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Of Monoliths and Mecha: Why I’m Excited for X and Why You Should be Too
As E3 2014 grows ever closer, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks wondering what Nintendo plans to showcase during that much anticipated second week of June. We know that Smash Bros is on the way and that the Big N plans to have playable demos of the game available at Best Buy soon. It’s safe to assume that the recently announced Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire will get some screen time too. While I’m really excited for the aforementioned titles, there’s one game that I’m more interested in.
Monolith Soft’s X.
I’m a huge fan of Super Smash Bros. and I’ve been a Pokémon addict since I first got my copy of Red Version all those years ago, but X has managed to excite me in ways that neither of the aforementioned have. I’ve been pleased to see so many good JRPGs have come out in recent years. Bravely Default, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Ni No Kuni, have all shown that the subgenre is capable of great and even innovative things and X looks to continue that trend.
So why is it that I rarely hear anyone else talk about the game?
We’ve been spoon-fed tiny morsels of info since the initial reveal and with each new screenshot or technical demonstration, I yearn for this game’s release that much more. But whenever people talk about WiiU titles they’re looking forward to, I almost never hear this one brought up. Before I delve more into this game, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Here’s the trailer we got during last year’s E3:
I must have watched that trailer back to back at least 20 times after I first saw it. I gushed like a true fanboy the moment I saw those mechs. Like a bolt of nostalgia, I harkened back to fond memories of Xenogears. Seeing them in motion was even more of a treat. The moment that white mech leapt into the air and took flight, so did my hopes for this game. After nearly 16 years, a game had managed to recapture a major aspect of one of my all-time favorite JPRGs so perfectly.
During a tech demo of the game showcased back in February, we got our first taste of the combat system. Similar to its predecessor Xenoblade, the game looks to feature a cool-down based real time action combat system where players will be able to move about freely, auto attack foes, and select various special commands for attack, defense, and support skills from a menu on the lower portion of the HUD. The tech demo also showed that players will be able to fight both on foot as the human protagonists as well as having the option to hop into a mech, which were referred to as Dolls, to gun down smaller foes or to go toe to toe with one of the many behemoth creatures that seem to inhabit the world.
On the note of size, the developers have reinforced the idea that the game’s world will be massive. In an interview on Monolith Soft’s Japanese site, Michihiko Inaba expressed the team’s desire “to make an HD game that will wow the players. I want to show that Japan can still keep up with the USA when it comes next gen technology. Our goal is to become something like the developers of the Fallout series, Bethesda Softworks.” The team already showcased how vast of a world they could create using the Wii’s hardware, so I can only imagine the heights they’ll be able to reach with the WiiU, and in HD no less. What we’ve been able to glean from screens and the trailer already showcase some truly gorgeous landscapes, monolithic (pun intended) creatures, and plenty of world to explore.
Another feature worth getting excited over is the potential for multiplayer. The developers have also mentioned how they want the game to bring people together and if the folks over at popular Youtube channel GameXplain are right in their analysis of a gameplay trailer, we could very well be looking at a game that features online co-operative play. The Gamexplain team noted that the trailer featured elements like party members fighting at a much farther distance, the use of “Player 1, 2, 3” in the HUD and the presence of a chat window. All of these elements lend credence that we could be looking at a game that not only has a large single player campaign in mind, but also a large scale online multiplayer component, possibly even something akin to a MMORPG.
I’m also fascinated by the creature designs we’ve seen thus far. While there are some similarities here and there of the various fauna found in Xenoblade, I’m also reminded of games like Monster Hunter, a series I’ve recently become fond of. The technical demo I mentioned earlier made it seem like combat wouldn’t be a very quick affair which kind of makes me wonder if battles won’t play out something like Monster Hunter, with players tackling smaller foes and then engaging in longer, heated duels with larger beasts. If that last portion of the trailer which featured a colossal robotic-looking creature about to attack some of our familiar mechs, we can expect some seriously titanic battles.
There’s plenty to be excited about with Monolith Soft’s X. We might not have all the details yet, but I very much like what we’ve seen thus far and I really hope that Nintendo showcases more of the game this year. The WiiU could really use a game like this which sports a huge world, possible multiplayer functionality, and if Monolith Soft’s track record is worth going off of, what I can only assume will be a great story. Sure I’ll be happy to see Super Smash Bros. in action and I’m looking forward to seeing what Gamefreak has in store for us with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, but more than anything, I just want to know when I can hop in that mech cockpit and take to the skies.