PAX East 2015: IMPRESSIONS: Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

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Xenoblade Chronicles 3D | oprainfall

It’s hard to believe almost three years have passed since the North American release of Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. After a long period of begging and waiting, the game was finally released to a similar critical acclaim that it got in Japan. With it’s rocky history, it’s somewhat surprising that a remake is being released with no fuss at all. It’s hard not to be curious how the 3DS version of the game plays.

There wasn’t a lot of meat to the demo I played. I started out in a small camp, with not much going on inside. From this point, I could use a fast-travel feature to relocate to one of a few different spots in the Guar Plains. From here, I spent my time wandering around, collecting items and engaging many of the monsters in the area in battle. My party consisted of Shulk, Reyn and Sharla. Together, we took on a variety of different beasts, some fairly easy and others really tough.

The first and most obvious thing to note is the controls. The 3DS controls almost seem perfectly suited to this game. The combat played much smoother than both the Wii’s motion controls, and the awkward Classic Controller. The battle options are laid out on the screen. After selecting one, it fades for a period of time until you can use that attack again.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D - Battle | oprainfall

Much has been said about the graphics of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, especially when compared to the Wii version. They may not be better than the original, but they are just as good. I’ll say that the video footage of the 3DS gameplay doesn’t do the graphics justice. Sure, you may lose some perspective in that by looking at such a small screen, you can’t really grasp the magnitude of the landscape like you would on a wide-screen HD TV, but I wouldn’t call anything about the graphics a negative.

Since Xenobalde Chronicles 3D is exclusive to the Nintendo’s New 3DS, this was my first time getting a chance to play anything on the re-invented handheld, and I have to say, I was impressed with it. Normally, I don’t bother with the 3D at all when I play; I find it distracting and it starts bothering my eyes after a while. But with this, I had no trouble whatsoever. I’m not sure if this is due to the face-tracking 3D, or due to the improved power of the system. The new system’s C-stick is perfectly placed, requiring no awkward stretching to change the camera angle as I ran around the fields. Overall, the system felt really comfortable to use. I’m still not sure the New 3DS XL will fit in my pocket, but I have no other concerns with it.

Probably the most amazing thing about this remake is that Nintendo managed to get the entire Wii game to fit on a 3DS cartridge. They even managed to add a few features for good measure. There is a Jukebox to listen to the game’s songs and a Gallery where you can take a closer look at the characters. The game will also have a StreetPass feature and will be compatible with the Shulk amiibo.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this remake is that it is on a handheld system. While the Wii version looked and played wonderfully, it’s a big game. Setting aside time to play it was an investment that, on most days, you just couldn’t make. Having the game on a portable, handheld system allows you to play it on your own time. If you only have a half-hour or so, you can take out your 3DS and play until you can’t anymore. It’s not necessary to wait until have long periods of free time. And it’s not much longer a wait until you can play this, as Xenoblade Chronicles 3D comes out April 10.


About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.