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Monday, June 22, 2015

Xenogears (ゼノギアス)

Xenogears? What the? Isn't this like SUPER mainstream? Hey look, the true Jhipster doesn't shy away from stuff just because it's mainstream ok? Only a pompous Jhipster-wannabe would avoid a game just because it's not super niche to the max.

Also to start with, the Japanese in this game is hardcore like for reals. To give you an example, in English, you don't have to really care WHAT a Jasper is (an opaque, impure variety of silica). But in Japanese, when you see 碧玉, you're like WTF, how am I supposed to read that? So until you look up the word in a dictionary, learn a new word that has ABSOLUTELY no practical value, you just have this annoying word in the dialogue that you CAN'T READ. Shitan in particular seems to take every opportunity to use words that have like 20 other synonyms that are WAY more common and instead decides to pick the most obscure version (trying to sound smart and shit I guess).

So Margaret knows the location of the ??? How the fuck you read that??
I first played this game on the PS1 sometime in the late 90s in English before my transformation into Jhipster and never did finish it. I think the lame platforming in the Babel Tower was what did me in. The sensation of frustration and anger definitely seemed familiar, at least. Fortunately, this time around I was able to finish the game thanks to the convenience of Vita portability. I was however annoyed that I had to rebuy the PSN version despite owning the disc due to a freezing bug if you don't have the original PS1 hardware. Anyway, playing through this game again almost 2 decades later, my guess is pacing is why I couldn't finish it as a young lad with oodles of free time. It is really the only major flaw in this game.

Typical Merican gamers who hate to read will often complain how the game ran out of budget and was reduced to just narration in disc 2 but personally, I think the real problem was disc ONE. The first disc was so poorly paced that if the game's story fully played out in the style of the first disc, the entire game would probably take like 200+ hours to finish. The whole chapter in Kislev was incredibly drawn out and WAY too much time was spent on Rico, a character that plays no part in the larger story and could've easily been a minor character. In fact, he really has no reason to tag around as he himself asked to be dropped off at Kislev (and was promptly ignored).

Once you finally near the end of disc one, the story begins to pick up and what you end up with is a nice peeling of reveals like the story is one giant onion of surprises. Of course, it's a bit rushed but at this point, the pick up in pace is a welcome change after the SLOW progression of disc one.

While the ending is not particularly impressive if you're a long time sci-fi nerd (umm Dune Messiah anyone??), I can see how those new to sci-fi and only used to fantasy RPGs would be suitably impressed. For me, the highlight was more in the personal story of Fei and his connections to the events in the story. Overall, I do have to agree that the story was excellent and probably way ahead of its time at least on video game consoles. I was also happy to see Zoharu in there and it made me want to go play Xenosaga again. I'm gonna pretend that those games are connected.

The game itself was fun to play as well. It was fun to build up those death blows and there was not too much grinding. Some of the boss battles required some very specific strategies in typical Square style so it wasn't a matter of just mashing attack. Overall, I had a good time with the game except for the camera that was just a LITTLE too close and those stupid, stupid, lame platforming bits.

The music was also tastefully done as the game didn't feel the need to constantly bombard you with BGM for every second of the game (Compile Heart, I'm looking at you). Instead you hear music at appropriate moments to enhance the experience, used I would daresay even sparingly. While personally, the OST wasn't exactly memorable, it was definitely excellent overall with some nice gems.

This song kindly lets you know some EPIC SHIT is about to go down

Score: 3.5 No seriously Rico, why are you STILL here? out of 5 (63 hours to finish)

I was tempted to give this game a 3 because of the problem with pacing, which really is the biggest issue to what could have easily been a wonderful game. However, I have to admit that the story was excellent and the game itself was fun to play. I also have a soft spot for the 90s anime cutscenes (though very few) so 3.5 it is then as an ALMOST great game. This is really just my personal score and you're looking at a guy that couldn't even finish it the first time around after all.

Nintendo, HAAAAAALP! Why won't Sony censor dem naughty pixels??
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

1 comment:

  1. Do not listen to this jhipst3r ,the pace of both disks in xeno are nicely done , he getting old and because of that he is getting impacient towards games , 3.5????!?!? fuuuuucker im so unsubscribe this channel , oh wait wrong chat..... jk awesome review you explained better the concept without giving to much detail or spoilers