The Xenoblade universe (ゼノブレイド, Xenoblade) is a franchise first represented in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. It is the newest sub-series of the Xeno franchise which has spanned several systems and developers. The series is represented by the protagonist of Xenoblade Chronicles, Shulk.
While deciding potential scripts for what would eventually become Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation, developer Square Enix decided against a script written by employee Tetsuya Takahashi on the basis of it being "too dark and complicated" for the company's vision of Final Fantasy; however, Square allowed him to start the project as a new property instead. Takahashi, working with a subteam within Square, became the director of what was released in the Americas as Xenogears for the PlayStation in late 1998. The game, a science fiction JRPG featuring traditional combat that sometimes involves humanoid combat robots called "gears" - in accordance with various recurrent concepts in mecha genres - was both a critical and commercial success in both Japan and the Americas, and received recognition for its ambitious approach to incorporating major themes into its storytelling and characterization, examining both the principles put forth by reputed philosophers and the theological concepts and devotional practices of several real-world religions.
Though Xenogears was conceived as the fifth episode of a series of six, Square decided against devoting resources to further works related to Xenogears in favour of focusing on its flagship Final Fantasy series, which prompted Takahashi and much of the Xenogears staff to leave the company and form what would be Monolith Soft with the financial backing of Namco. Due to the legal rights of Xenogears remaining with Square, Takahashi could not create games that were direct extensions of the Xenogears continuity (despite what the end credits originally indicated), so he proceeded on a project that could more accurately be described as a reboot that shared thematic similarities: the Xenosaga trilogy (which was originally intended to be six games), published by Namco from 2002 to 2006 on the PlayStation 2. Set millennia in the future where Earth is no longer the primary homeworld of a spacefaring humanity, the games feature different combat systems between each instalment, all of which are mechanically separate from their spiritual PlayStation predecessor. The series' reception was generally favourable, though review outlets tended to express more mixed opinions when comparing them with Xenogears, finding fault with elements such as a more lopsided cutscene-to-gameplay ratio and the removal of some of the acclaimed philosophical elements.
In May 2007, Namco sold its stake in Monolith Soft to Nintendo, and Monolith Soft soon became a first-party developer for Nintendo. Takahashi began work on a different IP for the Wii, which over the course of four years of development was unveiled at E3 2009 under the title Monado: Beginning of the World; later, it was renamed Xenoblade Chronicles, once again following the convention of including Xeno- in the title to honour the director's previous, though otherwise unconnected, work. Involving himself in every aspect of the game's development, Takahashi worked to separate it from its forerunners in both gameplay style and theme, with the relationship between humans and machines as one of the carry-overs. The game was released in Japan on June 10, 2010, and then in PAL regions on August 19, 2011; however, the game's American release would only take place on April 6, 2012, which led to an interim period where concerned gamers took part in a fan campaign called "Operation Rainfall" to persuade Nintendo of America to localize the game and two other Wii RPGs.
Xenoblade Chronicles received overwhelming critical acclaim across the board. It was lauded for revitalizing and reinventing the otherwise standard Japanese role-playing genre, with a sense of freedom instilled by a massive open world that has been compared to the size of the real-world Japanese archipelago. The gameplay style of the combat closely resembles that of Final Fantasy XII, but with an emphasis on chained group attacks and allowing some characters to strategically divert enemy attention away from other party members. Closely tied in with the game's theme is a "Visions" system where the lead character can see glimpses of enemies' future attacks, which can allow the player to either avoid or prevent an incoming attack. Especially praised were the characters, both for their writing and for the integration of their relationships into core aspects of the gameplay both inside and outside of battle. The game sold over 800,000 units globally, and as a first-party Nintendo property, its main character, Shulk, was included in the roster of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U in 2014.
In terms of scenario, Xenoblade Chronicles is set on a world of endless ocean, but instead of islands or continents, the sole instance of the world's ground is literally comprised of the standing, towering corpses of two colossal titans that duelled in the past - the Bionis and the Mechonis, posed as though forever locked in combat. Eons after the two gods' bodies became lifeless, new life arose out of these corpses and formed societies on their bodies, such as Homs (analogous to humans) and other organic lifeforms on the Bionis, and mechanical lifeforms like the Mechon on the Mechonis. Homs and Mechon fight each other endlessly for their existence. When a Hom colony on Bionis is attacked by the Mechon at the start of the game, a young resident named Shulk obtains a legendary energy sword named the Monado, which is capable of severely damaging the Mechon and allows Shulk to see his enemies' future attacks. He and his friends initially set out for a Mechon stronghold to exact revenge, but over the course of a journey filled with twists and turns, they are provided a deeper examination of the conflict between the two sides, and eventually, of the true workings of the world itself.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, a port of the Wii game, was released for the New Nintendo 3DS on April 2, 2015 in Japan and Europe, and on April 10, 2015 in North America. The original Wii game also saw a rerelease on the European Wii U Virtual Console, but there is yet to be a Virtual Console release worldwide.
A spiritual successor game for the Wii U, Xenoblade Chronicles X, was released in Japan on April 29th, 2015 and on December 4th, 2015 for North America, Europe and Australia. Xenoblade Chronicles X is set on the planet Mira, an alien-populated world where human establish their home after the Earth is destroyed in a war involving two alien races. The game features battle mechanics similar to the original Xenoblade Chronicles, with emphasis on its Arts system and interaction with party members. Characters now have both ranged and melee attacks, as well as mechs called Skells, which they can pilot to fight or traverse the game's enormous world.
List of games in Xenoblade franchise
- Xenoblade Chronicles (2009, Nintendo Wii)
- Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015, Nintendo Wii U)
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017, Nintendo Switch)
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country (2018, Nintendo Switch) (DLC)
- Shulk: The protagonist of Xenoblade Chronicles, Shulk wields the Monado, a unique sword, in battle. Shulk appeared in a series of video leaks before his formal confirmation as a playable character in the August 29th, 2014 Nintendo Direct. Shulk utilizes various Arts that adjust his attributes, and the beam properties of the Monado provide range for his attacks.
- Metal Face: Shulk's nemesis and the antagonist for the first part of Xenoblade Chronicles. He appeared at the end of Shulk's reveal trailer. Metal Face acts as the stage boss of Gaur Plain on the Wii U version, and can be KO'd.
- Riki: One of Shulk's friends and party members. Uses Arts like Happy Happy, Freezinate, Yoink!, Bedtime, You Can Do It, and Roly Poly. He also appears in Shulk's Final Smash.
- Gaur Plain: A stage appearing in both versions of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U based on an area from Xenoblade Chronicles.
- Xenoblade Chronicles Medley: The only Xenoblade Chronicles remix on the soundtrack, this track is a medley of Gaur Plain, Mechanical Rhythm, You Will Know Our Names, and Engage the Enemy.
- Engage the Enemy: This music plays during special story events in Xenoblade Chronicles.
- Gaur Plain: This is the music that plays in Xenoblade Chronicles on the leg of the Bionis during the day.
- Gaur Plain (Night): This is the music that plays in Xenoblade Chronicles on the Bionis's Leg during the night.
- Time to Fight!: This is the music that plays in Xenoblade Chronicles during regular battles in Bionis areas.
- An Obstacle in Our Path: This track plays during most boss battles.
- Mechanical Rhythm: This is the music that plays in Xenoblade Chronicles during the regular battles in the Mechonis areas.
- You Will Know Our Names: This is the music that plays in Xenoblade Chronicles when the party confronts a uniquely named monster.
- Victory! Xenoblade Series: The second half of the riff of You Will Know Our Names, the battle theme used in Xenoblade Chronicles when fighting a unique monster.
- Shulk (Alt.)
Wii U Version
- Article on the Xenoblade Wiki.