a game by Squaresoft
Platform: PSX
Rating: 9/10


Let me start out by saying this the first RPG game that I have had the opportunity to review. The last game I played that even remotely resembled this was back in the late 80's in a familiar game called The Legend Of Zelda. That, my friends, was a classic, one for the record books, one to base all other RPG games from. I look for a simple pick- me- up, not all this fancy-shmancy cast a spell, wave a wand and you move on. I am from the old Dungeons and Dragon days where we used our imagination to paint these fantasy worlds. Now onto the review, where I dismiss my wants in a game and let you, the reader, decide if this a game for you.

Squaresoft did good in picking a subject that I am partial to, Japanimation. In short, you usually have big-eyeballed heroes with some sort of mutant power and/or a giant robot to control and an evil being with sharp teeth. Examples of Japanimation include Dragonball Z, Voltron, Akira, and of course, Robotech. In Xenogears, you are Fei, a young long-haired hero with no recollection of his past. Fei looks like he belonged in Street Fighter, but turned down the part to star in this role. He is a destined hero now living in a small village of Lahan. You are treated to an opening movie, but you learn much more about what's going on by talking to everyone. A quick glance at the story goes along the lines of the following: A long time ago (of course) a ship crashed into their planet and in the past 50 years or so two countries have been fighting with the technology that was unearthed since excavating. The technology was giant mechanical warriors called Gears. These Gears were, of course, driven by both oppositions in the countries. Somehow our hero Fei ties into all of this.


Well, since there are three modes of gameplay I will have to break each one of them down for you. When the game finally begins after a sequence of reading text, you start out in your typical third person walk-anywhere mode. In this mode you can walk, run, start dialogue, and rest. You also have the chance to buy and sell in that mode. This will be the most used mode of the game and the most useful for doing most of your tasks. When you travel from city to city you will have to search around and familiarize yourself with the city. Knowing what shops are where and where you can find info is essential to the completion of a level. I also found that different outcomes could arise if you answer differently to asked questions. A word of advice: When you are playing, answer in a simple-minded way to ensure a good journey.

The next form of gameplay includes the fight scenes. This was not something you could just do when you felt it necessary, but instead when the story felt it so. For instance, I was merely walking to a scientist's house and shazam, I was being attacked by a couple of plants. In other words if I wanted to fight a bartender that was my friend, I was unable to. The good thing about the fight scenes were the chances to increase your health points, which brings me to my next topic. Even though you can access your health and items menu anytime during the game by pressing the square button, you would use a fighting menu when engaged in combat. In this menu you have Chi (special powers), Attack, Items (for magic and health renewal), combos, and Escape (which I refer to as "Run, Forrest, run..."). Each time you battle, you have a chance to attack an opponent, but be selective in your moves because some spells or combos are rendered useless in battle. If you choose to attack, you have several combo hits to try. If you h it them in the right succession you can really slam your opponent with some high point hits. I still haven't figured out what the combo option does other than display the combos you have learned. The escape option can be useful if your energy is low, but sometimes the opponent will not let you escape. Also, you are able to use other characters in your fight stage if they are traveling with you at that time. When you are in a Gear, the fight stages are pretty much the same, with a few other options.

The third and final form of gameplay was the world map. In this mode you have the option to travel in a global sense from city to city. During the game there are several Cinema movies that range in length from 20 seconds to about 2 minutes. What is funny is that sometimes the dialogue will play out and then the cinema version will do the same thing you just read.

One of the complaints about this game was the fact that I had a hard time finding shops that sold Gear weapons. Of course I could have the fastest and strongest Gear, but when I fought, my weapons were my big iron fists, Chi, and combos I had learned.

The game is very smooth in transition and becomes addictive and time-consuming. You get wrapped up in the storyline and you want to be in your Gear a lot more than the story lets you. Fei makes a great character to become, but has that Racer X appeal to him from the famed Speed Racer cartoon. One key function in this game is to read carefully and never leave any stone unturned.

Once you pick up on the fighting stages you will start to learn moves that increase your experience points. One thing to keep in mind is to try different button combinations for new moves. Sometimes you will stumble upon what is called a deathblow move (sounds scary, huh?). These, as mentioned earlier, are accumulated by different button combinations; however, you must have a what are referred to as action points (not so scary). Action points are accumulated by stopping midway through a combo routine. When you have enough stored, you will be able to open a can of whoop-ass that you have been saving. Squaresoft could have done a better job on their fight scenes by maybe doing some 3D panning around the scene, or zooming in closer for some real nice shots, or better yet just giving me a percentage of what they make annually.

In closing, the game is really not my type of game to rant and rave about. I know that it is along the lines of Final Fantasy fame, but cannot comment on the comparison. This game is geared (ha ha) more for the RPG player, and I can say that it could have possibly converted me into one with a little more action.


In this department I have to say that it was what I expected for an RPG. I mean you have your basic layouts with a little cinema action, with a hero and a storyline. I am a fan of Japanimation, and for that I must say I liked the graphics. As far as the gaming graphics go, they could have been a little more realistic, and as aforementioned done more with the fight scenes. All in all the graphics had a fluid-like texture, and the game only experienced slowdowns when the actual characters were engaged in combos.

Bottom Line

Another company has dealt another game into the Christmas pool, hoping to be a prospect on a Christmas wish-list. But before considering Xenogears, see if you are one of those who love role playing games before you buy. If you are, I'm sure you will enjoy the game as much as I did reviewing it.

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