Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review

Xenogears is easily in my top 10 favorite games of all time. I also enjoy Xenosaga and Xenoblade as well which are spinoffs of this series (and involved most of the same staff). Xenogears was revolutionary for its time because of the extremely dark storyline and incredibly strong religious overtones which were considered to be almost “too mature” for a video game, especially in North America.

It had both scifi and fantasy elements; by that I mean, it really went into depth in some areas explaining the scientific theories and concepts behind certain things – but then other things have a more “magical” feeling that require suspension of belief. It also blended high tech (mecha, A.I., and space travel) with primitive “fantasy” style settings and characters.

Xenogears had some stellar production values and featured beautiful cutscenes, along with possibly the best soundtrack on Playstation One. Not only that, but it had 65+ hours of gameplay. Its storyline was not cookie cutter – it was very different from most other JRPG – and even its combat system was different from the traditional menu-based systems used by most other RPGs of the 90s.

To this day, Xenogears remains quite possibly one of the best JRPGs of all time. It has aged extremely well and is a game that really any JRPG fan should consider a must-play.

Title: Xenogears

Platform: Playstation One

Genre: JRPG

Publisher: SquareSoft

Release Date: 1998

Where to Buy: Your best choice if you have a PSP, PSVita, PS3, or PS4, is to pick it up on the PSN store. At time of writing it is priced at $9.99 – which is such an incredible buy for such an incredible game. https://store.playstation.com/… – However, if like some gamers out there, you are a Retro Game Collector, you may want the physical edition. At time of this review, Amazon has quite a few copies in stock ranging from $29.99 to $115 depending on the condition of the game disc, case, manuals, etc. You can see what they have available right here: http://www.amazon.com/Xenogears…

Geeky: 5/5 geekygeekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Gameplay: 10/10 The game world is huge and rich in lore and history for those who love to explore and talk to NPCs or search through books and hidden objects. But even if completionism and immersion aren’t your thing – fear not – this little RPG actually has a pretty fun combat system. The combat system is two fold – in some battles you will be controlling human characters, and using martial arts like abilities as well as items to aid you in battle. This part of the combat relies on a slightly modified version of the “ATB” “Active Time Battle” system used in Chrono Trigger. – The second aspect of combat is with the introduction of large mechs known as Gears. While piloting a gear, you have much more powerful attacks and secret abilities for each character. Either way, when battling, things are sped up a great deal over other primarily menu-driven 90s JRPG – In Xenogears, you have various different levels of attacks, strong, moderate, weak, etc, and each are accessed via a simple button press. The trick is learning which orders of these presses will activate new special abilities and combo attacks. This made the large amount of random encounters (too many in my opinion lol) more enjoyable since combat felt more fluid.

Story: 9/10 I’m not going to really go into too much detail on what the story is about, because I feel, the main point in playing the game is to enjoy the story. As a brief overview, the story initially takes place aboard a spaceship but quickly jumps to present day in a tiny village where a child has lived with no memories of his past. Circumstances happen which drive the child (now a man) out of the village. He seems to go berserk when in the presence of mechanical weapons known as “gears” – As more is revealed we learn how the seemingly unconnected spaceship from the prologue has lead to the events in the present day. But that’s all I will say because to say anything more would definitely spoil the surprise.

So instead I will critique the technical writing and setting of the story. To achieve a more mature “scifi” story, they use a lot of technical details in how the mechs or vehicles, or space technologies or artificial intelligence, etc all work. They borrow from real world theories and terminology which if you look into these theories, you will find more details which helps create the impression that the world/story is very real and quite fascinating.

There really are very few games which rival the “scifi” nature of this title – keeping in mind the difference between scifi and fantasy – scifi is something which could in theory at some point become a reality – and in fact many things that authors have written about in the mid 1900s’ have come to pass as reality today – it’s something that although it seems “unbelievable” could in theory work (example Star Trek goes into explicit detail about the way their ships work – to the point where NASA has even tried to borrow ideas from this series) – Where as with fantasy – it’s more of a magical element, where you’re just expected to take it as “faith” that this is how something works (example, Harry Potter, etc.).

There are few games therefore, with very realistic (all be it, futuristic) technology (such as that found in Star Trek, or in this case, such as that found in Xenogears). – However, Xenogears also blends that Scifi with its own sense of Fantasy and Charm found in your typical JRPG. Not everything is “Scientific” but compared to just about any other JRPG – Xenogears does a pretty good job staying “Scifi” as opposed to dripping into Fantasy when it comes to describing the tech found within the world – Of course, the exception to this is the glaring point that Xenogears deals with Religion as the MAIN focus of the game – the technical stuff is just a backdrop to the story. It creates a believable lore and setting for the game, but ultimately, in the end, due to the focus being on Religion which is in direct “conflict” with science, it creates an interesting dynamic and blend of these two very opposing viewpoints.

Some similarly written games (which rely on real world theories and science to tell their stories) include Stein’s Gate, Ever 17, 999, Never 7, and Remember 11. If you’ve played any of those, that gives you a clue as to the level of detail that really went into creating the story of Xenogears.

However, much like the similar in concept, Evangelion (an anime about mechs and religion), the concepts of Xenogears are sometimes hard to understand. I don’t think Xenogears is quite as philosophical and heavy as Evangelion which can be really “out there” at times – but the subject matter and technical and religious topics dealt with in the story definitely require some critical thinking to fully understand and appreciate.

Also, we never got to see the entire story the way the developers had intended. Xenogears was supposed to be part of a nine part game series however, the studio largely responsible for developing this game (Monolith), broke away from their parent company (Squaresoft) which left fans without a sequel for many years. It’s widely believed that Xenoblade is a “prequel” to Xenogears, however the developers prefer to think of it as taking place in the same universe, but ultimately, an unrelated and separate entry. Of course there’s also a multitude of Xenosaga games as well which also deal with the same themes of space, mechas, war, and artificial intelligence.

Characters: 8/10 – For me, I didn’t find the characters as likable as in Xenosaga. Out of Gears, Blade, or Saga, in my opinion, Saga had the best and most memorable characters. That said, the characters in Xenogears are far from bad – in fact, they are very unique and unlike most other JRPG characters of the 90s. The story begins with a crew aboard a spaceship, which then transcends to a small village and meeting our “hero” Fei Wong. Fei is an orphan with no memories of his past. Things quickly escalate as the village is under attack. Fei goes into some kind of rage which leads to him accidentally destroying most of the village and being banished. He is joined by a village doctor who has extensive knowledge of technology and history. Together they begin to search for clues to Fei’s past. They meet up many other memorable characters including a desert pirate, a prisoner, a religious zealot, and even a cute, fat pink rodent, and of course, a lady love for our hero.

Character Development is really high in this game. The story is told primarily through character interactions and the characters themselves evolve and shift motives and change deeply as the story progresses.

What I really enjoyed was all the mystery in this game. Things, and people, are not at all what they seem at first. From our hero, to the doctor, to the king, to even god, – what you think of the characters and their roles initially will be turned completely on its head by the final quarter of the game. It’s a long game (65+ hours for a single play through) – and the way the story slowly unfolds and learning the true pasts and identities of our “heroes” is very interesting. In fact, I’d say that solving these mysteries is what makes Xenogears such a well-written and fun, and memorable video game.

Graphics: 8/10 – I love the blend of hand-drawn anime cut scenes as well as stunning 3D cut-scenes to help tell the story. However, I feel some of the graphics outside of these cutscenes don’t use the PS1 to its fullest capabilities. The textures have a distinctively grainy feel to them – even for a ps1 game, and the battle animations were not as flashy as I had hoped. Overall though, it is a very detailed game with a high variety in both enemy design as well as environments.

Music: 10/10 – This was the first Squaresoft game to use vocal tracks (something that is super common now among their titles) – and it is a freaking FANTASTIC vocal track too: “Small Two of Pieces”. The piano pieces throughout the game are also just simply beautiful. Small Two of Pieces is maybe my favorite single song from videogame history. Of course there are numerous more up-tempo tracks for battles and when the suspense and action of a scene calls for it.  But what I really enjoyed were the serene and melodic tracks that made up a majority of the album. The music also stands out from any other game with a distinctive Celtic influence.

Replay Value: 5/10 – This is a super long linear game. It is interesting to replay however, as you go into it with a different perspective and knowledge that you didn’t know on your first play through. There may be things that make more sense now, or new things that you notice in the story now that you have all parts of the puzzle. However the 65+ hour long time and huge number of random battles can make multiple replays a bit of a chore.

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Her Story – Multiple Personalities Or Twins? My Theory, and Supporting Evidence

Her story is an awesome “game” – though it’s not really a game in the traditional sense. You watch some video clips and pick up on key words or phrases in those clips to find more video clips to watch. The premise is that a woman has murdered her husband, and you have to figure out her motive. While “playing” the game, you interview the woman over the course of several days. Each clip is only a few seconds long; and they’re never in chronological order, or make much sense out of context. It’s up to you to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and form your own conclusion. You learn pretty quickly; that there are 2 women being interviewed, Hannah, and Eve. But are Hannah and Eve; really two people? Or are they one person with a Dissociative Identity disorder?

When I started this game; I thought I had it ALL figured out within the first hour of play; this HAD to be a case of Multiple Personality Disorder. BUT then the more clips I watched; the more confused I became. The more I started to believe that it could possibly really be two people.

Namely the tattoo; in ALMOST all of the clips; Hannah wears sleeves JUST long enough to hide any tattoos; BUT in a few clips she is almost sleeveless completely; and there’s no tattoo… They are:

ClipD132-A.MPEG
ClipD133-A.MPEG

ALSO the Lie detector scene… Eve says her name is Hannah, AND that is the only question she fails. It could be argued that it’s because she genuinely believes she is Eve at that moment. But later; I realized the truth. (More on that in a bit)… The lie detector clips are:

ClipD181-A.MPEG
ClipD183-A.MPEG


On my first play through of this game, with over 50% of the clips watched; I felt COMPLETELY divided and torn as to if they were one person, or two people. I was literally 50/50 and completely unsure…. BUT I just replayed it again and NOW I’m 100% SURE that it is one person with a personality disorder… And that that person’s legal name is Eve, not Hannah.

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How Can I be so sure?

ClipD154-A.MPEG Date 30/06/94 With “Hannah” Detective asks if she ever cheated on Simon; she gets angry and says no she’s never been unfaithful.

ClipD162-A.MPEG Date 01/07/94 (the day after the clip above) — This one is with Eve. Detectives ask have you ever cheated on Simon. She says “You asked that question yesterday”.

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These clips can be accessed with search term “cheated”

Also in clip D188-A.MPEG (search term arrest) Hannah says “can you arrest someone who doesn’t exist?” which would also align with the multiple personality theory. – Hannah does not exist / is not a real person. THAT’s why it’s the only question in the lie detector scene that Eve fails. Eve’s real name is Eve! Hannah is the personality that she made up due to her neglect/abuse as a child. ALL the crazy fucked up shit about being locked in an attic and not allowed to leave the house, all of that shit is 100% true. She created Hannah as a way to “cope” with her reality. When she was Hannah she could pretend she was someone elses’ daughter, someone who was loved, celebrated birthdays, went on adventures, etc.

The other thing that I think really supports them being one and the same is the fact that both personalities are pregnant during the interview – INITIALLY this confused me. I thought Hannah for some reason could no longer bear children. I saw the scenes of Eve talking about how she couldnt drink coffee and was pregnant, but then I saw scenes of Hannah drinking coffee…

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BUT THEN I found a clip I had not seen, in which Hannah says her husband is dead, but that he will live on in his baby, she then pauses and with emphasis states OUR baby.

I thought that “Hannah” was infertile but in ClipD155-A – she says “Simon is dead, but the baby, that is how he will live on… Our baby”

ClipD155-A.MPEG

AND a scene in which EVE claims to be pregnant.

ClipD161-A.MPEG

This leads me to believe they are one person with multiple personalities.

SOOO My final verdict is They are One person who’s name is Eve, who really did have a fucked up childhood of neglect and abuse, and created her “sister” as a way to cope with and escape from all of the trauma.

I feel quite satisfied having arrived at my conclusion. But I urge you to play the game for yourself and form your own conclusions :)

Her Story – Multiple Personalities Or Twins? My Theory, and Supporting Evidence was originally published on Geeky Sweetie