Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

The Xeno series as a whole has always been renowned for tackling challenging themes in ambitious ways… and occasionally not quite being able to match the ambition with the execution.

The Xenoblade Chronicles subseries has been somewhat experimental with its storytelling over its three installments to date. The original Xenoblade Chronicles featured a strong, linear narrative with a number of independent side threads that unfolded as you reached the various locales that were important to the story; Xenoblade Chronicles X de-emphasised its main scenario in favour of strong worldbuilding and a sense that you were just one part of something much bigger; and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, unsurprisingly, takes an approach somewhere between the two.

Does it work? Absolutely, and the sheer scale of the whole thing means that there’s a whole lot to talk about.

Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Waifu Wednesday: Mòrag and Brighid

Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s main cast runs the gamut from spunky, optimistic youths to a few rather more reserved characters.

Mòrag and her Blade Brighid (Meleph and Kagutsuchi in the Japanese original) fall into this latter category, both offering their own distinctive take on being the “detached voice of reason” in most situations.

Both of them are interesting characters in their own right, so let’s take a closer look at both today.

Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Mòrag and Brighid

Puzzler Essentials: Soldam

Want my money? Release a game in a niche genre like puzzler or shoot ’em up at retail rather than digital-only. Increase your chances further by making my first ever waifu one of its mascots.

That was seriously all it took to get me interested in Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase, a puzzle game from City Connection and Dispatch Games for Nintendo Switch. So it’s kind of fortunate that the game actually turned out to be highly enjoyable, too.

If your life has been sadly lacking in fruit-popping fairies lately, then this is one you’ll want to add to your library.

Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Soldam

An Open Letter to the Video Standards Council

With Omega Labyrinth Z being the first game to be refused classification in the UK for a decade — the last was Rockstar’s ultra-violent Manhunt 2 — there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the title.

With that in mind, I felt it important to express my own feelings on the matter directly to the Video Standards Council (VSC), the body responsible for refusing to allow the game to be sold in the United Kingdom, despite it already having successfully attained a PEGI 18 rating elsewhere in Europe.

If you feel similarly, I encourage you to reach out to the VSC yourself using the contact details on their website. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will anyway: if you choose to do so, please keep your messages polite and respectful, whatever you may think of the decision. And whether or not anything changes as a result of feedback from consumers like this, we can at least say we tried to get our voices heard.

The letter I sent directly to the VSC follows after the jump.

Continue reading An Open Letter to the Video Standards Council

Rod-Land: “So Cute… It’ll Make You Puke!”

I have spent more time than is probably strictly necessary pondering who my first “video game waifu” was.

My initial reaction was that it was Sophia Hapgood from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and to be fair that would be an eminently solid choice for a first digital love. But I had a feeling there was someone special before that… but who?

Picking up a copy of puzzle game Soldam for Nintendo Switch, which I’ll be taking a more in-depth look at soon, reminded me that ah yes, it was Rit from Jaleco’s Rod-Land.

Continue reading Rod-Land: “So Cute… It’ll Make You Puke!”

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Titanic World

While the Xeno series has, from its outset, always been about imaginative takes on worldbuilding, the Xenoblade subseries in particular has placed a strong emphasis on this.

Indeed, as we’ve already explored, the very reason the first Xenoblade Chronicles exists at all is because series creator Tetsuya Takahashi thought it would be cool to have a game set atop the bodies of two gigantic, frozen gods. The concept was subsequently fleshed out into the divide between the Bionis and the Mechonis, and the rest is history.

Xenoblade Chronicles X subsequently provided a somewhat different take on worldbuilding, providing us with a huge, seamless and geographically diverse planet to explore at our own pace. But Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is closer in concept to the first in the series, albeit with a few twists of its own.

Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Titanic World

Waifu Wednesday: Poppi

One of Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s best characters is Poppi (aka Hana in the Japanese voice track), the artificial Blade created by the Nopon Tora as an attempt to finish the work his dadapon and grampypon started.

Always endearing, surprisingly empathetic and understanding to her friends and companions, highly capable in a variety of situations and owner of probably the sharpest tongue in the whole cast — though she has some stiff competition from Nia — Poppi is an absolute delight to spend time with, and a highlight among an already very strong ensemble of characters.

She’s also a character who undergoes some of the most obvious and recognisable growth — in more ways than one — over the course of the narrative. So let’s take a closer look!

Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Poppi

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