- This article is about the game. For the Gear that the game is named after, see Xenogears (Gear).
North American box art
|Developer||Square Product Development Division 3|
Square Electronic Arts
|Release date|| 1998-02-11|
Xenogears (ゼノギアス) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Squaresoft. It was released in Japan in February 1998, and later in October of the same year in North America for the Sony PlayStation.
Development can be traced back to the pre-production of Final Fantasy VII, of which several different scripts were being pitched by different teams within the company. One of these concepts was created by Tetsuya Takahashi and Kaori Tanaka, with Hiromichi Tanaka serving as producer. This early version was rejected as a Final Fantasy title for being "too dark and complicated for a fantasy." However, the executives did see potential and allowed the project to be greenlit as an original title. This was a good thing for Takahashi, as he had grown tired of the Final Fantasy franchise and wanted a change of pace.
This title, now under the codename "Project Noah," reached bumps in development almost immediately. Early plans had this title be a sequel to Chrono Trigger, but clashes between the team and the executives as well as unspecified practical difficulties caused the sequel angle to be abandoned and it shifted to a wholly original property. This caused another issue later on, as the more science fiction aspects of Chrono Trigger bled through to this finalized concept and did not fit into a fantasy setting, so direction was changed one more time to be a mix of the two genres.
Development lasted two years, a relatively quick turnaround period for a team with little experience together. This is the stated reason why the second disc is mainly narration with little gameplay, the team simply did not have enough experience to completed everything they wanted to include in an efficient manner and compromised with the second disc. The game finally released on PlayStation on February 11, 1998. Square initially were hesitant in localizing the game into english due to the "sensitive religious issues" present throughout the game. This was also the first instance of the english localization department working directly with the development team to stay as faithful to the original as possible while changing as much as they could to avoid controversy. The game released in North America on October 20, 1998.
- Main article: Plot summary of Xenogears
Xenogears takes a top down perspective in a 3D world with 2D character sprites. Battles take place in the same way. Gears are modeled in 3D in battle. Battle uses the ATB format to attack with a max of 3 characters in your party at once.
Battles over world encounters are mostly random and overworld enemies can't be seen. In battle each player has a few options shared amongst all of them. These are Run, Item, Defend, and Attack. Special moves are called different things depending on the character, either Chi for Fei, Spirit for Rico, Arcane for Citan,Control for Maria and Ether for everyone else. All characters besides Maria and Chu-Chu have another option called "Combo" where the player can string together multiple death blows given you have enough AP.
On foot battles
About half of the game takes place with battles that take place on foot, character vs. character. These are simple fights where the objective is to knock the enemy out using your attacks. There are a few different options:
- Call Gear
The attack system is very basic: there are three different levels of attacks, each doing different amounts of damage and using different levels of energy. Pressing Triangle uses a weak attack and one point of energy, pressing Square uses a strong attack and two points of energy, and pressing X uses a fierce attack and three points of energy. At the beginning of the game, the player only has three energy points to use per turn, meaning one could string together one fierce attack, three weak attacks, or one strong attack and one weak attack. After that the character's turn ends. It is not required to use all points in a turn, because if the Circle button is pressed, the party will stop attacking and have the remaining points go towards increasing their AP. Throughout the game, it is possible to gain up to seven points from leveling up and an additional one once a certain point in the story is reached. It is also possible to perform button combinations to use a Death Blow which are much stronger attacks. The first combination that can be used is Fei's Death Blow performed by pressing Triangle then Square.
This blocks a single attack against that character, but might still take damage if the attack is strong enough.
The character uses an item. This takes up that character's turn.
The character can flee the battle, but if it fails that character's turn is over.
Given you have enough A.P. accumulated, the character can string together multiple death blows in 1 character turn. The animations play faster too. Doing this will spend any A.P. you used for the combo.
This option becomes available only if the player is in an area that can be traversed with a gear AND previously were in said gear. Calling the gear takes up an entire character turn.
Xenogears was rereleased on Playstation Network for Playstation Portable, Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita in Japan and North America. It is unknown whether it can still be transferred onto a Playstation Portable following the removal of PSP purchases on July 2nd, 2021.