The recent Project X Zone 2 stage show at this week’s Tokyo Game Show has confirmed that some more big names will be appearing in the brawler. You will be able to play as Fiora from Xenoblade Chronicles and also Lucina & Chrom from Fire Emblem: Awakening. Fiora is paired with KOS-MOS from the Xenosaga series and Lucina and Chrom are a pair unit. This will no doubt be seen as a welcome move by both Bandai Namco and Nintendo.
Hidden in the recent Nintendo Europe press release was a notification that the original Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii is now available on the Wii U Virtual Console in Europe. So if you don’t want to fork out for the New Nintendo 3DS version of the game then you can play the original in all its glory on Wii U.
Can’t make it to gamescom? Those at home can tune into a special Xenoblade Chronicles X Twitch.tv/twitch live stream broadcast on Saturday 8th August between 16.00 – 17.00 CEST to get a sneak peak at the game. In addition the original Wii classic Xenoblade Chronicles is to be made available on Nintendo eShop on Wii U right now! Those who purchase this game will be eligible for a £9.00 GBP discount on Xenoblade Chronicles X if they buy it on Nintendo eShop on the same Wii U console* within two weeks of the game’s launch in December.
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Today we have found out that Monolith Soft were one of the teams to help Nintendo out with Splatoon. Now the company says they would work alongside Nintendo to help out on The Legend of Zelda title for Wii U, if they were needed. Tetsuya Takahashi, the director of Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenogears and Xenosaga, says that his team is always on hand for support if required.
So with the team’s experience now in the open-world genre, I’m curious if you can offer any tips to the Zelda Wii U team? Is there some knowledge that can be transferred there? I know Monolith helped work on Skyward Sword.
Yokota: So as it turns out, in the development of this game we had a lot of opportunities to prepare reports and feedback on the technology and the different kinds of problems that we encountered. When we’re able to share those documents internally, they’re going to go to all the other teams so they’ll be able to draw from them and I hope that those guys working on that game will be able to benefit as well.
Is there any chance that you’ll be supporting that team once again after this project is fully done?
Takahashi: I mean I suppose it’s possible, but we haven’t heard anything. I would want to say that Monolith Soft is always available and we would love to help anytime people ask us.
It must be refreshing for the team to work on something from Nintendo to cleanse the Xenoblade out of your system every once a while.
Takahashi: Sure, absolutely. It would be nice.
GameSpot has published a riveting interview with members of Monolith Soft and Nintendo. The interview talks about a number of things including the relationship between the two companies and also the current state of Japanese Role Playing Games. Tetsuya Takahashi, who is the Executive Director at Monolith Soft, also says that’s he is slightly worried about the future of the industry with the rise of smartphones and tablets. Read on to find out more.
GameSpot: How would you describe the relationship between Nintendo and Monolith Soft?
Yamagami: At Nintendo, we’re always thinking of how we can reach a variety of different users. One thing that can help us reach a certain kind of user–that core gamer–is by partnering with other companies. We were looking for someone to help us design games with that specific audience in mind. All we need to do is look for a good partner out there who is willing to work with us, and after looking, we started discussing with Monolith Soft [and] it all came together.
What about Monolith Soft makes them a good partner for Nintendo?
Yamagami: I think, what they bring that most impressed us, was the amazing quality of JRPGs that they’re able to produce.
When you’re developing a game like this, which you refer to as a JRPG, do you design it with a global audience in mind? Is a good game universal?
Yamagami: Yes, I absolutely agree that good games are universal, and whenever we’re designing these games, it’s not our idea to add the “J.” Sometimes we talk about it that way, but in our minds, we’re just making RPGs.
Yakota: Certainly, we have the Japanese audience in mind. We want to ensure that this will be a comfortable experience for them, but we don’t mean to exclude anyone, we want to create something that can be picked up and played by everyone.
Yamagami: We’re looking to take all of the best qualities, even from what might be Japanese design impulses, but make sure they can be enjoyed everywhere.
How do you feel about the current state of the Japanese gaming market? Does it seem like we’re entering a new golden era of Japanese games?
Takahashi: This is just my opinion, but sometimes I wonder about the health of the industry. When I walk around E3, I see some wonderful games that Nintendo and other manufacturers are putting out, and these are games that I truly love, but I also worry about the shift towards mobile, and wonder [what] the shift towards developing for smartphones might mean for the future of the industry. Certainly, if you talk about the scale of the market including them, then yes it’s doing well; there’s a lot of money and activity there.
Yamagami: I certainly want to stress that Nintendo is doing well. I think our state is rather healthy, our games are selling well in Japan and the rest of the world, so we certainly don’t see it as a problem. We do notice the trends of various developers embracing mobile, and we see a big push there, and people have different feelings about that when they think about it, but for us, smart devices can allow people to play games as well, so that, in our mind, is part of the market.
Nintendo has released a brand new New 3DS commercial! As you can see, the company is still pushing Pokemon OmegaRuby / Alpha Sapphire, Majora’s Mask, and Smash Bros as flagship titles for the handheld. Also worth noting is that they left out Xenoblade 3D, as it’s the only New 3DS exclusive retail game. And is it me, or does anyone else think that the absence of the regular-sized 3DS signifies anything?
US gaming publication GameSpot has published an interesting interview with Monolith Soft, Monster Games, and representatives from Nintendo SPD. There’s a wealth of new information contained within the question and answer sessions including why the developers decided to bring Xenoblade Chronicles to the New Nintendo 3DS rather than the Wii U. Here’s some key nuggets of information.
What is it that you think made Xenoblade Chronicles such a critical and commercial success here in the US?
Takahashi: I think it all comes down to “empathy.” As I wrote above, it may not be impossible for Japanese people to understand what people in the West feel and like, but it does take a fair amount of time. Empathy, however, is something we can all recognize. Those of us in Japan can be moved by, and can empathize with, things like Hollywood films, dramas and novels written by Western authors. I personally love the TV dramas I watched as a kid, like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Starsky & Hutch; I looked forward to seeing them broadcast every week.
The things that we’re moved by, the points that we can empathize with, are the same. So we decided it’d be fine if we just made something we could honestly be moved by and find fun; there was no need to fiddle around too much thinking about what we would need to achieve success outside Japan. That was a philosophy we took pains not to stray from as we proceeded with development.
What drove the decision to bring Xenoblade Chronicles to 3DS instead of a remaster on Wii U (like The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD)?
Nintendo SPD: Xenoblade Chronicles features a ton of depth and volume, something that earned it a lot of high praise from the people who played the Wii release. I think a lot of people began to take an interest in this game after hearing all of that praise, too. However, it’s not unheard of for this game to take around 100 hours just to complete it normally, so even if people take an interest, I think some of them would give up the idea of playing it, thinking to themselves: “No way do I have the free time to sit in front of a TV and play this game for 100 hours.”
Even if we remastered it for Wii U, my concern was that people like that would still avoid playing it. Remaking it for a portable system, however, will let them play it whenever they like, at home or outside, and we thought that would lead to more people trying it out. We considered making it for the original Nintendo 3DS at first, but if we wanted to achieve nearly the same quality as you saw on the original Wii version, the New Nintendo 3DS XL became all but required.
Would it have been possible to run this on the regular 3DS? If no, what did the New 3DS open up?
Monster Games: We initially tried to get the game to run on the regular Nintendo 3DS system. After months of work, we realized that the game was too big and would perform too slowly. At this point we learned about New Nintendo 3DS XL hardware and were excited to learn about the faster CPU and extra RAM. This immediately made the project seem possible, so we continued working on the conversion.
Even with the system’s extra capabilities, it was still a challenging project and we spent many months working on optimizations. Given how hard it was to convert the game for New Nintendo 3DS XL hardware, we can easily imagine that the port to the regular Nintendo 3DS hardware would have ended up far from the quality game play that the original Wii version had even if we had given it our all.
Were there any particular technological or UI hurdles to bringing the game to 3DS?
Monster Games: The biggest technical hurdle when porting between Wii and New Nintendo 3DS XL is that the two systems have very different capabilities. All these differences kept the project from being a simple port. Every part of the game had to be reworked to account for the capabilities of New Nintendo 3DS XL hardware. For example, New Nintendo 3DS XL has a different GPU architecture, so none of the art assets could be directly used. The team had to rebuild all the graphical assets while making sure it still looked as good as the original game. Each world was carefully optimized by the art staff and we needed to invent new techniques to render the large scenes where the player can see far into the distance. It wasn’t until late in the project that we finally were able to make sure the frame rate was good everywhere.
Regarding the UI design, our big challenge was to maintain the look and feel of the original game, while taking advantage of the dual screens. There are hundreds of screens in the game and the design had to work for many languages. The design team spent over a month mocking up various UI designs until we got one that seemed to work well. Once we converted the screens to run on New Nintendo 3DS XL, we brushed up the artwork to fit the small screens and fine-tuned the placement of the elements. Given the number of screens and languages, this process took a long time and we were working on improving and fine-tuning details all the way to the end of the project.
Without revealing any spoilers, what can fans of Xenoblade Chronicles look forward to when the franchise comes to Wii U? Will it feel familiar for returning fans, or will it be a departure from what was put together in Chronicles?
Takahashi: I think Xenoblade Chronicles X will have a different play feel from the first Xenoblade Chronicles game. Xenoblade Chronicles is a pretty linear game, but Xenoblade Chronicles X is non-linear, and I think a lot of the gameplay will depend on that.
Xenoblade Chronicles’ core thrust is centered around its story, but Xenoblade Chronicles X is shaping up to be a game with more focus placed on action elements that take advantage of the open world instead of the story aspects. However, both games will retain a common feel based on the core elements that serve as the foundation for the series. It may feel different to play, but it’ll provide a new way of having fun within the same Xenoblade series.
Nintendo has released a brand-new trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. Titled “Heir to the Monado,” the three-minute video looks at how Shulk discovers the legendary Monado blade gives him visions that can be used to his advantage in battle. The game, which is a remake of the acclaimed Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii, launches exclusively for New Nintendo 3DS on April 10th. It introduces a new mode that lets players view 3D models of characters and listen to music tracks from the game.