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So I sat in a chair … a lot.
I couldn't wait to play through the second disc of Xenogears. The main characters already survived a series of tragic losses. I just had to see how the story ended.
Then the entire narrative slowly started falling apart.
I really tried to stay engaged in this sci-fi drama. I didn't mind the first scenes in the second disc where Fei and Elly sat in chairs, talking about some event in the past. After all, I'd seen a similar type of narration in anime shows such as Neon Genesis Evangelion.
At first, this really seemed like a dream sequence. The two lead characters, Fei and Elly, soon woke up in a life support tub of water. I just assumed that their musical chairs routine was a momentary head trip.
Shortly after the next scene, the main characters started summarizing long portions of the storyline while sitting in chairs. I knew something went wrong with the game's development. Many of the following scenes were unfinished. I couldn't even move around the world map. I was stuck on this single path, and I had no choice but to stick with this storyline.
To make matters worse, the entire story just seemed to bounce from one awkward situation to another. At one point, a governmental administration building turned into a hulking giant robot to fight an enemy mothership. Then, the characters were trying to stop a mutant plague from spreading amongst the humans.
By the time my characters finally had a chance to move around, I gave up trying to follow the Xenogears storyline. I finally ended up saving my game underground, in some sort of ancient dig site. Here, I helped my characters earn some special Anima relic for their robots. However, I really didn't understand how this artifact was even important to the main storyline.
This entire sub-plot was hardly even related to the pressing problems of my main character, Fei Wong. Technically, Fei is supposed to be a reincarnated version of a superhuman named Lacan. The game held off on explaining his storyline until near the very end. At this point, Fei moves through one flashback after another, talking to his alter ego. The game forced me to figure out why Fei was also talking to some invisible deity called the Wave of Existence.
Xenogears spent too much time on all the minor elements of a JRPG narrative, without giving me a reason to even care about the characters. By the time the game permitted me to explore the world, I had grown sick of it.
I really wanted to enjoy this game. It had some great side characters. Emeralda was one of the most unique female characters in the group. She was actually born in a test chamber 4,000 years ago to Lacan's descendant, a genetic scientist named Kim. In a flashback, Emeralda's storyline was set in a luxurious modern-day city next to a Christmas tree. I couldn't understand why the game wouldn't let me play through this sequence, because it looked incredibly fascinating.
Sadly, the game never gave me a chance to control the characters in this storyline. It instead forced me to survive through other confusing dungeon layouts with tons of random battles. I'm glad that Xenogears ended on a positive note, but it still disappointed me with plenty of awful storytelling.
If the remaining developers of Xenogears are listening, I want them to revisit this storyline. Their newest title, Xenoblade, is a great game. I still haven't forgiven them for skimping out on Xenogears, though. They need to make me care about those characters again. They now have the resources to make such a big RPG, so they should complete all six parts of the original Xeno series.
I just want them to finish Xenogears. Is that too much to ask?
Should anyone dare to recreate Xenogears? Is the continuous storyline still too difficult to recreate on today's consoles? Write your thoughts in the comments below.