|This article pertains to Xenogears: the sub-database of the Xenosaga Wiki.|
Xenogears is a Japanese console role-playing game released on the Sony PlayStation. It was released by Square Squaresoft (now known as Square-Enix) in February 1998 in Japan and subsequently released in North America in October 1998. Xenogears never saw a PAL release. The game is both hailed and criticized for its heavy philosophical and religious allusions.
Xenogears' gameplay combines the traditional and innovative, utilizing two-dimensional sprite overlays on three-dimensional 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.
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. You begin with 3 AP per turn (which is not enough to execute a deathblow) and as you progress in level you 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 you 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.
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 characters 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 Balthazar, who has them automatically, and Chu-Chu, who cannot perform special gear attacks what-so-ever). 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 gears 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 you have 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.