It took over a year to get the RPG Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii from Japan to America, and lots of people thought it would never happen at all. An online campaign finally convince the makers that there was a market here in the US, and it sold well and to critical acclaim.
That was last April, and since then we've moved on to the Wii U and other horizons. Monolith Soft has a new open world RPG called X in development for Nintendo's new system reportedly due in 2014 that is by far one of the reasons to get a Wii U for Christmas, but what about Xenoblade now? Well, it's now selling used for an unheard of $90 at Game Stop.
Such a price tag is highly unusual, even for a top-tier game like Xenoblade. Consider that a game of similar scope like Skyrim still sells for a third less than that used, and on a current generation system to boot. What's the story?
Part of the reason is that Xenoblade had a pretty limited release in America. Game Stop and the Nintendo Shop were more or less the only ways you could get it, so there just aren't that many copies lying around. When you consider that a lot of people are treating the Wii U as an upgrade to the Wii instead of a brand new console, there's also a fair amount of Nintendo folks not trading anything in they don't have to. It's not as if the Wii or Wii U has a lot of other RPG options to trade for anyway.
Leaving aside the idea that Game Stop has been accused of printing up new copies and selling them as used to cash in on the demand, the question is, "Is the game worth $90?" If you're asking me, it's yes.
When I first played the game for review I was blown away by the sheer size of the experience. To be honest, I got gun shy. I was still very new to having current gen systems of amazing power, and the last RPG I had played before Xenoblade was a DS remake of Final Fantasy IV. I was just not equipped to deal with an open-world the size of freakin' real life Japan.
As I gained a more comfortable sense of it, I grew to love it. I can safely say I have never played any game truly like it. By the time I gave up and beat the final boss I had invested 217 hours into the play. And I was no where near 100 percent completion. If I had had the presence of mind to create a separate save file so I could go back to the sidequests I might still be playing the game.
That giant world built on the body of a dead titan feels so incredible animated and real. Take for instance its way of issuing sidequests, which are totally responsible for the best stat growth in your character. To do it properly, you have to literally get to know every single named character in the entire game. There's probably over 300 of them, and they each have their stories, hopes, fears, and ambitions.Flashback Why the United States of America Is My Favorite RPG
All this is measured on a compatibility chart that shows how each is connected and to what degree. Sure, you can scroll through all the texts and just get the frog ears and what not to get the reward. I certainly did, but no matter what you can't escape that the people of Bionis are all amazingly illustrated.
There is better world building in this game than all six Star Wars films combined. I would argue that it rivals Dune in that department, and I am not exaggerating.
All that doesn't matter a hill of beans if it's not fun to play, but it's got you covered there. The battle system is almost flawless once you get the hang, adding both a real element of real time strategy with turn-based actions. The game is geared towards Shulk as your main character, and he shines there because of how well you can use him to general the fights so that his tactics, which are all best when used from different angles of the fight, can best be employed to do maximum damage.
The timing of the topple system adds an even greater element of planning and execution that you will have to carefully monitor and employ if you're going to best some of the tougher monsters. And believe me, there are challenges right up to the highest levels. Even a monster just a single level ahead of you can mean certain death, and such creatures are usually everywhere. The game rarely leaves you secure against everything.
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More than all that, though... 217 hours, and I wasn't even done. That means that at $90 you are literally paying less than $.50 per hour of entertainment. Where on Earth are you going to find a deal like that? Even if you speed through the game it's going to take you probably 100 hours, and if you game even two hours a day that's still near two months of solid play from a single game.
Yes, the game is expensive, and yes, the price tag might be bullshit marketing lies if some rumors are to be believed. Even with those knocks against it you simply cannot say you experienced the best of the Wii if you never popped in Xenoblade. Other Wii RPGs like The Last Story can't touch it. Even Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword falls short. It was the system's definitive adventure, and $90 for experiencing that is almost a bargain.