When I played Pokemon for the first time, I was blown away by the sense of adventure, the giant world, the myriad of monsters to capture, the sheer number of characters to interact with, and the world to explore. Pokemon was a truly one of a kind game in my eyes, enrapturing me for several weeks and completely taking hold of my life. While playing Xenoblade, I experienced the same type of awe, wonder, and amazement as I experienced when playing Pokemon for the first time.
Players control Shulk, a character that has the power to wield a very powerful weapon called the Monado. When Shulk’s lady-friend gets murdered, Shulk and his party depart on a quest for revenge to take down the killers. As the plot unravels, however, the group finds out that nothing is as simple as it seems initially. The story holds several twists, all introduced with absolute perfect timing, that keep players engaged and interested in the plotline. Whereas most RPGs seem to just shoehorn in some sort of passable story, Xenoblade actually tells an incredibly interesting and engaging tale in its massive world.
In fact, Xenoblade’s world is bigger than just massive – it’s gargantuan. Each area in the game is a game world in itself, with a myriad of quests, monsters, and collectibles. One of the coolest parts of the game is the fact that often while exploring, players will encounter enemies that are far stronger than they players are at the current moment. Oftentimes, these beasts will be huge, dozens of times bigger than the player, and at very high levels. After leveling up the party and coming back later in the game, most of these giant beasts will be much more possible to defeat. Taking down a giant beast instills a huge sense of accomplishment and power in the player, while extending the life of the game even further, not that extending playtime for the game was even necessary.
A straight playthrough of the game will take around sixty hours; however, anyone that does some of the side material could see playthroughs take up to 100 hours, if not longer.
Unfortunately, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D does little to encourage players to re-purchase the title or invest in a New 3DS XL. The added processing power of the New 3DS XL simply does not really add all that much to the title. Textures in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D are just as ugly and muddy as on the Wii. Moreover, the 3D effect is really cool to look at initially, but the “cool factor” wears off in no time, just acting as a “battery-killer” after a while. The one impressive feature in the game is the fast travel system, which allows players to travel across the whole world in just a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, this incredible fast travel system comes at a cost to the performance of the game in other aspects. I encountered enemies popping on and off screen on multiple occasions and slowdown in the frame rate, even when 3D was turned off.
At its core, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is just as good as the original release. Those that missed out on the chance to play through the Wii version will love the incredible world of Xenoblade, the masterfully told story, and the engaging combat system. Furthermore, the absolutely incredible music score coming through the New 3DS’ fabulous speakers as well as the improved 3D function help justify the purchase of the new handheld for early adopters. Although those that played through the original Wii version of Xenoblade Chronicles will find little added to this 3DS port, those looking for a reason to justify their New 3DS XL purchase will certainly find it here.