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Retro Games Returned #4 - Xenogears

ROMhack

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"Xenogears is basically a story about 'where do we come from, what are we, where are we going'."

Developer: Square Product Development Division 3
Publisher: Squareoft
Director: Tetsuya Takahashi
Producer: Hiromichi Tanaka
Writer(s): Tetsuya Takahashi, Kaori Tanaka (Soraya Saga), Masato Kato
Composer: Yasunori Mitsuda
Platform: PlayStation One

Story and Background

Xenogears is a sprawling Sci-Fi JRPG set on the continent of Ignas. The game centers on Fei Fong Wong, an adopted and mysterious man brought to the picturesque village of Lahan one rainy night. His quiescent lifestyle is broken when a giant fight breaks out by invading forces. To fend off the attackers, Fei is compelled to enter a robot gear unit which falls inside the village. He accidentally destroys Lahan in the process and, traumatized, leaves in disgrace. He soon meets the enigmatic Citan, a man tasked with watching him from afar. As well as Elly, a hard-headed redhead who originally fights for the antagonistic Gebler military unit.

As the story unfolds, we’re made aware of a centuries long struggle to control the world, centering on ancient civilization called Solaris. Their mission is to control the human population, which they do through a proxy quasi-religious group known as The Ethos. This is the point where the game breaks down that Fei is a descendant of an ancient race who crash landed on Ignas 5000 years ago. In their grasp was an interplanetary weapon known as Deus. It uses its powers to manifest the creation of an entirely new race, designed to return to another dimension. No spoilers intended but it turns out that Fei himself has a significant relationship to it.





Xenogears is the brainchild of Japanese game-maker Tetsuya Takahashi (now currently head of Monolith Soft) and his wife Soraya Saga. Tetsuya originally put the game forward as an idea for Final Fantasy VII, but it was rejected for being too dark. Their idea was then considered as a potential plot for Chrono Trigger 2 (Chrono Cross), but was similarly cast aside. Soraya outlined that the concept for was about a “young soldier of fortune with multiple personalities”. The original script was written in 1994, with the game finally being released on Sony's PlayStation One in 1998.

The game started life under the title “Project Noah” - a nod to the religious iconography involved. It took two years to produce, by a staff of thirty developer working in a new team at SquareSoft. Takahashi is said to have created the idea because he was becoming frustrated with the approach of Final Fantasy - Square’s biggest series at the time. He envisaged a game rooted in high-concept Science Fiction, inspired by books like Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Both he and Sorayaga Sage were influenced by philosophical and psychological theory, including Karen Horney and Claudio Naranjo's "Theory of Neurosis" - an interpretation according to which all psychopathology is rooted in the loss of being. Other ideas include the work of Freud, Jung and Nietzsche.

It was released at a high-time for experimental narratives in Japanese media, owing to the release of Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1997. Comparisons between the two are frequent but in this critic’s humble opinion, these comparisons are a little bit superficial. Hideaki Anno’s show is about people who struggle to form relationships with each other. Xenogears on the other hand, is about the never-ending search for happiness, and about how our lives are guided by faith in systems that don't necessarily create it.




Gameplay

It's a turn-based JRPG so takes its cues from many similar games. The battle system is a variant of the ATB system used in Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. Fights are split between ground combat and in-Gears battles. The former uses a combination of martial art moves, magical attacks and ‘Deathblows’. Actions are performed using points built up over battle. The gears battles do away with these in favor of Fuel. Effectively, you have a finite amount which acts as both your health and attack power. You can also boost yourself to increase power, but this has the consequence of draining fuel quicker. When this reaches zero you can no longer fight and have to recharge, leaving yourself very vulnerable.

It’s also worth mentioning that the game becomes less traditional as it goes on. The development had a protracted length meaning a lot of the gameplay had to be cut in order to ship the game. This resulted in the second disc being limited to main dungeons, with the in-between parts being told through a lot lengthy dialogue. It means that the latter part of the game is much less exploration-driven (i.e. there's basically no overworld at that point).

Music

The music was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, who was the composer for Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. It was designed with traditional and Irish music influences. The opening and ending tracks are sung by Irish singer Joanne Hogg. It uses a mixture of choral and instrumental tracks, including some instances of Bulgarian language.

An album version reached #55 in the Japanese charts. A blu-ray remastered version was released in 2018, entitled Xenogears: Original Soundtrack Revival Disc.









Fun Facts
  • Prior to release, Xenogears was dubbed Ura FFVII (Bizarro FFVII) in Japan because development on the two games began around the same time.
  • Square decided that a sequel to the game would be made if it sold 1 million copies, but in the end it only reached just shy of 900,000, so the plan was dropped.
  • One of the main antagonists of the game, Grahf, was created as an homage to Darth Vader. They share a similar mask design, as well as a desire to control the universe.
  • Xenogears was accompanied by a book called Perfect Works. Released six-months later, it details the setting and background in much more detail.
  • In the village of Lahan in the beginning, you can bump into Lucca, one of the main protagonists of Chrono Trigger.
  • Some of the dialogue originally intended for Xenogears was cut and used in Chrono Cross, hence the weird relationship between the two series.
Good Reads

Xenogears 20th Anniversary Retrospective - USGamer.net
Kat Bailey talks about her experience playing Xenogears as a kid. She also details the problematic development, as well as muses on why it picked up a similar audience to Evangelion.

The Real Story Behind Xenogears Unfinished Disc 2 - Kotaku
Jason Schreirer from everybody’s favourite website Kotaku interviews Tetsuya Takahashi and finds out the real reason why Disc 2 was unfinished.

Critical Compilation - Xenogears, Xenosaga, Xenoblade - Critical-Distance.com
A comprehensive review of available articles about Xenogears and Xenosaga. It’s dense and academic, but an invaluable source of reference.

The History of Xenogears and Xenosaga
A man called A.C. provides an unbelievably in depth and book-length overview of the creation and development of Xenogears and Xenosaga. It’s really, really, really impressive.



You, I Want Your Thoughts!

What are your thoughts on Xenogears?

Is this the best JRPG you’ve potentially never played?

Is it, in your humble opinion, better or worse than Final Fantasy VII?

Is it pretentious crap or an unbeatable masterpiece?

Are you a man of the sea?


–ROM
 
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ROMhack

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I always intend to make the OP quite neutral so I'd like to point out that Xenogears is one of my all-time favourite games. I only played it last year but it hit me like a ton of bricks and I don't think I'll ever play anything like it again. The amount of depth to the game is incredible, and it's no surprise that they struggled to finish it. There's so many ideas going on.

I had to read through Perfect Works, as well as many GameFAQS threads, to understand the plot fully.

I also bought a PS2 a while back intending to play Xenosaga, which I haven't done yet.
 
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Northeastmonk

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Next to Lunar:SSSC, Final Fantasy VII, and the top JRPGS on PS1. Xenogears was one of the must have game(s). I owned it multiple times. I bought the black label twice and the greatest hits version. I have no idea why I sold it, possibly for new game(s). I still own a black label version.

I played it back on PS1 and it was amazing. The music, the world, characters, and etc were all awesome. Combos would send characters flying and I remember always using 1-2 of the combos. Just because they did the most damage.

I remember being in the sewers and then traveling through the caves with the gears. Awesome memories. I always wondered if Xenosaga failed to capture the same audience. I remember getting Xenosaga when it came out. Someone actually bought it for me because they knew I was excited for it.

Xenosaga didn’t capture the whole experience if you ask me. Xenogears is one of those game(s) that stands on its own two legs. It didn’t receive a proper sequel or anything.

Xenogears was one of the game(s) that was always on the back counter when you walked in a mom and pop game store. It was one of Squaresoft’s must own games at the time. I remember before it came out digitally on PSN copies could go for $70 or more on eBay(2005-2007). I’ve seen random stores try and sell it brand new for close to $100. Yet you can get it digitally for $9.99 and possibly find a good copy for a relatively cheap price online.


I’d actually say Final Fantasy VII was much more well rounded. Final Fantasy VII had a lot of work done to it. It’s easy to not see the excellence in Xenogears because of VII’s popularity. Which game is getting a complete remake? You can tell which one SE wants to focus on.
 
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ROMhack

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Next to Lunar:SSSC, Final Fantasy VII, and the top JRPGS on PS1. Xenogears was one of the must have game(s). I owned it multiple times. I bought the black label twice and the greatest hits version. I have no idea why I sold it, possibly for new game(s). I still own a black label version.

I played it back on PS1 and it was amazing. The music, the world, characters, and etc were all awesome. Combos would send characters flying and I remember always using 1-2 of the combos. Just because they did the most damage.

I remember being in the sewers and then traveling through the caves with the gears. Awesome memories. I always wondered if Xenosaga failed to capture the same audience. I remember getting Xenosaga when it came out. Someone actually bought it for me because they knew I was excited for it.

Xenosaga didn’t capture the whole experience if you ask me. Xenogears is one of those game(s) that stands on its own two legs. It didn’t receive a proper sequel or anything.

Xenogears was one of the game(s) that was always on the back counter when you walked in a mom and pop game store. It was one of Squaresoft’s must own games at the time. I remember before it came out digitally on PSN copies could go for $70 or more on eBay(2005-2007). I’ve seen random stores try and sell it brand new for close to $100. Yet you can get it digitally for $9.99 and possibly find a good copy for a relatively cheap price online.


I’d actually say Final Fantasy VII was much more well rounded. Final Fantasy VII had a lot of work done to it. It’s easy to not see the excellence in Xenogears because of VII’s popularity. Which game is getting a complete remake? You can tell which one SE wants to focus on.

Yeah I'd say FFVII is a lot more well rounded. It's more of a grand adventure. Xenogears is just... something else. Enigmatic.

I've seen people ask for a remake but I don't think it's that viable. First, because the game was never available in Europe - that alone means it has a much less of a potential audience than Final Fantasy VII. It's also worth noting that neither Chrono Trigger nor Chrono Cross came to Europe at the time (Trigger in 2009 for DS; Cross literally never).

I do actually get it though with Xenogears. Richard Honeywood handled the translation and apparently found it a total nightmare to do owing to the impossibly complex script (mentioned in my second post).. Getting it to these shores would have also meant putting it in French, German, Spanish and Italian. Too much work, really.

I'm kind of sad I never got to experience Xenogears when it came out like you. Must have been a heady time for JRPGs.

Lunar SSSC is another game I keep meaning to play. Again, that one also never came out here in Europe.
 
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protonion

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My favorite game of all time.

Just yesterday I put it on my ps classic and will start another playthrough.

An amazing journey with a deep story and an amazing cast of characters.

And the music is godly. It elevates the experience to another level. Every single track is perfect.

And as far jrpgs go imo
Xenogears>>Chrono Trigger>>>FF7-8-9
 

wvnative

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FFVII might be my favorite overall game of all time.

But damn, no other game has completely enveloped itself within my Soul quite like Xenogears. Only played it once, many years ago, yet my memory of it is as if I played it last week. Above poster said it best, it's... Enigmatic.

I play JRPGS for the story and combat, so disc 2 didn't bother me, but I was weirded out how the game's structure suddenly changed. Still one of the finest games of this medium.

Maybe I shall give it another go when my backlog is cleared.
 
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DGrayson

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Such an amzing game. I think FFVII is slightly better but Xenogears really gives it a fun for its money.

I never actually played Disc 2 as my copy errored when I was supposed to change discs. Always been meaning to go back to play it again.
 

JORMBO

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This is my favorite game. The story really blew my mind away when it came out. It still fun to play today. I was doing my second playthrough last year. For some reason my Vita ate my saves when I got a little bit into disc 2 though :(
 

wipeout364

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This and Chrono Cross were my favorite PS1 RPG’s. Xenogears was crazy, I have never played anything quite like it. The story was perfect for the time. I would love for Sony to get off there asses and start making this stuff available again.
It’s sad that the state of games today that we will never have the experimentation from major publishers that we had in the PS1 era. Indies deliver some of it, but Square was this giant company delivering a bunch of stuff with themes, gameplay and art that were different but in some sense the same. I can’t really explain we’ll what I am getting at but I know it’s gone now and never coming back. The closest we probably have is NIS or Tokyo RPG factory but there output is so low it’s not the same.
 
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Northeastmonk

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Yeah I'd say FFVII is a lot more well rounded. It's more of a grand adventure. Xenogears is just... something else. Enigmatic.

I've seen people ask for a remake but I don't think it's that viable. First, because the game was never available in Europe - that alone means it has a much less of a potential audience than Final Fantasy VII. It's also worth noting that neither Chrono Trigger nor Chrono Cross came to Europe at the time (Trigger in 2009 for DS; Cross literally never).

I do actually get it though with Xenogears. Richard Honeywood handled the translation and apparently found it a total nightmare to do owing to the impossibly complex script (mentioned in my second post).. Getting it to these shores would have also meant putting it in French, German, Spanish and Italian. Too much work, really.

I'm kind of sad I never got to experience Xenogears when it came out like you. Must have been a heady time for JRPGs.

Lunar SSSC is another game I keep meaning to play.

There was a lot of talk of how Xenosaga was going to bring back the Xeno roots. I think Xenochronicles did it much better. The first Xenosaga suffered from super long cutscenes. It didn’t leave that strong lasting impression like Gears did. I picked up Xenosaga 3 when it came out and it wasn’t actually a bad game. It just didn’t do anything spectacular.

I’m in complete shock about Chrono Trigger and Cross. I had Cross when it came out and it was less of a disappointment than Xenosaga was. At the time, PS1 dominated in JRPGS. The PS2 had a lot of good JRPGS, but it also had a bunch of bad ones. This is probably where the traditional JRPG didn’t do better with just a graphic upgrade. The game itself had to be on par with what came before it. When you can make a masterpiece on PS1 and making one on PS2 required much more work. The genre sorta branched off, new ideas, etc. which is why, IMO it’s super hard to find an identical classic RPG on PS2.
 
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Paltheos

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Xenogears is a sprawling Sci-Fi JRPG set on the continent of Ignas. The game centers on Fei Fong Wong, an adopted and mysterious man brought to the picturesque village of Lahan one rainy night. His quiescent lifestyle is broken when a giant fight breaks out by invading forces. To fend off the attackers, Fei is compelled to enter a robot gear unit which falls inside the village. He accidentally destroys Lahan in the process and, traumatized, leaves on a mission of revenge. He soon meets the enigmatic Citan, a man tasked with watching him from afar. As well as Elly, a hard-headed redhead who originally fights for the antagonistic Gebler unit.

This part is false. Fei doesn't leave the village on a mission of revenge. He leaves disgraced, ashamed, and self-resentful (and confused and uncertain). That's part of what makes the first few hours so compelling. Most games that start with "and your hometown was destroyed" sees the hero tasked with a goal and set out an adventure of various noble degrees. Every time Xenogears comes up someone says "But it's sure a twist that the protag is the one who destroyed the hometown!" which is true but allot can be said about Fei himself. He's no hero. He has no quest. He's aimless. I don't remember if the game's explicit but I believe he contemplates suicide? Even after joining the desert pirates, he's not really fighting for himself. Only near the very end of the game when he self-actualizes (in some regards, literally lol) is he his own man, fighting for what he wants and what he believes in. As you said, Xenogears is a game about finding happiness in a tough world.

On a semi-related note, the Blackmoon Forest is one of my favorite levels in the game. 'The forest level' is a common, early-game stage in allot of games, and it's supposed to be, I think, loosely analogous to a hero trying to rough his way through the difficult questions of his adventure and emerging on the other side stronger and more certain. Rarely does this work so great though. It's never bad, but it's not very resonating. It fits Xenogears to a T. Fei enters the woods completely lost. He has no goal whatsoever except to get as far as Lahan as he can. He could even die there and it really doesn't make a big difference to him. It's actually kinda fitting too since the Blackmoon Forest actually is confusing and difficult to navigate although I don't really know how intended that is on the part of the development team. He does emerge from the woods more confident but it's not a result of fighting monsters or some dumb small-talk with another PC to resolve some trivial misunderstanding or whatever. He saves Elly's life and then pours his heart out in anger and self-loathing when she questions him. He saves her again after this and is given some kind of objective by Citan (get Weltall as far away from the village as possible), and it's still kind of a shit objective, but it's very believable progress for a man coming from his actual lowest point. It's a really well done stage.

Edit: It didn't really fit into my narrative of why the Blackmoon Forest is a good stage in relation to Fei, but it does allot of other neat things too. After Elly reprimands Fei, we see her self-reflecting on her own past, a bloody corridor with destroyed bodies and her own slumping figure in self-denial, which serves to connect the two characters' personal experiences and set up questions for the player as to the finer details of Elly's life. The chat between Elly and Citan later that night in the woods does some neat world-building that Xenogears is known for and raises even more questions about Citan and why exactly he's so capable and knowledegable. There was a third thing too I wanted to say too but forgot it while I was typing this out lol.
 
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Ichabod

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The lore behind this game is one hell of an enjoyable rabbit hole to dive into. I like to think in some alternate earth the game became a smash hit and the entire series was made from start to finish.

In that same universe, team silent never split up, either ;_;
 
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Paltheos

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The lore behind this game is one hell of an enjoyable rabbit hole to dive into. I like to think in some alternate earth the game became a smash hit and the entire series was made from start to finish.

In that same universe, team silent never split up, either ;_;

It's become clearer to me over the years that Xenogears is already a complete story. Whether or not Takahashi and his team really planned to do more, the emotional story is complete, and most of the mysteries (anything of import) is already answered in-game. More games from the same team and in that line of storytelling definitely would have been interesting, but their meaningful connection to Xenogears would be tenuous or fan-servicey at best.

I'm also of the unpopular opinion that disc 2 is largely fine as it is. For whatever reason it ended up that way, it ended up avoiding pitfalls that plague allot of long-running RPGs - The actual moment-to-moment gameplay in Xenogears doesn't become boring as the player wanders around with too few mysteries left to ponder as you do menial tasks. It cuts all that out and has you fly story segment to story segment. Obviously this is imperfect and a better game would find a way to continue a similar style of storytelling that it had been employing or find a way to transition better instead of suddenly pointing the camera at a metaphysical and actually physical chair, but it does work, and I don't think people give it enough credit for that.
 

pel1300

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This game has the grandest sense of scale, a great soundtrack, great character designs, fun gameplay, great story. and the best ensemble cast of villains and heroes ever!!!

Once you think you forgot about a major villain...he shows up and kicks your ass (Grahf)

So many cool villains!!

Grahf takes on the good guys in their mechs without using his mech. So bad ass!

Id has such a great theme song!!

I can't say enough good things about this game!!

Grahf, Ramsus, Miang, Id, Krelian, the "Emperor"/first human, the Syndicate (orwhatever they are called, the ones who wanna live forever and only exist as AI or data nut Krelian deletes them) are all major villains who each alone could make a big baddie for a typical RPG, but no Xenogears is so epic it has room for all of them!!

Xenoears and FFVI are the greatest games ever made!!

The only flaw is that the disc 3 rips off Evangelion's final 2 episodes. Both are rushed. Actually many parts of the game are heavily inspired a bit too much from NGE.

The Last Jedi is the opposite of Xenogears. No cool villains. No epic sense of scale. Not enough characters.

It's main weakness is that it is too ambitious for its own good. The game could have easily been twice as long because so much of the story is brushed through to get to the end.

But better than TLJ, which has NO ambition.
 
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ROMhack

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Such an amzing game. I think FFVII is slightly better but Xenogears really gives it a fun for its money.

I never actually played Disc 2 as my copy errored when I was supposed to change discs. Always been meaning to go back to play it again.

To be fair, you could probably just watch it on YouTube. A lot happens in Disc 2 but the majority is boss battles or exposition.
 
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Danny Dudekisser

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One of my favorite games ever, though I haven't played it in a solid... 11 years now, I guess. I do want to run through it again at some point. I never had any issues with Disc 2, despite the shift in pacing.
 

ROMhack

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This part is false. Fei doesn't leave the village on a mission of revenge. He leaves disgraced, ashamed, and self-resentful (and confused and uncertain). That's part of what makes the first few hours so compelling. Most games that start with "and your hometown was destroyed" sees the hero tasked with a goal and set out an adventure of various noble degrees. Every time Xenogears comes up someone says "But it's sure a twist that the protag is the one who destroyed the hometown!" which is true but allot can be said about Fei himself. He's no hero. He has no quest. He's aimless. I don't remember if the game's explicit but I believe he contemplates suicide? Even after joining the desert pirates, he's not really fighting for himself. Only near the very end of the game when he self-actualizes (in some regards, literally lol) is he his own man, fighting for what he wants and what he believes in. As you said, Xenogears is a game about finding happiness in a tough world.

On a semi-related note, the Blackmoon Forest is one of my favorite levels in the game. 'The forest level' is a common, early-game stage in allot of games, and it's supposed to be, I think, loosely analogous to a hero trying to rough his way through the difficult questions of his adventure and emerging on the other side stronger and more certain. Rarely does this work so great though. It's never bad, but it's not very resonating. It fits Xenogears to a T. Fei enters the woods completely lost. He has no goal whatsoever except to get as far as Lahan as he can. He could even die there and it really doesn't make a big difference to him. It's actually kinda fitting too since the Blackmoon Forest actually is confusing and difficult to navigate although I don't really know how intended that is on the part of the development team. He does emerge from the woods more confident but it's not a result of fighting monsters or some dumb small-talk with another PC to resolve some trivial misunderstanding or whatever. He saves Elly's life and then pours his heart out in anger and self-loathing when she questions him. He saves her again after this and is given some kind of objective by Citan (get Weltall as far away from the village as possible), and it's still kind of a shit objective, but it's very believable progress for a man coming from his actual lowest point. It's a really well done stage.

Edit: It didn't really fit into my narrative of why the Blackmoon Forest is a good stage in relation to Fei, but it does allot of other neat things too. After Elly reprimands Fei, we see her self-reflecting on her own past, a bloody corridor with destroyed bodies and her own slumping figure in self-denial, which serves to connect the two characters' personal experiences and set up questions for the player as to the finer details of Elly's life. The chat between Elly and Citan later that night in the woods does some neat world-building that Xenogears is known for and raises even more questions about Citan and why exactly he's so capable and knowledegable. There was a third thing too I wanted to say too but forgot it while I was typing this out lol.

I'll edit, thanks for pointing it out. The original draft went into more detail about why he left after Lahan is destroyed. I decided to cut it as the paragraph was running too long.

Aside from the beginning battle, the first few hours are honestly a bit of a blur for me. I can't remember much about the game until you get to Dazil after you meet Bart.

What you've said about the Blackmoon Forest makes me kinda remember. It's where Elly and Fei get to know each other better and realise they're not enemies, I think?
 
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Enjay

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Not hipster enough. You could've easily made your not video game magazine review about Albert Oddysey Legend of Eldean.
 
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web3x

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Amazing game. I'll forget the sense of scale that blew me away when I arrived at the desert town.
An amazing cast of characters and deep story. This is one of the games that truly blew me away.

This thread is bringing back that itch.
 
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Thabass

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I love this game, but I can never seem to finish it. I have seen the ending, finally though, and...what the shit?
 

Lupin3

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One of my all time favorites from back in the days. Did (almost) one playthrough when it was released, but stopped playing when I reached the final boss. For some very odd reason.

Just imagine a well made widescreen optimized remaster for the Swith...
 
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By far one of the most ambitious if not the most ambitious JRPG ever made. Amazing story that is a really rewarding experience to discover as you progress. Some characters get less development than others but they all get at least one moment to shine in the spotlight, Billy Lee Black in particular who when first appears elevates the game from "good" to "great". The music while not a lot of it is REALLY fucking good and Yasunori Matsuda should go down in history for every game he composed especially this one.

My one regret for this game is I'll never get to play it again for the first time.

Also Disc 2 isn't as bad as people make out, they have zero patience and no real investment in the game otherwise.
 
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KàIRóS

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Nietzsche's Philosophy in a few lines of the Xeno Series:

Xenogears' Fei: "Dreaming... I was dreaming... Perhaps it may have been but a long forgotten memory... A dream... A memory... Things remembered when one is asleep... Things forgotten when one is awake... Where the deepest layers of memories become the outmost layers of one's dreams... that dream changed me... That dream was the catalyst for me to resolve what my purpose was. I think I know now... What I have to do... That long, long memory of a dream... Perhaps it was the memory of my soul...”

Xenosaga's Shion: "Living the same life, over and over again, but living those lives without any regrets is what really matters. That is probably what the ideal vision of being human is all about. However, we humans are really not that strong. And we know that we can’t live like that. We’re creatures that are much more flawed, weak, and smaller than that. We hurt others, we lie to ourselves, we hate, we blame others, we regret, but even if we are weak, and even if is our fate to disappear entirely I think the will to change the future is still an important one"

Xenoblade Chronicles' Alvis and Shulk: "I am Monado. I was here at the beginning, and I will proclaim the end. Shulk, it is time for you to choose. Does this world belong to Zanza, or does it belong to you? That is something... I decided long ago! Today, we use our power to fell a god, and then... seize our destiny! The future should be decided... by each and every person in the world. And so, what I... No, what WE wish for is... a world with no gods!

I love all games in the series, everyone should praise Takahashi and his love for philosophy, psychology and sci-fi.
 
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Shifty

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I gave Xenogears a shot a few months back, found it pretty enjoyable but I dropped off at some point after Shevat. The subplot with Sebzehn went so hard into trope territory that it kinda soured me on it.

The themes seemed interesting, and all the intrigue about Fei's past and the man with the red hair. I should probably watch the rest of it on youtube at some point and see this ending that everyone goes on about.
 
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Bolivar687

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Been thinking a bit about Xenogears lately. It's definitely one of my top gaming soundtracks of all time and in many respects the most ambitious game I've ever played.

The fact that its completion was rushed is mind-boggling to me. It took me 60 hours to complete Xenogears and even then there were a couple important side quests I skipped and ended up watching on YouTube. This game would have been disproportionately longer than any other RPG if they had fully fleshed it out, given how labyrinthine the dungeon designs were.

Gameplay-wise, I don't think it ranks among the top RPGs. The combat is incredibly shallow and repetitive, I don't feel like your characters meaningfully develop over the course of the game. And the dungeons are way too bland and overly drawn out.

The story has its share of issues as well. There are a lot of shock moments that serve no purpose and make it hard to take the story sequence seriously, like Citan allowing Fei to eat the Soylent. The game is filled, overflowing, and flooding the floor with intriguing plot points that never really go anywhere, without a genuine story arc. There's so many cool characters, scenes, and ideas, but so many that it stops the overall package from becoming a coherent piece of art.

I am a biased fanboy, but I do hold Final Fantasy VII as the superior game. It takes a story of similar scope and presents it in a far more streamlined, if far less detailed way. FFVII punched above its technology to revolutionize the ways games told stories, whereas Xenogears is very much within the standard form of a JRPG, if pushing to the limits of those confines (and breaking itself upon them). That said, you can see the fingerprints of the proto-Xenogears script all over FFVII, and I doubt it would have been as good as it was if these games were not developed alongside eachother.
 
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kunonabi

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It's probably the third best rpg on the ps1 after the P1 and P2:EP.

I freaking loved tuning my mechs for the boss fights in xenogears but the whole package was pretty special.
 

pel1300

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Ironic Grahf was a homage to Vader.

He introduces himself as your future ally and how you will join him to kill God.

My username used to be Grahf and my sign was his lines he says before he imbues someone with power. It it kind of cheesy and pretentious now that I look back but at the time I thought it sounded all cool and sophisticated, mainly because I didn't understand it.

Citan as a character I never quite figured out (his motives and whose side he was on)
 

ROMhack

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I am a biased fanboy, but I do hold Final Fantasy VII as the superior game. It takes a story of similar scope and presents it in a far more streamlined, if far less detailed way. FFVII punched above its technology to revolutionize the ways games told stories, whereas Xenogears is very much within the standard form of a JRPG, if pushing to the limits of those confines (and breaking itself upon them). That said, you can see the fingerprints of the proto-Xenogears script all over FFVII, and I doubt it would have been as good as it was if these games were not developed alongside eachother.

Yep, totally agree. FFVII's storytelling is really tight. Xenogears is full of IDeas and not all of them work coherently.

It honestly reminds me of the debate between Chross and Trigger -- both excel at completely different things.
 
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Komatsu

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I've owned this game a couple times since the late 1990s, played a fair bit of Xenosaga (which I rented for the PS2, never got around to buying) but only really dove into Takahashi's work with Xenoblade 1, X and 2. Might load it into my PS Classic and finally play it to the end.

I do disagree with the assertion of FFVII's story being tight - it is full of insinuations that go nowhere, plot holes that subsequent installments retconned into oblivion, etc. etc.
 

John Day

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It sure was a great time for RPG’s. Xenogears was amazing, shortcomings with development and all.

And reading Perfect Works made me a bigger fan, so much lore it’s amazing.

Loved Xenosaga too, cut short and all.
 

Nymphae

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Played it back in the day, loved it. Always itching to do another run because I love the music and overall look so much, but man it is a slog and a half, and brutally difficult sometimes.

And I just read the wikipedia plot summary - my god. I don't know how they wrote that. It's has this really pretentious feel to it. XG is apparently the "fifth game in a six game saga" *eyeroll*, like talk about shooting for the stars lol.

Like look at how ridiculous this is

Xenogears centers around the protagonist Fei Fong Wong, an adopted young male in the village of Lahan, brought by a mysterious "masked man" three years ago.[14] The events surrounding Fei's arrival at the village cause him to have retrograde amnesia. During an attack on Lahan from Gebler, Fei pilots an empty gear and fights the enemy, accidentally destroying the village. As a result, Fei and Citan, the village's doctor, leave with the abandoned gear to get it away from the village.[15] Fei meets Elly, a Gebler officer, and Grahf, who claims to know about Fei's past and admits to spearheading the attack on Lahan to unlock Fei's abilities. Eventually, Fei and Citan are picked up by Bart, a desert pirate and heir to the throne of Aveh. Fei again loses control of himself inside his gear while Bart and Citan are attacked by an unknown red gear. Fei wakes up in a Kislev prison and meets Wiseman, a mysterious masked man, who originally brought Fei to Lahan.[16] Fei is able to escape with the help of his friends, including a new one, prisoner Rico, but he and Elly are separated from the rest of the party and accidentally shot down by Bart.[17]

They are rescued by the Thames, a mobile floating city. After learning Elly's whereabouts, Gebler attacks Thames to kidnap Elly and Miang, a Gebler officer, unsuccessfully attempts to brainwash her. Gebler leader Ramsus, who holds a vendetta against Fei, attacks Thames, searching for him.[18] Afterward, Billy, an Ethos worker onboard Thames, allows Fei to use the Ethos' advanced medical technology. Bishop Stone, Ethos' leader, reveals to the party Ethos's true purpose of controlling the land dwellers, or "Lambs", for Solaris.[19] The group follows Stone to Zeboim, an excavation site. They discover a young girl composed of nanomachines, which is what Solarian leader Krelian seeks. Stone takes the girl while the group fights Id, the mysterious red gear's pilot, who wants the girl, but is stopped by Wiseman.[20] The group returns and finds Fei awake and standing at his gear with a case of anterograde amnesia.[21] Fei and his friends decide to ally themselves with the floating city of Shevat, the only remaining city capable of resisting Solaris, joined by Shevat locals Maria and Chu-Chu. During this time, Bart regains his throne and initiates peace between the two countries and Stone is destroyed. Upon entering Solaris, they encounter Emeralda, the nanomachine colony. She attacks at first, but recognizes Fei, referring to him as "Kim", much to Fei's confusion.[22] In Solaris, Fei learns that Citan has been working for Emperor Cain, though he's actually a double agent on their side, and that Solaris has been producing food and medicine out of recycled humansin the Soylent System facility.[23] The party also learns that the Gazel Ministry seeks to revive God and achieve eternal life, while Krelian seeks to possess Elly. Back at Shevat, Citan informs his friends that Id is actually Fei's split personality, with Fei's gear turning red when he switches to Id due to their connection.[24]

The Gazel Ministry uses the Gaetia Key, an artifact that manipulates the DNA of massive amounts of humans around the world, turning them into mutants called Wels to collect flesh to reconstruct their god, an all-powerful Gear called Deus that crash-landed on the planet ten thousand years ago.[25] During this time, Elly and Fei become romantically involved with each other[26] and learn that they are the reincarnations of Sophia and Lacan. Lacan was a painter while Sophia was the Holy Mother of Nisan around the time of the war between Shevat and Solaris five hundred years earlier. Lacan blamed himself for Sophia's death during the war and, with the help of Miang, became Grahf and sought to destroy the world. Although defeated, he and Miang have transmigrated their minds into other humans since. Krelian and Miang dispose of the Emperor and the Gazel Ministry because they are no longer necessary and kidnap Elly, the Mother, who must be sacrificed in order to revive Deus. Miang is killed by an enraged Ramsus as he realizes he has been used, and Elly turns into Miang, becoming absorbed by Deus. Fei, as Id, attempts to make contact with the Zohar. Wiseman, who reveals himself to be Fei's father, stops him, giving peace to Fei's other personalities. Fei's gear transforms into the Xenogears and Grahf appears, revealing that he had been inside Fei's father's body.[27] At this time, Fei makes contact with the Wave Existence—an extra-dimensional being who is trapped inside Deus and is the source of power for all gears—and learns that he must destroy Deus to free humanity. Grahf tries to merge with Fei and is defeated.

Fei discovers that he is a descendant of Abel, a young boy who was a passenger on board the Eldridge, a spaceship that was being used to transport Deus, the core of an interplanetary invasion system created by a federation of spacefaring humans, one that was deemed far too dangerous for use and was therefore dismantled.[13] Deus, however, had become self-aware and took over the Eldridge. Amidst the confusion, Abel was separated from his mother and accidentally made contact with the Wave Existence through the Zohar, Deus' power source. It gave him the power to one day destroy Deus and the Zohar in order to free itself. The Wave Existence also sensed Abel's longing for his mother and used the biological computer Kadomony to create a woman for a companion.[28] When Deus gained full control over the Eldridge, the captain decided to initiate the self-destruct sequence in an attempt to destroy it. Both Deus and the Zohar survived the explosion and landed on a nearby planet along with Abel, under the protection of the Wave Existence. He was the sole survivor, but was soon united with the woman that the Wave Existence had created for him as a companion, Elly. Abel and Elly, at first, led a happy life, but Deus had also created Miang, Cain, and the Gazel Ministry to begin a human civilization on the planet, one which would be under their control to one day be turned into Wels and be absorbed into Deus to recover its strength. When the now-adult Abel and Elly discovered this, they openly challenged Cain and the Gazel Ministry, but lost. However, through the power of the Wave Existence, they are able to be reincarnated in later eras to combat Deus.[13] One of these incarnations lived during an ancient technologically advanced era in Zeboim, where Abel's incarnation went by the name Kim and created Emeralda. Ramsus, revealed to be a biologically engineered clone of Emperor Cain created by Solaris scientists as a means of controlling Deus who was rejected in favor of Fei, hence his hatred of the latter, attacks one more time and is finally defeated. He is later rescued during an attack and convinced to let go of his anger and aid the group.

Fei sets out to destroy Deus and free the Wave Existence and Elly. In Merkaba, the party defeats Deus, but they realize that the energy released from the Wave Existence's shift will destroy the planet.[29] Elly, inside Deus, tries to move it away from the planet and Fei, in his Xenogears, follows to save her, but both disappear in the rift. Krelian confronts them, telling Fei he only sought to end the pain and suffering that comes with human existence by reverting everything back to when it all began, when all was one, to ascend to the realm of God. Fei rejects Krelian's ideology with his love for Elly, but Krelian challenges Fei, telling him to prove this love that could make him independent of God, and calls forth Urobolus, a gigantic serpentine incarnation of Miang. Xenogears appears and Fei uses it to defeat Urobolus. Krelian releases Elly and reveals to Fei that he had planned to become one with God along with Elly. During her time with Krelian, Elly had seen inside his heart and realized it was full of sadness and despair for all the atrocities he had committed. Despite everything, Elly says that Krelian truly loved people more than anyone else.[30]Because no one will forgive his sins, he declines Fei's offer to return and ascends to a higher plane of existence along with the Wave Existence, telling Fei and Elly that he envies them. Fei and Elly then return to their planet along with Xenogears and reunite with the rest of the party.
 
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WindomURL

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This game blew me right the fuck away back in the day. The opening sequence- I had a demo/promo disc, though I don't recall what it came with, maybe parasite eve?- I must've watched it 100 times.

Should fire it up again. There's just nothing else quite like it.
 

John Day

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This game blew me right the fuck away back in the day. The opening sequence- I had a demo/promo disc, though I don't recall what it came with, maybe parasite eve?- I must've watched it 100 times.

Should fire it up again. There's just nothing else quite like it.

Yeah i think it was with PE, that demo really sold the game.
 
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KiteGr

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The game has never reached Europe, so I can only criticize it from screenshots.
"I don't know.... It looks dump.... What are these?... Cartoons riding toy robots? When are you people going to grow up..."

In all seriousness, I wanted to play the Xeno series all my life! These games being region locked out of Europe made me seriously loose faith in buying legal copies.
If it wasn't for ps3 becoming region free from that point on, I would had seriously considered becoming a full Pirate.
Now I'm waiting for some raspberry pi Model to advance enough to handle Ps2 so I can catch up on all those games I've missed.