Tag Archives: Xenoblade Chronicles

It’s Never Too Late to Learn Something New (in a Video Game)

It happened this past weekend. Around eighty-five hours into Xenoblade Chronicles, I learned something new. I learned how to control a different character.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that remarkable, or at least, the act wasn’t. But the feeling that came with it was. It was a strange feeling that combined triumph and stupidity. I felt extremely happy and proud that I finally figured out a somewhat important aspect of the game (controlling characters other than the main), and I also felt extremely silly for having taken so long to do so. After all, the near-end of a game isn’t exactly the place where you really want to be learning new things. By then you should be mastering or have mastered all the skills you’ve learned up to that point, right?

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When the Music Misses the Mark

Image by Flickr user Brian J. Matis (CC)
Image by Flickr user Brian J. Matis (CC)

While playing through Xenoblade Chronicles, I’ve been reminded of the synergy between a game and its music. This game is filled with lush, harmonious, and exciting sounds that play well off of whatever stage you’re in. From music that envelopes you in sweeping plains, ponders the existence of snow-capped hills, and mourns loss in valleys deep and wide, Xenoblade Chronicles has had, so far, a winning soundtrack.

Only then I hit the Mechonis Field, a vast, multi-leveled arena that’s essentially located inside a giant, robotic being. With robot enemies littering various machined structures within the field, the place looks like nothing less than a world out of a science fiction movie. With moving sidewalks and platforms, buttons to activate, and doors that slide open to reveal more things to do and/or fight, the entire level screams “I’m mechanical!” So imagine my surprise when, upon traveling through the Mechonis Field, my ears were treated to the soft/bright synthesized sounds of 1980s sparkles and chimes.

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If Happiness is a Battle System, then Xenoblade Chronicles Makes Me Smile

Image by cary. It's mine, I tells ya! MINE!
Image by cary. It’s mine, I tells ya! ALL MINE!

Though I might have conked out on my self-promise to complete Metroid Prime, I haven’t given up on a number of other challenges that persist in my backlog, one of which is finishing Xenoblade Chronicles. Long story short, back in 2013, I started Xenoblade Chronicles, only to give it up after realizing just how long it was. At 60+ hours just to beat the main story (and 100+ to complete everything), I simply didn’t have that kind of time to devote to a single game. This past February, a copy of the game wormed its way back into my life, and I couldn’t turn it away this time. I picked the game back up, right at my last save point from two years ago, a mere five hours into the game. I’m now just over 40 hours in, the stress of me actually finishing the game is palpable. In fact, me stressing over this is actually stressing me out more right now, so that’s why I’m not here to talk about unfinished games, extremely long RPGs, or anything of that sort. Instead, I’m here to talk about battle systems, because Xenoblade Chronicles, for all its flaws (and yes, it has some), has one heck of a great battle system.

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Deleting the Fluff; Playing with Passion

Image by Flickr user Steve Paine (CC)
Image by Flickr user Steve Paine (CC)

If I was placed under duress to name one amazing aspect of modern gaming, (because there are many) it would be accessibility. Simply put, one need not stray far from common technologies to access video games. They are available through consoles, desktops, laptops, streaming devices (i.e. Roku), tablets, and phones. And perhaps most importantly, a good many available games are FREE. Well…make that “free,” at least in some cases.

When I first got a phone that was capable for playing games, I loaded it to the brim with free fodder like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. Same thing happened when I got my first tablet. Only with the tablet, I expanded my game gobbling to include paid titles as well as freemium games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff. And I was happy. I was happy to have nothing less than a plethora of quick and easy games right at my fingertips for any occasion: my morning commute, waiting for an Xbox One game to load, or trying to ignore a “fun” family conversation. If you had seen my tablet just a couple weeks ago, you would have seen a full page of game icons. Because even if I didn’t really like one of the free games I had shamelessly installed, I still liked having it around just in case I changed my mind or got really, really, really bored.

I said “a couple weeks ago” because as of today, that home screen looks completely different.

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My “Deserted Island” Games — Wii edition

Image by Flickr user 427
Image by Flickr user 427

After several months of waiting and waiting and watching, we got the Wii for one primary reason: the promise of motion control. As the household Nintendo-backer, I remained firmly skeptical up the day we bought the thing, however. I was happy enough with the Gamecube, which I wasn’t playing all that often anyway, and I didn’t really see much of a need to invest in something else from Nintendo. Still, it was hard to resist the call of Super Mario Galaxy, which literally and figuratively propelled Mario to new gaming heights. To date, the Wii is the one system for which I have the most uncompleted games, so part of my list below is driven by a desire to finish what I started. And seeing as how I’ll be alone on my island with nothing but time on my hands, finishing things will be a top priority. Err, well…maybe after finding food, building a home of sorts, locating a power source… y’know, after all that.

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