A lot of games drown in their pre-release hype. Even for those games that don't have a harrowing tale of will-they-won't-they in regards to their release, hype can sometimes create impossible expectations. Last month's stateside release of Xenoblade Chronicles brought with it a heaping helping of hype: not only did the JRPG come out nearly two years ago in Japan to excellent reviews, there was also the massive Operation Rainfall campaign, the seeming snub to US fans when the game was localized in Europe, and Nintendo's coy pre-announcement denial that anything was in the works regarding a US release. But the game has arrived, and as both Robert Steinman's
and Greig McCallum's
reviews confirm: it has lived up to the very lofty expectations placed upon it.
Coming at a time when people all over the industy are declaring the JRPG dead or dormant, Xenoblade takes the absolute best that classics in the genre have to offer and pairs them with modern gameplay mechanics and a presentation that pushes the Wii to its absolute limit (don't forget the fantastic soundtrack
With its emphasis on speedy, strategic combat, a huge number of side quests, a massive world, and tons of time-saving tweaks, Xenoblade truly is the JRPG many have been waiting for. Many claim that originality and innovation have been lost in the JRPG, but Xenoblade Chronicles proves that that simply isn't the case. A cohesive plot and a fun cast of characters are a credit to the experience, particularly in regards to how well the game integrates the plot development of the cast with their combat efficiency.
It is for all these reasons that we have decided to bestow upon Xenoblade Chronicles, released after a long and arduous localization process, the honor of being our April Game of the Month. (Now go buy it to show Nintendo that bringing it over wasn't a mistake!)