So tomorrow is finally the day Xenoblade Chronicles is released in the US. Its a game I've wanted ever since it was first revealed. I have a soft spot for games that let me explore vast worlds, you see, and while open world RPGs happen often enough in the West, I've been craving another from Japan since Final Fantasy XI, FFXII and Dragon Quest VIII
I love the Nordic trappings of Skyrim and the wastelands of Fallout, but there's something to be said for the whimsy of Japanese design in these kinds of games. I remember my first trip away from Windurst in Final Fantasy XI, I was just a level 11 Tarutaru White Mage. The journey from the fields of Sarutabaruta had been perilous for one of my profession and squishiness. If one goblin looked my way and aggroed, I was done for, What had become a simple trip for older adventurers was a stealth mission for me at that level and I had very few friends in the game yet.
When I finally got the the ferry in Mhaura, I was giddy with anticipation to venture on to Valkurm Dunes. I'd keep tugging at the coattails of a Mithra, asking her when the ferry would be there. Other adventurers had gathered, ishermen lined to docks and you could almost smell the ocean air.
The ferry finally arrived and I rushed on board, Just minutes later it took off and I was above deck as fast as a Taru's short legs could take them. I looked out to the west and then i saw it - Heaven's Tower, the great landmark of my home nation.
Then an odd sensation came over me. My heart sank and I felt a little homesick. The place I had spent a week getting started, this vast city I had explored was now just a small place on the horizon. A moment later my heart warmed with pride at the adventure to come and I looked a little further down the coast toward my destination.
A Kraken spawned behind me and killed me.
Ah, yes, the thrills of the open world. While Xenoblade is not an MMO, there's always moments like those waiting within an open world RPG all the same.
Anyway, I hear a lot of talk from people about Nintendo needing new IPs, I'm hoping they're not all talk because here one is, folks. Its time to put your money where your mouth is. Even with Xenoblade being a first party title we've had to have people organize and make Nintendo of America aware that we want games like this. We said the same of The Last Story as well, which is a game co-developed by Nintendo and Mistwalker.
But even though things have turned around slightly, I still don't think the likes of Reggie Fils-Aime or NOA believe this or The Last Story are games we need. They don't think there's a market even though there clearly is a market for open-world RPGs.
In my head, I think this is really how Xenoblade got out in the US;
Iwata: Hey, Reggie.
Reggie: Hey boss man. How are things?
Iwata: Good, good. Just got the 3DS turned around, no thanks to you.
Reggie: I do what I can.
Iwata: So yeah, I saw this game called Skyrim sold like 3 million copies in its first week.
Reggie: Yeah, I heard about that.
Iwata: We have a game kinda like that - Xenoblade. Its out in Europe.
Iwata: Why the fuck aren't you getting it published in the US?
Reggie: Sorry, I got Jimmy Fallon and Oprah on the other lines, can you hold?
Iwata: Fuck it, I'll find someone else. Idiot.
Iwata: Will you at least market it?
So Gamestop, of all businesses, got to publish Xenoblade and to their credit they even got art books to sweeten the deal and put a fair bit of marketing into it. More than NOA has, anyway.
NOA has no faith in it, They need to be proven wrong just like SCEA had to be proven wrong about Demon's Souls on PS3. They need to be shown there's a market, but its really not enough that only the people that really want it turn out, anyone that's ever uttered the words "Nintendo needs to make a new IP" needs to be out there or I just can't take your words seriously anymore. Xenoblade would be the fourth new Nintendo IP since Pushmo, Sakura Samura and Dillon's Rolling Western. Those might just be eShop games, but they're still new IPs. All of them should be supported so Nintendo gets the message that new IPs are cool.
And if you pirated it because you believed it would "never" come to the US, you need to be getting in line because its really not enough to say how good the game is if you don't do your part and just leech. There seem to be a fair number of importers throwing their money in a second or even third time for the US release because they believe in the game and Monolith Soft.
I'll be picking up my copy tomorrow, but I'm still a bit concerned. I hope I'm proven wrong about those who've talked big. They've disappointed me on some great PS2 and DS games in the past, after all. I'm hoping Xenoblade doesn't suffer a similar fate.
I like my Zelda, Metroid, Kirby and Mario games, but it still want something new.