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General Description

Xenoblade Chronicles is a Japanese RPG developed by Monolith Soft and released for the Nintendo Wii in March 2012. The game’s protagonist is a boy named Shulk who has grown up with his friends on a town located on the foot of the Bionis, one of two immense giants that make up the game’s world. Shulk’s village is attacked by ancient robotic monsters called Mechon, and after one of his friends is killed he resolves to travel along the Bionis and get his revenge. Naturally things only get more complicated from there.


Many of the game’s environments are overwhelmingly huge; it can take several minutes to walk from one end of the game’s first overworld area to the other. Combat takes place in real time against enemies that wander these areas; players control one character while directly, while other party members fight independently. A complex web of skills, levels, special attacks, equipment and more are worked into combat, and players have plenty of things to play around with in each one of these areas.


The depth of these options makes player creativity the game’s biggest strength; the amounts of tinkering to be done with statistics and equipment is enough to satisfy any player looking to do so, and it ensures that each player’s party is uniquely her own.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
C C+
Ratings at a Glance
Creativity: 7 Publisher: Nintendo
Business: 3 Developer: Monolith Soft
People: 1 Year: 2012
Problem: 5 Genre: Action/Role Playing Game
Simulation: 0 Strengths: creativity, popularity
Popularity: 9 Platforms: Wii
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts


The game doesn’t focus on classroom facts, though there are plenty of menus, texts and numbers for players to sort through and consider. Maps are also an integral part of exploring the game’s many gigantic worlds, largely because they’re so gigantic. A corner-of-the-screen radar helps players keep tabs on their immediate surroundings, and a separate more detailed map allows players to scout out landmarks and fast-travel between them.


Creativity & Imagination


By the Player:


Players can customize their characters in great detail. For the most part this involves exploring menus. Defeating enemies grants players a collection of different experience and skill points; some of these level characters up, while others are allocated manually to level up the individual skills of a character. Characters also have access to additional focus tracks; players select one, and as characters gain experience points they also learn skills unique to that track. This stuff continues to open up more and more as the game progresses.


Players also customize the equipment of each character, the details of which would take up at least as much space as the above paragraph. One notable detail is that changing a character’s equipment is reflected in the character’s appearance while playing.


Outside of character tweaking, players also have plenty of room to explore. In fact, that really can’t be emphasized enough - the game has dozens of gigantic areas, filled with hidden items, enemies that need to be hunted down for sidequests, and powerful bosses. Curious players can come across enemies strong enough to be basically unbeatable just as easily as they can stumble across a new item to plug into the Collectopaedia, a book that rewards players for filling in its various sections.


By the Developer:

The game’s graphics are easily its most striking quality. Walking out into the first overworld area is stunning; it stretches out a huge distance, and players can explore almost every inch of it as soon as they first enter the area. Subsequent areas offer just as much as freedom while exploring different aesthetic themes.


Combat also has some unique twists. The easiest comparison to make is to MMO-style combat - players control one character, attacking on an automatic timer and choosing when to unleash special abilities from a bar on the bottom of the screen. A network of special abilities, combo attacks between characters, enemies with very specific weaknesses and other twists make the whole thing feel fairly original.


The game also has great music and voice acting, and its story crosses memorable characters with a brisk plot that incorporates small personal stories within its apocalypse-stopping globe-trotting.


Business Skills


Players collect money from defeating enemies and completing quests, which can be used in towns to purchase a wide range of items. Pieces of equipment - five or six different types of armor per character, plus weapons - can be found in dozens of varieties, and it’s often up to players to decide which stats they want to emphasize within their budgets. Other healing items and - most importantly - crafting materials are also available. While the game is fairly generous when it comes to handing out gold, there is a wide enough range of goods that there’s always room for more.


People Skills


One of the game’s central mechanics involves the relationships between characters. There are various points throughout the world that players can visit to trigger events that bring their characters closer together. These help flesh out the game’s story, and as certain characters become closer more events open up. This also has an effect in battle, as friendlier party members are more likely to launch synchronized attacks or support each other.


Players, however, do not have any control over the actual progression of these events, as they are relegated to traditional cutscenes.


Problem Solving


Combat in Xenoblade Chronicles requires players to juggle plenty of information. Only one character is controlled directly, while the rest of the party attacks automatically. Players still have control over how each characters’ skills develop, however, and in battle there are often opportunities to give commands.


Combat relies on the player’s reflexes to some small degree, as positioning and timing in battle can be crucial. Fighting often revolves around waiting for an enemy to be hit by a staggering attack and then hitting them with a breaking attack to lower their guard, and attacking from the back or sides can lead to certain advantages.


Eventually Shulk finds out he has the power to see into the immediate future; this allows the player to see when powerful attacks are coming and gives them a small window to defend against or prevent the upcoming attack. The game slowly adds tricks like these, and eventually the battle system has become something fairly complex and malleable, despite the auto-attacks and single controllable character.


Players naturally have problems to solve outside of battle, though they usually come down to exploring to find items and complete quests - which are usually straightforward kill-this-monster affairs - or tinkering through menus to tweak various aspects of the battle system.




Xenoblade Chronicles is not a simulation game.




Xenoblade Chronicles has had a great reception, with reviews that praise the game’s enormous landscapes, huge amount of content, beautiful game world, characters and story. The game’s combat and related mechanics were also viewed almost universally as successes.


Controls & Options


Xenoblade Chronicles offers audio and visual options, as well as options that allow players to tweak the amount of on-screen information provided by the game’s heads-up displays.




Xenoblade Chronicles was rated Teen by the ESRB with descriptors for Blood, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, and Violence.