Developer: Monolith Soft
Unless you?ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you probably have some basic working knowledge of what Xenoblade Chronicles is. Released on the Wii in 2012 in North America, and willed into existence in the West almost entirely by fan driven campaigns, it?s one of the more remarkable, large-scale JRPG?s to grace a console this decade. I greatly enjoyed my time spent with the original on the Wii, and with the re-release on 3DS, I found myself more than eager to spend dozens and dozens of hours with it on a decidedly smaller screen.
Most of my initial concerns with the switch from console to handheld were done away with after just a couple hours spent with Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. Yes, some of the visuals do look a bit worse for wear, but surprisingly not as much as you might you think. I was actually pretty pleased with how the game looked, more so than I had been by the trailers and screenshots that preceded its release. Do some of the textures look a bit murky? Yeah, but overall the character animations, detail, and sense of scale contained within the original Wii version of the game feel pretty much intact here.
My only real qualm, from a technical point of view, is that the 3D effect is largely wasted. All the 3D seems to do is bog down the framerate a bit, and the effect with 3D cranked up doesn?t seem to warrant the sacrifice. There?s a very slight pop to figures and text in the foreground, certainly less so than you?ve seen in other 3D titles. And the effect adds nothing to the gameplay or world, so much so that I found virtually no reason to leave the feature enabled.
But outside of that, I think the work that?s been done in porting this title over to the 3DS is fairly remarkable. Granted, it?s only playable on the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, but so little is lost in transition between the Wii and New 3DS version that I?d have a tough time pointing out the differences in a blind test. The voice over work remains excellent, barring the too occasional ?It?s Reyn time!? cries and other repetitive battle bits of dialogue, and the excellent soundtrack sounds just as fantastic here, with the aid of a decent headset attached.
The rest of Xenoblade Chronicles mechanics transition well to a handheld too. The combat, which takes a page from traditional MMO?s, is still easy enough to pick-up and learn, with diverse skills and abilities between the various characters that?ll join your party throughout the adventure. The C-Stick on the New 3DS makes camera control simple enough, and the rest of the button layout feels pretty much akin to playing the Wii version on a Classic Controller Pro. The ability to save virtually anywhere also makes this RPG feel ideal for a handheld, allowing you to stop and pick-up where you left off quickly, with minimal loading between saving and booting the game back up.
I?d highly suggest picking up Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, especially if you never had a chance to check out the Wii version of the game. This marks an excellent port for one of the best RPG?s in recent years, and it?s a title that every RPG fan should not miss. I think it?s pretty amazing to see the game scaled down to the portable space as well as it has been here, and I look forward to spending even more time with the game, exploring every nook and cranny this expansive world has to offer.