Who ate the bones?
Xenoblade Chronicles pretty much blew me away back in 2012. Fans had been clamoring for a localization for over two years, and due to an add partnership between Nintendo and GameStop, we got one. It was a rather limited release however and GameStop constantly jacked up the price over time, leading to a large number of fans who never got to experience it.
Hell, even today the Wii version goes from anywhere to $60 used to $100 new. That all changes in April with Xenoblade Chronicles 3DS, a $40 portable edition that will completely do away with the rarity of the experience.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D(3DS)Developer: Monolith Soft, Nintendo SPD, Monster Games (3DS port)Publisher: NintendoReleased: April 10, 2015MSRP: $39.99
Jim has already talked at length about what makes Xenoblade Chroniclesso special, so I’ll spare you most of the details. Suffice to say, I would consider it a new classic in the JRPG space. Every so often you’ll find people longing to return to the golden era of the genre, pining over various SNES and PlayStation classics, but new masterpieces come and go in the current era all the same — this is one of them. Despite the problems I’m about to present with the 3DS port, you owe it to yourself to play it in some form or another.
Right off the bat you should probably know that Xenoblade Chronicles 3DShas a huge file size requirement if you’re going digital. It weighs in at 28832 blocks, which translates to roughly 3.6 GB. It won’t even fit on the 4GB card that comes standard with the New 3DS due to the system partition, so plan accordingly if you’re picking this up on the eShop.
The huge size is likely due to voice acting, and the fact that it’s essentially a 100-hour JRPG squished into a portable format. You can tell immediately that Xenoblade has been downgraded during said squishing session, but it runs smoothly with little in the way of performance issues — which is more important in my book.
Having said that, it is tough to ignore some of the other shortcomings from a visual sense. The icons are extremely low res, as in, they weren’t even touched up on the 3DS. It’s really strange to look out into the horizon and see a vast beautiful tundra, then go to a shop and flip through the user interface as if it were a PS1-era RPG with fuzzy, muted menus.
Another issue I had was the lack of screen real estate. The bottom screen hosts your status information and such, but the core of the game takes place on the top. It’s ample enough space to do pretty much everything, but when you’re actually in a battle, your targeted enemy will take up a great deal of the screen with its info box. There needs to be an option to shrink the enemy info text, because even with the “zoomed out” view it can get cluttered.
With those technical issues out of the way, the game really shines on a portable. Xenobladecontrols like a dream, as the extra buttons on the New 3DS allow it to mirror the Classic Controller setup on the Wii. The C-Stick also controls the camera, which is pretty much needed at all times to survey the land and constantly locate hidden treasures or areas.
Even with all the aforementioned problems, it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of one of my favorite RPGs in recent memory. You can skip cutscenes you’ve already seen in case you’ve already beaten it on the Wii and want to move forward with the story, and the 3D effect, while relatively tame, delivers an interesting perspective on theBionis and the Mechonis.
Keep in mind though that there is no extra content included in the actual story — so if you already have your 100+ hour completion file on the Wii and want more, the only real advantage you’ll get out of Xenoblade 3DSis the portabiity. There is amiibo/Play Coin/StreetPass support, but it’s a tiny little bonus that lets you view character models or listen to music.
When you think about it, the prospect ofXenoblade Chronicles 3DSsounds pretty silly. It’s a port with no real content additions or true enhancements, and you have to buy a whole new 3DS model just to play it. If you can get past that barrier though, ultimately this is a way to get a great game into the hands of more players — and I’m okay with that.