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You know, personally, I don’t think there’s anything better in the world of gaming than a glorious RPG. Whenever anyone asks me what my favourite genre is, I don’t even have to consider my answer, although it does often feel like a bit of a cop-out when you consider just how many games you can class as a “roleplaying game”. I mean, aren’t they all, in a way?
But no, when I say RPG, I mean the pure, proper, ultimate form - the JRPG. The ones that have been following that exact same formula since the 80s, with the likes of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest setting a precedent that proves that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At their core, there’s a few key components that basically every JRPG ever made will include in one way or another - but that’s not going to stop us from eating them up every single time, is it?
When it comes to JRPGs, there's not many that do it better than Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition - check out the trailer below.
Welcome to Fantasyland (there’s magic)
No doubt introduced to you on the title screen or opening cutscene, here’s the world you’re going to be sinking the next 70 hours of your spare time into. Check out those lush grassy biomes, the arid desert area, and coastland. If we wanna get extra fancy, there might be a futuristic metropolis in there somewhere, too. These lands will be full of too many sidequests, an obscene amount of collectables, and some adorable, quirky creatures that you’ll soon be beating to death. Sound fun? Of course it does!
Meet our teenage protagonist, they have a big sword
And here we have Swordsy McSwordsman, the hero of our tale. Even though a lot of the time they’re going to be about as bland as some unsauced spaghetti so that the player can self-project onto them, they’re probably going to be a guy, because that’s the way the cookie crumbles - everyone knows girls don’t play video games. They also have a fancy sword (or are soon to be in possession of one) and are clearly far too young to be using it. Who gave this child such a large weapon?! Bonus points if they have spiky hair.
Quick, take this plot device! It’s very important
What’s this? It’s a magical macguffin! It holds some mysterious power for sure - even if the game isn’t going to immediately admit that to you, it’s definitely handing it to you with a big, exaggerated wink. You know this thing is going to be key in taking down some otherworldly threat later down the line, and chances are, it’s of some sentimental value to our dear hero, too, because what better way to convey the power of love and friendship than with a precious object they were gifted as a youngster? Or maybe they just found it at some point, who knows. It probably also has a rather silly name, but that’s okay, because we won’t be hearing about it too much, right? …Right?
The world’s in danger?! Only this ragtag group of children can do anything about that
So how about that otherworldly threat, then? That’s right, it wouldn’t be a grand adventure without a looming threat of total human extinction (or otherwise disastrous world events), and even if we started off our quest with the fantasy equivalent of going to the shop for some milk, this is a thing now, and it’s our job to do something about it. Because there’s no team more fit for this task than a quirky group of teenagers with sharp objects, is there? Well, it’s less so the sharp objects, and more so that mysterious, magical object they have. Tired of hearing about that yet? Anyway, go team!
Aw sweet, a love interest! I hope nothing happens to them
Aww, aren’t these two characters just perfect for each other? Whenever we see them together on screen, you can’t help but feel those warm fuzzies. It’s almost slightly annoying how much they clearly like each other, but refuse to actually admit it. It’s obvious that they’ll get together by the end of this, though - it’s basically a given. Oh, wait. Oh no.
Hey, remember that plot device we gave you? It’s important you remember it, so we’re going to talk about it again
The game really wants to double check that you’ve not forgotten about that magical macguffin, okay? In case you hadn’t got the hint, there’s a pretty decent chance that it might just play a key role in the plot later on. So, it’s just gonna name-drop a few more times, because everyone knows all gamers have the attention span of a goldfish. Heck, throw it into every other sentence, just for good measure. If you’re not annoyed by it yet, I promise you will be within the next 30 hours. The payoff will still be great, though, so keep with it.
You know the guy who looked like a bad guy? Guess what?
How could this be? That one character, the one who was always acting really suspicious and constantly either scowling, doing a dodgy smirk, or some combination of the two, was actually evil? Gasp! …Yeah, we all saw that coming. Despite that though, it’s always still a really cool reveal moment - the build up, the knowing what’s about to happen, the execution. Perfecto.
Uh oh, looks like we have to fight god now
“Mum, can you come pick me up? I’m scared.” It already didn’t take too long for your merry little jaunt to devolve into some world-saving quest, but now we personally have to take down god? Seriously, someone tell me why this job has fallen to a group of children, again? But that’s okay, we’re about to deliver some incredibly raw lines and dispatch this guy once and for all, find out the true purpose of that object you’ve been repeatedly reminded of this entire journey, save the world, and all that good stuff. Will doing this make us the new god? Guess we’ll just have to find out.
God is no match for the power of friendship
We did it, everyone, god is no more. After a long, arduous fight, you can sit back and smile, ready to let the credits roll, and wrap up your doubtlessly lengthy adventure. That wasn’t too difficult now, was it? Hang on, why is he glowing? …Is that a f**king second phase? Of course it is.
With god eliminated for real this time, it’s time to take in everything that just happened, because you’ve been on a ride. At this point, you’re probably way too attached to all the characters, every ounce of mild irritation you had about the macguffin name-dropping has left your body, and despite all the time you’ve already poured into this thing, somehow, you’re suddenly filled with the motivation to put in so much more. That’s the JRPG magic, baby, and if you’re anything like me, that’s a huge part of why you never get around to finishing all those other games you keep saying you will. Hey, what’s one extra run of New Game+ between friends?
Featured Image Credit: Square Enix, Stephen Morris via YouTube
Topics: Square Enix
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