✔️Redefines its original rendition with incredible visuals.
✔️An additional prologue that extends the story with new characters.
✔️Still holds up a decade later. Deserving of the “Definitive” moniker.
❌Some frame-rate chug in busy areas.
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Xenoblade Chronicles on Nintendo Switch is a testament to how timeless this massive JRPG experience truly is. Perfection can be hard to achieve in revisiting a title from a near decade earlier, however Monolith Soft have shown a strong level of dedication in delivering a definitive experience, in what some label as the greatest Japanese Role-Playing adventure title, of all time. Xenoblade Chronicles displayed a groundbreaking achievement for Nintendo’s best selling home console, of all time. While the Wii may have been a generation behind in hardware specifications, the little white box had heart and while it may have come late into its lengthy lifespan, Xenoblade demonstrated to gamers around the world that the Wii was more than capable of dazzling fans with a tantalizing narrative, accompanied with its solid gameplay loop and mesmerising contrasts used in topography.
Universally acclaimed, Xenoblade’s legacy saw it establish a new foundation that inspired an entirely new generation of JRPG’s that followed. Its innovation was widespread throughout its many facets, and literally raised the bar. While Xenoblade Chronicle’s original entry may have had minor design flaws in its character models, the Definitive Edition seeks to redress its outdated aesthetics and bring our collective champions back to life, redefining each viewpoint laid in its primary rendition. As mentioned in our Mafia II: Definitive Edition Review, the moniker “Definitive” carries weight behind its usage, and to label an existing video game that defined a generation of its genre, can be quite ambitious. I was quite optimistic for Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, as its complex plot line can stand alone and carry the title’s reputation among the very best the Nintendo Switch has to offer. So it begs the question, what is “definitive” about Xenoblade Chronicles resurgence in 2020?
It's Reyn time...
For those fortunate to have experienced this masterpiece on either the Nintendo Wii or Nintendo 3DS, will truly appreciate and revere in its astounding redesign. Everything Xenoblade Chronicles exudes is magical, from its luminous vibrancy exhibited in its overall compass, to its geometric complexity demonstrated in every character model’s reconstruction. Comparing this feat to its Nintendo 3DS remaster, the Definitive Edition is leaps and bounds above it. Lacquered with an aesthetic upgrade to its surrounding contours, you come appreciate how marvelous its improved presentation is. It took me some time before I grasped how distant the title’s appearance was from its inaugural edition. Making the all-round effort to completely gauge its investiture, and how I initially may have been a smidge pessimistic towards its re-invigoration, I had dusted off my Nintendo Wii and dug out the original 2010 copy I’ve had sitting with the rest of my Wii collection to compare.
Primarily contemplating that this revisiting was a simple port that had its resolution upscaled, I made plenty of side-by-side comparisons between the two versions and its a night and day experience. The face-lift’s given to each character model are unquestionably an ideal improvement, and was most certainly required from the original. While there may some questionable texture resolutions in some close-up shots, they’re simply impossible to spot while playing the title in handheld mode. I was pleasantly surprised with the title’s ability to encapsulate the original’s fascinating aura that amazed many gamers who were simply stunned by its spectacular combination of narrative, gameplay and presentation. Its quite fitting to see Xenoblade Chronicles return, and be introduced to a completely different generation of gamers.
For those unfamiliar with Xenoblade Chronicles’ prodigious plot-line, surrounded by boundless seas in a world unoccupied by any form of mammal or natural species, the righteous leviathans Bionis and Mechonis battled for an eternity until their corpses remained frozen for eons. Many a millennia following their Godly stoush, the two solid titans became home for evolved bio-organisms that would eventually evolve to various forms of humanity. The Homs would colonise across the distant plains of each fossilised goliath, most prominently claiming the Bionis as their home, with the Machina – a mechanical humanoid – inhabiting the Mechonis as their own. Biologically, Homs are identical to humans in appearance and lifespan where as the Machina’s Physiology stems from their machine-like presence that any Doctor Who fan would immediately compare to the Cybermen, with their lifespan ranging from centuries to a millennia.
In Xenoblade Chronicles, you assume the role of your protagonist Shulk. Dwelling Colony 9 of Bionis, the young Homs scientist comes into possession of a mythical blade during a battle between the Machina and Mechon’s. The sword is known as the Monado, a weapon that can take hold of and manipulate the ether surrounding it. Shulk harnesses the capabilities supplied by the magical weapon, and learns it can change the very fabric of existence. The ability to equip and take hold of the Monado is the will of its owner. Many Homs have tried to control its powers, but none have been as successful as our leading hero. After initially wielding the Monado, Shulk receives premonitions which guide him and his group towards the Entia capital. Accompanied by fellow Homs Melia and Riki, Shulk sets off on his quest to avenge the murder of Fiora by the hands of Metal Face, an enemy Mechon.
The Definitive Edition expands the narrative with a completely new storyline – Future Connected – set an entire year after the events of its main plot. The prologue to Xenoblade Chronicles includes a newly undiscovered area set in Bionis that follows new characters Kino and Nene, the offsprings of Shulk, Melia, and Riki. The youngsters head off on their own quest as they seek to salvage and reform the city of Alcamoth. It’s a neat addition to an already engaging experience. If anything its a minor extension that gives devotee’s an appreciation from the title’s longstanding developers that thank them for their years of undying love towards the franchise. While I personally would have wanted the added story to be a bridge that gaps the mainline story to its sequel, I’m totally satisfied with the additional extension to it existing story.
Our destiny is our own...
With its diverse style and flair presented in its unique approach in battle, Xenoblade’s interactions with enemy characters can vary in difficulty depending on where you may in-game. It’s important to note how the title does lift its framework and gameplay loop from its original blueprint. I can’t say that much has changed in terms of its mechanics or game design in that regard, but as a traditionalist in JRPG’s, I can’t say that its necessarily needed. When engaging in battle, your character will use its default attack continuously to drain opponents. The addition of real time attacks in turn based combat adds a unique flavour to the ubiquitous influence from each scenario. It most certainly breaks the monotony felt from many modernised JRPG’s that restrain themselves to traditional tactics in turn-based mechanics.
Be weary of your character’s location while engaging in any skirmish, being prepared to battle and position yourself appropriately will lead to your party having the upper hand in each sequence. With a plethora of abilities made available, each special attack will have varying levels of damage depending where you land each blow. Known as Arts, these capabilities can play a huge part in seamlessly defeating enemy’s in distinct circumstances. Combining them with the unique capabilities of your teammates will only add additional attributes to each attack. Incapacitating your enemy in battle will effectively land bigger blows and easily lead your team to a victory. Arts is a solid combat system that is quite easy to master, if anything it’s one of the cleanest, yet highly disparate in assortment.
I could gush for days about the Definitive Edition’s graphical improvements, but I would love to highlight its vastly superior audio presentation. Composers ACE+ return with their legendary soundtrack which has been rearranged and re-orchestrated for added impact upon the adventures display of excellence, enhanced. Hiroyo “CHiCO” Yamanaka, Kenji Hiramatsu and Tomori Kudo demonstrate a masterful composition of contemporary to expeditiously paced adaptation through their refined melodies. “Engage the Enemy Oncemore” was one of my absolute adored musical pieces from gaming of yesteryear, and to hear that impactful clash of sorrow to animosity strike with incredible confidence, sent chills down my spine, what an experience. Keeping its original voice cast with remastered audio was a massive improvement. The return of Adam Howden as Shulk, Carina Reeves as Fiora, Jay Taylor as Reyn, and Rufus Jones as Dunban, and of course Jenna Coleman as Melia.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition redefines a masterpiece, and introduces its magical world of wonders to an entirely new generation. Its superiority within its genre with this revisiting will only further cement its legacy in gaming for years to come. While some may argue that the title has moved passed its prime, I would say that it stands tall and quite firm towards its inspired kinship, and will again prove to gamers why its in a class of its own. From its engaging story, its mystical cast of fascinating characters, its charming appeal, and world of wonders, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition proves itself once again, to be the greatest JRPG story ever told, period.
Xenoblade Chronicles - Nintendo
Xenoblade Chronicles is an open world action role-playing game developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo for the Wii. Initially released in Japan in 2010.
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