Xenogears arrives on PSN this week to remind gamers what a Good JRPG looks like.
While many gamers will be clamoring over the release of Killzone 3 for the PS3 this week, the real news is that a classic of gaming will be making a return. According to the Playstation Blog, this week will see the release, on PSN, of the legendary JRPG, Xenogears.
Xenogears – Xenogears is a turn-based RPG with a combat system that unifies the Square’s Active Time Gauge feature as well as a newly created combo system. The game chronicles the adventures of a young reluctant warrior named Fei, who, after three years of residing in a small, remote farming village begins a long, tortuous quest to uncover his mysterious past. With no memory of his life before being placed in the village leader’s care three years earlier, Fei makes a violent and tragic break with his peaceful life and sets out upon a journey. Along the way, not only will his own past be discovered, but he’ll also unravel the mystery of the planet’s past and humanity’s role in relation to it.”
If you’re an older gamer, this news will probably get your blood flowing, if you’re a younger gamer, you might be wondering why you should give a damn. Allow me to enlighten you.
Xenogears was a fantastic little JRPG that was originally released back in 1998 by Square (not yet SquareSoft at that point). It was the baby of Tetsuya Takahashi who had worked on titles like Final Fantasy 4, 5 & 6, The Secret of Mana, and Chrono Trigger. He’d later go on to direct the Xenosaga series as well, but those later games were but shadows of his Magnum Opus, Xenogears. Why was it such a fantastic game? Well it’s a bit difficult to explain. The plot, character design, and world of Xenogears were influenced by the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan, and as a result it was a very deep game that touched on issues of a religious, spiritual, and ethical nature. Much like the Xenosaga games that came afterward, Xenogears was a generic JRPG in concept but with characters fighting either on foot (as in every other JRPG ever made) or in massive mechs called Gears. The combat system was a very complex and engaging game and the story actually pulled players in and made them care about the characters. It was also a massive game with the average “rush” play through being around 60-70 hours (Final Fantasy 7 takes about 30-40 hours to rush through). It would have been one of the greatest JRPGs of all time had it not been for one little thing, the second half of the game.
What keeps Xenogears below Final Fantasy 7 on many gamers’ lists of their top games is that it was painfully rushed at the end. The game came on 2 CDs and while the first disk contained a complex, enthralling masterpiece, the second disk contained what was essentially a long cutscene filled with text interspaced with boss battles, and it killed the game for many players. Theories abound with some claiming that the game was over budget and had been pushed back too much and were at risk of losing the whole project, while others claim that Square cut their budget and used the money on Final Fantasy 8, a known franchise and a guaranteed moneymaker. The truth of it may remain a mystery, but the fact is that even with a shitty second half, Xenogears is still ranked as one of the top JRPG’s of all time.
So should you buy it? Yes.