Nintendo gamers are no strangers to JRPGs. Over the years, Nintendo systems have been home to some truly remarkable JRPGs. On the Nintendo Wii, in particular, one JRPG has always stood out to me. That game is Xenoblade Chronicles. First released a decade ago in 2010, Xenoblade Chronicles enjoyed widespread critical success and spawned sequels. Xenoblade was praised for its uniqueness with two colossal titans known as the Bionis and the Mechonis serving as the setting for Xenoblade Chronicles.
A decade later, Nintendo brought the beloved game to the Switch. Surprisingly, the Switch version is not a drastic improvement over the original but it still proves to be a worthy upgrade that compelled me to explore this wonderful world again. For any newcomers to the game, it’s the best possible version to experience Xenoblade for the very first time. The game itself remains as amazing as ever and some quality-of-life improvements are enough to warrant old fans to come back too.
Xenoblade Chronicles sees you embark on an epic journey as you play Shulk when he comes to wield the future-seeing sword, Monado. Shulk lives in a world divided between the Bionis and the Mechonis, two titan gods whose bodies serve as the sources of two sides of the world. This divide has resulted in war between the Homs, human-like beings who live on the Bionis side, and the machine beings that live on the Mechonis side.
Shulk’s future-seeing sword, the Monado, is a key weapon in this war and wielding it means our hero will be in the centre of the battles to come. Embarking on an epic quest, Shulk travels across the land, meeting a whole cast of unique characters along the way. Some of whom will join your party along the way. Each character imbues charm and has good chemistry with Shulk so by the end of your epic journey, they’ll start to feel like family.
Back when I first played Xenoblade Chronicles on the Nintendo Wii, I was absolutely amazed that the large open world was even possible on that system. The magnitude of scale is something I’m still impressed by to this day. Again, the fact this was originally made on Nintendo Wii hardware continues to astound me ten years later. There’s a compelling urge to explore in the world with hidden secrets hidden in every corner.
The world is varied, quirky, and undeniably beautiful. Visual fidelity is not something to rave about but art-design and choices certainly are. Especially in handheld mode, the visuals look almost indistinguishable from the game that originally released on the Wii back in 2010. In docked mode, however, we see a bump to HD resolution and all of a sudden, the world looks a lot better. Textures are crisper and pop with more colour too.
On the whole, on the visual side, there’s no drastic upgrade present in the definitive edition. Sure, everything looks slightly better, especially aspects like Character Models but overall the visuals don’t improve as much as one might expect given the ten year gap. However, Xenoblade is a game that doesn’t rely heavily on impressive visuals. The world, its unique characters, the fast-paced combat, the exploration, the intriguing plot, these are all the things that make Xenoblade Chronicles such an amazing experience.
On top of all that, the soundtrack is simply delightful to listen to. Speaking of, in this definitive edition you can listen to over 90 remixed or remastered music tracks. The soundtrack is beautifully entrancing and always seems to be appropriate for the sequence of the game you’re in. Similarly, the voice-over work is amazing and really brings each character to life.
Considering my time in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition neared the 100 hour mark, I spent a lot of time engaged in combat. For any JRPG, combat is of paramount importance. However, it’s even more so when you end up spending so many hours in it. Combat here is fast-paced and action-oriented merged with some tactical elements too. Party members are controlled by AI and this works most of the time but sometimes they don’t fight very smartly.
There’s a lot I could say about the original game, but for the sake of newcomers who didn’t play the original, I won’t be venturing into spoiler territory. Just know, as a definitive remastering of the 2010 original, this makes an already amazing game even better. None of the changes we see are massively drastic but all-in-all they all complement each other to make this the best way to play Xenoblade Chronicles.
*Disclosure: a Nintendo Switch review copy was kindly provided by the publisher.