An epic journey in the palm of your hand.
Monolith Software is without a doubt one of the most talented Japanese development studios right now. Last generation was a rough one for JRPG fans, as the genre has clearly lost its way over the past few years. Fortunately, however, there were still a few gems that graced the console market within the last decade, and Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii is one of the very best of the bunch.
What is tragic, though, is that this Nintendo-exclusive role-playing game saw such a limited release in the West that it has become incredibly difficult to find as a result. To amend this conundrum, Nintendo decided to enlist the help of developer Monster Games to take Monolith's expansive role-playing game and bring it to New 3DS, complete with 3D support and the same ambitious scope of the console-based original.
While those who already played Xenoblade Chronicles when it first launched back on Wii won't find a whole lot new in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, the ability to take such a massive adventure on the go cannot be understated. This game is absolutely huge, boasting the same open world that pushed the Wii to its very limits. The fact that Monster Games was able to take the entire console experience and cram it onto Nintendo's handheld is nothing short of miraculous. It's important to note, however, that you'll need a New 3DS to run this game, as the standard model isn't supported.
When I fired up the game at Nintendo's booth at PAX East, the first thing that jumped out at me was how remarkably gorgeous the game looks, despite the limitations presented by the hardware. Thanks to the improved 3D of Nintendo's refined handheld, I found myself playing with the slider cranked all the way up for the maximum effect, and while there were some noticeable jagged edges populating the screen, it didn't take long for the vast scope of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D's world to completely overshadow the game's graphical imperfections.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention how handy the C-stick is in controlling the camera. Navigating the 3D world is elegant and well-managed, thanks to the inclusion of that plastic little nub just above the four face buttons. Likewise, I found controlling the game in general to be intuitive and enjoyable. I wasn't a huge fan of the Nunchuk and Wii Remote control scheme of the original, so the more traditional setup akin to the Classic Controller perfectly suited my needs. Believe me, you won't miss the console version once you've spent some quality time with this stellar port.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D launches exclusively for New Nintendo 3DS on April 10. If you're looking forward to Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U, this handheld port will serve as an excellent primer for Monolith Software's highly anticipated spiritual successor, especially if you missed out on the Wii release.