The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series - http://www.mmcafe.com/ Forums


Original message (313 Views )


user profileedit/delete message
PSN: n/a
XBL: n/a
Wii: Switch:SW-3634-5515-7312
STM: n/a
CFN: n/a
Red Carpet Premium Member




"The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Thu 28 May 13:45post reply

With the looming release of the Definitive Edition of the first Xenoblade game, I'd thought we'd take the time to talk about the whole Perfect Works/Zohar thing Tetsuya Takahashi has been trying to get off the ground since Day 1, and has repeatedly been trying to revive it...even after Xenosaga III! (Yes, it seems he's determined to get his Gnosticism-influenced 6-episode work out in some form at the very least)

Which brings me to this discussion: I realize there are still certain fans of Takahashi's previous works that like to "separate" Xenogears/Xenosaga from Monolithsoft's post-Nintendo acquisition titles, as if they somehow shy away from the former entries dark tones and highly religious themes. Take for example this hot-take from a Xenogears/Xenosaga fan-blog:

quote:
I don't see how what happens in Xenoblade 1 has much to do with the Saga/Gears series. There is a complex web of story elements in Saga/Gears that are completely absent from Xenoblade 1, such as the imminent collapse of the universe resulting from spiritual degradation. The story of Saga/Gears is about more than a single event/climax, it's an entire journey with psychological exploration and philosophical dialogue between characters that a mere possible similarity in a single event or plot point can't simply repurpose.

And even if this is another case of Takahashi reusing ideas in isolation from Saga/Gears and repackaging them (in this case from ideas he has yet to use in Saga/Gears), then that would just diminish the impact of those events if we ever get them in Saga/Gears. Why would he one day want to show that last story arc so much if all it will amount to is what he already did in Xenoblade 1 but with different characters?


Of course, anybody who has played any of the Xenoblade games from start to finish knows that isn't the case at all. You still got your Demiurge figure(s) and the imminent collapse of the universe all due to spiritual degradation and dark tones (particularly in latter parts of Xenoblade 2/Torna) are still present, and the shout-outs to Gnostic overtones and highly religious themes by writing duo Takahashi/Soraya Saga are still ever-present...as in, you can't get more blatant about Monadology by calling a sword the Monado and have character appear on a vastly smaller scale compared to their own world, complete with having its own Mary Magdalene/Jesus/Demiurge equivalent. There are also a lot of analogies between each series characters, such as Dunban being an obvious shout-out to Citan, Fiora pretty much being Elly in role, etc.

This is not even getting into the whole Zohar thing: Yes, it's official back thanks to Xenoblade 2

Spoiler (Highlight to view) -
and its last chapter showing us "The Conduit", which looks and functions exactly like the Zohar, used to reset existence while powering a giant world-destroying mech (Aion is pretty much Deus from Xenogears).

End of Spoiler

And while many are quick to write of KOS-MOS and TELOS appearances in that game as simple cameos, the translation of the boxart for the Siren mecha model-kit reveals that Takahashi is very much hinting at wanting to get to Episode 6 of his Perfect Works in some form.

Granted, Takahashi wanted to take a break by making something more light-hearted (and quite "shounen") with XB2 (that still didn't stop the game from getting quite serious in tone, especially with Torna that did away with all of the "shounen" stuff), but I do not think that nor the original Xenoblade feel at all that "diminished" from its prior series works; far from it in fact, I feel it's quite an achievement by Monolithsoft for the first Xenoblade game to feel so cohesive and complete from start to finish, especially given the troublesome development of the Xenosaga games, not to mention Xenogears.

I know some will still say that the former games (Gears/Saga) will always remain special because it managed to somehow overcame the adversities of publisher budgets despite falling victim to bureaucracy and tight schedules by having such a huge and ambitious scope, but I don't think post-Nintendo Monolithsoft was any less ambitious than they were back then.






Replies:


user profileedit/delete message
PSN: zonepharaoh
XBL: n/a
Wii: n/a
STM: n/a
CFN: zonepharaoh
Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(1):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Thu 4 Jun 12:29:post reply

Xenogears is still one of the most interesting experiences I've ever had with a video game. Like its near-contemporary, FFVII, it would benefit from a director's cut that actually cuts out about 20 hours of awful, embarrassing clutter (the Star Wars and Eva stuff, including the mechs themselves, Billy, Rico, Chu Chu (GOD!!), and the entirety of the Kiev sewer sequence) in order to let the briliant core shine, a trans-millennial love story tied in with a Gnostic-Kabbalistic worldview so incredibly appealing and moving that it sticks with me decades later.

You'd better believe it was the first that even my mythology-obsessed 15 year old self had heard of Gnosticism or Kabbala, but now I've read the entirety of legendary scholar Gershom Scholem's compilation on the subject. "Ask me about the emanations of god!" Actually, don't.

Oddly enough, I was never intrigued by later entries like Xenosaga 1 (space is too boring), Xenosaga 2-3 (changing the character designer is unacceptable) or Xenoblade 2 (too dumb-looking)...maybe the newly re-released Xenoblade 1 is the game for me?!

Zohar Spoilers: I haven't even played Xenoblade 2, but no doubt you're right. All the more so becauase Takahashi has referred to Aions/Aeons (Gnostic emanations of god) before. The mistranslated "seraphs" in the last dungeon in Xenogears are actually called Aions in Japanese. Did you know: one of my earliest 1990s internet FAQs was a reference guide to all religious references (including mistranslated ones like these) in Xenogears before there was wikipedia? Most of the info is still right, even if I missed Thames (supposed to be Tamuz, another Hebrew month) and Aions (Gnostic, not the earlier Greek).





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Thu 4 Jun 12:46]



user profileedit/delete message
Star Platinum Carpet- S.P.W. Board Master





"Re(2):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Thu 4 Jun 19:48post reply

I have barely any recollection of Xenogears. I remember an interesting battle system that was expanded in Valkyrie Profile, the Doronjo-like group were fun, and there was a loli character that was bunch of nanomachines?

I never found the whole fascination for Jewish mysticism that Japanese creators had in the 90s very interesting. It was just a whole lot of coding without much meaning. I really don't think Eva or Xenowhatever have anything more to say about mysticism than FF7's Sephiroth, whose name is basically another leather belt added to a trenchcoat entirely made of leather belts.
All in all, Japanese interest in Gnosticism was the original 中二病. Or rather, chni happened when the kids found out they didn't need to look into encyclopedias to find cool shit, and instead just make up their own fantasy world themselves.

Case in point: there is barely any Gnostic symbolism in Xenoblade 1, it's basically some really interesting and original anime story, with a lot of anime tropes that work very well together, and the game is just a very good anime RPG.







user profileedit/delete message
PSN: zonepharaoh
XBL: n/a
Wii: n/a
STM: n/a
CFN: zonepharaoh
Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(3):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Fri 5 Jun 01:50post reply

quote:
I have barely any recollection of Xenogears. I remember an interesting battle system that was expanded in Valkyrie Profile, the Doronjo-like group were fun, and there was a loli character that was bunch of nanomachines?
Correction: a loli nanomachine girl who will evolve into an attractive young woman if you visit the underground ruins of the civilization where she was created by the main character two reincarnations ago!

I feel like Kabbalistic and Gnostic references are a little more legit than Iggy suggests. RPGs and fantasy, all the way back to their foundation in Tolkien and moving up through D&D and into video games, are basically pastiches of existing myths and religions, and Kabbala and Gnosticism were just under-tapped compared with mainline European tradition until the 1990s. But where Eva just used the religious and mystical imagery/coding because it was "cool" without a deeper message (other than the fun of being in on the reference), I think Xeno deserves credit for not just tossing in random names but basically making Gnosticism: the Videogame. If you're going to go with the RPG tradition of killing god and fighting a false religion, you may as well go full Gnostic and make it killing the false god of the physical world and mainstream religions in a quest to find the true, hidden spiritual god that only the mystics can know!

I guess what I'm saying is: Xenoblade 2 sounds kind of like Xenogears with worse character designs, but should I play Xenoblade? And are there really only two Xenoblade games? I feel like they might have renamed a bunch of titles sort of like with Harvest Moon so I'm never really sure what people are talking about in English.





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...
Mosquiton
2468th Post



user profileedit/delete message
Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(4):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Fri 5 Jun 02:22:post reply

quote:

I think Xeno deserves credit for not just tossing in random names but basically making Gnosticism: the Videogame. If you're going to go with the RPG tradition of killing god and fighting a false religion, you may as well go full Gnostic and make it killing the false god of the physical world and mainstream religions in a quest to find the true, hidden spiritual god that only the mystics can know!



I think I can get behind this reading. Still not sure that crucifying a giant stuffed animal works all that well, but if the creators could have done a slightly better job conveying their inspirations, I suppose Chu-Chu died for the sins of the scenario writers.

quote:

Chni happened when the kids found out they didn't need to look into encyclopedias to find cool shit, and instead just make up their own fantasy world themselves.



But perhaps the reason they didn't need to look into encyclopedias is that these ideas had been reproduced and filtered through centuries of derivative works and passively absorbed through pop culture?

I'll admit that it's the execution that matters more than the inspiration, and fresh ideas are often wonderful to behold, but I do kind of feel that those that are ignorant of the past risk creating a shittier version of it (in both fiction and living history, sadly).

Anyways, no harm in cracking open some Greek myths or the Lesser Key of Solomon for some inspiration, eh? (Right SMT series, Yoko Taro, God of War?)





/ / /

[this message was edited by Mosquiton on Fri 5 Jun 02:45]



user profileedit/delete message
Star Platinum Carpet- S.P.W. Board Master





"Re(4):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Fri 5 Jun 03:52post reply

quote:
I guess what I'm saying is: Xenoblade 2 sounds kind of like Xenogears with worse character designs, but should I play Xenoblade? And are there really only two Xenoblade games? I feel like they might have renamed a bunch of titles sort of like with Harvest Moon so I'm never really sure what people are talking about in English.

Are you talking about Xenoblade X by any chance?
XenoX is a terrible game. It makes me angry just thinking about it. It has good ideas for its world building and some of its scenario beats, but the writing is so abysmal that it's very difficult to stay invested in anything, and after the first half of the game everything becomes indescribably worse. Some side-quests are really good, and it makes the main scenario even worse: why did they put the good writer on some optional little thing, and let the main scenario get butchered by some dimwit who didn't understand the world he was supposed to write for?
Gameplay-wise, it has many flaws, and the music is a mess.

That said.

It has, by far, the best open world I've ever seen in a videogame. No Assassin's Creed, no Rockstar game, no BOTW managed to craft a world that's on par with any of the 3 first areas of XenoX. The last two areas are a bit less interesting for several reasons, but the first 3 areas are fantastically crafted, each stone has been put there by a level designer, each encounter is thought to funnel you into a direction or another, and astonishingly, all 3 areas work on 3 different scales. I haven't seen anything that compares to the world design of XenoX.

Also, the first Xenoblade is very good if you like JRPGs and good music, and the Switch version improves a lot of things that were tedious in the original and the previous port.







user profileedit/delete message
PSN: n/a
XBL: n/a
Wii: Switch:SW-3634-5515-7312
STM: n/a
CFN: n/a
Red Carpet Premium Member




"Re(5):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Fri 5 Jun 18:17post reply

quote:
Are you talking about Xenoblade X by any chance?

I purposefully left Xenoblade X as even Takahashi and co. admitted that story wasn't the primary focus of that installment. It was basically their team trying to get accomodated with HD assets in particular. It does have its twists during the end, but as you said, its story isn't its strong suite.

As for the music, you can thank Hiroyuki Sawano for that.

quote:
Also, the first Xenoblade is very good if you like JRPGs and good music, and the Switch version improves a lot of things that were tedious in the original and the previous port.

I've been playing the Definitive Edition a whole lot. The UI overhaul, quest track, and small minor gripes from the original have been ironed out and I find myself completing several sidequests in a span of an hour, whereas in the original it took several hours just to bloody hell figure out which enemy had which item drop.

I guess the main point I was trying to bring up is why certain Xenogears and Xenosaga fans do not consider Xenoblade (particularly the first game) to be part of Takahashi's Perfect Works vision. It manages to contain all of its hallmarks, but unlike Xenosaga and Xenogears, it doesn't seem stymied by the budget or his ambition. There were lots of stories how Takahashi's team was sort of in development hell with Xenogears, and there's even a recent story about how Monolithsoft got founded because Square at the time wanted to pursue The Spirits Within.







user profileedit/delete message
PSN: n/a
XBL: n/a
Wii: Switch:SW-3634-5515-7312
STM: n/a
CFN: n/a
Red Carpet Premium Member




"Re(2):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Fri 5 Jun 18:40:post reply

quote:
Oddly enough, I was never intrigued by later entries like Xenosaga 1 (space is too boring), Xenosaga 2-3 (changing the character designer is unacceptable) or Xenoblade 2 (too dumb-looking)...maybe the newly re-released Xenoblade 1 is the game for me?!
quote:
I guess what I'm saying is: Xenoblade 2 sounds kind of like Xenogears with worse character designs, but should I play Xenoblade?

You should. It's a really great game on its own merits, and if the cast of Xenoblade 2 turned you off, you will like the more...reserved character designs (and better developed storywise IMO) of Xenoblade 1. It has a unique premise on being set at the bodies of two dead gods.

quote:
Case in point: there is barely any Gnostic symbolism in Xenoblade 1, it's basically some really interesting and original anime story, with a lot of anime tropes that work very well together, and the game is just a very good anime RPG.


There are Gnostic symbolisms in Xenoblade 1, just not as upfront as in Xenogears. There are clear Demiurge analogies, though they don't make themselves particularly prominent until the latter half.


Spoiler (Highlight to view) -
I mean the whole Fiora/Meyneth & Shulk/Zanza is pretty much a direct analogy of Elly/Sophia & Fei/Lacan.

End of Spoiler


Speaking of Xenoblade's themes, might I recommend this read about the connections the game has to Gottfried Leibniz's metaphysics, in particular, Monadology and the micro and cosmological scales. Be warned it does contain spoilers for the game.





[this message was edited by sfried on Fri 5 Jun 19:25]



user profileedit/delete message
Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(3):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Sat 6 Jun 03:00post reply

quote:
if the cast of Xenoblade 2 turned you off, you will like the more...reserved character designs (and better developed storywise IMO) of Xenoblade 1


Especially in this version which lifted the best feature of The Last Story and allows you to customize your look while retaining your best gear. Half the fun is having the freedom to run a shirtless party across a giant plain with comically oversized weapons that would make Cloud blush (no wonder Nomura signed on to be a designer for 2).







user profileedit/delete message
Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(4):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Sat 6 Jun 04:19post reply

quote:
if the cast of Xenoblade 2 turned you off, you will like the more...reserved character designs (and better developed storywise IMO) of Xenoblade 1

Especially in this version which lifted the best feature of The Last Story and allows you to customize your look while retaining your best gear. Half the fun is having the freedom to run a shirtless party across a giant plain with comically oversized weapons that would make Cloud blush (no wonder Nomura signed on to be a designer for 2).



Even though Xenoblade 1 does (often...) invoke some shonen manga tropes in its writing/story, I did find it interesting how much harder Xenoblade 2 went for that direction compared to 1. I very much like the world in both games, even if the world of Xenoblade 1 is much more dramatic in its appearance than the one of 2. As much as I like shonen manga, it's nice when characters behave and say things that aren't merely acting out of the tropes and the archetypes.

There is quite a lot of actually decent writing in Xenoblade 2, and the choice of localizing the cat-people as Welsh is incredibly inspired.

It will be very interesting to see how the sales of the XB1 remaster compare to XB2, as well as how the XB1 remaster compares to the 3DS release. I'm sure XB2 with its wider and more easily acquired release on the hottest console helped it do so well, but now that XB1 no longer has the constraint of its limited release and having the greater public awareness of the XB brand, I think we'll see a much stronger consumer reception to XB1.

I do wish that the extra chapter could be purchased on its own like the Torna side story of XB2, though.







user profileedit/delete message
PSN: n/a
XBL: n/a
Wii: Switch:SW-3634-5515-7312
STM: n/a
CFN: n/a
Red Carpet Premium Member




"Re(5):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Sat 6 Jun 06:38:post reply

quote:
It will be very interesting to see how the sales of the XB1 remaster compare to XB2, as well as how the XB1 remaster compares to the 3DS release. I'm sure XB2 with its wider and more easily acquired release on the hottest console helped it do so well, but now that XB1 no longer has the constraint of its limited release and having the greater public awareness of the XB brand, I think we'll see a much stronger consumer reception to XB1.

Apparently sales of XCDE are double that of it's Wii original's release and managed to even overtake Animal Crossing for No. 1 spot.
quote:
Especially in this version which lifted the best feature of The Last Story and allows you to customize your look while retaining your best gear. Half the fun is having the freedom to run a shirtless party across a giant plain with comically oversized weapons that would make Cloud blush (no wonder Nomura signed on to be a designer for 2).


"Open world...Yoko Shimomura music...Yep, I'll put that in FFXV..."

Speaking of Nomura's involvement in XC2, I wasn't quite receptive to Jin at first (for certain reasons), but his backstory in Torna - The Golden Country DLC made him genuinely a sympathetic and likable character.

Heck, Torna in tone alone is more serious and dark than what was presented in the base XC2 campaign.





[this message was edited by sfried on Sat 6 Jun 06:44]



user profileedit/delete message
Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(6):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Tue 9 Jun 00:14post reply

quote:
I wasn't quite receptive to Jin at first (for certain reasons), but his backstory in Torna - The Golden Country DLC made him genuinely a sympathetic and likable character.

Heck, Torna in tone alone is more serious and dark than what was presented in the base XC2 campaign.


Torna is the Star Wars prequels done right, so the tone shift makes perfect sense.

And speaking of Star Wars analogies, Shulk is also a better Luke Skywalker. Perhaps even a better Anakin as well.







user profileedit/delete message
PSN: n/a
XBL: n/a
Wii: Switch:SW-3634-5515-7312
STM: n/a
CFN: n/a
Red Carpet Premium Member




"Re(5):The Xenogears/Xenosaga/Xenoblade series" , posted Wed 10 Jun 05:54post reply

quote:
Even though Xenoblade 1 does (often...) invoke some shonen manga tropes in its writing/story, I did find it interesting how much harder Xenoblade 2 went for that direction compared to 1.
I recall reading somewhere that Takahashi's intention with Xenoblade 2 was to intentionally make something more lighthearted, since he was taking a break from the usually darker plots of his previous works.

The results however are curious, since while Rex is still the insufferable shounen protagonist (unlike Shulk, who's 18 and acts a little bit more his age), its periphery charatcers such as Nia, Jin, and Amalthus have gotten pretty great if not pretty dark characterizations compared to the rest of the main cast. And yeah, Torna really helped expand on those concepts, but I guess it was Takahashi once again leaning back to his usual tone.

quote:
And speaking of Star Wars analogies, Shulk is also a better Luke Skywalker. Perhaps even a better Anakin as well.


I actually haven't thought of it as that until now. Great analogy!