I. New Year’s Resolution
I desperately wanted to love Xenoblade. It looked like everything I could ever want from a game.
Huge world to explore? Check.
Fancy lazer sword as big as a 70’s hatchback? Check.
Giant mechs? Check.
Anime girls in thigh-highs? Check.
How could it possibly go wrong? I vividly remember the day when I picked up my copy from GameStop. After swinging by the store, I drove down to a friends’ place to do some house-sitting. Thankfully, they had a Wii. I sat and watched the opening menu screen at least four or five times.
It didn’t feel real. It was finally here, after so much kvetching for so many months, after so much work by so many fans (don’t let anyone ever tell you Operation Rainfall didn’t have an effect – circa 2010 Nintendo was perfectly happy in making abhorrently stupid localization decisions). I’m not sure I had ever been so hyped to open a gaming case in my life. This was one that we had to work for, and the work made the reward that much sweeter.
But then I played the game. I wondered if I had been a part of a giant mistake.
This was it? I was supposed to write the review for TNE, but I had to back out of doing so. Everyone was telling me how much they loved it, how this was perhaps the greatest JRPG since the SNES era, and I was wondering if I somehow got a different disc slipped into my case at the factory. A great review was written up by Menashe. I still believed in the game, and I chalked up my overall disappointment to me just not feeling like an RPG at the time. So I waited a few months and tried again. Nothing changed. I waited a year and tried again. Nothing changed. Mind you, it wasn’t a matter of lacking appreciation of the craft. I could see the overall quality of the game and of Monolithsoft’s world design; I just never felt hooked into this virtual terrain. It was always a remote, cold experience each time I booted up the game (and I did so quite a few times, enough to tally dozens of hours). Years past; I picked up the sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and found it more interesting, but not by much. Was I going crazy? Maybe I just wasn’t into this type of game anymore?
Then a funny thing happened. Square Enix got their asses in gear and finally released Final Fantasy XV, and I felt an inexplicable itch. I needed a big RPG in my life, but didn’t have a PS4 or XBone. Lo and behold, there it was, sitting on my shelf. Mocking me. So as a new year’s resolution, I decided that I would finish it – before its 5th anniversary. Not put in 10 or 20 hours again, get bored, try to make myself love it, and eventually drift away. Finish it. Even if I had to hate-sex my way through it and leave money on the dresser, I was going to finish Xenoblade.
(Continue to Part II)