I guess this goes without saying, but SPOILERS LULZ, play them damnit.
So I have decided that I am going to replay the trilogy along with Xenogears. I just got an itch to do so a week or so ago. Probably in part due to the contest thats going on right now for March Madness. I have never played the series back to back, so this should be interesting. I'm not entirely sure I feel the need to blog about it though. Who knows maybe if there are people who ignored this series when it was being released will be interested enough to fish around in the bargain bin at Gamestop or something. If so then I think thats a pretty good reason right there is it not? I realize the barrier to entry is a pretty hefty one. What with the 45 minute cutscenes and the polarizing Episode II.(I've yet to meet a fan of the series who was just neutral on the combat system). I have always had a soft spot for Episode I personally. Its so-anime-its-painful look is endearing to me on some weird level. An orchestra at the hands of Yasunori Mitsuda is also a huge plus, even though the score is barely used at all. While aesthetics are important I think its really only rational to conclude that the final installment, Episode III, was the better 1/3 of the Saga. If for no other reason that its gameplay and character building were polished to a point far in advance of Episode I and II.
In any case I shall just catch you up to where I am now.
So, the Gnosis (Without giving to much away to the uninitiated, they are aggressive aliens composed mainly of salt) have attacked the Federation (Must resist Star Trek reference) fleet where are intrepid heroine, Shion was stationed to get her KOS-MOS (Android) project into field testing. The Gnosis have destroyed the fleet and have filched the mysterious cargo known as the Zohar. KOS-MOS taking orders from HQ is instructed to attach a tracking device to the departing aliens and then make her way to Second Miltia (The first one is... somewhere). To do this she has procured with hostility (Seriously, threatening to punch a hole in your window in the vacuum of space is not cool) the cooperation of the crew of the scavenger starship Elsa. So along with KOS-MOS and her co-worker, Allen (more on him later) they make their way to 2nd Miltia.
Also some dude named Virgil who is in fact addicted to brain matter from a race of bio-engineered humans dies. These "DME Addicts" are prone to fits of insanity (like using said bio-engineered humans as bombs whilst waxing philosophical about human choice), hardening of the skin and death. In any event he dies gruesomely from a hail of gun-fire from KOS-MOS... or does he? DUM DUM DUMMMMM!!!! I really liked the Virgil of Episode I. People today talk about how far character building has come in games but here we have a perfect asshole in 2003. He's a prejudiced, arrogant, brain-matter addicted douche-bag. Apart from the brain-matter part we can all find someone in our every day lives who's like this... well unless you live in an area inhabited by racist zombies, then you've got the whole set.
Truly a man for the ages
In any case, once the prologue ends the game cuts to the Miltian Oversite Committee discussing with a cyborg, Ziggy, a covert mission to retrieve an object of value to them. This object happens to be a little girl with pink hair. She's one of those fangled Realians. Ziggy asks in return for this mission that all traces of his humanity be replaced by machinery, effectivley resulting in his death... again. (Suicide was the option he took). So the committee agrees to his request and he begins his mission. While infiltrating this U-Tic orginization his stealth cloak malfunctions and now we have some rudimentary stealth game-play.
Aaaand scene. So far so good, I found I really enjoyed exploring the starship Woglinde this time around. Just sort of messing around getting my handle again on the combat system... also I never noticed this the on other playthroughs, but if you talk to a certain NPC you get in-game email spam advertising Namco Bandai games releasing around the time when this game came out. Just rather odd when the game is 7 years old. Sort of like playing Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 and Pyscho Mantis is telling you like old games basically. Just not as cool in this case... I kind of wonder how much more games the ghost of Bamco will push at me. On the Woglinde there are atleast 2 of these ads.
What is really cool is being fully aware of the overarching plot right from the get-go. The first time around it was this big mystery that was begging to be solved. Now its just a nice feeling of anticipation as events are going to unfold. Like re-reading a good book or something to that effect.
P.S. I apologize in advance, for some reason the embeded Youtube fan trailer is not showing up properly. Give it a watch though. Its really something else.
I think its fair to say that Xenogears is my personal "BEST GAME EVAR!111111". Its the measuring stick by which I judge all other JRPGs. At the time of my first play-through at the impressionable age of 13, I found it to be the most compelling video game universe I had experienced in my time as a gamer. Seeing as how Xenosaga ended about 4 years ago now and Monolith's projects have amounted to about fuck all since... well I've had an itch that just has not been getting scratched. That itch it seems is for Tetsuya Takahashi and company to scratch. I really hope Xenoblade is up to that. Otherwise I think I would nerd rage in the streets, or even worse bottle that rage up until it becomes a social disorder, my loved ones are forced to send me to a place where the walls are white and padded and I mumble and scream incoherently of the injustice of Xenoblade not living up to its predecessors for the rest of my life until I break out and throw myself from the top of Nintendo HQ in Japan and break my fall on Satoru Iwata. Atleast my obituary would make headlines, what with taking down the president of a well known Fortune 500 company with me.
In any case, I can't help but get excited at the prospect of a Xeno-title, but in this case my enthusiasm is tempered by the footage that was unveiled when the game went by that code name, Monado: Beginning of the World.
Reminded me of Final Fantasy 12 then, still does. My general opinion of my playthrough of FFXII was well... it wasn't much of one actually. In fact I hated FFXII, its combat system wasn't its biggest problem in my book, but a problem nonetheless. To see something so similar here disturbs me greatly. To be fair though, its only a minute of footage. A minute isn't enough to judge, that said I hope new material hits the interwebs soon. I hope that I can get hyped for this with no reservations. Simply put, I want my Xeno back. Its been too long.
And the music composer better damn well be Yasunori Mitsuda or there'll be blood to pay.