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MrPopo
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Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by MrPopo Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:38 pm

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a mech-based RPG with deep existential themes!

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Xenogears tells a classic story. A young man is living his quiet, peaceful life in his small town when suddenly a giant mech crashes into it, quickly followed by a couple more that begin destroying the town. Given no choice, he jumps in and fights them off. It's like a Boy and his Mecha.

Kidding aside, Xenogears is a traditional JRPG for the Playstation (and available on the PSN) that is part of a very ambitious plan. You've got all the standard trappings; turn based combat, levels and exp, parties, and slightly convoluted plots. The actual combat comes in two forms. The default is the on foot form. Here you have an interesting system built around AP and chaining moves. It resembles Chrono Cross a bit. Whenever your turn comes up you gain AP, and you can store more as needed by defending to skip your turn. Then when you attack you select from a weak, medium, and strong attack and can chain these attacks as long as you have AP. You can also unlock finishing moves that are triggered after a certain sequence of attacks that deal extra damage.

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The other form of combat is the mecha combat. Here your mecha has a fuel gauge, and then different attacks use up different amounts of fuel, but you only get one attack per turn. Here the battles are all polygonal, compared to the sprites of the on-foot battles. It gives a nice contrast between the two.

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The game has one of the more ambitious stories you'll see, that slowly unravels layers as you make your way through. The cast of characters is quite colorful, and there's a lot of really cool moments in the storyline. And just a lot of nice touches that enhance the feeling of the world.

Men of the sea are welcome.
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by Sarge Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:45 pm

"Slowly unravels" is right... until you hit the second disc and they hit you with everything machine-gun style because they ran out of money. :P
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by MrPopo Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:50 pm

I was trying to gloss over that part.
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by Sarge Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:57 pm

It would have been a 100-hour RPG otherwise... and I'd have played it. I enjoyed Xenogears a ton, honestly. I still remember it being my first online order from GameStop, while I was traveling in England in 2001. That was a big deal then! Heck, I also was using a digital camera on that trip with a whopping 640x480 resolution!
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by Markies Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:09 pm

I have played through Xenogears twice.

The first time, I got stuck on the second disc. Yep, it is mostly story followed by either dungeons or boss fights. I saved between boss fights and couldn't beat him. Also, mech fights are a little strange with weird rules.

The second time, I took my time, was very cautious and I was able to beat the game completely. There are little side quests and not much to do outside of the main story. However, the characters are very unique and them interacting together is very enjoyable.

Graphics and music are top notch throughout the game. The story is...strange. Much like Tactics, don't go into too much detail or your brain will explode. There is so much lore, backstory and esoteric knowledge that you must learn just to understand what is happening.

It is a good game, however. It is thick and dense though. Unless you are in the mood for a thick 60 hour RPG experience, it may not be for you. However, if you are a RPG veteran, I think it is perfect for you.
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by Xeogred Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:42 pm

The best JRPG ever.
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by Sarge Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:50 pm

Xeogred wrote:The best JRPG ever.

Pretty high praise! So what puts it there in your mind? I definitely think it's one of SquareSoft's stronger RPGs in the PSX era, and in a lot of ways still reminds me more of SNES games than PSX games, despite the presentation. But it can't beat out Chrono Trigger, at least not for me. :)
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by Xeogred Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:03 pm

Here's why.

But man I don't even know where to begin and I didn't get around to Xenogears finally until a bit later, probably somewhere in 2006-2009. Funny enough I played Xenosaga 1 first. Also funny that I had two friends show me Xenogears growing up and I just wanted to fall asleep watching them play it, but I was always really interested in it and knew it's just one of those things you have to play and can't watch. I think it was in the $50 range when I finally got around to it before the PSN release, so maybe that's why it took me awhile. I have no idea.

There's just some things in life you're destined to love. Xenosaga was probably the ultimate catalyst for sparking my love for mecha anime, before I got really into anime in the mid 2000's. I grew up loving Mega Man more than Mario and Sonic, which cemented my love for all things robots and sci-fi. Then there's my undying love for Kojima and Metal Gear Solid, and ridiculously convoluted and insane Japanese storytelling and Tetsuya Takahashi is probably the craziest creator of them all. When there's more than black and white, good and evil, it always captivates me far more. In the JRPG world he has done it best to me next to the Suikoden series and some of Matsuno's work with Tactics Ogre, etc. The Xenogears roster is incredibly layered with tons of characters, personalities, and separate ambitions. And not a huge spoiler as new players probably can't figure out who the main antagonist even is until the very end, but rarely do you get a game where you don't even actually fight the main antagonist. I've also never been the biggest Evangelion fan, but I absolutely love how anime Xenogears is pulling in all the 90's tropes and surpassing most anime themselves. Many could probably argue Chrono Cross is Mitsuda's finest achievement, but Xenogears and its sci-fi tones make it one of my absolute favorite OST's of all time.

My favorite ingredient to dabble onto sci-fi is weird religious overtones. So I absolutely love those elements in Xenogears. Which get taken to even more ridiculous [amazing] levels in Xenosaga.

People complain about the second disc, but I could have enjoyed even more novels thrown at me by that point (as I was just taking in all the Xenosaga cutscenes too, they could keep on coming and I'd be in heaven. I could watch that stuff forever, the best Japanese directed stuff next to MGS to me). My counter argument has always been that it's a 50 some epic hour journey with great pacing up to that point, so I don't mind that it goes full visual novel.

But that's perhaps the icing on the cake. If Xenogears were fully, 110% complete and completely fleshed out, I don't know what I'd do with myself. Because the end product is still already an 11/10 for me. Certainly a lot of "what if's" though, but it's not like you're left without a conclusion or whatnot, so they salvaged things fine to me if you're ready to read and sink deep into that lore.

It was just perfect and resonated with me in every single field.

So that's full fanboy mode.

For some balance, I do have a few complaints.
- Ground player combat was incredible and way more fun than mecha combat. But mecha combat becomes the central focus and probably makes up 60-70% of the game in the end.
- It's ugly. I played Breath of Fire 4 before Xenogears and they both kind of have that weird, pseudo 3D thing going with sprites on top, but Breath of Fire 4 only allows you to rotate the camera at 4 angles, so it's always a flat sharp image. Xenogears' free open camera makes for some pretty wacky visuals. But obviously as a retro fan this doesn't stop me from loving something of the old.

I think I'm the only guy in the world that has played, beaten, and loved Xenogears, Xenosaga 1-3, and Xenoblade. So maybe some might understand my frustrations in hearing that Xenoblade X's story... well, I never hear about it, ever. That saddens me greatly and now under Nintendo's ship, I don't know if we'll ever get to see another insane Tetsuya Takahashi story again, but I'll keep crossing my fingers. But Xenogears didn't impress Square enough and Xenosaga was extremely niche', so I fear he'll never go back to things like that again.

Xenosaga is a far more imperfect journey with its troubled development and changes between three games, but in ways I like it even more (it's intergalactic scaled sci-fi, with an in game Bible in Xenosaga 3) and I think Xenosaga 3's second half surpasses Xenogears at its best. But I give Xenogears props for being a good complete package in comparison. Someday I want to play undubs of Xenosaga and it'll probably make me love it even more.
Last edited by Xeogred on Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by MrPopo Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:07 pm

My biggest complaint with Xenogears is the terrible terrible platforming.
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Re: Together RPG - Xenogears - 12/1-2/1

by Xeogred Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:08 pm

MrPopo wrote:My biggest complaint with Xenogears is the terrible terrible platforming.

It could be Alundra.

But yeah those towers towards the end sucked. hehe
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