Xenogears, also known as Xenogears Episode V, is a role-playing game released on the Sony PlayStation by Squaresoft (now known as Square Enix) in February 1998 in Japan and October 1998 in North America.
It is also available on the PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita as a PlayStation Classic emulated title in North America and Japan regions.
Xenogears follows protagonist Fei Fong Wong and several other freedom fighters. Facing issues such as slavery, war, and prejudice, they must fight back a corrupt system on their war-torn planet and uncover the truths behind mysterious cabalistic forces operating in their world, using the powers of giant fighting robots known as Gears.
Xenogears was intended to be episode 5 of a 6 part series. At the end of the game, it is revealed that the game's full title is Xenogears Episode V. However, parts 1-4 and 6 were never made because the game failed to sell 1 million copies; in the end it only reached just shy of 900,000, so the plan was dropped. However, many elements and motifs of Xenogears are referenced or featured in future Xeno- games.
Xenogears takes place on an unnamed planet (Xenogears planet). Like many RPGs, it features a world ranging from peaceful country villages to technologically advanced empires. Mankind has taken to digging and excavation to find giant robots known as Gears, which they use to wage wars but also for construction, further excavation and other mundane tasks, as well as in some countries, entertainment via gladiatorial combat.
About 10,000 years ago prior to the events of Xenogears, in the year T.C. 4767 which is approximately 7279 A.D., the Eldridge, a gigantic interplanetary emigrant spacecraft, suffered a sudden shipwide systems malfunction caused by "god" taking control over the ship. Moments before this, one of the passengers on the ship, a boy called "Abel", touched and contacted a yellow monolith called the Zohar. On the monitors that warned of the ensuing danger, a message, which is Genesis 3:5 from the Bible, was displayed: "Ye shall be as gods".
Before the spacecraft's crew could respond, Deus had already taken control of the entire ship. As the passengers and crew attempted to evacuate, the spacecraft's own laser cannons turned and shot them down. The captain, Shigeyoshi Inoue, had no choice but to activate the ship's self-destruct mechanism. In a flash of light, the spacecraft fell to a nearby planet, killing approximately 1,200,000 passengers. In the fallen wreckage, a naked woman with violet purple hair (Myyah) slowly arose, her dark eyes reflecting the dawn's breaking light, and the start of the day that 'god' and 'humankind' fell to earth.
Fei's story begins Edit
9999 years later, on the continent of Ignas, the nations of Aveh and Kislev have been waged a long war on each other for centuries. The war has gone on for so long that the people have forgotten the actual cause and reason for it, knowing only the pointless circle of hostility, hate and tragedy. A church-like organization known as the Ethos is dedicated to preserving the world's culture, and has recently excavated giant fighting robots called Gears, which have almost entirely replaced the need for human infantry. Although Kislev was gaining the upper hand in the war, a mysterious army known as Gebler appeared and started providing assistance to Aveh. With Gebler's help, Aveh not only recovered their losses, but began making their way into Kislev's territory.
The game itself begins in the small town of Lahan Village, which is near the border of Aveh. The player is introduced to Fei Fong Wong, an eighteen-year-old young man who was mysteriously brought to Lahan by a "Masked Man" three years prior. Because of the events surrounding his arrival at the village, Fei has no clear memories before arriving in the village. Despite this, Fei has a pleasant life, and is awaiting the marriage of his two best friends, Alice and Timothy.
One night, while visiting the local doctor, Citan Uzuki in his home on top of a nearby mountain, Fei is shocked to find a group of Gears flying towards Lahan. By the time Fei makes it back, the entire town is burning as the Gears storm their way through the village. Fei finds an unmanned Gear nearby, and, despite Citan's protests, gets aboard; Fei has some success fending off the attackers. However, when he sees his friend Timothy shot and killed, a hidden personality awakens in Fei, causing the Gear to go berserk. The entire village is destroyed, killing many attacks and villages, such as Alice, in the process. A distraught Fei is exiled by the remaining villagers, and decides to leave the ominous black Gear behind, fleeing to Aveh alone to avoid more tragedy.
Upon entering the Blackmoon Forest, Fei encounters a strange female Gebler (Solaris) soldier named Elehayym "Elly" Van Houten, whom he feels a strange connection towards. Fei struggles to find a reason to live and considers suicide after Elly calls him a coward responsible for the villager's deaths, but he ultimately refrains. Elly leaves Fei to return to her country's military headquarters.
Fei eventually meets Grahf in a desert, who claims to know about Fei's past. Eventually, Fei and Citan are picked up by Bartholomew "Bart" Fatima, a desert pirate and heir to the throne of Aveh. Later, Fei again loses control of himself inside his Gear while Bart and Citan are attacked by an unknown red Gear.
Fei wakes up in a Kislev prison in Nortune and meets Wiseman, a mysterious masked man, who originally brought Fei to Lahan. With the help of Citan, who is posing as the prison doctor, and Hammer, a demihuman merchant, Fei rises through the prison's ranking system to become the new 'Champion', earning his freedom. As Fei is summoned to meet Kaiser Sigmund, the former Champion and demihuman Rico Banderas infiltrates the sector, taking advantage of the lightened security in order to assassinate Sigmund. Upon being discovered, Rico hides in the Kaiser's wife's room, which causes him to realize that he is the Kaiser's son. Rico is then captured, and Fei and Citan go to rescue him, just as troops Solaris begins raining bombs from above.
As Solaris begins their 'Purge' on Nortune, Fei faces Elly and, taking her out of her Gear, he confronts her with the fiery ruins of Nortune, confronting her with Gebler and Solaris's heinous actions. Leaving a distraught Elly, Fei joins Rico to fight against Dominia Yizkor, who is piloting the bomb ship Hecht. After the battle, the Hecht falls towards the city center's nuclear reaction, threatening to destroy the entire region. Fei and Rico attempt to use their Gears to steer the massive ship off course, but find themselves unable to move the ship on their own. Elly arrives in her Gear and joins the effort. As it falls instead towards the residential district, Fei's and Rico's Gears begin to overheat, and they are forced to withdraw. Elly resolves to push the ship by herself, an act she nearly pays for for her life, if not for the sudden interference of a mysterious winged Gear (Grahf).
Now fugitives for helping Rico, in order to escape the Kislev Empire, Fei's group decides to steal the airplane "Goliath" in the Goliath Factory. As they do so, they are intercepted by Grahf. As Fei, Rico, and Elly battle Grahf, Citan and Hammer manage to use the airplane's defenses against him, repelling him away. As the crew, save Fei, celebrates, the Goliath is accidentally shot down by Bart's ship into the sea, separating Fei and Elly from the rest of the party.
They are rescued by the Thames, a movable floating city ship. After learning Elly's whereabouts, Gebler attacks Thames to kidnap Elly and Myyah Hawwa, a Gebler officer, unsuccessfully brainwashes her. Kahran Ramsus, who holds a vendetta against Fei, attacks Thames, searching for him. Elly returns to the party and Fei is left in critical condition. Billy Lee Black, an Ethos worker on board Thames, allows Fei to use the Ethos' advanced medical technology. Bishop Isaac Stone, Ethos' leader, reveals to the party Ethos's true purpose of controlling the land dwellers, or "Lambs", for Solaris.
The group follows Stone to the ruins of Zeboim, an excavation site. They discover a young girl composed of nanomachines named Emeralda. Stone, acting under the orders of a man named Karellen, takes Emeralda while the party fights the Elements Tolone and Seraphita.
After defeating the Elements, the party catches up to Stone on a skywalk overlooking Zeboim. This is when, Id, the mysterious red Gear's pilot, intervenes, also attempting to take Emeralda. Wiseman arrives to hold Id back, commanding the group to go after Stone.
The group regroups, and finds Fei awake and standing at his Gear with a case of amnesia. Fei and his friends decide to ally themselves with the floating city of Shevat, the only remaining city capable of resisting Solaris. They climb the Babel Tower to reach Shevat, where they meet Maria Balthasar and rest of the Chu-chus.
Back on the surface, the group defeats Shakhan, the corrupt ruler of Aveh. Bart becomes the rightful king of Aveh and stops the war with Kislev.
The group defeats gates on the surface to unlock the way to Solaris. At the final gate, Sargasso Point, the group encounters Emeralda once again, now as their opponent. She attacks at first, but recognizes Fei, referring to him as "Kim", much to Fei's confusion. The group successfully infiltrates Solaris via Maria's Gear, Seibzehn.
In Solaris, the group discovers that Solaris is actually a futuristic dystopia in the sky, which uses slave labor and a class system, dividing itself into "rich" humans and "poor" humans. While investigating, the group realizes Solaris has been secretly producing food, meat and medicine out of recycled mutated human ("Wels") corpses in the Soylent System facility. Citan soon reveals himself to be Hyuga Ricdeau, a spy who has been working for Emperor Cain, a Solaris leader. The party also learns that the Gazel Ministry seeks to revive Deus and achieve eternal life, while Karellen seeks to obtain Elly, as she is needed to resurrect Deus.
Medena Van Houten, Elly's mother, is imprisoned with her husband, Erich Van Houten, when the Imperial Guard comes looking for Elly on Karellen's orders. She is eventually rescued by Hammer, who unfortunately turns on the group and tries to take Elly to Karellen. Medena steps in between Elly and Hammer, prompting Hammer to shoot her in the head when she refuses to move. Erich also dies, killed by Grahf while trying to protect Elly. Overwhelmed, Fei becomes Id and completely destroys Solaris.
Back at Shevat, Citan informs his friends that Id is actually Fei's split personality. Meanwhile, Fei and Elly are chased by Ramsus and are struck down. Mortally wounded, they are rescued by Taura Melchior.
Part 2 Edit
After a period of three weeks, Fei and Elly are healed by Taura and his nanotechnology. Everyone regroups and Elly and Emeralda go to the Mass Driver Facility to release the Limiters of everyone on the planet. However, in doing so, some turn into Wels.
Fei and his allies went from place to place, destroying all the Soylent System facilities located on the surface of the earth and freeing the people held at each location. The Wels divide themselves into the 'haves' and 'have nots', and some even resort to cannibalism due to their desire for flesh and meat. All the people that had been mutated were taken in by Nisan where they received treatment.
Fei and his allies then decide to collect Anima Relics before Solaris' remaining forces do, as they can transform Gears into Omnigears. After exploring Anima Dungeon One and Anima Dungeon Two, Hammer appears as a monstrous Wel-Gear hybrid, having been transformed by Karellen. Hammer is defeated, and Elly is no longer willing to fight.
Ramsus assassinates Emperor Cain after being manipulated into doing so by Myyah and Karellen at the behest of the Gazel Ministry. The Gazel Ministry then uses the Gaetia Key, an artifact that manipulates the DNA of humans around the world, turning a majority into mutant Wels. This is done to collect flesh to reconstruct Deus, the very same entity that crash-landed on the planet ten thousand years ago. Mahanon, where Deus is located, is resurrected from the sea.
During this time, Elly and Fei become romantically involved with each other, remembering that they are the reincarnations of Sophia and Lacan. Lacan was a painter while Sophia was the Holy Mother of Nisan around the time of the war between Shevat and Solaris five-hundred years earlier. Lacan blamed himself for Sophia's death during the war and, with the help of Myyah, became Grahf and sought to destroy the world in revenge. Although defeated, Grahf has transmigrated his mind into other humans since. Elly stays behind and assists Nisan for her own safety.
In Mahanon, which turns out to be part of the Eldridge, Fei and his allies defeat Deus' larval form. Grahf, in Alpha Weltall, appears and defeats the group. Grahf almost kills Fei, but is stopped by Karellen. Instead, the party, sans Elly, is crucified at a mountain called Golgoda.
In Nisan, Elly senses that Fei is in danger, which is confirmed when Karellen sends a message, saying that if she wants to save them, she must go to Golgoda. Elly does so and defeats Mugwort and Rattan, but is kidnapped by Karellen. Karellen lets Fei and his allies go, knowing they will come back to rescue her. As the final parts of the plan come into place, Karellen and Myyah dispose of the Gazel Ministry, as they are no longer necessary.
The party returns in their Omnigears to Merkava to rescue Elly, only to face a crazed Ramsus, who reveals his origin. 14 years ago, Ramsus was created to be the prototype for an artificial 'Contact', but his destiny was discarded when Myyah discovered her new incarnation's (Karen Wong's) son (Fei) was the true Contact.
After defeating Ramsus, the party arrives to see Elly, now bound to a cross. Karellen explains that Elly, as the Mother, must be sacrificed in order to revive Deus. As the party struggles to free Elly, Ramsus arrives, and, goaded by Myyah about how she used him, kills Myyah. As Myyah dies, she remarks that, as someone fated to be unable to kill herself, Ramsus had done what she wanted. As Fei frees Elly, a gunshot is heard. As Fei slumps back against Citan it is revealed that Elly is the who shot Fei. As her hair color, facial expression, and choice of words change, it becomes evident that Elly has turned into Myyah. The party is forced to retreat as Merkava raises into the sky, firing a red beam of destruction on the land below.
Fei, as Id, attempts to make contact with the Zohar, located in the Land of Bethlehem. Wiseman, who reveals himself to be Fei's father Khan Wong, stops him, giving peace to Fei's other personalities. Fei's Gear transforms into the Xenogears and Grahf appears, revealing that he had been inside Fei's father's body. At this time, Fei makes contact with the Wave Existence, an extra-dimensional being who is trapped inside Deus and the Zohar and is the source of power for all Gears, and learns that he must destroy Deus to free humanity. Grahf, who tries to merge with Fei, is defeated.
Fei discovers that he is a reincarnation of Abel, a young boy who was a passenger on board the Eldridge, a spaceship that was being used to transport Deus, the core of an interplanetary invasion system created by a federation of spacefaring humans, one that was deemed far too dangerous for use and was therefore dismantled and moved. Deus, however, had become self-aware and took over the Eldridge. Amidst the confusion, Abel was separated from his mother and accidentally made contact with the Wave Existence through the Zohar, Deus' power source. It gave him the power to one day destroy Deus and the Zohar in order to free itself. The Wave Existence also sensed Abel's longing for his mother and used the biological computer Kadomony to create a woman for a companion.
When Deus gained full control over the Eldridge, the captain decided to initiate the self-destruct sequence in an attempt to destroy it. Both Deus and the Zohar survived the explosion and landed on a nearby planet along with Abel, under the protection of the Wave Existence. He was the sole survivor, but was soon united with the woman that the Wave Existence had created for him as a companion, Elly.
Abel and Elly, at first, led a happy life, but Deus had also created Myyah, Cain, and the Gazel Ministry to begin a human civilization on the planet, one which would be under their control to one day be turned into Wels and be absorbed into Deus to recover its strength.
When the now-adult Abel and Elly discovered this, they openly challenged Cain and the Gazel Ministry, but were silenced and killed. However, through the power of the Wave Existence, they are able to be reincarnated in later eras to combat Deus. One of these incarnations lived during an ancient, yet technologically advanced, era in Zeboim, where Abel's incarnation went by the name Kim Kasim and created Emeralda.
Fei sets out to destroy Deus and free the Wave Existence and Elly. The party defeats Deus, but they realize that the energy released from the Wave Existence's shift will destroy the planet. Elly, inside Deus, tries to move it away from the planet and Fei, in his Xenogears, follows to save her, both disappearing into the rift.
Karellen confronts them, telling Fei he only sought to end the pain and suffering that comes with human existence by reverting everything back to when it all began, when all was one, to ascend to the realm of God - to return to waves. Fei rejects Karellen's ideology with his love for Elly, but Karellen challenges Fei, telling him to prove this love that could make him independent of God, and summons Urobolus, a gigantic serpent-like incarnation of Myyah. Xenogears appears and Fei uses it to defeat Urobolus.
Karellen chooses to release Elly and reveals to Fei that he had planned to become one with God along with Elly. During her time with Karellen, Elly had seen inside his heart and realized it was full of sadness and despair for all the atrocities he had committed. Despite everything, Elly says that Karellen truly loved people more than anyone else. Because no one will forgive his sins, he declines Fei's offer to return and ascends to a higher plane of existence along with the Wave Existence, telling Fei and Elly that he envies them.
Fei and Elly then return to their planet along with Xenogears and reunite with the rest of the party. At the very end of the game, Kadomony is seen on the cliff and a mystical feather falls from the sky. Finally, "XENOGEARS Episode V" appears on the screen, indicating that the game is actually Episode V.
Backstory and expansionEdit
The plot and backstory of Xenogears is detailed in the book Perfect Works, which is essentially considered the ultimate truth and canon of the game. This book details the history of the Xenogears universe from the discovery of the Zohar to the start of the game. It was scanned, translated into English from Japanese by fans, and archived online.
An important aspect of the book is the explanation of the six episodes that make up the Xenogears saga. According to the Perfect Works schematic, Xenogears is only the fifth episode in a series of six, with the first four providing the backstory for the events that took place in Xenogears.
Xenogears Episode I
- Era of interplanetary war
- 15,000 years before the story (approximately 2279 A.D.), humankind set out from earth and discovered a hospitable planet in the Archer constellation M24. It became known as 'Neo-Jerusalem' and once again, humans headed for the abyss of space.
As a result, humanity enlarged the circle of living things to encompass almost the entire galaxy approximately 10,000 years ago (approximately 7279 A.D.). At the same time, the interplanetary war which had broken out intensified. The universe became the stage for the devastation caused by the winds of war. The Deus System was developed in this era.
Xenogears Episode II
- Era of Genesis (year 0000) (approximately 7279 A.D.)
- Sentient life forms began to increase at this time on the planet. Cain became the humans' progenitor and was revered as the divine emperor. Abel, a survivor of the Eldridge's fall to earth, opposed Cain's religion. Both Abel and Elly seek a new way of life. At that time, it was thought that Cain's own mission was to bring the resurrection of Deus, and that he did not seek "humanity's freedom", the main point of the story.
Xenogears Episode III
- Zeboim culture (year 6000) (approximately 13,279 A.D.)
- The stage for Episode III is close to that of the real world, it was the time of an advanced scientific culture. The level of human intelligence had attained its peak, but due to genetic damage, those unable to reproduce began to increase. Using nanotechnology, Kim (Abel's reincarnated form) worked towards finding a way to overcome this, but Myyah's plot resulted in his complete failure. Emeralda was born in this era and nanotechnology was revived by one of the three Sages of Shevat, Taura.
Xenogears Episode IV
- Shevat-Solaris War (year 9499) (approximately 16,778 A.D.)
- Approximately 500 years before Fei and the others were born, the continent of Ignas was the stage for Episode IV. At about that time Cain and the Ministry judged humanity to be at the last stage of evolution, and Solaris was founded. This was done to establish direct control of the surface. But the humans of this era had evolved the ability to use ether and the surface war against Solaris reached an extreme. Before long, this great war of 500 years ago came to an end in what came to be known as the Day of Collapse.
Xenogears Episode V (year 9999) - (approximately 17,278 A.D.)
- The resurrection of Deus having been held back until the year 9999, the story's hero, Fei lives in the frontier village of Lahan. Little is known of Fei's origin or why he lived in the village, but 3 years ago he was carried to house of the Lahan village chief, Lee by a masked man. At the time, Fei's mind and body had both been greatly damaged and until now, he had lost nearly his entire memory. Then came the event of the attack on Lahan. This event becomes the trigger which will set Fei on the path of fate.
Xenogears Episode VI (year unknown, but set after Xenogears)
Themes and topics Edit
- Main article: Themes and topics of Xenogears
Xenogears is hailed by many fans for its religious allusions, containing overtones of Gnosticism, Jewish mysticism, Jungian psychology, humanism and Biblical symbolism, as well as questions about the nature of existence, humanity, culture, faith and religion.
Gameplay combines the traditional and innovative, utilizing 2D sprites in 3D backgrounds, as well as two different battle systems, one which uses the actual characters in combo-based physical combat, while the latter takes place in turn-based 'Gear' battles.
Character combat Edit
Battling is a variant of the ATB2 active time battle system found in Chrono Trigger and various Final Fantasy games. Once a battle starts the screen quickly changes to a combat scenario. Characters fight with martial combat and ether attacks along with special Deathblow moves that are learned through combinations of strong, moderate, and weak hits. Attacks use Action points (AP) and cost, 3, 2, 1 points respectively.
The player begins with 3 AP per turn (which is not enough to execute a Deathblow) and as the player progresses in level, they will eventually have 6 AP per turn. When the story is progressed to a certain level, an additional AP (7 AP per turn) will be acquired, and the player will also be able to learn Elemental Deathblows which can be unlocked quicker at higher levels. AP may be saved and used as Attack Points for combo attacks. A total of 28 AP may be accumulated for combo attacks, powerful sequences using multiple Deathblows to inflict massive damage. For example, Elly's Deathblows include:
- Screamer: - 4 AP
- Cyclone Kick: - 5 AP
- Breakthrough: - 5 AP
- Double Shock: - 6 AP
- Sky Attack: - 6 AP
- Bright Spark: - 6 AP
- Sting Kick: - 6 AP
- Anemo Zap: - Wind Elemental, 7 AP
- Terra Charge: - Earth Elemental, 7 AP
- Thermo Thump: - Fire Elemental, 7 AP
- Aqua Frost: - Water Elemental, 7 AP
Characters can also use "magical" abilities that either aid the party or damage enemies. These abilities are limited by the number of ether points (EP) that are available. Unlike AP, EP do not replenish between attack rounds. For most characters, these abilities are called 'Ether,' although some characters' abilities have a different name, implying differences in their origins. For example, Fei's magic is called "Chi" and Citan's is "Arcane". Unlike the main characters of most RPGs whom specialize in either physical or magical strength exclusively, the main characters in Xenogears generally are competent in both areas, although few characters have more than one or two direct damage spells. While in Gears (mechanized fighting machines) 'Ether' abilities are amplified, although some change or become unavailable.
In addition to the small-scale, hand-to-hand combat, the characters sometimes fight from within their respective combat robots, called 'Gears'. These fighting machines are often similar in fighting style and some bear an aesthetic resemblance to the characters that pilot them.
For these particular battles, the combination style is reduced to a selection of strong, medium, or weak attacks that build up the attack level of the Gear with each turn until it can unleash a special, more powerful attack. While in Gears the limiting factor of AP is replaced with a fuel gauge, with each attack consuming an amount relative to its power. There are three levels of normal special Gear attacks (respectively levels 1, 2, and 3) and one additional 'infinite' level of special Gear attacks. These moves are acquired in correspondence to a character's learned Deathblow skills.
Infinite level differs from the other three levels in several ways. When it is reached the Gear will go into a special mode known as 'infinity mode'. Infinity mode lasts three turns, and while in this mode, fuel can be recharged in a larger amount or the Gear can use Infinity attacks. Infinity mode cannot be reached until elemental deathblows are learned (with the exception of Maria Balthasar, who has them automatically, and Chu-Chu, who cannot perform special Gear attacks). To reach infinity mode a character has to stay at attack level 3 while performing any other action. With each turn, there is a chance that infinity mode will be reached (this ratio is displayed on screen along with the Gear's status). Infinity level uses special attacks that use very little fuel and are much more powerful.
Gears can regain fuel by 'charging'. The amount of fuel gained differs depending on the engine the player has equipped and what attack level the character is currently at. Most engines have a base charge level of 30 fuel. Attack levels add 10 fuel per level with infinite level multiplying the charge rate by ten (charge levels are not cumulative). When equipped with certain items the gain rate of fuel may be increased.
The Gears can also activate 'Boosters', which enables them to act faster but consume more fuel. It also unlocks the 'Special Option' command, which include healing abilities and special attacks. When a Gear has no Fuel left, it can no longer execute attacks, use special options, or use boosters. They can however charge (regain fuel) and use ether abilities. The main characters can purchase Gear fuel, parts and upgrades in shops or from certain individuals.
Xenogears has two notable mini-games.
The first is a Gear battling arena located in Nortune, Kislev.
The second is a card-based minigame.
- Main article: Xenogears Original Soundtrack
Xenogears Original Soundtrack was arranged and composed by Yasunori Mitsuda.
Aside from the original soundtrack, there is also Creid, an arrange album produced by Mitsuda and Millenial Fair.
Myth: The Xenogears Orchestral Album is another arranged soundtrack. The album contains 14 tracks, including an orchestral version of Small Two of Pieces.
Xenogears maintains a 90% ratio on GameRankings, and within the top 20 best reviewed games on the PlayStation. Despite the PlayStation 1 technology the developers were given and the limits they had to work with, Xenogears was considered revolutionary for its time. The game is often praised for its ambitious story, music and gameplay.
While Xenogears features a lot of JRPGs tropes and cliches (such as the protagonist's town being set on fire and attacked in the beginning of the game), Xenogears also did many things that JRPGs and video games never did before. For example, the truth about save points, the depth of the reasoning of why the characters have and use "magic", the reasoning and lore behind the world of Xenogears and why it is the way it is, etc. Xenogears could be considered a deconstruction of the JRPG genre to a degree.
Regarding the storyline, despite the game being given a T for teen rating by the ESRB, the game discusses and deals with a lot of mature and controversial subject matter, such as the idea of "killing god", religion, spirituality, genocide, sexuality, discrimination, and more. Some of these topics were considered to be surprisingly dark and complex for a game of its RPG genre, especially for Western audiences. The storyline, albeit complicated and hard to follow at times, was well-received by players. Xenogears is commonly cited as one of the best stories in the video game medium, with some players feeling that it retroactively ruins other generic JRPG stories, setting a new bar. Similar to Xenosaga, some critics of the story claim it to be convoluted and pretentious, while defenders argue the critics don't understand the depth of the themes, lore and details of the plot. Xenogears can be a difficult story to understand without Perfect Works and supplementary material unseen in the game.
Despite the game's success, it remains a critically divisive title even years after its initial release, and some of the game's aspects have aged poorly. Some of the noted flaws from critics include:
- No New Game Plus (+) or continuation of the game after the main campaign is done - once Deus is defeated, the game is simply over
- The overabundance of cutscenes (about 20 hours of story - about 15 hours for the first disc and about 5 hours for the second disc)
- Like many games at the time, the cutscenes aren't skippable. If the player dies in a boss battle, they will be forced to re-watch entire cutscenes
- The long unskippable cutscenes involve clicking through thousands of textboxes as there is no auto-advance can make speedruns daunting. As a result, the world record speedrun for Xenogears is 18 hours
- An excessively high frequency of random battles which can be annoying
- Linear gameplay
- Some of the text transition speeds and loading times for menu transition screens are slow
- Climbing the Babel Tower which involves a lot of precision jumping and potential for falling down and redoing sections over
- The style of the second disc, where the use of the world map is restricted and the amount of cutscenes increases with less focus on gameplay. The cast of the games sit in chairs and dictate the story, instead of the player actually experiencing it.
Future and HD remake Edit
Xenogears was limited by the graphical technology of the Sony PlayStation and many fans would love an HD remake of Xenogears, or even an anime adaptation.
However, instead of a remake or anything else Xenogears related, fans received three episodes of Xenosaga, Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles X instead (as well as an upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles 2).
Square Enix said "We will take on IP developed for earlier generations of game consoles and recreate it for the latest consoles." Square Enix is currently remaking Final Fantasy VII, so a Xenogears remake is not out of the question.
Xenogears was originally submitted as a script idea for Final Fantasy VII by Tetsuya Takahashi and Soraya Saga. It was rejected because it was "too dark and complicated for a fantasy." It was also considered to be Chrono Trigger 2, but this idea was also dropped. The idea was instead spun off into its own project.
Squaresoft originally intended to call the game Project Noah (in reference to Karellen's mission Project Noah to revive Deus) when they first started production of the game and released information to the press. Later, the name was changed to Xenogears.
The style of the second disc received criticism from some fans due to its montage-y nature. In an interview, Tetsuya Takahashi revealed that the main issue was time deadlines (not budget), since many of the developers were new to the PlayStation technology (as 3D was a new technology) and that created delays. Square suggested that the developers just end the game after the first disc when Fei and his team escape from Solaris, but Takahashi wanted to tell a complete story, hence why disc two was rushed in order to meet deadlines and not compromise the story.
Graphically, Xenogears combines 2D sprite characters with 3D environments. The environments and Gears are principally all created within the 3D engine, but the characters are created using low resolution 2D sprites. In addition to these things, Xenogears also utilizes both traditional Japanese cel-animated scenes and pre-rendered CGI movie clips during emotive or important plot points by Production I.G. — a trait that was common in Squaresoft RPGs during this era.
Censorship and near-cancellation Edit
In a press release by Square announcing the release of Xenogears in Japan, it was stated that the game's treatment of religion in general and Christianity in particular might prevent it from being released outside of Japan, as well as its treatment, deconstructions and criticism of government, statism, religion, the church, and more. In addition, the purpose of the game could be interpreted as showing how dangerous overwhelming belief in the Bible and Zohar (and the gods mentioned in them) are. The Deus "god" in the game is stated to be from the "Yahweh interplanetary invasion system", so it could be interpreted as killing the Abrahamic god of the Bible (Yahweh) in favor of the Wave Existence.
Parts of the game's story were toned down in order to meet Squaresoft's standards.
Despite that the English localization of Xenogears was almost cancelled, the game was released quietly into the United States and Canada with minimal controversy. This is likely because how the Bible, Christianity and such themes are incorporated into Xenogears can be difficult to comprehend.
Mistranslations and localization errors Edit
- Main article: Xenogears Japanese-English gloss
Xenogears was developed in the 1990s, and Square did not know how popular Xenogears would be. As such, proper localization was not much of a high priority. Only one member was hired to translate the entire game from Japanese into English, and this was Richard Honeywood.
Richard Honeywood was on a podcast.(-57.00) He described Xenogears as the "project from hell" because of the amount of text to translate and references. Some changes were done to avoid religious controversy (such as changing the "Yahweh" interplanetary system into the "Yabeh" interplanetary invasion system). He also said the themes of pedophilic Ethos priests had to be toned down, but it is still implied in the game by Verlaine.
The English localization has mistranslations (possibly a mixture of both accidental and intentional) from the original Japanese script, and even contains a few typos and grammatical errors. For example, the name of Fei's father is "Khan", but at one point, it is listed as "Kahn". Another is "Your looking at the real thing" instead of "You're looking at the real thing".
In addition, many words and terms tend to have a hyphen surrounding them. For example, Karellen says, "Show me this -love-" instead of "Show me this love". It is likely to show emphasis.
While the English localization of the game is far from perfect and is not horrible by any means, it is generally agreed that it gets the basic points and gist of the story across.
Connections to XenosagaEdit
While Xenogears has never had an official sequel or prequel, it has been theorized that the Xenosaga trilogy is a re-imagined prequel of the first three episodes.
Soraya Saga was the scenario writer for both Xenogears and Xenosaga, and said this of the connection, "I think all Xeno works are, so to speak, like rivers and lakes that once sprung from our mind, eventually became independent. They sure are kin, but not lineal."
There is considerable debate within the Xenogears/Xenosaga fanbase about how accurately the Xenogears timeline in Perfect Works is followed by Xenosaga, which contains similar elements, such as the Zohar, as well as several allusions of characters and terms present in Xenogears.
Official interviews are somewhat vague on the matter, though Tetsuya Takahashi has stated that "It's probably more suitable to say that it follows the direction and style of Xenogears.", as well as "Now that we are under a different company, we figured we should start everything from scratch all over again. Though there are familiar faces that serve as important characters in Xenosaga, others are more like self-parodies, so we don't really want Xenogears fans to overreact. Like movies, sometimes you have the director of the movie or friend of the leading actor appearing as cameos, so it's similar to that."
By the end of Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra, the allusions to Xenogears and a possible connection become even more noticeable. However, there are many differing aspects of the Xenosaga series, and with Episode III marking a premature ending to the original forecast of six episodes, the connection between the two series remains unknown.
A demo for the game was included with Parasite Eve, titled SquareSoft on PlayStation 1998 Collector's CD Vol.1. It includes the destruction of Lahan Village, along with some more scenes.
- The game is only partially widescreen hack compatible via emulation. The 3D environments are fine in widescreen. However, some of the HUD (like text and portraits) is stretched. In addition, the world map environments need a render fix and the world mini-map becomes inaccurate in widescreen.
- A poster of Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII can be found on a bedroom wall in Solaris.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud mentions Xenogears and the song Small Two of Pieces.
- Rene Fatima and Roni Fatima are Final Fantasy VI references. Sigurd Harcourt shares a surname with Duncan and Vargas Harcourt from the same game.
- Xenogears Wiki (Spanish)
- Xenogears on PlayStation Store (for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita)
- Xenogears: God and Mind fansite
- Xenogears: The Nisan Sanctuary Fansite
- Tripod fansite
- Xenogears blog fansite
- Guardian Angels
- Perfect Works scans
- Character art
- Movie version (Part 1) - 7 hours
- Movie version (Part 2) - 6 hours, 30 min
- Movie version (Part 3) - 4 hours, 30 min
- Xenogears FMV Pack
- Xenogears Guide to Translation Errors (Abandoned)
- Xenogears Translation Tools
- Xenogears Image Pack