier. Xenoblade is vastly similar. Both games have wide open areas that you can explore every inch of. Difference is that Skyrim is bigger. However, Xenoblade has more variety in its areas along with a decent story and a whole cast of memorable characters.
One thing I cannot get over about Xenoblade is that it is a Wii game. That is not a knock because Xenoblade takes full advantage of the Wii hardware. My 32 inch high def displays the game perfectly even though the Wii is not a high def console. I have component cables hooked into my set, and this game has more colors to it than a lot of Xbox 360 and PS3 games. The video below has my favorite area in the game.
As Professor Frink from the Simpsons would say, “The colors children!”
Add that with customizable armor, a boatload of quests, robust environments; and you have yourself a winning combination. Did I mention all the voice acting is done with European accents? So much win.
If you ever played Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo, or Xenogears on the original Playstation, a lot of key developers of Xenoblade worked on those games. The people of Monolith Soft have been journeyman for the last decade, but it looks like they have found a home with Nintendo.
I cannot recommend Xenoblade enough. Too bad your journey in finding this game will be bigger than the journey in the game. If you can’t get it, there’s always the spiritual successor coming out for the Wii U.
I may actually get a Wii U just to play this game. Hey, who says Titanfall has to be the only game with giant mechs that I can look forward to?
This is a weekly blog focused on all things video games. Follow the author, Ray Atkinson, on twitter. @FilthyRay