Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

9.5 Overall Score
Gameplay: 10/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 10/10

Excellent combat | Huge world to explore | Phenomenal soundtrack

Small screen doesn't do the game justice

Game Info

GAME NAME: Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

DEVELOPER(S): Monolith Soft

PUBLISHER(S): Nintendo

PLATFORM(S): New Nintendo 3DS only

GENRE(S): Role-Playing

RELEASE DATE(S): April 10, 2015

It seems an odd choice to port a console game known for its vast environments to a handheld, but that’s just what we got in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. The remake is helped along by the New Nintendo 3DS’s more powerful processor, and it is impressive to behold. However, although Xenoblade Chronicles 3D maintains the visual integrity of the Wii original remarkably well, the smaller screen only acts as a detriment. Those who played the original will find it takes some getting used to, and I can’t deny I would recommend any newcomers keep their eyes peeled for a Wii copy.

That aside, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is an incredibly well put together Japanese RPG. The story follows a group of humans (known as Homs) in a struggle against a vicious force of machine-like enemies called Mechon. Shulk is the central figure in the story, but there are plenty of side characters who join his party or play the role of the villain. The story isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it is suitably grand in scale.

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Actually, it rather matches the setting in which it takes place: the stagnant corpses of two titans, the Bionis and Mechonis. As you have probably already guessed, organic forms like Homs originate from the Bionis, while mechanical beings come from Mechonis.

The titans are larger than you might think; the world is massive, varied, and rife with secrets to uncover. Exploration and discovery are an absolute joy in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. They’re also beneficial to leveling up your party of characters, as discovering new locations and landmarks award a healthy dose of experience points.

That adds to the constant sense of progression in the game, and that sense of progression keeps it interesting throughout its 100-hour adventure. From viewing an important story cutscene to fighting monsters to stumbling across a secret area, the game and gameplay never stall.

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One important aspect of the game is sidequesting. There are innumerable sidequests to accept, with requirements ranging from slaying a certain type and number of monsters to collecting a specific amount of an item or material. There could certainly be more variety to the sidequests, but, in their defense, they make a nice alternative to traditional RPG “grinding”.

Even if grinding was emphasized in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, it wouldn’t be all that bad. The game boasts an excellent combat system. Your active team consists of 3 characters, though you usually only control one at a time. You can choose the 3 from any of the party characters as they join Shulk, and, fortunately, they all level up together, so you can change without worrying about weaker characters being a nuisance. Your current character will auto-attack while near a monster, but the meat of the system comes in the form of the arts palette. Each character has a wide variety of these “special moves”, but only limited palette space on which to hold them. The arts themselves are limited in that they have to go through a cool down period after use. You can arrange a character’s arts any way you choose, plus there’s an art leveling system that takes the strategy to another level.

Applied in actual combat, arts have certain properties. Some are physical attacks, some do ether damage, and others heal party members. Many arts can do critical damage when used from a certain angle, while still others can knock enemies over when used properly. If your team is “really feeling it”, you can unleash a chain attack. Skills and equipment add even more depth to the combat.

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It may seem pretty intimidating, and it’s true the tutorials at the start of the game will last you a good couple of hours, but keep in mind you’ll be done and finished with tutorials way before you reach the end of the journey. And it is some journey. A robust soundtrack and solid English voice work accompany what I consider to be near-perfect gameplay.

As far as changes to the original go, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D doesn’t necessarily shine. The stereoscopic 3D effect doesn’t look all that great, and other changes are minimal at best. You’ve got the new “Collection” option that you can access from the title screen. It’s a place where you spend tokens to collect, at random, character models or music tracks you have reached far enough in the game to see or hear. Tokens aren’t exactly easy to acquire (one method involves the Shulk amiibo; good luck with that), and it turns out the rewards aren’t even that great. You can listen to music tracks with your New 3DS system closed, but you have to have headphones plugged in to do so. Even worse, you have to select each track individually, so forget about listening to all the music, one after another, let alone on shuffle. I was actually rather appalled by how poor the game’s music player is. The model viewer works great, though, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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The Recommendation

Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is a deep and highly satisfying RPG. The game’s world is absolutely enormous and a thrill to explore, though the screen of the New 3DS, even the XL version, is a bit too small to contain it. Still, that doesn’t keep the action from being top-notch. An adequate storyline, some great voice acting, and a superior soundtrack round out an excellent game. The bonus features exclusive to the 3D version of the game are hardly worth mentioning, but at least they don’t detract from the experience.

Summary

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Author: Holly Fellmeth View all posts by
Site Manager/Editor - Holly's favorite hobby is playing new or different games. She believes there is no other medium that can offer such weird and wacky things as the gaming industry can. Her Nintendo Network ID is Aeroweth.