Xenogears is still a curious oddity after over a decade. While it isn't as breathtaking as future titles in the Xeno series, it earns its stripes with daring experiments in mature storytelling.
The game's plot draws many similarities with convoluted giant robot shows in Japan. The ridiculous use of religious names and symbolism is almost identical to the mumbo jumbo in shows such as Neon Genesis Evangelion. The use of Freudian terminology is especially similar to this infamous Japanese anime.
The script provides many other surprises, thanks in part to the use of behemoth robots. The main character, Fei, nearly obliterates his entire home with his mysterious powers. He cultivates an unusual romantic bond with a girl who fights for the enemy…the same enemy which uses psychological drugs to enhance their combat abilities. And it only gets stranger from there.
The meeting between Fei and a friend of his father is truly bizarre. Fei is the stereotypical amnesiac who knows nothing about his past. Yet he keeps running into a mysterious cloaked man throughout his journey. The excessive, complicated drama of the entire epic tends to build up more questions than answers.
I've had a few problems with my memory card, so I haven't been able to finish Xenogears yet. But I always plug away at the storyline in my spare time. The power of this narrative is still light years ahead of other Japanese games like Lunar Silver Star. Even Ys Seven cannot quite match the odd nature of this unconventional piece of software.
I'm not sure when I'll ever finish Xenogears, but I always keep returning to it. Fans of big, bipedal hunks of metal will especially have to play this adventure. It draws inspiration from some of the most revered elements of robot soap operas and ranks among the best PSX Japanese role-playing games.
What other giant-robot games deserve an honorable mention? Why haven't robot games gained a bigger fanbase among American gamers today? Feel free to write about them in the comments below.