So I am “playing” two games. Really at the moment it is probably closer to one, but I still sign on to the other each day to quickly do something for when I do dive back in. They share some similarities, with one of them being a very odd quirk. First, both are Japanese RPG’s. Both are generally well received, and took a very long time to reach American shores. They are also both ports, not the original versions of the game. Those games, are probably pretty obvious by now. For the most part, I am enjoying both Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. Xenoblade seems to be the game I am throwing the most time into right now. I just keep on signing onto Type-0 in order to refresh the “Secret Training” function where one character gains XP for up to 24 hours while not playing the game. Each day, another character gains about 3-4 levels, which will no doubt trivialize the hell out of the game pretty soon. Xenoblade I am more easily able to find time for, and it doesn’t hurt the game was pretty immediately engrossing. Oh! Before I go more into the games themselves, there is one more thing these titles have in common, which is the reason for the title.
Not only are Xenoblade and Type-0 ports, but they’re games that left their first systems to go to totally different systems of another type. Type-0 started as a portable game, on the PSP. Never came here that way, but was eventually ported to the PS4 home console. Xenoblade took the opposite journey. Starting on the Wii, it eventually came to America by way of Gamestop, becoming incredibly rare and expensive on the secondhand market. However, with the New 3DS coming out, one of the promises of this new hardware was more graphically-intensive games. That promise was filled by Xenoblade making the jump from a home console to a handheld. So yeah, one went from handheld to home system, the other went from home system to handheld. It’s odd, and one of them is a good fit.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is by no means a bad game. It is just a game that was built with the pacing of handheld systems in mind. The story is broad, and very surface level, and the many characters don’t have much nuance to their personalities. Also the voice acting is god-awful. So this all says to me, especially when mixed with the distinct mission structure, that this game was meant for the more small-time playstyle you find in a handheld setting. When translated to the larger PS4, it feels very disjointed. Also doesn’t help that the game doesn’t look great at all. Backgrounds are bland, one-note and a lot of the NPC’s look like they came out of a beta build of Final Fantasy X. I know that the game was made to look better, but it is clear that this game was meant to be looked at on a smaller screen. I get that Square-Enix needed something to piggyback the FFXV demo onto, but a Vita version of this game would be very much appreciated. At the very least, give us the PSP version with the English script. I would take that gladly over this. I know I would play it more.
Xenoblade Chronicles had to get the opposite treatment. It had to be squished down into the much smaller, but probably comparably powered system. In this effort, a much better job was done from what I can tell. For such a busy battle system, I never feel like the small screen causes me to be lost. It’s fast-paced, controls well, and the voices are all delightfully British. I feel like I am playing Final Fantasy by way of the Dr. Who writing staff, and it’s pretty great. Granted, it doesn’t look perfect, the game is super-compressed, but I find in the shakeout it looks like something between Final Fantasy IX and X. However, unlike what I said about Type-0 earlier, it is not a knock here. The PS4 is an obscenely powerful system, and to have the game look like that in the end is pretty bad. However, to get similar results on the New 3DS is a triumph, and one that is very much worth playing.
I will finish both games, I know this. They’re both great, but in very different ways. While Type-0 is fun despite its myriad flaws, Xenoblade conquered and overcame the limitations of both the Wii and the New 3DS and is ending up to be something very special. Both carry their own share of JRPG crap, but that is something for a longer review. In the immortal words of Alton Brown. Until next time, good eating.