Are you an Xbox gamer who likes Square Enix’s Japanese-developed role-playing games or JRPGs? Chrono Cross has been available since April. Square Enix’s new JRPGs The DioField Chronicle and Star Ocean: The Divine Force will be released on September 22, 2022 and October 27, 2022 respectively.
To be clear, I find Square Enix’s business relationship with Team Xbox lacking. The HD remastered version of Legend of Mana was very noticeably released on multiple platforms but not on Xbox. Tactics Ogre: Reborn was announced for future release for multiple platforms except Xbox. Still on Square Enix, the Final Fantasy VII remake as well as the announced sequel are exclusive to Sony’s platforms. The exclusions are clear and disturbing. Why Square Enix excluded the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the Xbox One (which still has many millions of console users until now) as platforms to sell the above mentioned games remains a mystery although there is speculation that Sony Corporation and its PlayStation executives made a secret deal with the JRPG giant to specifically hurt Xbox without affecting Nintendo and Steam. Realistically, Microsoft pointed out that Sony pays game companies for blocking rights to keep games off Xbox Game Pass. Read all about it here, here and here.
While these developments are disturbing and also annoying, I still wish that Square Enix would remaster one of its classic JRPGs and release it on Xbox platforms similar to what they did with the remastered Chrono Cross. That classic RPG I’m referring to is none other than Xenogears.
I played Xenogears on the original PlayStation console way back in 1998 but I never got to finish it due to my academics and other external matters. It also did not help that the CD-ROM of the PlayStation deteriorated.
Regardless, I had a lot of enjoyment during my limited time with the said JRPG, the design of which was led by Tetsuya Takahashi. The fictional concept of Xenogears took a lot of inspiration from real-life forms of religion as well as concepts from certain intellectuals to establish the story themes, the fictional cultures and historical backgrounds within the game. At the same time, the game had this in-depth universe composed of different settings for gamers to explore. In my experience, I felt immersed into the game’s universe and I still remember the moments I got astonished discovering not only the many locations and landmarks but also the many non-playable characters (NPCs presented as 2D sprites) in the form of local communities and the in-game cultures.
While Xenogears had a science fiction concept, it still had lots of settings and gameplay features that made it feel like a fantasy. I love the way how the creative team’s artists implemented their art styles on the environments, the characters, the machines, the interiors of places and more. Visually, this game saw the use of 2D sprites for the characters who move along a 3D polygonal environment which can be explored creatively by a camera that can be adjusted by the players. As such, this approach done in Xenogears made the game look and feel a lot like Grandia.
While Xenogears’ battle system had key elements that were common with other JRPGs, there was a clear emphasis on hand-to-hand combat that took a lot of inspiration from martial arts as well as 2D fighting games of the decade. There were these martial arts-inspired combos which required button combinations and timing which were fun to watch happen. There were also these death blows which were really rewarding when pulled off correctly. Of course, there were still some magic attacks that were nicely presented.
What made Xenogears stand out is the use of giant robots or gears in the game. Not only did the game allow me to travel with the gears, it also allowed me to engage with enemies (both the large and the small ones standing on the floor/ground) with a fully functional battle system that emphasized size, scale and impact altogether. Similar to the other battle system, the gears battle system fun and engaging in my experience. I can never forget the moment I first saw my gear crush a huge enemy with a lot of impact to seal the victory. Travel using gears, however, was hampered somewhat by the creative team who implemented platform gaming elements (note: this includes jumping from one platform to another without falling down to your death) and the controls were not really responsive enough. This is something Square Enix should consider improving if they ever remaster Xenogears.
Right now, I would love to replay Xenogears and complete it but I prefer the game should be remastered and be released for Xbox consoles. I have no intention of buying a new console from Sony and Nintendo to play Square Enix JRPGs that are missing on Xbox consoles. JRPGs on Xbox are not exactly lacking (note: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released via Xbox Game Pass in 2023 while Persona RPGs are coming to Xbox soon) but it would be great not only for Xbox gamers but also Square Enix itself to remaster Xenogears and release it on the Xbox ecosystem. That being said, I believe Xenogears itself would make a great addition into Xbox Game Pass (XGP) which already has many millions of subscribers worldwide!
Think about it carefully. Having a remastered Xenogears for sale on Xbox and also listed on Xbox Game Pass will not only be good for the Xbox ecosystem but also for Square Enix to not only sell games but also reach out to the XGP subscribers who could enjoy the said JRPG and add a lot of new players that the JRPG giant could not reach before. Not only are more Square Enix role-playing games are needed on XGP right now (note: adding Chrono Cross into it will be delightful), they can also benefit nicely as the Xbox ecosystem is gradually becoming the premier ecosystem for RPG enthusiasts in this console generation. Xbox-exclusive RPGs like Starfield, The Outer Worlds 2, Fable as well as future sequels of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout will collectively generate big game sales as well as increase the number of gamers in the Xbox ecosystem and Xbox Game Pass subscribers will grow big as well. The growth will be even bigger once Team Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets approved. For Square Enix to miss out on fast growing Xbox ecosystem in favor of Sony’s blocking rights will be a regrettable move.
Going back to Xenogears, I want to make it clear to Square Enix that now is the time to remaster it and release it on Xbox as well as other platforms. That being said, I also urge Team Xbox’s chief Phil Spencer, executive Aaron Greenberg and the Xbox Game Pass team to reinvigorate the business relationship with Square Enix and try to convince them to release Xenogears and other classic JRPGs into XGP and the Xbox game store. To the Xbox gamers and RPG enthusiasts reading this, I encourage you to contact Square Enix and Team Xbox to have Xenogears and other JRPGs (both classic and modern) released on the Xbox consoles and Windows PC.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Xenogears-related videos for your enjoyment.
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