Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Albert Lichi 21.04.2015

Review for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D on Nintendo 3DS

The original Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii is what many RPG enthusiasts consider one of the greatest examples of the genre released during the eighth generation of consoles. This was a game that while exclusive to Wii and one of the last major releases for the console, still managed to find success that even Nintendo of America could not anticipate. Gigantic is a word that undersells the scope and when it was announced in summer of 2014 that Nintendo would be making a portable version exclusive to its next 3DS model, not everyone could fathom how such a massive game would fit on a portable device without compromising the quality. Has Monster Games succeeded in converting Xenoblade Chronicles to the New 3DS? Find out with Cubed3's examination of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.

The story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is that of a classic hero's journey: a hobbit leaving the Shire to face evil threat, a boy in the desert leaves his farm to face a galactic empire, a blitzball champ gets transported to a new world and fights a gigantic monster. It's a classic tale really and there is truly an infinite amount of possibilities to express the same core plot. The same thesis is completely applicable to Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and the story of Shulk. This familiar journey is told very well and introduces all kinds of weird concepts, like the idea of a whole world being set on the bodies two gigantic robots that died fighting each other eons ago. The plot has so many foreign and alien ideas in it, yet it never becomes confusing thanks to how the story is laid out and how characters interact.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Special attention is given to the visual language, which flawlessly defines the concepts in the plot, as well as lore. Mechon are a horde of cold and animalistic machines that systematically try to exterminate all life, and this is reflected in their somewhat clockwork-looking designs, which lack humanity. Before the story expands and Shulk gets the Monado, the weapon of the Bionis and the only thing that can defeat the Mechon, much of his characterisation is shown masterfully. His hopes are expressed, his frustration is felt, and a lot of information is taught to viewers by his reactions and interactions with other characters. The same attention to characterisation is given to the supporting cast as well, in particular Shulk's best friend Reyn who has become almost an Internet meme because of his boisterous attitude and high energy performance from the voice actor, compounded by the excellent English localisation.

The epic story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is only half the majesty, since it does have one of the finest RPG battle systems around that does play better than it sounds on paper. While it does draw inspiration from MMORPG-style combat, which seems counterintuitive for a completely single-player title, the way it is executed is done so that it can maintain a very steady and quick flow of pacing from combat to exploration. For the most part, battles are very quick and the best method for despatching enemies is usually finding ways to topple them so that Shulk and the gang can score critical hits. Of course, this title is a bit too clever to rely on one strategy the whole time - no, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D has a wide variety of enemies and some of them cannot be toppled, will involve a bit more strategy, and even some careful planning.

The mechanics to the combat are quite deep and flexible for all sorts of customisation, yet characters do have defined roles for battle. Reyn makes for a good tank and does get a few moves for getting the enemy aggro, while Sharla is an exceptional long-range fighter and does get a lot of nifty healing and buff moves for the party. Since there are ways to tweak each character, there is never a moment when pigeonholing occurs, either, so the team can be freely customised on a whim should there be plenty of resources around to accommodate the alterations. As progress is made, it does slowly introduce more depth to the gameplay so as to not overwhelm - from gem crafting, the collectapedia, stone mining, character affinity to rebuilding Colony 6 - there is a unbelievable wealth of content and things to do to keep the game interesting.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D on Nintendo 3DS

The original Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii was never as much of a graphical powerhouse as some other Wii games, like the Super Mario Galaxy duo or even Metroid: Other M. It did, however, make up for its low resolution textures and simple geometry by having fantastic art direction. There are a lot of interesting and memorable designs in this game and the New 3DS conversion has been completely faithful, with mostly some superficial differences. The most noticeable changes are the lighting and colour in some scenes and while it isn't really negative, it is just not really a big deal and most people won't really even spot it.

Outside of that minor coloured lighting, there is not much added to Xenoblade Chronicles 3D in terms of content. This is a straight port for the most part, and the feature to unlock 3D models or music tracks is not really a substantial one. What is a bit disappointing is that Monster Games didn't take the opportunity to make the jumping in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D more natural than it was on the Wii. Shulk and the gang have a very silly looking hop and, when inputted, it lacks the appropriate weight and feels like it might have been implemented last minute. It was the weakest animation in the game before and it is still the weakest on the New 3DS. The decision to make the HUD less cluttered by taking advantage of the second screen was the greatest and most obvious change.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D on Nintendo 3DS

The scope is absolutely maintained in this portable version and still runs as fluidly as the original Wii release. Its impressive considering this probably had the largest amount of landmass in a game during the eighth gen. The size of the world in has been described by the game's director Tetsuya Takahashi as roughly the size as the Japanese archipelago. Every nook and cranny of that space has something interesting about it and it never becomes a chore to travel distances thanks to the speediest fast travel ever and generous fast travel nodes. For such a huge game, there is never time wasted and that is what is so impressive. The quick pace of action keeps thing interesting and makes it hard to put down and suddenly, without realising it, there are already over 70 hours logged and the story is still going strong! If the incredibly long story and huge wealth of side-quests aren't enough, there is New Game Plus, too, where adventurers can experiment by making some really weird builds for the cast and trying to kill some of the high level "newcomer-bait" enemies in the early sections. If the idea of a portable Xenoblade Chronicles sounds appealing, then this game is definitely recommended, but for those who didn't care for it the first time, they still won't enjoy it now.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Tetsuya Takahashi and his team at Monolith Soft put a lot of passion and care into Xenoblade Chronicles and Monster Games has done a phenomenal job porting it to the New Nintendo 3DS platform. The journey that Shulk takes is a very well-told classic tale of a hero's journey and it's filled with a cast of memorable and likeable characters. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is a complete package from beginning to end, wrapped around a very deep and intricate combat system that has a lot of potential for those who like a bit of thinking in their fights. For such a huge and long game, there is very little fat or filler since the adventure has all kinds of conveniences to never waste time. It is loaded with detail and heart for every character, while introducing some original ideas of its own. Is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D perfect? Almost - it's held back by a few lacking visual flourishes and some examples of goofy animation, and for a port it could have had some other substantial additions, as well as flaccid use of 3D. One of the most engrossing titles of the eighth generation is back and is now the most engrossing game on a portable platform.






Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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