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Xenogears

Developer: Squaresoft | Publisher: Square EA
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/20/98 | Genre: RPG

Throughout RPG history, Squaresoft has been able to please the hearts of many by creating a game that has great graphics, superb music, and an excellent storyline. I believe that Xenogears is one of those games. In fact, the storyline was so wide and serious that it almost didn't make it to the U.S due to certain religious issues. However, thanks to the company's change of plans, North America would have a chance to play one of the greatest RPG's for Squaresoft.

The storyline of Xenogears sets in a small village with your character Fei Fong Wong, who is exiled from his village. So begins the long quest for you to uncover your mysterious past, and find out the past to your planet. The beginning of the game is hard to follow because there are many questions that are unanswered, and when they are, more pop up. This happens throughout the whole game, but it is only to make you want to play further and fall deeper into the storyline. In addition, the religious issue of the game is not so bad either. In fact, it is very interesting and makes you question the very existence to humanity and God.

Along with a great storyline, Xenogears music is beautiful. What do you expect? The composer is Chrono Trigger's Yasunori Mitsuda. Every song pushes the game along, and fills you with such emotion that you'll play the game just to hear them. It can go from fast to slow, but then sad to exciting. Xenogears also has some sound affects that you hear when you are fighting or talking to someone. This can be a grunt or a shriek. I didn't like this very much because the sounds would hardly come through, or just be blocked over by the music. I would say that this is the only fault to the sound. But either way, you will still find enjoyment to the musical variety that Xenogears has to offer.

Uniqueness is very important when it comes to an RPG, because lots of them can be the same. We can easily say this for the battle sequence in them. But with Xenogears, this is not so. You can fight with gigantic humanoid robots called "Gears." When in a gear, you have many different options ahead of you. Gears operate by fuel. In addition, each different attack uses up certain amount of fuel points. 10, 20, and 30, from weakest to strongest. Super-combos require more, and you do this by using weak attacks and saving up fuel. This raises your attack level. Running out of fuel would be a problem, but not here because you can use "Charge," which enables you to restore a small amount of fuel. "Boost," enables you to speed up your gear in order to use more attacks, but this uses up 30 fuel every turn.

When fighting out of "Gears," the fighting is no less exciting. You can defend, attack, use magic, and item, or simply be a coward and run. There are times when (it hurts to say) that you must run. But here is where Xenogears is different from all other standard RPG battle systems. When choosing attack, you have three basic series of moves that you can use. Each symbol on the controller represents a different attack that causes a different amount of damage. Weak, Strong, Strongest. In using your weak attacks, you store up leftover Attack Points that lets you unleash devastating moves. The more damage you cause an enemy, the more amounts of AP you use. This now serves as a strategic way of fighting your enemy. By using certain combinations, you will learn different moves. As you level up, you will be able to create larger combinations. You can also use magic and items, but this is mostly to heal you, or do moderate damage to an enemy. Though it might sound the same, the battle system with your "Gears" is very different from when you're fighting "gear-less."

Xenogears has beautiful graphics that are polygonal, and featured from an overhead view. What's great about this game is that you can rotate the screen by using the L or R buttons on your Playstation controller. Having problems locating an item will not happen here because you get the whole scenery. The colors are bright, and the characters are very well drawn. Going from 16 to 32-bit is very interesting to see. When fighting in your "Gears," you can see the great 3D action. Although there are some problems with pixelation, Xenogears graphics can be tied in with a mix of Final Fantasy Tactics, and Breath of Fire III. The best part of the game's graphics, are the great movie cut-scenes that appear when something big is happening. The animation is fun to watch, and it too pushes the game along.

Everything in an RPG must be a good storyline, good music, and good characters. Most RPG lovers don't really care about the graphics so long as the storyline is good. Although Xenogears has a plot that may be hard to follow sometimes, all your questions will be answered as you go along in the game. Xenogears has beautifully drawn characters, a great storyline, and the features that it offers are one that no RPG lover should miss.

By John Andreu - 08/01/00
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Screenshots for Xenogears

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