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Xanadu Next |OT| Take up your sword and seek the Dragon Slayer!

Sep 11, 2011
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Get it on Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle!
  • Title — Xanadu Next
  • Developer — Nihon Falcom
  • Publisher — XSEED Games
  • Genre — Overhead stat-heavy dungeon-crawling action adventure
  • Platform — Windows XP and higher
  • Release — 3rd of November, 2016 (originally 27th of October, 2005)
  • Format — Digital
  • Game size — 1.2 GB on Steam, 703 MB+ on GOG
  • Website — XSEED's release; Falcom's release
  • Trailer — Announcement, Release; Original
  • Game footage — RPGSite (~2 minutes in town, rest of it's the early stretch of Clover Ruins, minor story spoilers)
  • Price — $19.99 with a 10%-off launch discount




From XSEED's site:

Whenever mist hangs over the waters of Lake Orwell on Harlech Island, sailors catch sight of a phantom castle just out of reach.
As they draw near, it fades into the fog like a mirage, leaving only questions for all who have borne witness to this "Castle Strangerock."

An up-and-coming scholar named Charlotte L. Wells has had her interest piqued by this local legend and desperately wishes to study it in person—but of course,
Harlech Island is no place for an unescorted young lady.
To aid her in her investigation, therefore, she enlists the help of an old childhood friend and fallen knight who agrees to accompany her on this adventure.

Arriving in Harlech and catching sight of Castle Strangerock almost immediately, Char dives into researching the mystery head-on,
leaving her companion to explore the surrounding environs on his own in search of any artifacts that might help trace the origins of this ephemeral stronghold.

Sadly, this almost immediately leads to his death at the hands of a mysterious swordsman seemingly displaced in time...but death is to be only the beginning of his adventure.






Brave Sir Knight
With knighthood strictly forbidden under the new rule of the land, this former Northsea Chevalier finds himself without a master or direction in life.
Fortunately, his childhood friend has a quest big enough for them both, and he may find renewed use for his skills on this mysterious island.
Maybe he'll even find new purpose upon this journey...



Charlotte L. Wells (Char)
A young scholar who wants, more than anything, to solve the mystery of Harlech Island's infamous Castle Strangerock.
Possessing a talent for both languages and fine cooking, she's equally capable of translating the old tongue and pleasing your own with delectable homemade treats.
Regrettably, however, she's not a fighter, so she depends solely on her companion to do the investigating in this remote, dangerous land.




Click thumbnails for larger size




Xanadu Next gives you multiple goals: find the Dragon Slayer in order to leave Harlech with your life, learn the location of and means to access the elusive Castle Strangerock, and unveil the conspiracy behind the "Black Bride". You must solve these problems by exploring the island's areas and mazes, encountering more than a few odd characters, all while fighting monsters and unraveling puzzles both coincidental and intentional. This real-time action xRPG boasts an arsenal of equipment/items to collect, each with varying purpose, on top of various ways to build your Knight through mastering skills, allocating your statistics per level, and upgrading "Guardians". A motley bestiary awaits you in walled fields, abandoned caves, a forest and mountain far apart, and the dread Castle itself. Through sword, sorcery, and wisdom you must reclaim Xanadu!




You use a mouse and/or gamepad to lead your Knight around each map, as well as an expandable mini-map for navigation, command menus, and a pop-out user interface/hotbar letting you manage inventory and change your traveling load-out. The game's camera can be rotated around the player in most situations, but sometimes fixes position when needed. You start off in Harlech's port hamlet where you can shop for provisions, weapons, and armor before journeying. Revisiting Harlech Village between story beats proves useful for learning more about the game world, saving, and retracing previous routes across the island. Harlech's villagers have their fair share of advice, but not enough to prepare for unforeseen places and events ahead. Expect to visit the armory and local temple often; weapons, and developing your levels and Guardians, are key to your success.





Overworlds and dungeons interconnect across the island, sometimes in unexpected ways. From musty old ruins to precarious heights, Harlech Island will challenge you and demands you prepare ahead of time. Locked doors, boulders, puzzle traps, gaps you cannot yet cross, and so forth guard the paths before you. If necessary, take notes on which areas you cannot yet visit. Occasionally you'll find shortcuts and, much later on, warp points useful for returning to shelter and then combing the land once more. Certain puzzles reset when you revisit areas, but doors and gates remain unlocked permanently. Keys are either bought from the shop or made in the field using a special item, all dependent on bones you either sell or recycle into keys.




Brave Sir Knight gains combat experience over time and must use the Harlech temple 's services to fully level up or down. The level-up screen lets you use one or more points on one or more stats; you can change stat placement within a level, letting you experiment before gaining another level and keeping the chosen stats. Keep in mind that statistics affect which armor and weapons you can equip. This makes it easier to develop your Knight into a physical fighter vs. a magic attacker, but also less challenging. Leveling down, meanwhile, gives you a means to backtrack and then increase stats you absolutely need at a given moment in the game.

You gain 6 points upon leveling up and can allocate them to five area statistics:

  • Strength (STR, useful for physical weapons)
  • Intelligence (INT, essential for casting spells)
  • Reflex (REF, builds agility and accuracy)
  • Constitution (CON, raises defensive power)
  • Mind (MND, improves your magic resistance)




Weapons, with stat requirements much like armor, hold potential for teaching Skills only the Knight can use. The more you attack enemies/objects with a weapon, the higher its mastery percentage climbs, until you reach 100% and earn the ability to permanently equip and use a Skill. (After that you can train to 200% mastery for added attack power.) Some of these abilities are passive while others give you a new attack (limited by quantity until you recharge by resting at the Harlech tavern). Spells, meanwhile, must be purchased from the item shop and have their own stat requirements like weapons, requiring higher magical proficiency. Certain enemies are weaker to magic than others, the same going for certain weaponry. You'll equip not just swords and spells, but also axes and halberds, with all weapons having their subtleties.

Armory has its own importance. While body armor provides simple but significant upgrades in defense, shields and headgear differ. The former can only be used together with one-handed weapons, but will occasionally nullify enemy physical attacks depending on your defense stats vs. theirs. Meanwhile headgear items provide the smallest increases in defense, but ward against conditions like silencing and elemental magic. Choose your stat allocation and budget wisely to determine the best fit for spelunking.





Goblins, bats, undead, elemental forces, fell beasts, animated knights!—these foes and more inhabit almost all parts of the island outside town. Your biggest advantage? They're weak from behind. Striking from behind greatly boosts your damage, and it builds good habits/tactics for tackling large groups. Skills/spells give you the edge over these hordes, as does erring on the side of caution. You can use restorative items, like health-point potions and antidotes, at any time during battle. A couple of items even transport you back to Harlech Village in case you need to escape a lost fight. Experiment with how best to fight certain types of enemies, and be ready for unique, large encounters during each sojourn.




Two features of note are Guardians and puzzles. Installed Guardian spirits grant you one or more passive bonuses, such as experience growth and magic spellpower. They also have their own levels, with experience going up based on how many enemies you exterminate. If you defeat as many mobs in an area as you can, Guardians can level up right on time to give you optimal benefits; alternatively they'll gain levels immediately when consuming the energy stored at Guardian statues located across Harlech. Certain chest items, like spells and an odd Guardian, reside behind optional puzzles littered throughout Harlech, ranging from simple platforming to non-linear block sliding/pushing. Whoever created these puzzles had the knack, whether or not they wanted you to solve each obstacle and obtain rare items.




Whispers of a past forgotten still exist in Harlech, written as History and Memoir Tablets awaiting the light of day. Char's talent for translating old Xanadu script will let you learn more about the game's backstory, so long as you recover these Tablets and return them to her at the tavern. Each Tablet translation nets you a free, scrumptious lunch that never goes bad. Finding each Tablet will test your mettle in exploring and solving each and every nook and cranny of the island.

Xanadu Next exhibits some of the best, most accessible qualities of Falcom PC games from the mid-2000s while also paying homage to its ancestors in the classic Xanadu series. [I've played the game twice already and still haven't run out of ways to experience this adventure and story!] Imagine a cross-breed of Ys VI: The Ark of Napistim and Brandish: The Dark Revenant, plus non-Falcom games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (heavy on interconnected exploration), Nox (top-down action with lots of different monsters to fight against), Vagrant Story (box puzzles), and later 2D Zelda titles. Not only is the game friendly to multiple control styles, but it runs well on older, less powerful PCs and has been updated to include true widescreen and compatibility with latest Windows OSes.




Read XSEED's summary of the history behind Xanadu Next, Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, and the Dragon Slayer franchise
!

Xanadu Next connects directly to 1985's Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, arguably Falcom's most successful game commercially and critically. It became a cornerstone of early video gaming on Japanese PCs, with many long levels filled with dungeons, meaningful character building letting you play as a fighter or mage or both, and strange audiovisuals that suit the game's plunge into the netherworld perfectly. Xanadu's high difficulty both perplexed and inspired NEC PC-88/Sharp X1/Fujitsu FM-7/MSX1 owners to challenge themselves; Xanadu Next is much easier but still keeps you on your toes just like old Xanadu. The 2005 game borrows not only a late-medieval setting and ornate style of fantasy music, but also enemy types/boss fights, parts of level design, weapons, systems like leveling at temples, and it takes place in the very same world centuries after Xanadu succumbed to history.

Revival Xanadu on PC-98, a Xanadu remake made in 1995:



Both old and new Xanadu games are tied by La Valse Pour Xanadu, an iconic, unnerving waltz that Falcom has rearranged many times since it debuted more than 30 years ago.

Revival Xanadu
vs. Xanadu Next

Dragon Slayer franchise infographic:





RPGSite, 9/10
Hey Poor Player, 4/5
Gaming Nexus, 8/10 (why does the reviewer think XSEED ups difficulty/grinding in Falcom releases though?)



Here's the avatars/icons XSEED's cut from their art:






Does this game have partial and/or full gamepad support? Can I use a multi-button mouse also?

This release uses the same gamepad support Falcom patched into Xanadu Next about a year after it first released. Skill and item selection's automatically bound to the directional pad on your gamepad of choice, so just make sure to adjust cursor speed and then hold down the "Use Mouse" button in order to manipulate your inventory using just the gamepad. Joy2Key (or X-Mouse Button Control/AutoHotKeys) is your friend here as always: you can rebind however you like to create the profile you need for your Xanadu Next playthrough, and the controls are simple enough that you can bind all important buttons/commands to mouse triggers.

Xanadu Next Steam X-Mouse Button Control profile, Logitech M510

Can you name any improvements this version by XSEED has over the patched original?

XSEED has added true widescreen support, including 4K resolutions using your GPU settings (not available from the game's configuration tool yet). This contrasts with how the fan-patch's widescreen tool stretches the rendered image unnaturally, blurring the user interface and distorting the original aspect ratio. Comparison below:

Fan patch said:

vs.

XSEED said:

Compatibility fixes make this game play better on modern PCs. Falcom's latest version of Xanadu Next only has Windows 8 support, whereas this version goes higher and will have more consistent updates. On a minor note, XSEED's added two of my own suggested ideas:


  • Expanded mini-map now tracks your position accurately when using widescreen resolutions, regardless of whether the inventory menu's popped or not
  • "Log History to TXT" has been added, letting you review a play session by the numbers (logs can be found in your "Saved Games" folder under User in Windows XP/7)

Both of the above enhance the experience just that much more.

What relation does this game have to Faxanadu on the NES? I really loved that game when I was younger and am a bit curious.

There's no official connection between Hudson Soft's Faxanadu and Xanadu Next aside from the fact that Hudson licensed the Xanadu IP from Falcom to begin with. Wingboots are in Xanadu Next, however. I haven't played Faxanadu yet but wouldn't be surprised if Falcom staff snuck in a few gags/references to the Famicom game. And I don't think Xanadu Next takes much influence from Faxanadu if any, as the classic Xanadu games take precedent.

Before anyone asks, there's zero similarity between these games and Xanadu the musical/movie. Xanadu Next does, however, mention and riff off of Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan".

Does this game feel more like Diablo or Ys? How does it differ from East Asian ARPGs and Western overhead dungeon-crawlers?

My understanding is Diablo focuses more on acquiring loot, defeating lots of enemies using chains of attacks that add up, and randomized playthroughs both in terms of level design and character building. Xanadu Next prefers equipment mastery, smart positioning and reflexes while manipulating groups of enemies in concert around you, and more limited character building to fit pre-designed areas. Falcom's game might have derived elements like its hotbar instead from a little-known 2005 game called RINNE, based on the Relics series of Diablo-like dungeon crawlers for Windows but developed by Falcom themselves. There's no sure way to know, but I don't use Diablo as a go-to comparison. A contemporary game, Nox, is closer to how Xanadu Next plays and even looks.

I'm hoping this game has Falcom's signature heavy rock tracks...right?!

Xanadu Next has maybe two rock tracks in total, and you hear both near the end when it truly counts. Instead, the game's soundtrack is melodic and unforgettable, but also very textured, downtempo, and vaguely baroque/neoclassical while sounding modern. Some example tracks below:

Clover Ruins

Harlech
La Valse Pour Xanadu ~ Event ~

18 to 23 hours? What factors can make this as short as an Ys game or double that amount of time? Does Xanadu Next become as challenging as Ys from that era, too?

If you're not careful, the game can become a little grindy and, in cases like Trechier Woods, can stump first-time players who don't hunt for hints in NPC dialogue and such. Return playthroughs nearly always take less time, but overall Xanadu Next has much larger dungeons than in your typical Ys game and has more devious puzzles and secrets.

When playing just to complete the story, Xanadu Next rarely becomes as challenging as Oath in Felghana, falling more in line with Ark of Napishtim on Normal/Hard Catastrophe. And it also lacks difficulty options, an omission it shares only with Falcom's Zwei!! from 2001 in that period. There is, however, an optional randomized dungeon that unlocks right before you can fight the final boss, located in the lobby of the final dungeon. It's the reason why Falcom raised the game's level cap from 20 to 30 when they patched in the dungeon (and gamepad controls).

What are the chances XSEED will localize older Falcom PC games after this?

Candidate games like Zwei!! (II), Dinosaur Resurrection, Sorcerian Original, VM Japan (plus Vantage Master V2), and maybe RINNE are still viable. It all comes down to continued commercial support for XSEED to keep localizing earlier Falcom output, namely games which aren't related to Ys or Trails. Tom/Wyrdwad @ XSEED (who started the Xanadu Next fan translation before joining XSEED soon after) and Sara Leen are pushing for this trend to continue like usual.

How do you play this game that much more effectively? I feel like I'm missing out on a few things here.

  • Use Char's storage at the tavern often to make room in your inventory while protecting both important items (like headgear, Elixirs, and stat-boosting Seeds you can only buy from the wanderer Agnes) and money you've accrued
  • You can hasten weapon proficiency gains by hitting environmental objects like grass, torches, and boxes littered throughout the world. In desperate cases, you could even repeat this to power up a weaker but potentially stronger weapon to make the difference in upcoming battles
  • Many enemies will trail you around each area until you come in range of their attacks, at which point they'll strike. Abuse the combatants' behavior, time each enemy attack animation just right, and you'll have seemingly too many openings to strike them from behind for multiplied damage. Some of the game's unique group fights, like the skeleton mage encounter in Eternal Maze (bring restoratives and equip Serenity to boost your magic defense!), are built expressly so you can master this strategy




  • Falcom, specifically Takuyuki Kusano's team, for developing such a majestic game!
  • The EB Garamond open source project (fonts).
  • Everyone at XSEED because of their resolve and dedication to localizing this game.
  • jdkluv for doing the Brandish PSP OT and giving me a template to make this one from (gotta be honest)

Shout outs to KainXVIII for preparing a video wrapper you can use to mitigate/eliminate frame-stuttering/-pacing issues for Xanadu Next and other Falcom PC games

———————————————————————————————

Now let's get outta here and find that darn Dragon Slayer!
 

Aeana

Member
Jul 10, 2006
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One of Falcom's greats. Everybody please check this game out!!



Why is the title cut off though
 

ggx2ac

Member
Apr 5, 2016
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Liked the OST and I was just about to purchase when I noticed it's not even out yet.

Edit: Text in OP is still cut off, it won't let me scroll to the right.
 

Tizoc

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Jun 23, 2010
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Goty 2016
For those seeking cheapest price; wait for tomorrow's monthly bundle to be revealed if it is a game ur interested in buy it to get 10% off all himble store purchades. You also get drm free ver of the game to boot
 
Sep 11, 2011
13,694
25
660
Live you where?
Can someone please spoil/link the boss battle theme to me? Also is this actually better controlled with Mouse+KB rather than pad?
Listen to this at your own risk (hint: it's XSEED's trailer music). Also, I'm going to see if there's a way you can bind all necessary actions to the extra buttons on my Logitech M510, since being able to use F! through F4 directly from my mouse would turn this into a mouse-only game. No keyboards required after the set-up.

Edit: Text in OP is still cut off, it won't let me scroll to the right.
ITT we learn indenting too much looks cool on desktop but breaks things on mobile. Hopefully things are fixed now. It's probably best to view the OP in landscape too.
 

Parakeetman

No one wants a throne you've been sitting on!
Feb 22, 2012
23,671
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Fantastic informative OT! Am looking forward to checking the game out when time permits.

I wonder if Xseed will ever do Dinosaur Resurrection?
 
Jan 9, 2016
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Everything about this is so gorgeous to me. I'm so happy this is coming out in English. I'm getting this day 1 and hoping we get more. How about the PC Brandish games?
 

preta

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Sep 18, 2015
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Everything about this is so gorgeous to me. I'm so happy this is coming out in English. I'm getting this day 1 and hoping we get more. How about the PC Brandish games?

I wouldn't get your hopes up. The most recent one, Brandish 4, is from 1998, and all of the ones before that are not for Windows, but PC-98. I suppose it's not impossible they could do emulated releases, but I don't think Brandish is a high priority.
 

Alboreo

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Feb 21, 2012
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Really hype for this, but I'm going in without ever having played others in the series. I'm a bit concerned, because I'm not very good at the older Ys games on harder difficulties, but I'm hoping that I can manage it. Everything about it sounds awesome, particularly the fact that you slowly master weapons over time. I enjoy that kind of 'realistic' detail and I think that it would fit well in a number of games, so I'm excited to see how it plays out.

this game is perfect. road to 50 sold but i'm glad its coming out. enjoy.

I hope this isn't true, but I wouldn't be surprised. :( I have faith, but if nothing else it'll sell like hotcakes during a Steam sale like the earlier Ys games on Steam did (at least I think that happened).
 

Dio

Banned
Apr 3, 2013
6,385
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Really hype for this, but I'm going in without ever having played others in the series. I'm a bit concerned, because I'm not very good at the older Ys games on harder difficulties, but I'm hoping that I can manage it. Everything about it sounds awesome, particularly the fact that you slowly master weapons over time. I enjoy that kind of 'realistic' detail and I think that it would fit well in a number of games, so I'm excited to see how it plays out.



I hope this isn't true, but I wouldn't be surprised. :( I have faith, but if nothing else it'll sell like hotcakes during a Steam sale like the earlier Ys games on Steam did (at least I think that happened).

You don't really need to have played any of the other Xanadu titles. There are recurring terms and themes but this is basically completely separate, and gameplay wise it's the only Xanadu that plays like this at all.

As for sales, I mentioned earlier that the fan translation probably cannibalized some of the sales of the localization but I hope it gets a nice amount of sales nonetheless. I myself imported a physical copy and patched it with a fan TL, so yeah.
 

FLD

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May 28, 2011
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In my anticipation for more Falcom goodness on Steam, I started playing Gurumin last week and if anything it's made me anticipate Xanadu Next even more. It's just so far removed from what I've come to expect from Falcom games lol. It's alright but it's just not as good as I was hoping. Doesn't look like I'll have enough time to finish it anyway, so I'll just have to come back to it later.

Anyway, can't wait until tomorrow to (hopefully) get a proper Falcom fix! I'll be going in mostly blind, so that should be fun.
 

preta

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Sep 18, 2015
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In my anticipation for more Falcom goodness on Steam, I started playing Gurumin last week and if anything it's made me anticipate Xanadu Next even more. It's just so far removed from what I've come to expect from Falcom games lol. It's alright but it's just not as good as I was hoping. Doesn't look like I'll have enough time to finish it anyway, so I'll just have to come back to it later.

Anyway, can't wait until tomorrow to (hopefully) get a proper Falcom fix! I'll be going in mostly blind, so that should be fun.

Gurumin is the shortest Falcom game I've played. I think my first playthrough took 6 hours.
 

bede-x

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Dec 5, 2010
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So ready to try this. I've had the N-Gage version shrink-wrapped for years and never bothered to play it, because it supposedly was a poor version. Nice to finally get the real deal.
 

FLD

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May 28, 2011
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Gurumin is the shortest Falcom game I've played. I think my first playthrough took 6 hours.

Wait, really? HowLongToBeat says it's around 9-12h long. I'm a little over 5 hours in, so I assumed I was only about halfway through.

edit: Just checked a walkthrough real quick and yeah, looks like I still have a little bit to go. More than I could realistically play between now and tomorrow given it's already 4AM lol.
 

AlanOC91

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Oct 27, 2014
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Wow never even heard of this before but it looks awesome! Exactly like my type of game. Instant buy!
 

Corpekata

Banned
Jun 7, 2013
20,276
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Did the original PC version of this run at 60+ FPS? I Imagine it did, given all of Falcom's Xseed stuff has been fine on that front (and presumably they aren't porting the Ngage version). Just a little wary after Little King's Story was such a technical mess.
 

Palette Swap

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That place there.
Damn, I thought I could already buy this, but 8 more hours. I'm really glad we're getting to play this.

For some reason, every time I see Xanadu, my brain farts and I think "oh yeah, it's that really cool side scroller I played on Megadrive", and then I realize I'm thinking of Sorcerian.

If anyone wants to read up on some more historical context for the series while waiting, I recently found and highly suggest reading this.
That was a pretty good read.
 

Dio

Banned
Apr 3, 2013
6,385
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Damn, I thought I could already buy this, but 8 more hours. I'm really glad we're getting to play this.

For some reason, every time I see Xanadu, my brain farts and I think "oh yeah, it's that really cool side scroller I played on Megadrive", and then I realize I'm thinking of Sorcerian.


That was a pretty good read.

Well, they're both by Falcom so you're not that far off. Not only that, but Sorcerian is actually referenced in Xanadu Next as a guardian card you can select ingame. It increases damage dealt by spells and adds +3% spell damage per level.

They're actually also connected by the Dragon Slayer threads like in the image seen in the OP if you look carefully.

 
Sep 11, 2011
13,694
25
660
Live you where?
RPGSite's published a preview:

When using a gamepad, as you might expect - you can move with the analog stick and assign buttons for attack and skill use. You can remap most actions to most buttons, but a cursor is still needed to navigate the player inventory. On a gamepad, this is done by holding down a button, which toggles the left stick from player control to cursor control. However, Xanadu Next does not seem to support controller triggers, which would be the ideal place for such a toggle. The left bumper - which default to camera rotation, can work if you want to go that route.

Aside all that, mouse and keyboard is simply quicker to use if you need to access player inventory or skills during combat.
Nothing's changed I see. They also list a few bugs (hopefully) unique to the pre-release build. Sara @ XSEED just opened up a whammy of support topics on the Steam forums, so it looks like she's on top of things.
 

jj984jj

He's a pretty swell guy in my books anyway.
Aug 30, 2005
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Did the original PC version of this run at 60+ FPS? I Imagine it did, given all of Falcom's Xseed stuff has been fine on that front (and presumably they aren't porting the Ngage version). Just a little wary after Little King's Story was such a technical mess.

Don't know why you would associate that trash port with anything they've released from Falcom, these games are updated by Sara who's done a great job with all of them. LKS was an experiment since porting a game to PC from another platform is a bigger job, and was handled by other people. In other words, one doesn't have anything to do with the other.